Being equal to a man is a concept that has removed some of the marginalization of women in social spaces and has allowed women to enter territory previously specified only for man. Of course, there has been resistance to those changes while those changes have marginally enhanced women’s relationship to men’s dominance over her.
Even so, There is a whole movement that developed for women to be ‘equal’ to men within our society.
It’s popular in its own way in some social places and unpopular in others. That movement thrived in the patriarchy, nonetheless. Huh? Rewind.
While the term Man is interchangeable with Human, the term Woman is not a universal term for Human. She is subcategory of human.
When the ‘standard’ of Human is Man within opposite sex theory, a woman has to BE MAN – the same as – to be the standard human that is, Man. However, She is not – she is categorically subhuman as woman. Woman as subhuman remains. As long as we have categorized a human by sexual body part as ‘woman’, she can not be Man, for if she is, then she is not Woman. It’s contradictory, confusing and unresolved. Her existence based on a body part still becomes annihilated. That IS her oppression – a heavy burden from society. Her existence as woman invisible. How can she explain she is being oppressed when she is being treated as a man? How can she not be burdened when society double talks about being human? No categorized man has had the experience of categorized woman (save transexuals) and no categorized woman has had the experience of categorized man based in opposite sex conditions. When this patriarchal society says to a woman that she is being treated the same as a man, that society may continue to assume that woman had the life of a man since man is the standard to go by and the life of a woman still is unknown to man. This is piggyback oppression – one on top of the other. In man’s domination of woman, man does not know the experience of woman so it can not be known if a woman is being treated the same as a man. To treat a woman the same as a man within this context is a fallacy. She is being treated the same as a man which becomes her oppression as a woman as to make her nonexistent.
Being different than and being the same as man can both be oppressive based on circumstances and conditions and how those concepts are used. Being different than and being the same as man can also be liberating based on different circumstances and conditions. Sigh. Yes, life simply isn’t as simple as we think.
At the present time in our society there is a new version established of the same old of what has already been done to woman historically while a new description of this condition of what is actually happening is voided out by the current perceptions of ‘being equal’. And in fact, woman’s oppression is always done through the wiping out of her existence through dominance of Man and, within the present social context, this is profoundly done to her when she is perceived as equal to or being treated the same as Man – being the same as Man and therefore Man, not woman – which she can never be.
Her oppression is also present in existing conditions described as being different than man. In fact, we have a society that the reality about being human becomes complete confusion in more ways than one based on the persistence of categorizing and fragmenting by description humans based on different sexual body parts. What remains unchanged is a division of hierarchal social ranking, a specific relationship and who humans are still based on having different sexual body parts – even if she is President of the United States. She remains identified as woman and not man. While she has successfully moved to a different social location, she is still a woman in relationship to men; men that dominate her not based on work but based on her body parts in relation to how they perceive themselves based on their sexual body part.
Catherine McKinnon in her book, Feminism Unmodified, explains how what needs to be addressed is the Hierarchy of the Sexes. I believe, while confusing, removing the hierarchy of the sexes involves much more than equality of the sexes. Rearranging different aspects of the sexes does not eliminate the hierarchy that causes woman’s oppression. There has been great work to eliminate the historical oppression of women but let us not become ignorant nor deny how the current arrangement of oppression is still harmful, can even be extremely harmful and deadly – and more insidious than ever when presented as the equality of the sexes.