The New York Times reports on a new study that was just released confirming that we have a long way to go in changing hearts and minds across the world when it comes to genuine gender equality:
People around the world say they firmly support equal rights for men and women, but many still believe men should get preference when it comes to good jobs, higher education or even in some cases the simple right to work outside the home, according to a new survey of 22 nations…The poll, conducted in April and May by the Pew Research Center’s Global Attitudes Project in association with the International Herald Tribune, shows that in both developing countries and wealthy ones, there is a pronounced gap between a belief in the equality of the sexes and how that translates into reality.
What’s depressing about these results are that they confirm our worst fears and daily experiences about gender inequality through out the world. What’s almost comforting is that the total illogical nature of the responses affirms why our work as feminists is just so damn difficult sometimes. As Susan Douglas argues in Enlightened Sexism, there is a sort of tacit agreement that the sexes should have equal opportunities, and then simultaneously, an attitude that equality doesn’t include good jobs, education, and work (not to mention being protected from sexual assault, objectification etc.).
France was emblematic of this gap. According to the Times:
One hundred percent of French women and 99 percent of French men backed the idea of equal rights. Yet 75 percent also said that men there had a better life, by far the highest percentage in any of the countries in which polling took place.
What I like about this, however, is that folks are being honest about the continued inequality and loudly proclaiming that they want to change it. It ain’t perfect, but it’s a start.