Get your ideas on equality shipshape!

By Ghui

On 13 January 2012, the Costa Concordia ran aground. She was
half capsized, heavily damaged and half-submerged off Isola del
Giglio, Italy. Up until yesterday, bodies were still being recovered.

The Costa Concordia

It’s been suggested that women and children were not given priority for
lifeboats when the Costa Concordia capsized. If reports are to be believed,
it was alleged that “It was every man – and crew member – for himself” and men
refused to prioritise women and children as fights broke out for spaces on
lifeboats (http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/reality-check-with-polly-curtis/2012/jan/16/costa-concordia-women?newsfeed=true).

In the aftermath of any catastrophe, blame is bound to be apportioned
as the causes and effects of such tragedy are analysed. An interesting
chain of comments have arisen as a result of this disaster.

A source who only wanted to be known as “an anonymous male source” has
declared that women have not been prioritised because of women
clamouring for equal rights! Apparently, the emancipation of women
have reconditioned men into thinking that women are no longer the
“fairer” sex in need of protection.

While equality is indeed a good thing, I wonder if Mr anonymous male
has misconstrued the concept of equality between the sexes?

The word “equality” connotes ideas of fairness, evenness and
equitableness. It is about men and women being able to compete on a
level playing field, i.e. where there are no differences between the
sexes. Clear examples of this include equal rights to education, even
access to healthcare and promotion in accordance to merit (and not
sex) on the work front.  Where there are obvious distinctions between
the sexes, it is a different ball game altogether.

Gender Equality?

Women are not asking to be viewed as men. They are simply stating that
in areas where they are the same as men, they be viewed similarly. So,
in areas where physical strength is an advantage, no logical feminist
would dare suggest that women and men are equal. This is why sporting
competitions which involve strength and/or speed have separate
competitions for the sexes! No self respecting feminist would ever
challenge that. Men are generally stronger – FACT.

Women want to compete on an equal platform where neither sex has an
advantage. I believe that in addition to feminists, this is an
universal understanding of “fair”. In mayhem, where there is a mad
race to lifeboats, surely strength and speed are advantages? As such,
men already have the upper hand and fairness is already out of the
window!

I am not suggesting that men have an absolute obligation to protect
women in life threatening situations. No, not at all! All I aim to do
is to dispel the notion that the advent of women’s rights in some way
influenced the men on board the troubled ship to push past women!

Traditionally, societal ideals place upon the shoulders of all human
beings, the moral responsibility to take care of the weak amongst us.
Indeed, every major religion in the world would have teachings of this
nature! In the mad dash for lifeboats, women and children are
generally speaking, weaker than men and thereby disadvantaged. So, if
a man were to prioritise a woman, he is not doing so on the basis of
her sex but on the basis of her physical weakness in comparison to
him.

On the other hand, should he choose to trample her underfoot in his quest for survival, it is simply his desire to survive trumping any
moral duty to protect those physically weaker than himself (be they women, children or even other men who are weaker than himself).
Equality between the sexes has absolutely nothing to do with this.

The desire to survive is innate in humanity and in a calamity such as this, it is perhaps understandable that we revert to our animal
instincts to survive at all costs. This quest for survival is
something that afflicts both sexes and the men here were simply
reacting on instinct. Women would have been trying their hardest to
make it to the lifeboats as well!

Can humanity’s collective instinct for self preservation be blamed on
equality between the sexes? I would think, NOT.

In short, anyone who thinks that men have been reconditioned not to
prioritise women on the Costa Concordia as a result of women
clamouring for equality, needs to reflect on his or her own
understanding of the concept of equality between the sexes.

Equality between the sexes is about even competition and not unfair
contest. Generally speaking, women would never win if it was a fight
involving brute strength and men would never win if it was a
breastfeeding contest. On the chaotic Costa Concordia, the race to the
lifeboats was not one that was fair to begin with. The men’s reactions
had nothing to do with women’s rights but everything to do with
humanity’s innate desire for survival.

The emancipation of women should not be made a scapegoat for the breakdown of civil society as seen on the Costa Concordia. Those who
think otherwise are perhaps either confused by the notion of equality between the sexes or threatened by feminists who have rocked the boat by making waves in the battle between the sexes.

To those who are confused, fearful or both, please get your ideas on equality shipshape!

Image credits: femme-o-nomics.com, guardian.co.uk

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About themohinimyth

Feminist Blog
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