Essay on gender equality
The issue of gender equality has been widely discussed in philosophical literature and the mass media sources. In any democratic society, gender equality is considered to be an important moral principle that should be followed by all members of society. Reviewing ethical theories, it is possible to apply the core principles of each of the theories to the issue of gender equality in order to identify the ethical theory that provides the most satisfactory moral answer to the issue and the ethical theory that provides the least satisfactory answer to the issue of gender equality. There are several ethical theories that could be used to answer the issue of gender equality. The three theories that will be discussed in this paper include utilitarianism, virtue ethics and feminine theory. Considering the key principles of these ethical theories, it is possible to identify the most powerful theory that could be used to handle the issue of gender equality. Thesis statement: Feminine theory captures basic moral insights in relation to gender equality because it highlights the necessity to address women’s rights, providing guidelines for morality and ethical consistency. This theory is the most satisfactory moral answer to the issue of gender equality, comparing with utilitarianism and virtue ethics.
Equality (Gender): Basic Information about the Issue
The issue of equality, especially gender equality, is an important ethical issue that requires the proper investigation in order to find solutions. The issue of gender equality is associated with human values and the socially constructed process of developing values in humans. Moreover, the issue of gender equality combined with the emergence of social movements may result in the promotion of gender equality at the global level. According to Cady Stanton (2007), many organizations are focused on promotion of women’s rights. In Cady Stanton’s lecture “Subjection of women”, the author continues to advocate a wide range of reforms that she considered crucial to achieving equality for women” (p. 140). The author believes that women should be focused on developing and establishing their independence in social life and in their relationships with men. Her work inspired many feminists and contributed to the development of feminist movements.
Besides, the issue of gender equality depends on the role of political authorities in finding the proper solutions. Marilyn Friedman (2003) pays due attention to the issue of gender quality in the book Autonomy, Gender, Politics. The author discusses this issue highlighting the role of government in various practices of a cultural minority within the society, in which women’s rights are violated (Friedman, 2003). According to Marilyn Friedman (2003), “equality, rights, autonomy, justice, and liberty are all variously interpreted by liberals themselves”(p. 182). The author believes that liberal government and liberalism in general provide many solutions to the dilemma of equality of cultural minorities, namely the issue of women’s rights.
Moreover, the significance of the issue of gender equality is reflected in everyday situations. In the video Gender Stereotypes in Media, there are many examples, which demonstrate men’s relation to women in different situations. As a matter of fact, the media maintains gender stereotypes. Gender stereotypes are associated with different gender role attitudes, and place emphasis on the necessity to handle this issue in a proper way. Gender stereotypes can be found at home, at work and even in schools. These phrases prove the existence of stereotypes caused by gender inequality: “You just a woman with a small brain” or “If I take you on, you don’t say anything, you don’t question me …because you are a girl” (dsnook, 2009, Feb. 23). Stereotypes in advertising are still prevalent, although much has been changed over the last 50 years in the United States (jeeprollover, 2011, Oct. 26). Television plays a significant role in reinforcing stereotypes. Besides, various female stereotypes presented in Disney Films teach women different things that are associated with gender inequality. For example, in Beauty and the Beast, girls are taught to accept that men are dominant in relationships (jonesyy217, 2011, Dec. 12).
The application of three of the ethical theories to the issue of gender equality
The issue of gender equality can be discussed based on the application of various ethical theories, including utilitarianism, virtue ethics and feminine ethics. Using the core principles of each of the above mentioned theories; it is possible to prove the fact that the issue of gender equality is an ethical issue that requires a comprehensive moral answer.
Utilitarianism is considered to be an ethical theory that helps to determine the rightness/ or wrongness of some issue on the basis of an estimated outcome. In other words, utilitarianism is focused on usefulness of something or somebody’s actions rather than on moral obligation or moral duty (Jaggar, 2010; Louden, 2013). In the case of gender equality, utilitarianism places emphasis on the outcomes of gender relations. According to this ethical theory, the rightness/ or wrongness of human actions that reflect gender inequality can be determined by the need for assessing the outcomes. From women’s point of view, gender inequality brings evil consequences because women’s rights are limited, and women’s independence is limited.
Virtue ethics is an ethical theory that highlights the role of character traits. In other words, this ethical theory shifts the focus from the established rules and actions to the proper character traits. Although virtue ethics cannot strengthen the role of morality in human actions and decisions, moral reasoning needs the analysis of character traits (Louden, 2013). For virtue ethics, the major object of morality and moral evaluation can be an agent, but not his/her actions or decisions. Thus, this theory is centered on characters traits of agents (both good and bad agents). Their rights or wrong acts are not taken into consideration by virtue ethicists (Louden, 2013). Virtue ethics can be applied to the issue of gender equality. Moral character traits promoted by virtue ethics can give explanation to gender stereotyping and gender inequality, caused by evil traits of character.
Feminine ethics is an ethical theory that is focused on the feminist approach to ethics. The core principles of this ethical theory are aimed at correcting men’s biases that can be found in other ethical theories. These biases discriminate women, promoting women’s subordination, and disregarding women’s moral experience (Jaggar, 2010). The major principle of this theory is to criticize the actions, behaviors and practices of men who discriminate women, perpetuate women’s subordination. This theory is based on developing “philosophical accounts of the nature of morality and of the central moral concepts that treat women’s moral experience respectfully” (Jaggar, 2010, p. 528).
Identification of the ethical theory
that provides the most satisfactory moral answer to the issue
There are both strengths and weaknesses, which can be identified for each of the ethical theories as applied to the issue of gender equality. In order to identify the ethical theory that provides the most satisfactory moral answer to the issue, it is necessary to refer to the strengths of ethical theories discussed in the previous section of the paper.
To start with, the strengths of utilitarianism include two important characteristics of the theory. First, utilitarianism is “a single principle, an absolute system with a potential answer for every situation” (Pojman, 2004, p. 120). Second, this theory “seems to get to the substance of morality”(Pojman, 2004, p. 120). These strengths are focused on the usefulness of actions.
In addition, virtue ethics has its strengths. The strengths of virtue ethics include the significance of personal integrity. The major strength of virtue ethics is that it provides an opportunity to individuals to make decisions. Moreover, virtue ethics is closely connected with practical ethics, reinforcing the autonomy of individuals (Louden, 2013).
Besides, feminine ethics has its strengths in relation to different issues. The primary principles of feminist ethics include the promotion of the traits and values that are tied to women. The strength of feminine approach to ethics includes the reflection of women’s experiences. This ethical theory is aimed at putting the agenda of independence, liberation and equality in the forefront (Jaggar, 2010).
Thus, it is possible to identify the theory that is better than others in the case of gender equality is feminine theory. This ethical theory helps to explain the necessity of struggle for equal rights in the workplace, at home, and in other public places. This theory promotes the increased role of diversity in human society. Feminist approach is the most satisfactory moral answer to the issue of gender equality because advocates changes in human society based on the interests of women. Women’s rights in different sectors should be equal with men’s rights.
Identification of the ethical theory
that provides the least satisfactory answer to the issue
In order to identify the ethical theory that provides the least satisfactory answer to the issue of gender equality, it is necessary to refer to the weaknesses of ethical theories. The major weakness of utilitarianism as applied to the conception of equality is that it is focused on certain rights and obligations and fair shares of resources. The weakness of virtue ethics is that this theory is not oriented to principle-based ethics. Virtue ethics may create certain social problems (Louden, 2013). The weakness of feminine theory is focused on the fact that it deals only with oppression and discrimination of women. Taking into consideration of the weaknesses of the ethical theories discussed in the paper, it is possible to identify the ethical theory that provides the least satisfactory answer to the issue of gender equality.
Virtue ethics is an ethical theory that may praise some virtues that are considered to be immoral. Besides, virtue ethics does not involve the fundamental concepts, such as duty, obligation and rights. As a result, this theory cannot deal in a proper way with some significant issues. Virtue ethics does not highlights the role of what makes the act or behavior right and what makes it wrong. According to Louden (2013), virtue ethics is dependent on the final end which influences human lives, but it may not be virtuous. The issue of equality requires promoting moral principles in relation to women.
Thus, it is necessary to conclude that ethical theories can be applied to different issues of public concern, including the issue of gender equality. Feminine theory is focused on basic moral insights in relation to gender equality because it highlights the necessity to handle discrimination of women, providing guidelines for morality and ethical consistency. This theory is considered to be the most satisfactory moral answer to the issue of gender equality, comparing with utilitarianism and virtue ethics.
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