Equal but different, or just equal

The conservative way to win any argument is quite simple: appeal to tradition without explaining why this is important, draw incorrect and scary conclusions from cultural changes, and straw man the fuck out of any opposing argument. If facts are present, ignore them. Just put them aside for never. I agree that the cozy warmth of one's comfort zone is great, at least for those who are privileged with a comfort zone, but change being scary is not a reason change should not happen.

So I was pissed off when a woman wrote a lengthy post on Facebook (it's in Swedish, but here you go) about how she and her husband are happy having a traditional relationship, in which she stays in the kitchen and shaves her vagina for him (her words) and he provides for the family and does manly stuff, like a manly man doing manly things because he is so manly. She said that they chose to structure their relationship this way and politics should stay out of it; she was, in fact, quite annoyed at how issues like parental leave are politicized.

Like most conservatives, she does not actually understand what the left is saying, though. She believes the left wants to strip her of the right to choose how she structures her relationships. However, no one on the left is trying to do this; it is, in fact, a straw man argument against the equality movement, so that "traditional values" can stay in place in the culture as a whole. What the left is saying is that men and women (etcetera) should be equal in their right to choose for themselves, meaning if they want a relationship in which the woman stays at home and the man works, vice versa, or whatever, they can. This includes the way this woman and her husband structured their relationship, or any other way.

Gender roles, in the form of "traditional values", are already a political issue; it has been ever since arbitrary roles were created for men and women. This is what the left opposes, not this woman's individual way of life. Of course, the left does oppose the cultural indoctrination which made her think "traditional values" are good, but no one on the left wishes to deny her the right to choose for herself; that would be the opposite of what the left wants.

According to the conservative woman's own words, she and her husband decided to live as they do, and she wants to keep the right to choose this. I doubt this is entirely true, as she was most likely, in one way or another, indoctrinated into believing her conservative values are important. Furthermore, conservatives seem willfully ignorant of the fact that the left wants to eliminate restrictions on both men and women, thereby increasing their options in life, rather than exchanging one set of limiting ideals for another. This conservative woman believes her individual way of life is being threatened, and she defends herself. Ironically, she defends herself against what she thinks is a role she has forced upon her, when what she really defends is the political and cultural application of traditional gender roles which are forced upon everyone else.

Conservatives like this woman believe in individual freedom to choose as long as everyone conforms to their way of life. Or in other words, as long as one chooses as they do, there is no problem. As soon as people wish to live their lives in a way that does not fit in "traditional values" and thus must push back against these values which oppress them, conservatives feel threatened by the change. As soon as there are people who do live differently, conservatives feel threatened by the difference. To hold on to their narrow views, in the face of overwhelming logic, they must twist the arguments their opposition is presenting. Instead of recognizing that human beings should get to choose how they live their own lives, these conservatives use the straw man argument that eliminating arbitrary gender roles will somehow force them to conform to a different structure for their relationships. This is ironic, since they actually wish to keep the cultural structures which force others to conform to their way of life.

When conservatives force ideals on everyone, they see no problem with it. When they irrationally fear that the same is being done to them, suddenly it is a problem. This epitomizes the hypocrisy which is conservatism. Deep down, they probably know that cultural changes in the form of equality for sexes and sexual orientations would not affect them personally; the reason they oppose change is simply because it is change, and they would rather have things stay the same, even if this oppresses more than half of the population, than see their comfortable bubble of reality change. The old mantra "equal, but different" seems to be as intrinsic to the conservative version of nature as gravity or the air we breathe. They pretend to care about personal freedom, the right to choose for oneself, when they really only care about preserving their "traditional values" at the expense of anyone else.

So, please, dear conservatives, understand that if you want the man to work and the woman to stay in the kitchen, you just go ahead and do that; no one is trying to stop you from making that choice for yourself. However, when you have already politicized the issue by stripping people of basic human rights, their right to choose, based on their gender, you must not be surprised by the backlash. What the left wants is, simply put, for all humans to be seen as humans, free to choose for themselves. You may say men and women are equal but different, but really they should just be equal. If you want you and your spouse to have different roles, even traditional ones, that is your choice, but you cannot take that choice away from everyone else just because you dogmatically fear change.