What do I mean by Equality between Men and Women?

EqualityThere are many challenges to be faced and overcome when living in Lebanon, including trying to answer questions that are not asked anymore in other societies, such as: ‘Is Feminism a movement of angry Lesbian women wanting to destroy men’s supremacy?’ or ‘Why are you fighting for equality? And what is equality anyways?’, ‘Isn’t it the natural role of women to be only housewives and mothers?’, ‘Aren’t women naturally inferior to men? Aren’t women naturally passive? Isn’t passivity a feminine characteristic?’

All these questions are based on a wrong conclusion drawn from a false assumption: women are naturally passive and inferior, while men are naturally active and superior. The wrong conclusion asserts that every passive person is playing a feminine role and that every active person is playing a masculine role.

My answers?

1- If women were naturally inferior, men would have nothing to fear. Therefore, the fact that many men do fear such competition raises sufficient doubt as to the validity of this claim… Refer here to two previous articles: The Lilith Myth and the Male Fear of Dominant/Equal Women and There are Men intimidated by Intelligent Women: my Perception of a Lebanese Reality

2- When men have been told that women are socially and sexually passive, they are usually gravely disturbed by encountering a woman who is socially aggressive and who takes the initiative in sexual intercourse. Confronted with this “lack of femininity” in a woman, a man may feel tempted to dispute her womanhood. If this contention does not hold up in face of the evidence, he may instead begin to doubt his own masculinity and become sexually dysfunctional. Conversely, a handsome, gentle, and passive male may invite ridicule and may be denounced as a “pervert” or “queer”. “Real women” may regard him as less than a “real man” and therefore reject him as a sexual partner.

3- In some human societies, the role assignment for men and women is the reverse of our own. In short, there is nothing “natural” or definite about our sexual stereotypes.

4- By the same token, full human equality will not be achieved until it becomes conceivable to both sexes that active and passive attitudes can be appropriate for either of them, and that even two “active” or two “passive” partners can have a rewarding relationship.

5- Equality – social equality – doesn’t mean that all human differences will disappear. Once the old stereotypes have been deconstructed, the differences between individuals within each sex are likely to increase. Furthermore, under conditions of social equality, these individuals may also happily continue to play different gender roles.

There should be no need to point out that there is nothing wrong with gender differences as such. They can greatly enrich our lives, as long as we understand that, in human beings, “different” does not have to mean superior or inferior. In other words, those who demand equal rights for men and women are not asking for drab uniformity, but for a social climate in which variety can flourish without being exploited.

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  1. Same questions asked in Egypt in ‘open’ environments… If it’s a conservative context, questions aren’t even asked. Oppression becomes ‘natural’…

  2. Aren’t all social environments striving to accept diversity ? It is a long process, but it is definitely a cause worth fighting for. Recognising the human being as a capacity and a richness starts with every dawning day and never stops…

  3. Chapeau bas. Perfectly worded. You have opened the door for an amazing journey into awareness and awakening. Great work!

  4. Thank you Dr. Chrabieh for this, if I may call, a ‘delightful’ reading of constructive arguments!

  5. Passivity isn’t a feminine characteristic. I’m sick of listening all the time to conversations and jokes portraying women in the Middle East as passive victims. Thank you for this post! And thank you for this blog. Not only interesting, but also different than other movements for women’s rights in the region. Keep up with the good work! And congratulations to you Dr. Chrabieh and to all the authors!

  6. I am a Middle Eastern man and I am for gender equality. I also think that if women aren’t given full rights at all levels, Middle Eastern societies will still be labeled ‘third world’ !

  7. Dre Chrabieh, je suis à 100% d’accord avec ce que vous avancez comme définition de l’égalité hommes-femmes… Merci pour ce bel article, tellement éclairant!

  8. Je le redis ici: bravo pour ce blog et cette initiative! Pour l’égalité et le partenariat évidemment!

  9. I believe too that in order for our societies to advance we need to work for partnership among women and men, social classes, political visions, religious identities, and so on…

  10. I am for equality and partnership between men and women. It’s the only way to build pluralistic societies based on respect of diversity and social justice.

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