Feminist or not?

I’m not a vocal feminist. Hear me out though. I have been accused of being in denial. I as might as well be. I believe that there is equitable distribution in society. If I am good enough then I will get what I want.

At the back of my mind I know it is not entirely true. Take the gender out of the equation for a second. If I dressed the part, spoke the part and walked the walked in an interview I am more likely to get the job over a more qualified candidate who couldn’t adequately sell himself to the panel. I get the job not only because I am qualified enough to get to the interview but I made an extra effort to impress the panel.

Does my being a woman in a skirt with high heels well done hair polished nails give me an advantage over a ungroomed woman who is equally qualified. It might. Does it give me the same advantage over a man who is equally qualified and equally well groomed? If I was applying for a secretarial position may be. If I was applying for a Trauma attendings position maybe not. This is where the prejudice or the inequality comes in. Or does it?That is the real question.

We battle with our prejudices all the time. A tattoed, pierced individual may not be the image of a doctor. Most people may not be comfortable opening about their health issues and sometimes the most intimate details of their personal lives to such an image. The above described individual may be qualified but may not be able to create a rapport with his patients because of the patient’s own perceptions of what they see. Likewise, in what most people consider a man’s job, women might be looked upon as inadequate or inferior.

Is this fair? Being at the receiving end, I emphatically say, absolutely not. If I have gone to school and I have the qualifications and I am at par with anyone else, then gender, race, sexual orientation, should not be discriminating factors.

But they are! Society as a whole is flawed. I accept that. But I am not ready to make that an excuse to rise further in life. I was once asked if I would support a slightly less qualified candidate just because she was female, since women need to be promoted. No she was slightly less qualified. In my mind, if I want to be treated as an equal, then I should strive to be equal. Once I have achieved that I should ask for my right.

In the same breath, I don’t agree with reservations. There are several institutions that have protected positions. In this country several times it is for women, minority ethnic groups, handicapped people. While promotion of this divide in society is a noble cause, I believe that providing a reservation is accepting the fact that these individual groups are inferior, require help, cannot compete with the general population. This is my personal opinion. I don’t want to be protected, I want to be accepted.

So is affirmative action acceptable? If I come across discrimination. Of course. It isn’t about just gender? It is about discrimination. Who gets to decide one is better or worse than the other? This should be a free world with no privileges whatsoever. I will accept. That is wishfulthinking. I know for a fact that men enjoy male privileges. Men are more likely to get a job because they are historically accepted as the bread earners in society, they do not get pregnant and they don’t bring in emotional drama. They also tend to get paid more than women for the same job, for the same reasons. Women also enjoy female privileges. Being a woman can be an asset in many environments, they get emotional privileges, they get maternity leave, married women get to leave early from work, women with children get to leave early from work. Those are privileges women take for granted. Is that fair?

As animals on earth, we weren’t created equally. So how do we create an equitable environment? Are compromises a good idea? Is it okay to respect that women are different from men, heterosexuals are different from homosexuals, white is different from black and yet we should all be afforded the same opportunities?

I think I am not a vocal feminist, because I want the respect. Once we have that in place, I believe the rest will fall in place.


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