Friday, 30 August 2013

In Defense of Difference!

I am fascinated by people. On a recent flight I was surrounded by such a variety of people in age, look, culture. In front of me was a young mother with a very chatty 3 or 4 year old girl. I was touched to hear her squeal with delight when her mother received a text from her Dad, "I love you" in reply to her little love note she had sent him while we were stuck on the tarmac.

As a single mother for many years, I recognized the importance of fathers in the lives of not only boys but also for girls too. There is a completely different interaction that goes on between children and their mother and children and their father. It is not very politically correct to talk about these differences at this time in our history as if we have become androgenous somehow. Somehow wiping out differences between the way children relate to the different gendered parents is meant to wipe out discrimination, make us all "equal".

My problem? I can never understand at what point "equal" became synonymous with "same." We have come a long way to ensure that women have access to the same rights as men and I for one am a huge proponent of those rights. While living in France in the past few years I realized just how far my home country had come in this area. I was shocked to find women in France had only been given the right to open their own bank account and to own property in the 1970s. I was further shocked to discover that there is still a law in France granting conjugal rights to a spouse which didn't seem to take into account the desires or agency of each spouse. I am grateful that we have made strides in these areas.

So we do need to keep pressing forward to grant more equality for us as women. However, in our haste for equality, I also believe I want the freedom to be different, to choose my own path. I am a woman and I love
all that entails for me. Would it not be depriving me of a right to be who I want to be if equal meant that I had to be the same. Would it not be depriving me of my right to self-determination if you made me believe what you believe? Is this what our feminist sisters fought for?

I believe that it is our right as men and women to choose who we are and how we express ourselves is a fundamental principle that I fight for. We each have a right to our personal beliefs and it is a sad state of affairs that we are having to fight for that right, no matter which side of the equation we are on. I have noticed so much lately that some who fight for the rights of non-discrimination are now in turn discriminating against others because of differences in beliefs. I get it that the pendulum has swung from conservatism to liberalism. If truth be told, neither side has the right to impose their viewpoints on others.

Society is made up of so many colors and hues. It would do society an injustice if we try to make all of us the one color with a single set of beliefs.