What is Equality? What is Fairness?

Within the last few weeks, I have been thinking more extensively than usual about gender equality (for the purposes of this blog, gender meaning man versus woman). With the complicated argument of “what is gender” aside, but I have come to one conclusion: gender equality is not possible. I will refer to Delphy in her article “Rethinking Sex and Gender” when she presented Derrida’s metaphor of vegetables. Cabbages and carrots are both great veggies, each different in shape, size, and taste. But you could never truly choose which vegetable is better because their differences make them incomparable. The same is true with men and women; we, like vegetables, are just too different to compare. We have different shapes, sizes, thoughts, desires, intentions, and presumably different tastes as well.


And why would we want to be compared and ranked? Delphy also makes the statement, “if women were the equals of men, men would no longer equal themselves.” I took this quote in two ways. Firstly, if the genders were equal, men would be women and women would be men, therefore either they would both be men or both women. You cannot have two different things be equal because then they would have to be the same. A cabbage and a carrot cannot be equal; neither can a man and a woman. Secondly, men do not want women to be equal because then they would be in the same place as women. But do women really want to be in the same place as men? If we are truly proud, independent women with our Beyonce-inspired sexuality and femininity, we should strive to actualize that title rather than strive to be a man, which is the literal implication when we urge for “equality”.

This being said, gender fairness is realistic. What it is to be equal is very different than what it is to be fair. When each gender can acknowledge and accommodate our inherent differences in a way that neither is given (materially, socially, politically, etc.) more or less than the other, fairness among the genders can be possible.


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