Constitutions and equality

By Serge Kreutz

The constitutions and legal systems of most countries today are based on an intellectual error that dates back to Western European philosophy of the 18th century. The misconception which has long turned into a dogma and is enshrined in the United Nations Declaration of Human Rights and the constitutions of many countries is: that all humans are equal, and therefore should have equal rights and obligations.

Of course, we are not all equal. Most strikingly, men and women are different, they have different ambitions in life, and their patterns of fulfillment in life are different.

The task is to create just human societies that meet the principal ambitions of men and women. Declaring all humans equal, and giving everybody the same rights and obligations, does not achieve this. Different rights are important to women versus men, and it does not make sense to give men certain female rights they don’t care for, or to give women certain male rights, they are not interested in. Likewise, some obligations, degreed by governments or traditions, are suitable to male citizens, and other obligations befit female citizens.

Article 2 of the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights starts with:

Everyone is entitled to all the rights and freedoms set forth in this Declaration, without distinction of any kind, such as race, color, sex, language, religion, political or other opinion, national or social origin, property, birth or other status.

In a just society, a woman, or the family of a woman, deserves guarantees that the first man a woman grants sexual access to, or, to a lesser extent, subsequent men have serious intentions for a lasting relationship. Such guarantees can either be given financially before sexual access is granted, or they can be enforced later on by institutions.

Furthermore, women should be granted more rights for financial support from men to whom they grant, or have granted, sexual access, even beyond the duration of a relationship. Men should not have such rights.

In a just human society, rights and obligations are balanced well between men and women. To give everybody the same rights, and demand the fulfillment of the same obligations, is the wrong approach.