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Men and women are not the same. That’s what makes them men and women, rather than more of the same kind of thing. Gender equality, if by that one means identical treatment regardless of gender, is vapid and unworkable, since the point of being gendered is that it outlines a social role for facilitating social interactions. In respect to gender, men and woman in respect of their being a different sex are specifically not equal.

The notion of equality in this context must come down to some like quality where gender is irrelevant to treatment that ought to be rendered. Gender equality is not to say that men ought to be towards women in a way that women are towards men, at least in terms of sexual interaction (which is the grounds of gender role); rather, the equality is meant whenever gender is irrelevant. When one’s being a man or being a woman doesn’t matter to some analysis, gender equality maintains they ought to be treated equally, as that is just.

However, how is one to know when gender is or isn’t relevant, apart from a theory of gender role? This is typically where the one advancing the favorability of gender equality wavers. If all they mean is that in respect of the same quality, likes ought to be treated alike, then it’s a trivial proposition that would be difficult to disagree with, but agreeing with doesn’t establish what the gender egalitarian typically means to assert. What is meant to be asserted is that gender equality includes such things as the elimination of the male-female wage gap, but equality of itself does not establish that men and women ought to make the same pay, since the fact of being different (qua sex) establishes the theoretical possibility of correlation between sex and qualities that affect pay, which establishes the theoretical disconnect between those policies and gender equality per se.

If men and women are different, then it follows that those instances of difference may be relevant to pay. For instance, men are more inclined towards positions in engineering compared to women, and as engineering tends to have higher than median pay, men would have higher pay on that count. Thus, when presented with the male-female wage gap, one has to do more than go on about “gender equality,” because it may very well be beside the point.

As appeal to gender equality doesn’t provide much traction for supporting feminist policies, gender equality thus tends to be diluted into a vague anti-conformism. If a woman wants to play at male roles, she should be let to do so, and vice versa. Gender should not include expectations concerning a preference toward career and family, allowing each individual to choose their priorities. Gender equality reduces to feminizing gender roles, because if you aren’t working to make the genders be “more equal,” you’re against gender equality.

The idea of “gender equality” is but a cover for others, having less to do with the theoretical concept of equality as with the destruction of perceived differences in gender.