Sunday, March 20, 2011

Gray coveralls.

One of the more high-level charges frequently brought against feminism is "you want men and women to be the same!" The intended image, I think, is a society of people with shaved heads in gray coveralls addressing each other cooly as "comrade" and regarding sexual passion as a primitive relict.

Well... yeah. I do want men and women to be the same. But that doesn't mean I want people to be the same. If men and women were the same, there would still be tall and short people, shy and flamboyant people, cold and nurturing people, people who want to do it on the first date and people who're waiting for a ring, people who work as nurses and people who work as pilots, people who wear short skirts in the winter and people who wear long sweaters in the summer, people in pink and blue and red and black and purple. They just wouldn't have it decided for them randomly at birth.

Vive la difference? Vive la six and a half billion differences.


  1. Well spoken. I couldn't agree more. (But back when I was a teenager way back when, I remember dreaming of the shaved-heads-and-coveralls-society with my closest friend... the adolescent peer pressure was a bit too much for me to handle, and I still hate to think about all the kids who have to live through that crossfire before emerging on the other side - some crushed, some conformed, and only some insightful like you).

  2. Seriously. When someone says, "You want men and women to be the saaaame!" I hear, "I can't stand the thought of there being a single woman who isn't performing for meeeeeeeee."

  3. If you don't mind, I'm going to mentally yoink this and use it in debate now- the charge of wanting men and women to be the same gets leveled at me a lot.
    Vive la difference!!

  4. Some people don't get that "equal" and "identical" are not the same thing.

  5. On the other hand, there's one place where I see grey coveralls as a really good idea: a more practical, nondiscriminatory uniform for the places cruel enough to enforce school uniforms. I got lucky; they got narrowly voted down at my school a few years back.

    Also, once again, brilliant writing.

  6. Perverscowgirl, I agree. Wanting to be treated equally based on relevant qualifications is not wanting to be treated the same.

  7. Actually, equality would lead to MORE difference: pink sequined skirts and sparkly corsets look different on male-bodied people. I know this, for my college is awesome.

    EGE-- You don't have to wear gray coveralls; my high school had khakis and blue polo shirts for everyone, which were desexualized and agendered but not quite as ugly as gray coveralls. And were achieved through massive schoolwide protests of the girls' having to wear knee-length skirts in 30 degree weather and several expulsions of people for crossdressing, but that's irrelevant.

    1. That IS awesome....all men in pants + all women in skirts/dresses is less difference than some women in pants, some in skirts/dresses and some men in pants and other men in skirts/dresses. Also: there is more difference in some women are flight attendants, others pilots and some men are pilots, others are flight attendants than a world where all pilots are men and all flight attendants are women.
      The only time where "different" can't mean equal is if women are ruled over by men (or vice versa) and women's (or men's) "different role" makes them dependent on someone else to survive (dependence gives someone power over you)

  8. You don't want men and women to be the same; you just want men and women to have the same rights (including not just legal rights but also, say, the right of a person to wear whatever he or she wants without being harassed). At least I hope you don't want forced bioengineering that would cause the categories of man and woman to have no meaning.

  9. Cal - The categories of man and woman already have no meaning!

    I don't want forced bioengineering though.

    I do, however, want a world where someone doesn't have to hear "you have a penis, that makes you a man, now you gotta act like a man." And furthermore where they don't hear "even if you don't have a penis, if you want to act like a man, you have to act all like a man and none like a woman."

  10. pink sequined skirts and sparkly corsets look different on male-bodied people.

    They sure do. RRRROWR!

  11. Two quick things:
    out of 6.5 billion, you get (6.5 billion ^ 2 - 6.5 billion) distinct pairs of humans, that's
    422499999999350000000000 differences.

    Secondly, the everyone is gray thing was used as a plot point in the PBS produced version of Ursula Le Guin's /Lathe of Heaven/.

  12. That's what I always said! Men are generally better at *some* things, and women are generally better at *some* things. It doesn't mean that men/women are generally better!
    And from what I've seen, the differences between men and women are getting generally blurry, but that means that, individually, we have more diversity than ever.

  13. Yes, yes, yes! Very well-put. I've always resented how strongly gendered so many things are in our society, and how tightly many people cling to rigid gender binaries, even people who consider themselves progressive...I have a friend with two kids. Her son is into playing with dolls, which she allows him to do. She told me that she "doesn't agree with it," and I just looked at her, utterly puzzled. People like what they like, there really isn't anything to agree with or not.