Last week’s Scribble ended with a question like this: if we’re not creating systems of gender inequality on purpose, then what’s making us do it (not on purpose)?
if experiences of gender inequality are like tree branches
and the systems in place that cause those experiences are like the tree trunk
then what system-influencing things in real life are like the tree roots?
Here is one idea (of many) about these roots that I think is especially interesting, and this is my *attempt* to understand/explain it:
In the world and in society, we have constructed two categories called “gender”.
I have drawn them here as pink and blue boxes.
These categories are not the same as biological sex.
‘Sex’ is about being biologically male or female (i.e. your hormones and your bits).
‘Gender’ is a social/cultural/conceptual thing that we, as humans, have created. And while gender categories include biological males/females, they also includes a whole other bunch of things that have nothing to do with biology, like this:
Sometimes these divisions kind of make sense, other times they’re pretty mysterious, like the random decision to make ‘blue’ a colour for boys and ‘pink’ for girls.
(cue Spanish lesson flashbacks)
But the chances are that every person (or thing or situation) will have different parts of themselves split in different measures between both boxes.
From the inequality angle, what is problematic here is that society gives more value to things that fall into the ‘blue’ category' than the pink one.
And this unequal giving of value has all sorts of consequences for things - beyond just ‘women and men’ - because value determines what we recognise, appreciate, spend money on etc.
Which means, for one, that ANY person/thing/situation that has elements from the pink category can be negatively affected by gender inequality - even if it has nothing to do with women.
And - because our values are building blocks for our systems and policies - it also means that so long as we keep on giving ‘pink’ and ‘blue’ things unequal amounts of value, our systems will reflect that and people will continue to have negative experiences of gender inequality - no matter how many ‘women quotas’ we have in place.
Basically: tackling gender inequality means we can’t only make policies to “add more women” to things and think that’s enough, because the problem runs much deeper than just men and women. For real change, we also have to examine our systems and our ideas and beliefs around what is valuable and gender and do lots of other complicated stuff like that.
In less-boring words, WE MUST BE LIKE THE ORANGE POTATO PEOPLE AXING THIS TREE:
Aaaaaaaaaand (exhale) - so ends the Women’s Month series. Again - it’s a big topic and this is just one tiny little perspective out of a lot of cool perspectives out there! So keep exploring!
Big thanks for reading!!!
SEE YOU NEXT WEEK
POST THANK YOUS:
again, my cool lecturer
coffee, the product sponsor of this post
trees, for being good metaphors