Is gender equality possible? Sadhguru explains that being equal does not mean being same, and that today, we are unfortunately trying to fit a woman into a masculine world.
Q: Sadhguru, is gender equality achievable? When there are inherent differences, how can the two genders be equal?
Sadhguru: I think in today’s context, we have misunderstood the word “equal”. Equal does not mean same. Equal means equal opportunity, equal regard, equal respect, but not sameness of action. If you bring sameness of activity, you will put the woman to great disadvantage in most areas of life outside. You will put men to disadvantage in certain other areas of life. And above all, inefficiency will prevail – women trying to do what men are good at, men trying to do what women are good at and making a mess of it. By training, everyone can do everything. But natural aptitude should be made use of. If that is not done, mediocre levels of activity will happen. It is best to make use of natural aptitude. Who is to decide who should do what? Why should it be pre-decided that this is what a man can do and that is what a woman can do? Let the individual person decide.
Today, the playing field has changed and so many activities have become common among men and women, which was not possible in the past. A thousand years ago, most people were living in villages and there was jungle all around. There were wild animals everywhere. Back then, tigers were not pussycats that needed to be protected, they were ferocious creatures which struck terror in your heart. There was no store to buy something from. Every day, you had to either hunt or pluck something from somewhere and come. A man was definitely better off going out and doing this job. And there was another biological responsibility for a woman –she bore children. If she went out into the jungle with a little baby, she might come back empty-handed. So women were protected because children were there, and the man went out to procure food. This was an ideal distribution of work.
But now, technology has leveled the playing field. Getting food means going to the superstore. A woman can do it better than a man. Earning a living does not mean throwing a spear. It means typing something on a keyboard. She does that better too because she does not have to get up every hour, scratch herself, smoke a cigarette and again go and sit. If she sits down to work, she will simply do it. Women are doing these kinds of things better than men. This is not evolution of human mind or women’s liberation or masculine magnanimity. This is just advancement of technology. The playing field has become reasonably level.
So equality is never in question, but sameness is a stupid thing to do. Instead of trying to fit a woman into a masculine world, it is time we structure society and the world so that there is an equal role for masculine and feminine. The society we have created is so super-masculine, it is not even good for a man, forget about a woman. Right now, it is badly tilted against her and she is desperately trying to fit into the man’s world, which is unfortunately taking its toll. And when it takes a toll on her, a general disruption of life happens.
We need to restructure many things in this society, so that there is an equal role for masculine and feminine aspects of nature. As a masculine, aggressive way of doing things is needed on one level, aesthetics, music and being sensitive to things must become equally important.
Editor’s Note: Read more of Sadhguru’s insights on contemporary life and society: Flowers on the Path is a collection of articles that have inspired and stimulated readers, sometimes wafting into their lives as a gentle fragrance, and sometimes startling them awake with fresh perspectives on age-old ideas and beliefs. Download now.