Do Women Want to Be Treated Like Men or Do Women Want to be Treated Like Equals?

Donald Miller

Whenever I make a statement or ask a question about anything regarding gender, the response I get is deafening. To be sure, this is a very sensitive issue. However, men do need to know and understand what women want, exactly, and if women want equality, that’s great, but if women want to be treated like men, that’s another thing all together. The truth is, men don’t treat each other all that well.

I read an interesting article the other day about a lesbian couple who decided to go straight. How? One of them got a sex change.

Fascinating enough as it is, the part of the article that peaked my interest was that the woman who changed her gender didn’t much like the world of men. She liked being a man, but she no longer liked the way the world treated her. She said men don’t compliment each other, they don’t encourage each other, and when they shake hands, they grab each other firmly and look each other in the eye without smiling. It’s like they don’t know how to get along, she said. (I have long believed that women are, socially, higher developed or designed than men in some ways. They seem to understand the true language of humanity, that somehow validating a person’s identity is paramount.)

*Photo by Victor, Creative Commons

I couldn’t help but laugh as I read the article. I actually like the way men interact. As a man, I find it more direct and to the point. I find it annoying to always have to think about how people feel about things. But that’s not what I’m getting at.

What I’m getting at is a question the article posited without meaning to. That is:

Do women want to be treated like men or do women want to be treated equally? (And make no mistake, the question is important.)

If we’re saying women should be paid the same as men, I’m in. If we’re saying women should be given the same opportunities, of course, I’m in. But if we are saying women should be treated like men, then unfortunately, I’m out. And I wonder if most women would be out, too.

The idea that there’s some secret men’s club where we are all for each other and waging a war on women is simply false. As a rule, men are not nice or kind to each other. We do have our friends and we play our favorites, but for the most part, men are competitive and intense and are often marking our territory. I don’t know a single man who isn’t more kind to women than they are to men. Men are tough with each other and much more likely to fight with each other than they are to fight with a woman.

I confess I’ve long believed the soul is gender neutral. What I mean is, our bodies and minds, our biology and biochemistry may be gender inclined (or mixed, and common sense have proven) but our souls are of the same, non-gendered orientation. And for this reason, gender issues have never interested me any more than issues relating to the physical body. Now I know some will say our bodies and souls are connected, and of course this is true, but I think of our souls as eternal while our bodies replaceable. And I wouldn’t be surprised if there were no gender in heaven.

Nevertheless, the issue is still important because we are talking about a framework within which to dignify or indignify a fellow human being, which has enormous and eternal consequences for the soul.

Even as I type this, I feel like I’m burying mines in a field I’ll be expected to walk back across.

My question is, then, for the women:

Do you want to be treated like men in every area of your life? And if not, is it confusing for you to want to be treated more kindly and tenderly in a social area, but more straight-forwardly in the sense of economic and cultural equality?

Let me be more pointed: As women, do you want for men to say you’re beautiful? Because if we treat you like men, we will never say you’re beautiful. We don’t really care. And we won’t make you feel small or special or precious, either. We won’t protect you because, quite frankly, you need to protect yourself or you’re a wimp. Do you really want us to treat you like men?

And then there’s the secondary questions. There’s the questions about the fact women are paid much less than men. And that’s ridiculous. It’s a shame and a crime and a travesty. But let’s not pretend women want to be treated like men because they don’t. What they seem to want is equality. And those terms need to be parsed and understood. And who will lead this parsing and understanding? Women. State clearly what you want. We need to know because the current communication is, to say the least, confusing.

So, the questions for the women reading this article are:

1. Do you want to be treated as an equal?

2. Do you want to be treated differently than you would as a man?

3. What is the difference between being treated as an equal and as a man?

Of course, it should be noted all people are different and that we are making generalizations about gender. That said, how do we even talk about this issue without making generalizations? The conversation must start somewhere.

Grace is appreciated.

-Donald Miller

Donald Miller

Donald Miller

Donald Miller is a student of story. He helps people live a better story at Storyline through this blog and the Storyline Conference. He helps leaders grow their businesses at StoryBrand, where they get an entire marketing education in 2 days at his Workshop. Donald lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with his wife, Betsy, and their chocolate lab, Lucy. For regular updates, follow Don on Twitter (@donaldmiller) and Instagram. To read more of his posts on the Storyline Blog, click here.

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  • Susan Suard

    Your questions are largely irrelevant, as they seem to stem from your incomplete experience of masculinity and subsequent skewed perception of femininity. As a female, I, too, prefer direct communication and self-sufficiency. I have very strong urges to protect those whom I love, especially my husband. While it’s nice to be complimented on my appearance, I would much prefer to be complimented on my thoughts. The idea that I crave to feel small is honestly, so insulting, I don’t really even know where to begin. The idea of being “precious and special” is incredibly inviting, but it is small. And I do not want to be small. I want to exist outside of you, and any other man’s opinion of me. You see, Donald, these perceptions of what women want are essentially based out of the subtle and dangerous idea that men are a reference point for the value of a woman. I don’t need a man to think I am beautiful, small, precious, or special to be worth something. That is the thread that lies between the lines of your honest quandary. Perhaps you have experienced a lot of mixed messages from women in your life. You seem to have an underlying assumption that women don’t know what they want and are unable to communicate clearly. Since you have been honest, I will be, too. I have often been frustrated by women wanting to be “nice”, and thus not communicating in ways that are effective and respectful. However, I think the phenomenon stems from patriarchal socialization rather than biology. All this to say, I hope these thoughts are direct and manly enough for you. Come to think of it, perhaps I should consider a sex change.

  • Maddinacho

    I am a women, and personally I do want to be treated like men. But for most women they want to be treated equally – all my life I have been a tomboy and my brain is naturally more masculine. This is why we can never get it quite right…

    • panait ciprian

      really? so when you cross the line you want to be beaten up? Because men know not to cross some lines in relations with other men, but women cannot seem to understand that insulting a man, his family and his friends is a line they should not be crossed. And you are only forgiven because you are women. Do you want to be forced to die in wars? There are a lot of shitty stuff about being a man, but you only want the good stuff. guess what? You do not get to cherry pick.

      • Maddinacho

        Firstly, not all guys would just go ahead and beat someone up – even if they were other men – if they cross the line. I’d go as far as to say that the majority of men probably know better than to do that. I do not ‘only want the good stuff’ about being a man. I expect to get paid as much as men do for working – but ONLY if I do not take maternity leave, and work for just as much and as long as they do. If a woman takes a year off for maternity leave, fair enough that she doesn’t get paid much whilst she is taking time off.
        I realise that in the past men, some men have been forced to fight in wars – but ‘forced to die in wars’ is a bit extreme. The main reason for men joining the army (in the World Wars, anyway, although I’m not too knowledgeable on any other wars) was because of the propaganda, and the pride that they wanted from serving their country. This is why some men faked their age and said they were old enough to become a soldier when they were actually underage.
        I know that there are downsides to being a man, but there are equally as many, if not more, downsides to being a woman. I would never think for a second that I would definitely be forgiven if I insulted anyone, their family and/or their friends, no matter if they were a man or a woman. If you have had a problem like this with a woman before, it is not rational to conclude that all women are like this, because I bet very few are.

        • panait ciprian

          True, but everybody has a subject that hurt them when is brought up. And believe me if you attack that as a man the other man will beat you up. Is no question. Know better than to do that?! Do you think we have no soul or feelings just because we do not overeact to every little thing? Yeah we are better at self control, but everyone has that one thing they care about. And women love to attack it. In the past? Do not make me laugh. I was obligated to enlist as a reserve. Is not in the past, it is in the present. And it had nothing to do with propaganda. The law was you either enlisted or end up in jail or executed. It was not about pride. Is not about serving your country. Men faked their age so they can fight? were do you get this bs? Men usually tried to avoid wars, because most wars had nothing to do with them. There were cases like the wars against the ottoman turks when you fought for your own freedom against the “peace loving islam”, but most wars were petty, including ww1 and ww2 and did not have anything to do with the majority of people. Also you say that are downsides for being a woman. Name one serious one apart of menstruating and having to carry a baby. Name just one, because unless you like in a country somewhere in Africa there is probably none that are really true.

          • Maddinacho

            If it is a sensitive subject that really gets to someone, I can understand that a guy would get so angry that they’d beat someone up for bringing it up if they lacked self-control. I don’t think that men have ‘no soul or feelings’ just because you ‘do not overreact to every little thing’, and my point that I think that most men would know better than to cross the line is completely irrelevant to me thinking that. I never implied that at all.
            As I said in my comment, I know about the World Wars. I know nothing about other wars. Propaganda and pride was why some young men faked their age to fight in those them. I’m sorry, I didn’t know that men nowadays are sometimes forced to fight. wars.http://www.historyextra.com/feature/second-world-war/revealed-boys-who-lied-about-their-age-fight-ww2

            I can name several downsides to being a woman, and I suppose they all come down to one thing: stereotypes.

            The stereotype of women staying at home and men working may be obsolete in most first-world countries, but the typical idea of men being good leaders means that only 14% of CEOs are female. http://money.cnn.com/2015/03/24/investing/female-ceo-pipeline-leadership/ (2015)

            The paygap between male and female professional footballers is well-known to be huge, and I don’t doubt that it’s the same for many other sports.

            Females who play video games are labelled as ‘gamer girls’ and are often sexualised in online chats as girls who just want to online date (you only have to search for the term in google images to see what the gaming community thinks of them). I am only 15 but the impact of the negative stereotypes of women has been the most upsetting and stressful issue in my life so far, especially because I am into gaming, to the point that I can’t be taken seriously as a girl who plays games online so I use a voice changer with my microphone to make me sound like a male.

            And even for a woman not interested in gaming, professional footaball or becoming a business leader, prejudice and discrimination due to stereotyping is something which is very hard to escape. Casual sexist remarks appear all over the internet and in life, from jokes about women and cooking to derogatory phrases and insults, like ‘you run like a girl’ and ‘f*** her right in the p****’. You yourself have stereotyped women a lot in your comments, saying that ‘we [men] are better at self control’ and ‘women want the rights for free, without responsibilities’ to name a few.

            Some people just think that women who take offense to these things are ’emotional’ and ‘overeact to every little thing’ , but as you said, everybody has a subject which hurts them when it is brought up. And for A LOT of women – including me – this is it. Menstruating and pregnancy is a fact of life for women, and we just have to deal with it. But sexist stereotyping is simply a flaw of modern culture which females can’t escape, although I hope that in the near future this will all be changed.

          • panait ciprian

            From what I see you do not know about the world wars either. They had nothing to do with normal men, but with leaders wanting to reshape the influence of power in the world.

            About women staying at home you must understand that until around 1950 when tehnology advanced going to work meant you worke in a toxic environment and every day was the risk to lose a limb or your life. This was true for almost every job. So women CHOSE to stay at home where it was SAFE. Now that tehnology has evolved most jobs do not nvolve that risk so the women were duped to become workers. They were continuosly lied that work is liberating when in fact most work is not pleasent.

            About female CEO’s you cannot expect parity when women usually either do not chose those domains of activity or are not willing to put the effort of being a CEO.

            About women as leaders based on my short experience they generally fail hard. There are exceptions, but usually most women tend to take decisions based on their feelings which is not something a good lider does. The idea that men are better leaders can be proven scientifically and by studies.

            The footballers get payed more than they should regardless of gender. And the amount they get payed depends on how much people are willing to see them play. Since the people that watch footbal prefere male football then male football players are payed more. Is not discrimination but basic economics.

            About female gamers it may surprise you, but the reason you get so many propositions is because men admire ou for being level headed. Of course there as also plenty of jerks as they are everywhere.

            Is it stereotyping if is true for 90% of females? I am really interested in your opinion about this. You see men and women are different, both physically and mentally. Because we are human a man can train himself to be as good as a woman at a job that is more in tuned with the female constitution and of course the opposite is valid. But is also true that some occupations and skills come easier to men and some to women. Being different does not make women inferior to men or the other way around. It makes them complementary. Have you wonder why no one gets married anymore? Is because men try to do women’s work also an the other way around. They feel they do not need the other person. And yes women run slower the men (look at the entrance exams in police, army and firefighters- they are lowered for women) . Also women are more emotional and as a result have less self control. You can verify this yourself.

            As a conclusion please answer: Is it sexism or stereotyping if it is true for 75-95% of all women?

          • Maddinacho

            I didn’t mention WHY women stayed at home – just that because it was the norm in the past, not as many women are aspiring to become leaders of big companies and/or people are sometimes apprehensive to give females important roles in the workplace. First there were only men in charge of companies, so many women would have been understandably put off as there were no other women who had achieved what they wanted to, and therefore no rolemodels. However, the unbalance between the number of male and female CEOs is levelling out slowly.

            Women who make feelings-based decisions would find it very challenging to become leaders in the first place, so I don’t know what leaders you are talking about. Most female leaders are very strong and hard-headed – for exmmple, the UK Prime Minister Margret Thatcher wasn’t called the ‘Iron Lady’ for nothing.

            I doubt that any hint of a level-headed quality can be seen when I am merely gaming online.

            You have said that women are more emotional and therefore have less self-control, which implies that if I were to take any female and any male, the female will be more emotional and have less self-control. However,it can be seen by common sense that this wouldn’t be true for everyone because although most of the females would be more emotional, in some cases the man would be. But because a woman is more likely to be more emotional, a stereotype is created that all women are more emotional because it is easier to think of everyone who is part of a certain group will all act in the same way because of it.

            There are biological differences, but as we are humans, our abilities and minds cannot be calculated and predicted with precise accuracy. I agree with what you say about either sex being able to get a job, although that is besides the point.

            People draw oversimplified conclusions about males and females because of the biological differences. If every single woman on the planet has a trait, it is a fact. If less than 100% do, it is still a stereotype.

          • panait ciprian

            I said that most women are emotional. And this is because how estrogen works. About females as leaders I have had bosses that were male and bosses that were female. the female ones were the worst. Also about women as leaders I aready specified that most, not all are like that. There are always exceptions. The problem is that you cannot force women to become CEO’s for the sake of parity.

  • PP123

    women are becoming less and less appealing to men as they want to be treated like men, women should get paid less than men and have less opportunities than men in certain professions where greater strength is required, which men have, also women leave there jobs more often due to maternity, and yet want to be treated like men, its a farce. Throughout history the whole reason for an attraction of men to women has been due to the mans ability to protect the women, and provide for them, and defend them, womens desire for independence and equality is destroying that

    • panait ciprian

      is not about equal opportunities is about priviledges. You want to get into the police force? fine, but take the same test as the men. You want the same salary? Fine work as much, do as much overtime, do not take so many vacations. You want for women in politics vote for them!!! More women than men vote even though women did not pay with their blood for the right to vote and got it for free. You want to make decisions in the family prove that you can act as an adult when the shit gets serious.Women want the rights for free, without responsablities.

      • Maddinacho

        Men were in power at the time of World War II. These men decided that women were not strong enough to be able to fight in the war, so they allowed only men to go. This is why ‘women did not pay with their blood for the right to vote’, however instead of getting it for ‘free’, women help with the war in every other way they were allowed to. They took on the jobs of mechanics, engineers, tank drivers, air raid wardens, bomb/aircraft factory workers and nurses, to name a few. This made the government realize that women were intelligent enough to vote, and ever since we have been becoming more and more equal to men. One day, however much you don’t want it to happen, all humans will be treated fairly and equally.

        • panait ciprian

          you are so full of bs. the rights to vote was given to he masses exclusively with the condition to enlist in the military. before that only the rich and powerfull had the right to vote. read some hisory!!! I am not saying women did not help in the war. I am saying they did not have to die. And I do not know why you mention WWII. Is about all the wars. Maybe you believe forced enlistng as removed after WWII but you are wrong. I for instance was forced to enlist so shut the fuck up!

          • Maddinacho

            Sorry, I should’ve made it clear that I’m from the UK and I was explaining how women gained the vote over here, which is why I mentioned WW2 – that was the war which was followed by women gaining the right to vote. From your comment I understand that you’re from elsewhere and the difference in history didn’t occur to me. Swearing wasn’t really necessary though and you are beginning to sound quite hysterical – I think you’ve just disproved your own stereotype in your above comment ‘we [men] are better at self control’. You clearly are negatively affected by being forced to enlist as a reserve, and I am negatively affected by prejudice and discrimination towards women, so can we end this and say that there are downsides to your sex whether you are male or female?

          • panait ciprian

            ok let’s talk about uk. The right for women to vote was given as it is now in 1928 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Women's_suffrage_in_the_United_Kingdom). On the other hand the law about men having to enlist in the army went on and of until 1960 (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conscription_in_the_United_Kingdom) and believe me that if there is another big war it will be on again. Sorry for swearing, but it gets to me when I hear repeated the same lying propaganda feminists have always held. As you can see in uk the law that required men to not enlist went of 40 years after all women were given the right to vote. The right to vote for women existed partially since 1918. Is not that I am negatively affected by this. The thing is that I am passionate about the truth. And the truth is there almost no downsides today in most countries for being a woman.

          • Maddinacho

            I can’t see how the time between conscription and women’s right to vote is relevant to an argument as to whether women gained the right to vote for free or not.

            Also, I couldn’t help but become interested in your other comments on posts and I see that joining in arguments and debates is something which you do very often. I will inevitably sound patronizing saying this, but you would feel so much happier all of the time if you stayed out of arguments unless someone evokes you, and browsed site posts which aren’t controversial and likely to cause the need for a debate. Arguing is stressful, time consuming and – most of the time – unnecessary.

          • panait ciprian

            I am flated for the interest, but based on your comments (you being 15) I am the one with more life experience. And I am not arguing I am debating. I know how it appears but I am very calm.