The hidden corners of gender equality

Equality for men and women in today's society has its limits, as men are denied services open to women on the TTC, and women continue to earn less than men.While men and women have the majority of the same rights in Canada, there are still signs of inequality that are overlooked.

If someone told you today women aren’t considered persons, you would probably laugh and wonder what decade the speaker was from. If someone claimed men are being overpowered by women today, you would most likely think they were crazy, too.

Yet both statements have their elements of truth.

In the workplace, there is an earning gap between men and women, with women receiving the shorter end of the stick. Less than 10 years ago, Statistics Canada reported women were making 80 cents for every dollar a man made.

But men don’t necessarily have it easier than women.

For example, services in Toronto can limit or exclude men. The University of Toronto at Scarborough has Women Only Workout hours and a Women’s Centre, but it does not have a Men’s Centre or Men’s Only Workout hours.

The TTC also offers a late-night service which allows women to be dropped off at a location that is not a bus stop. This service is not available for men.

Men and women seem to be engaging in a constant battle for equal rights and respect, but is a balance even possible?

Decades ago, women weren’t considered persons and didn’t have the right to work for a wage or obtain an education.

Just over 30 years ago, the Canadian Census revealed the majority of university students were male. By 2006, women have accounted for approximately 60 per cent of the post-secondary student body and around 40 per cent of doctorate degrees.

Kyle Macpherson, a fourth year New Media and English Literature student at the University of Toronto, sees proof of these statistics in his everyday life.

While he has no problem with more women enrolling in universities, he admits he is a little concerned about the effect this can have on men.

“There are more women enrolling into universities and more men going into working class trades, [but] I think that’s almost a step in the wrong direction,” Macpherson said.

“That’s almost subordination of men. I mean, when do men get affirmative action to increase their education?”

Nadya Seonarain, a Food and Nutrition Management student at Centennial College, notices more men are appearing in her course lectures.

“In the Nutrition course I see there’s a lot of guys coming in it now, but before, last semester, there was a lot of girls,” Seonarain said, “Now they’re slowly evening it out.”

While Seonarain feels that both sexes are treated fairly, she does notice the segregation which can exist in her workplace, La Senza.

“To be fair, I think there are some cases of feminism where I think it’s overly done,” Seonarain confessed.

“For an all girls’ store . . . I would like to even out the sexes a little bit so that it wouldn’t be all [girls].”

Seonarain thinks if some males were to be hired to work in this female lingerie and clothing store, the women employers would be able to concentrate and help customers better. She would love to see a male hired as a security guard or cashier at her workplace.

Roshan Arulnesam, a Computer Engineering Student at Centennial College, sees very few women in his classes. While he has no problem whatsoever with women being hired for any workplace position, he feels women should be hired based on their skills, not their gender.

“If we can do this job so well, then you should be able to do the job just as well,” said Arulnesam, speaking for guys in general, “And if you’re not doing it just as well, then you shouldn’t be hired.”

When he’s not studying, Macpherson works out of various newsrooms as a photographer. He sees gender segregation in newsrooms quite often.

“In photography departments, the newsrooms are dominated by men,” he said. “There are very few female photojournalists out there.”

While Macpherson supports women’s rights, he has his quirks about feminism as well.

“The one thing that annoys me is the hardcore, self-proclaimed feminists out there that aren’t about gender equality,” Macpherson said. “They’re about trash-talking the male gender.”

“In fact, if it’s about equality you probably shouldn’t be taking critical, affirmative action. I think some women are extremists . . . and I think they defeat the purpose of feminism and are pretty derogatory in some circumstances.”

Arulnesam has no problem with feminist movements or their accomplishments, but he does see where things can go too far.

“I think feminism’s OK, but there’s a limit,” Arulnesam said.

“I could hold the door for you just as you can hold the door for me. It’s not ’cause you’re a girl I’ve gotta go that extra mile for you. It’s ’cause you’re human I’m going to treat you like [everyone else].”

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Posted: Sep 29 2008 6:12 pm
Filed under: Features

1 Comment on "The hidden corners of gender equality"

  1. Get over your women issues Macpherson. It seems that you do have a problem with a higher percentage of women being at university, why don’t you just be honest

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