Divide and conquer or come together
I went to an interesting talk titled The Gender Divide yesterday. When I think of ‘divide’ I think of division, maths and scary formulas marching in front of my face with an ‘equals’ sign at the end and a magic answer. Equality features strongly in talk about diversity but have we oversimplified the formula? Time to have a bit of fun with maths I think and blow up some assumptions both about what we divide and make things equal.
If we are talking about division with people we don’t seem to past dividing by 2. It might seem obvious to just put male and female as a reasonable assumption, I’ll come back to it, but lets go deeper. What about culture or ethnicity? Thinking about my own family and history this is kind of complex but looking at me I fit nicely into 2.
Sexuality is commonly simplified into gay and straight where the realities are probably much more like some quadratic equation with weird answers that come out differently every time…well at least they did for me at school, but I still love maths. Hidden in here is a division that goes unnoticed but is often the most visible, that of ‘able and disabled.’ I’m also not really convinced male and female need to translate into pink and blue, rugby and netball, dresses and pants, but we do seem stuck in a rut with physically expressing diversity gender wise, especially at most secondary schools in New Zealand, uniforms do seem to try and get girls and boys to be clearly different.
The difficulty with the use of the word ‘equality’ is the implication of balance or the same as something else. I’d like to suggest unbalancing the equation is what we need to keep doing, rather than equalising it. One thing I took away from listening yesterday was the idea that we need to keep looking back to understand the present and include the hidden past. History isn’t just what they teach at school so perhaps finding out more about diversity throughout time is a place to start. I love this quote:
‘Our fear of the losses can keep us from changing, what is it, exactly, we are afraid to lose?’
Lets get a bit more adventurous and not rely on what we think we already know and multiply our understanding.