The pursuit of equality of the sexes is not only futile but foolish. Do you agree?

Throughout history, there have been individual battles fought to establish gender equality in different fields. The battle to establish long-term equality of the sexes, however, still rages on. In a world where men traditionally are the breadwinners and women care for the household, drastic changes to the structure of society and our lifestyles are beginning to shift the original balance of gender roles; so much so that women are beginning to take up the cry for equal opportunities, respect, recognition and rights as men across the board. It is essential that at this point we consider whether gender equality can indeed be achieved at all, and whether such equality is the only way for society to progress. The sooner people accept that equality is definitely a possibility, the faster we can come together to build the new framework for the society of tomorrow, in which men and women will be given the change to prove themselves in any manner they deem fit and be respected equally for their choices.

The implication that the quest for equality of the sexes is hopeless is not one that can be simply accepted as the truth. Although not many breakthroughs have been made by feminist movements lobbying for equality, there are many small indicators that show that society is already setting the foundations for bigger change ahead. More importantly, these signs show that the search for equality is not one that is futile as many recognize the need for it and are responding. An important example would be the positive discrimination in the workplace today. In some instances, when men and women are equally qualified for jobs, the opportunity is given to the woman to make up for the male domination in the field and to allow the woman to break out of the stereotype society dictates by providing her capabilities. This is an encouraging example of how male-dominated industries are willing to make small compromises to accommodate the growing number of women who want to liberate themselves from traditional roles by providing them equal opportunities to gain respect and recognition.

When measuring the possible success of a venture, it is necessary to take into account the psychological conditioning behind it. For this reason, education is key. Education is the tool with which men and women across the globe can be empowered with to work towards gender equality. By educating women, they will be able to acquire the knowledge and skills they require to survive. More importantly, education can be used to influence young minds and help them understand the need for gender equality and the benefits it will bring. In a country such as Singapore, education is a deep and pervasive tool to spread the message of equality amongst people of different races and religions. A similar approach can be taken on the subject of gender equality, to eliminate some sexual stereotypes. As long as young minds are trained to think of either gender as equal, and society reinforces this view, the pursuit of equality is one that has hope for success.

Some may think of the pursuit as futile as the mass media and tradition seem intent on shackling society to its current state. The mass media, a powerful influencing tool, repeatedly portrays women as the weaker gender, needing perpetual support and attention. The marketing adage “sex sells” also becomes a hurdle, as women are portrayed simply as bodies used to service men only to be discarded afterward. A series of advertisements by beer company Guinness featuring scantily clad women only serves to prove this point. Tradition also holds some societies back from enforcing gender equality. For instance, in China, newborns are sometimes killed when they are not the preferred male gender. In Arab societies traditionally, women’s education comes only after men’s. The message sent by such actions is clear; gender equality doesn’t exist. Unless this myth is shattered completely and beyond doubt, it will be difficult to establish gender equality permanently and holistically. Fortunately, there is hope in this area as these stereotypes can be eliminated by giving women more respect and value.

The statement also implies that it would be foolish to allow gender equality to come into play. This view is very one-sided. It can be agreed that allowing men and women to work at the same time would cause great upheaval in the balance of society. Without definite roles to play, there is a chance that there will be no one tending to the household and the raising of children, ultimately leading to larger problems in society. In this light, the definition of gender equality must be firmly set. In this case, it is not merely about women being given equal opportunities to enter the workface, but also about men sharing equal responsibilities for the household. As author Betty Friedan puts it, a thousand-fold increase in divorce rates cannot be accounted for simply by marital problems but the “obsolete sex roles” society holds. Now more than ever, it is imperative that we understand and take heed of her words. Problems in society such as increasing divorce and crime rates and such cannot be addressed properly until the issues of the changing gender roles are realized. As such, the pursuit of equality can be seen far from foolish. Indeed, one may even say that gender equality in all sense is the only way for society to progress from its current state.

Gender equality also provides countries with a wider talent pool by recognizing that women can be as capable as men, and by giving them equal opportunities to learn and develop, a country can rely on twice the amount of human resources. Such a resource is extremely important in a small country such as Singapore.

To conclude, we can see from all the evidence that gender equality is neither a futile nor a foolish pursuit. Society cannot be expected to change entirely over a short span of time. There are however indications that the battle for gender equality is slowly progressing on many different fronts. The evidence also confirms that equality between the sexes is something that can be achieved in the future if appropriate measures are taken now. The need for gender equality has also been proven, erasing the possibility that such a search was meaningless and uncalculated. There are risks involved, but risks must be taken for progress to occur; not only with societies but for humanity as a whole.