The more I think about it, the more I feel the problem with equality is that people have a very bad understanding of the word. Or rather, different people have different understandings of the word. The best story on equality I read is “Why was 5x3=5+5+5 marked wrong”.
No, I know people aren’t math.
But that’s why it’s the best story on equality. It explains why 5x3 is equal to 3x5 while still being different things. That it is indeed possible to be different things while being equal at the same time. It explains it in a way that removes the baggage of sexism and feminism and gender or whatever else gets people worked up and defensive. And still explains how we should try to see men and women (and any other identification on the gender spectrum). Different things that are equal.
The reason people get worked up and defensive, is that most people are heterosexual. Not in a ‘check your privilege’ sort of way, although feel free to check it. It’s not a bad thing to do. It’s a problem because as heterosexuals we like those differences. We’re invested in them. They turn us on. When you are defining equality as ‘everyone the same with no difference’ that might sound scary. Then it looks like people are working to get rid of something you love.
A reasonable feminist might try to tell you that they’re only trying to get rid of the bad differences and they want to keep the good differences. But honestly, that’s not very reassuring. First because you and I might not consider the same things a ‘bad difference’, and second because most of us like the bad differences as much as the good.
I’m going to blame it on my Catholic upbringing. The Church made lust a sin. Sins are bad. And that in turn made bad things sexy as hell. (yes, pun intended) Esther Perel (Author of ‘Mating in Captivity’. Awesome book) says it a bit more diplomatically: Desire is not politically correct.
Either way, you are still left with a situation where the odds are good you get sexually excited by things which you would classify as negative. In my case, it’s violence. (It has to be ritualistic, choreographed, ‘safe’ violence. But it’s still violence) Which expresses itself in a couple of ways. Most notably, a love for watching martial arts. I firmly believe violence is never the answer. Unless the question is “what inspires lust in you?” (let me put up a caveat here that violence is not what attracts me to a partner. I’m just talking pure lust)
So in my case, because I like violence and because the social message is that men are more violent than women, I might feel uncooperative whenever I hear someone talk about teaching men to be less violent. It doesn’t matter that I think domestic violence is a horrible thing and we should do anything to stop that, when I hear a wish to remove aggression all together I could panic. Downplay the problem. Attack the people who are trying to make the world a better place. Try to make them look ridiculous.
I don’t because I’ve taken some time to figure out what the hell is going on with me and people in general. And I do not believe we will ever be able to get rid of aggression and violence. But we can stop telling men that aggression and violence is the only acceptable expression of emotion, give then more options to express themselves and leave the aggression for situations where it is useful. Making girls like me go weak at the knees, for instance.
I have nothing to back this up but my own thoughts, I still think it’s time to switch gears. Leave equality where it is for the moment. We have come so far, but if we want to reach the end goal, we would do better focusing on sex-positiveness for a generation or two. If we can get people in a better place about experiencing pleasure, embracing desires and realizing that with consenting adults anything you enjoy is acceptable, it is very possible we’ll remove some of that knee-jerk resistance to the concept of equality.