In my Iranian-American family, there is a double standard. I have a younger brother who has been raised and treated rather differently from me. I love him but he gets away with things, I would’ve been buried for. Sometimes, this double standard exists because he’s younger. But sometimes it’s because he’s a male.
And I feel that to be an attack on my gender.
After growing up in a pretty traditional household and working in a male-dominated profession, I’ve picked up on some of the subtleties that create gender inequality. Gender roles are often reinforced by harmless words and attitudes, moreso than by laws and handbooks. The fact that my brother is never asked to wash a dish or set the table. The fact that women have to remain feminine and submissive at the office to be liked; because assertive and intimidating are qualities that are reserved for men.
Inequality goes both ways.
My brother is expected to stunt his emotional growth and deny any feelings of fear or vulnerability. Men in the office often only express their dissatisfaction by shutting down or getting angry. While, as a woman, my emotional intelligence is emphasized and accounted for.
“She cried because she’s a woman.” The statement is actually more liberating than discriminatory. Yes, my tear ducts are smaller than a man’s, and I will cry when I want. For men? If you cry, you better run for cover.
While inequality exists for both genders, I still believe that ‘male privilege’ is quite an oppressive factor that women face in today’s society. But as an Iranian-American woman, I’ve discovered that gender equality, to me, is a change of attitude and perspective. It is the acceptance that genders are different, but equal, and that none of the current gender roles rightly define what it is to be ‘male’ or ‘female’.
As a female, gender equality isn’t looking at a man and saying ‘me too! me too!’
It’s saying ‘I’m different but my differences do not make me worth any less’.
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