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What we’re really missing in gender equality

Sarah Ash
Sarah Ash

The social media world is alive, yet again, with the uproar of movement. I’m not surprised if your Facebook home feed currently resembles something different than the usual mix of photos and Buzzfeed links, instead featuring re-posts about the Jefferson County School District or commentary on any other type of social movement in the limelight right now.  You probably have Facebook friends that are quickly activated and inspired by the click of a mouse, an interesting trait that many of us have developed in the 21st century world.

So if your Facebook page looks anything like mine lately, it has been filled with relayed information about Emma Watson’s speech at a UN conference last week. Many online publications posted the video, paired it with supportive commentary and then reposted pictures of celebrities holding #HeforShe signs. There is power in this short and catchy hashtag, which is helping to redefine how many people think of feminism and its definition. It is exciting to see some people starting to let go of the man-hating stereotype that many feminists have been trying to reject for quite some time. But if we just latch on to gender equality as a feminist and “he for she” argument, we are excluding an entire group of people that deserve gender equality as well.

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The idea that there is more to gender than male or female may be new to some of you. In fact, before I went on an Alternative Break last spring that focused on gender issues, I never even thought about how our society often makes gender a binary concept. And I never really thought about the fact that there are people that go through incredible personal anguish, because we do this as a society.

But we can break down the two-sided idea of gender equality and start being even better advocates for equality by understanding the Gender Spectrum. It illustrates that human beings experience gender in a wide variety of ways, which include gender expression, gender identity, gender roles, sexual orientation and more. Therefore, it is the idea that people can identify and fall anywhere on that spectrum and that people may feel differently about their own gender, depending on the context.

Now that we are talking more about equal rights for men and women, we are in the the perfect position to start using the gender spectrum in every piece of our conversation  surrounding gender equality, including our advocating of women’s rights. How amazing would it be to see kids like Ryland Whittington grow up in world where his wants and needs are validated and understood, not just by his parents, but by our society at large? It is time for us to use the ideas that movements like “HeForShe” have cultivated and to fight for equality for all human beings, regardless of the gender norms we want to assign them.

Collegian Columnist Sarah Ash can be reached at letters@collegian.com or on Twitter at @sarah_eyoo.

 

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