Equality is a heavily debated topic even in the 21st century.
Equal pay for men and women, equal opportunities and equal treatment overall are some of the more well-known beliefs. It sounds great, and it is, but only up to a certain point.
Where is the line when it comes to what we consider equal?
If everyone is truly equal, should men not hold doors open for women just because they’re women?
Should men and women alike be required to sign up for the draft?
Obviously, equality is morally right and necessary for our constantly evolving society, but when we begin to dig deeper and delineate the true denotation of equality, we find that complete equality is not something we as humans want.
Equality goes all the way back to medieval times when chivalry was popular.
Chivalry had nothing to do with the rights of men and women, but rather, focused on mannerisms and proper social etiquette, mostly revolving around the way men treated women in society.
Flashing forward to the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, women first began to discuss their rights and the idea that they should be treated the same as men.
In retrospect, it is important to understand that it has only been 100 years since women first got the right to vote with the implementation of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution in 1919.
There are people in America today who were alive when women couldn’t vote, which shows that equality has come a long way in the last 100 years. However, it still has a long way to go.
Just how far, though, do we want it to go?
When looking at more modern issues like maternity and paternity leave for mothers and fathers, many people believe that women should have more time off than men because the mothers play a bigger role in raising a child.
This stems into a much larger issue when considering current controversies such as gender roles and same-sex parenting. It also calls into question everything the world has considered socially appropriate when it comes to raising families.
Do people really want men and women to have the same time off, or would that be unfair to women who play a more crucial role in raising a baby?
Is it sexist in and of itself to believe women need more time off because of their gender?
What does this mean for people in the LGBTQ community?
When there isn’t an answer society can agree upon, we see our laws and rights put in an ethical jeopardy.
Take into consideration the draft, the Selective Service System (SSS). This current system requires all men between the ages of 18 and 25 to register for the draft. The United States has not had to draft any male into the military since 1972, the last draft call during the Vietnam War.
If we as a society want to achieve true equality, shouldn’t women also be required to register for the draft?
Why should women be exempt if men and women are supposed to be equal?
How does this tie in with the current issue of LGBTQ rights? Would women who identify as male have to sign up? What would this mean for men who identify as women? Would some do this just to avoid the draft?
These pressing issues continue to complicate the seemingly simple regulation that requires all men to register.
As society battles with ethical dilemmas in our current political climate, the laws of gender and equality begin to shake at their foundations.
“Harrison Bergeron,” written by Kurt Vonnegut and published in 1961, warns of a perfectly equal society through a satirical plot. Harrison Bergeron is an attractive, intelligent and robust individual who is stripped of his strengths because not everyone else has his advantages and privileges.
Literal weights hold him down to suppress his strength, and a grotesque mask conceals his attractiveness.
He is equal to everyone else in society, since nobody can be smarter or better looking, stronger or more capable than anyone else.
Vonnegut is clearly exaggerating the meaning of equality, but he does so through satire to show that we must be careful what we wish for and understand the impact it will have on our society.
When taking everything into consideration, it is clear that society needs a certain degree of equality when it comes to a world in everyone’s best interest.
Obviously, men and women should have the same opportunities, but should women be forced to register for the draft along with men? Should men who identify as women be excused from the draft?
Everyone is unique in their own ways, but is it really fair that some people are smarter and more attractive than others?
Everyone should have good manners, but should men hold doors for women? Should women be lady-like?
All of our beliefs come into question when taking these situations into account.
Regardless of your personal opinions on these controversial issues, you cannot ignore the fact that modern political, social and ethical disputes are causing everything we have accepted as true to be questioned and our very way of life to be forever altered.