On Cultural Tuesday, I’m not going to write about anything about pop-culture. I’m going to get a wee bit serious and write about big topics today like gender equality. First a disclaimer, these are my own opinions only, I’m not claiming them to be the truth and the only truth. Most things in this world, they have more than one perspective, but usually, only one perspective can be surveyed and measured. So I cordially ask you to keep an open mind and go on a little imaginary adventure with me on these topics. 😛
– I suck at debates –
The inspiration to write this post today stemmed from a little debate I had in a group chat in which in addition to yours truly has a man and a woman in it. It all began with the woman saying how tired she was, and probably was because of PMS. To that, the man replied that men have it easier, and to my ear, there was a hint of condescending tone in his reply. As humor is my shield and weapon towards almost anything in life, I jokingly said that ‘yup, men even get paid more, except in the porn industry.’ And obviously, my not-exactly-untrue statement got a much stronger reaction that I was actually expecting. He demanded actual proof from me that men get paid more than women. At this point, I guess the majority of women are already triggered. 😀 He went on showing me that at least in Finland, while the difference in salary between women and men is around 16-17%, the actual percentage is much smaller. Studies showed that the salary of women and men when doing the exact same job, their salary difference is only tipping at 1,6 %, in men’s favor. Well, good for you, Finland, good job. For him, this number with an almost non-existent difference, it doesn’t lie. In Finland at least, women and men get the same salary for doing the same job. Even that sentence, ‘same job, same salary’, even if it’s true according to the numbers, doesn’t sit well with me at all. Right off the bat, it sounds like we are equal, men and women, at least in salary. But is it equality?
So that basically was the topic of a very long debate. I have to admit first and foremost, I’m terrible in debates. I get emotional and I make emotional arguments. I know that to be the first rule of debating: don’t get emotional. I can’t help it. So during the debate, instead of trying to explain my point of view in a logical fashion, I tried to make him see that he is wrong. And you all know how people are, me included, which is ‘my opinion is the best if not the truth’. But I’ve calmed down now, although my views and opinions hadn’t change, I would give the logical fashion a go. 😀
In my opinion, studies like the one mentioned above, are fundamentally inaccurate. They only show one side of the truth, which is that when a woman and a man do the same job, they get paid the same amount. In this case, we focus on the result only. Because the result is usually what the employer and the rest of the world cares about. And the result is basically money. When you take an example of the sales industry, the result would be selling a certain number of goods. What these studies do not focus on, is the premise. And the premise, in my opinion, is that women have to work so much harder than men to get the same result. I tried to bring my point to the attention of the man I was debating with, and I think he got a little defensive, for a good reason. 😀 Cos I did say that ‘try doing your job with period pains, PMS, make-up, high heels and bras.’ XD I know, lowbrow and emotional. What I was trying to say is, ‘same job same salary’ is not gender equality.
– Hello, my name is E and I’m a feminist –
Well, the debate didn’t arrive in any obvious closure. I was called a communist and I was surprised that I finally felt like a feminist. I never called myself a feminist, not because I’m not one, it’s because the word ‘feminism’, which is linguistically very poorly chosen anyways, is ruined by those women and men who in the name of feminism would start a huge blame and shame game and declare war on the opposite gender. Feminism, its true meaning, is basically gender equality. But we all like to interpret the word ‘equal’ differently. Some understand it being as simple as women and men should get the same when they give the same. I believe that’s the popular interpretation in its basics. But in my opinion, these feminists got it wrong. I think we can all agree that men and women are different. How we are built, how we work, are different. When the ‘feminist’ movement pushed women’s right to receive the same treatment as men do, this basic difference between the genders was forgotten. It was forgotten that the standards that were used to measure whether you did enough job and a good job, was created by men and for men. I think it’s ludicrous to use the same standards for two very different group of people. I mean, they wouldn’t put male and female athletes to compete together, there are different standards because it’s the simple biological fact that let’s say in weight-lifting, the smaller female counterpart of our species can’t just lift as many pounds as the male counterpart. I am not trying to imply that women are less capable than men, that is not what I’m trying to say. All I’m saying is, in our society these days, women are made to lift 100 pounds like men while themselves weighing 40 pounds less. And wearing heels and fighting the period pain. XD To sum it all, my view of gender equality is summed up in the following quote from a movie called ‘Peace, Love & Misunderstanding’ (2011):
“It’s not about equal division of labor. It’s about an equitable and efficient allocation of resources.”
– A commy girl from China –
Then we arrive at the part where I was called a communist, and just like being feminist, I guess some of my views are very commy, just the quote alone above proves it. Communism, up to a certain point, is appealing. I grew up in a communist China where capitalism was still in its baby shoes. I grew up with stories of my mom standing in line every morning to exchange food with monthly provided coupons. No one had money, no one had more food than someone else. My parents were placed in school, judging by where you happened to live, and then you were given a job, usually judging by where your parents worked. According to my parents, life was simple and comforting in some ways. My dad worked in a fishing boat building company, my mom at a fabric factory. It’s a life with no freedom, but also no stress. But then my grandparents were made to retire really early, like well before the age of 60, and my dad predicted that his generation might be made to retire even earlier than that. So when he got the opportunity to move somewhere else trying to work for a better life, he packed up his life and family and moved to the cold unknown north far away from home. Even as a little girl, I heard propaganda speech how capitalism is the root of all evil. And in some sense it’s correct. 😀 Because the thought of getting as much as you work for is appealing, cos more you work, the more you get, right? I promise you, once you got more, you would always want more. So just the idea of capitalism along is enough to destroy communism sooner or later. Because, well, human beings are greedy by default.
– What is freedom? –
So here is the dreamer’s part that was promised in the title. What if instead of using communism as a tool to suppress individualism and freedom, we use it as a tool to nurture individualism and provide financial freedom? What do most successful people have in common? Very often, they love and are passionate about what they do and are also really good at their craft. But those people represent the minority. How many of us get to do something we love and are good at and it also provides us financial security for us to continue doing it? Partly because some of us don’t even know what we are good at. Partly because having money to pay the rent is more important than doing what we love if it happens to yield next to no money. So it’s a triangle, only when passion, skill and opportunity meet in the middle, only then there can be success. I mean, most of us scrape by. I’m working as a secretary, I am very good at it, but I’m by no means passionate about it nor do I make lots of money. What I am very good at also is cooking, of which I’m also passionate about. But the path of opening my own restaurant and making a living out of that is too unpredictable for me to choose as my career. And after seeing what kind of hardship and nonsense a regular restaurant owner had to deal with (my parents own a restaurant), you can’t make a business owner out of me unless you put a gun to my head. Even our one-size-fits-all education system would only allow us to express our individualism just to a certain extent. Those on the edge of adulthood, choosing the next level education or a career path, many would choose something that yields money. And those brave enough to choose the other path, many of those would be pushed aside by our number and result centered society. Another example, my good friend who is also Chinese, she loves acting. But from a very young age, she knows that becoming an actress wouldn’t be approved by her parents as a career choice nor would it guarantee financial success, she went to a high school specialized in performing arts but right after that she ‘quit playing’ and ‘retired’ and went on to the university to study finance and now she is a big boss in a big company. She can write it off as a silly childhood dream as much as she wants but what if she is offered financial security to pursue her dream, would she still have chosen finance? I guess we would never know.
– A Dreamer’s Utopia –
And my dreamer’s utopia lies on that point. What if we are all offered the same opportunities right from the beginning? What if a school is a place where, instead of trying to measure our capability with the same outdated set of standards, they would guide and teach us how to discover our own maximum potential, they would help us find out what we are good at, they would lead us to the love and passion of our lives? What if a person who has the passion for keeping places clean and tidy gets as much as a natural born leader CEO of a big company? What if a teacher who helps raise our next generation gets the same as the neurosurgeon who is very good at the job of saving lives? What if a green thumb coffee bean grower is financially as secure as the masterful baristas in cafes? What if all of us are filled with enthusiasm and joy every time we wake up to go to work? What if we all feel like we belong? What if we all get to do what we love and are good at? What if the sense of accomplishment and the sense that I matter come to us every single day? Isn’t this a beautiful dream? But isn’t it also so very distant? For as long as we measure everything in profit and not passion, in quantity and not quality, in money and not in happiness, all of that would remain a dream.
But I for one would love to keep my little dream. Although I myself participate in this rat race we call life, I would still try my best to have no regrets in other parts of my life. When my elementary school teacher asked me what I wanted to be when I grow up, I answered: ‘Happy.’ My answer now 20 years later is still the same, I want to be happy when I grow up. 🙂 And I will continue to support those that made it, are making it and are going to make it. I will continue to celebrate the work of those who do their craft with passion and love, whether it be the donut store owner lady smiles all the time and always remember my order; a chef who gets up at four am to go get fresh ingredients for his/her restaurant; or an entertainer who makes me laugh; or writers who touch my heart with their words. I can see, taste and feel the passion and love. And for those brave enough to show it for us, I applaud you. Thank you, and keep it up. ❤