Equality: A Back-to-the-Body Perspective

Emma_WatsonEmma Watson, newly appointed UN Women Global Goodwill Ambassador, has launched her HeForShe movement in her UN speech on September 20, 2014. In this article, I will look at equality issues from the Back-to-the-Body Perspective.

Let me pledge, first of all, my total, unconditional, unequivocal, and wholehearted solidarity with women in their search for better conditions of life. By this I mean that all humans—women and men—should be accorded the fundamental rights of life (a value of the stomach), liberty (a value of the brain), and pursuit of happiness (a value of the heart). But this task is multifaceted and should not be approached as a binary effort.

Equality as a Binary Framework

I have been proposing in this blog that we can understand and solve social issues by looking at the pattern of the body in search for inspiration. In the body, we see, not a binary pattern, but rather a tripartite pattern of stomach, heart, and brain [more information here].

I have likewise been proposing that any unity, to be successful, must follow the body’s tripartite pattern. Thus, a successful unity between man and woman will need to be based on a tripartite pattern. This pattern will be the creation of something together, which can be embodied in a child (born from them or adopted) or in something else that represents a joint accomplishment of their creativity. Thus, we may see a beautiful relationship between a priest and a nun, for example, which involves neither sexual activity nor children but has a common cause that binds them.

In contrast, “equal treatment” for men and women, as a binary cause, looks at men and women as children of society, so to speak, where society is treating one differently from the other. So, on one side we have society as an amorphous blob of power; and on the other side we have women and men taken as a whole, where men receive preferential treatment, and women receive substandard treatment. Again, we are talking about a binary relationship of society vs. women/men.

In this binary relationship, women and men are not interacting WITH one another but only with society. The assumption is that men (as a group) are receiving the gold standard of treatment, and women (as a group) are getting the short end of the stick.

As you can see, this perspective is far from what is real, because men, as a group, receive neither the “gold standard” of treatment nor “equal” treatment.

Still, let me state upfront that I stand for equal pay for equal work—and I think any human being would stand for that. When I was a kid, I used to work at a farm in my summer vacations, picking cotton. The entire year I was looking forward to that experience at the farm. I would get paid for the number of kilos per bag. I competed with older and stronger men, but there was never a question of equal pay for equal work. You bring in your bags of cotton. Somebody weighs them. So many kilos get so much pay—and that was that: equal pay for equal work. Had there ever been any woman working at that job, I cannot imagine that the woman would have been treated any differently.

On the other hand, it is also true that people get paid according to market forces, not according to some gold standard of what is fair. The salary of a specific individual will depend on market trends of supply and demand. A lot of times these contracts are negotiated on an individual basis, and there is a lot of inequality, even among men, as we all know. But the overall principle stands: equal pay for equal work.

Fairness rather than Equality

A goal that seems a lot more interesting to me is the one of fairness rather than equality. Men, as a group, have a long way to go before they live in a society that if fair and just. There is ruthless unemployment and exploitation. If women seek simply to find equality with men, that does not seem to move the agenda forward. What we need is better conditions for all.

Profit Sharing

Here’s what I suggest as the way forward for capitalism: profit sharing. Yes, a basic salary: we need a basic assurance of subsistence. But beyond that, a share of the profit. I know women and men will always be eyeing each other, looking for unequal treatment. Men think women have it easy; women think men have all the privileges. This, I believe, is natural—and I think it is strivings and emulations such as those that keep life interesting and vibrant. That, of course, within the framework of equal pay for equal work.

With profit sharing, people will feel motivated to get up in the morning and do their best for the enterprise: it will make a difference in their take-home pay.

Paulo-Juarez Pereira
Ypsilanti, Michigan, USA
September 25, 2014

Photo: Emma Watson
Author: David Shankbone
Source: http://bit.ly/1rmpBAp
Creative Commons License: Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)

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