Why gender equality matters to me

by Angelica Mann

In part 1 of this story, I talked about gender on a spectrum, rather than two genders opposing each other. Gender and sex are not the same; men do not have to be masculine nor are women required to be feminine.

From here we’ll continue talking about gender equality and feminism. It’s not man-hating and it’s not about saying women are better than men. Gender equality is not only a fundamental human right, but a necessary foundation for a peaceful, prosperous, sustainable world.

We need to stop attaching genders to normal everyday things. We do it more often than we realize, and it has shaped our society to one that is unequal and off balance. Genders have been attached to everything; from colors, clothes and bathrooms, to jobs, emotions and personality traits.

We should not be forced to live our lives based on something that is socially constructed. Gender is made up. It is just ideas of how we should lead our lives, and we shouldn’t let those ideas dictate who we are, as individuals and as a society.

At a special event in 2014 for the HeForShe campaign, Goodwill Ambassador Emma Watson said, “I have realized fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.”  

One year ago, 19-year-old Hunger Games actress Amandla Stenberg came out on Tumblr as non-binary. Non-binary is defined as any gender identity that does not fit within the binary of what would be considered typical male or female traits.

People with non-binary genders can have a range of any gender identities, including androgynous, agender or genderless, have a fluctuating gender, known as gender fluid, or have a weak or partial connection to a gender, known as demigender.

Stenberg says she feels as though she’s not a “woman” all the time. That is, being what society considers a woman to be.

This does not mean she’s saying she is not anatomically female, Stenberg simply feels that she does not fit into the box that is a typical woman. Non-binary is a term she feels comfortable using to describe herself, though she still chooses to use female pronouns.

It’s no longer just about women’s rights, it’s about fighting for equality for everyone, regardless of gender. Equality for all genders will allow individuals to make decisions that positively impact their own health, their lives and their family’s lives.

Women are not the only ones harmed by traditional gender norms and inequality. Men and transgender individuals also suffer consequences.

Those who identify as transgender are at an even higher risk for discrimination and gender-based violence than anyone on the spectrum.

While we may have marriage equality, we still fail to achieve full gender equality, and this is an injustice.

Gender-based violence, discrimination, labeling and disadvantages are issues our society needs to address and overcome. If and when we achieve gender equality, it will bring our society together, it will bring peace, and we will live as we were always meant to.

This is not something we will achieve overnight. It’s a process; a journey. This is your invitation to walk with the rest of us, who aim to bring equality for everyone. We have lived in silence long enough. We should no longer let traditional gender expectations be our reality and tell us who we are.

All of us can finally feel free to be strong, independent, sensitive and free to be in control of our lives.  

The Gayly. April 14, 2018. 1:13 p.m. CST.