What would a fair world look like? Would it be blind to gender, race, and class? Would there be legal provisions ensuring a workplace has a fair amount of women and racial diversity, or would these markers be so unimportant that laws would not be needed to achieve equal gender representation at work.
What do minority movements want when they fight for equality? Do feminists want to have women raised up to be equal to men, or do they want to ignore the differences of gender altogether? Do gay people want sexual orientation, a strong marker of identity, to be totally ignored?
“Equality” is so abstract to be the lone goal for a movement. When groups have specific agendas, like fighting for the legalization of same-sex marriage or the extension of federal benefits to same-sex couples, then it feels like victory when these goals are met. However, looking past the successes on paper, there is still inequality in society in terms of race and gender.
Women will fight for equal pay, for equal workplace representation, for the right to choose, etc. and they will likely succeed on paper. But until the thoughts of people have changed, it seems unlikely that we can achieve equality. Until women are not viewed as the “other” or “the second sex,” there will always be a hierarchy because society is built on laws, yes, but also on attitudes. And the gender hierarchy, a false yet perpetuating binary, stems from a constructed attitude. Inequality goes beyond policy, and it cannot be resolved solely in the realm of politics. I think the acknowledgment of differences within the feminist movement Bell Hooks describes can be applied to both genders: differences cannot be ignored, but maybe they can be reconciled.
Hooks, Bell. (1986). “Sisterhood: Political Solidarity Between Women.” Feminist Review. Vol. 23. Pages 125-138.