• Betrifft

    equal and civil rights

    A close "e-friend" of mine in Japan just wrote about a "gender-equality" meeting. This is not something she is a part of but something she got "roped into" because her group (an English group) uses a building. It was a "pay-back". :)

    However, I felt instinctively that the best word, at least in AE, would be "equal rights" group.

    There is no logical reason for this, but "equal rights" has been historically connected with "gender equality", while "civil rights" has been associated with race and other issues (in the US).

    To further muck it all up, we also have "human rights".


    1) Is the usage "equal rights" (with or without capital letters) peculiar to the US?
    2) Is there also a differentiation between the terms "equal rights" and "civil rights" in other English-speaking countries?

    According to LEO:

    equal rights pl. / die Gleichberechtigung

    Under civil rights:

    civil rights pl. [jur.] / die Bürgerrechte Pl.
    civil rights pl. / die Ehrenrechte
    civil rights activist [pol.] / der Bürgerrechtler
    civil-rights activist / der Bürgerrechtler | die Bürgerrechtlerin
    civil-rights movement / amerikanische Bürgerrechtsbewegung
    civil rights movement [pol.] / die Bürgerrechtsbewegung
    enjoyment of civil rights [jur.] / die Rechtsfähigkeit
    loss of civil rights [sociol.] / der Ehrverlust

    Thoughts, anyone?
    VerfasserGary07 Okt. 03, 05:06
    @ Gary: I cannot speak for other English-language countries, but I don't quite agree with your AE-based distinction between "equal rights" and "civil rights." Well, I do agree that you have unearthed a basic, probably more or less colloquial distinction in that "civil rights" typically invokes associations surrounding the rights of minorities more so than "equal rights"--however, I would not want to see that distinction pushed too far, even in AE. For instance, the various Civil Rights Acts (federal as well as states) apply to more than racial or ethnic situations.

    Moreover, what you call "equal rights" stems from "equal protection under the law." That, however, is a phrase from US-constitutional jurisprudence that applies to more than gender issues--in fact, legal and historical Civil Rights issues (such as racial civil rights) are directly related to that concept.

    All this only goes to say that the distinction between "equal rights" and "civil rights" is not quite as clear-cut in AE. Thus, the question may be rather whether a similar overlap in meaning between both terms exists in other countries (which I would expect).
    #1VerfasserOliver <de/us>07 Okt. 03, 14:37
    So what's the problem with "gender equality" as a term? Besides being a utopic concept, that is...
    #2VerfasserAnon Y Mous07 Okt. 03, 17:08
    The following is just my impression:

    Equal rights ~ gleiche Rechte/Gleichberechtigung:
    The emphasis is on the equality of all persons in regards to the law. This equality is not limited to gender or racial differences.
    Alle Menschen sind vor dem Gesetz gleich.

    Civil rights ~ buergerliche Rechte/Buergerrecht:
    The emphasis is on certain rights that are seen as basic and essential rights of the citizens in a civil society. The main discussion point is the question what are these basic and essential rights.
    Welche Rechte hat ein Buerger dieses Staates? Insbesondere im Vergleich zu Rechten, die alle Einwohner und/oder Besucher haben.

    Da Du Jurist bist, geht die Frage vornehmlich an Dich: Ist mein Eindruck falsch? Wenn ja, wo liegt mein Verstaendnisfehler?
    #3VerfasserAGB07 Okt. 03, 18:52
    @ AGB: So wuerde ich das auch sehen. Gemaess Deiner Auflistung sollte es dann auch deutlich sein, dass es zwischen den beiden Konzepten von "equal rights" und "civil rights" bestimmte Ueberlappungen gibt. Und da Gary urspruenglich ja auch noch "human rights" mit ins Spiel gebracht hat, liesse sich das dann noch in eine dritte Kategorie stellen, die aber ebenfalls deutliche Ueberschneidungen mit "equal rights" und "civil rights" hat. Hauptsaechlich kommt es wohl darauf an, was man im gegebenen Fall, kontext-bezogen, wirklich betonen will.
    #4VerfasserOliver <de/us>07 Okt. 03, 18:57
    @ Oliver,

    I was prevented from answering the next day. Before work I had no time, and after work I could not get to the forum page (it would not load until the next day). Today, before work, again I had no time.

    Now I'm probably back too late to continue this discussion, but if you are still around and reading, I would like to ask you a couple questions.

    I have already written back to my Japanese friend and told her to change "equal rights group" to "gender equality group". :)

    Thanks for your very detailed answer!
    #5VerfasserGary09 Okt. 03, 07:25
    @ Gary: I saw your message from today, 8:25. What are your questions?
    #6VerfasserOliver <de/us>09 Okt. 03, 14:17

    I was associating the ERA with "equal rights", and this was where I was making the connection to "gender". Now, I know next to NOTHING about law, so if I say something especially stupid, please remember that!

    I am still a bit confused about the US usage of "equal rights". Initially I tried to look up the term but found no English entries. I next simply looked up "equal", got nothing there, but I saw a link: For More Information on "equal" go to Britannica.com. There I found:

    _Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

    a proposed but unratified amendment to the U.S. Constitution that was designed mainly to invalidate many state and federal laws that discriminate against women; its central underlying principle was that sex should not determine the legal rights of men or women._

    This is little better than no information, but I searched a bit more. I did not know this amendment was first proposed in 1923, nor did I know that 35 states have ratified it and that three more are still needed to pass it. Is "pass" the right word?

    My questions: am I the only person to immediately think of this specific area when I hear the term "equal rights"? Or is this something that many people in the US would immediately focus on, without knowing why?
    #7VerfasserGary09 Okt. 03, 18:59
    @ Gary: Now I understand better why you have this particular understanding of "equal rights." "Equal Rights Amendment" is indeed, as you explained, a set of laws specifically aimed at gender equality and its many pertinent fringe areas in law. In fact, a number of states have such ERAs, independent from any federal amendment that would yet have to become effective.

    Incidentally, federal laws such as the Family and Medical Leave Act (governing maternity leave situations, among other things) stem from such "equal rights" considerations.

    However, the phrase "equal rights" per se is much broader in meaning. I did a little online search, in a database containing all federal and state court opinions, the phrase occurred 7075 times. Some of those hits indeed have to do with gender issues. Many, though, clearly implicated 14th Amendment racial issues. Others dealt with "equal rights" of divorced parents in child rearing context. And so on...

    Thus, you have a term that is essentially too broad to be pinned to any one specific meaning, without further context. Generally, though, as I said earlier, it really is a term particularly prevalent in equal-protection-type situations pertinent to a broad array of civil rights issues. Civil rights, after all, involve more than racial issues. They can, and do, encompass gender issues. As an aside, even such Acts as the Americans with Disabilities Act fall under the general scope of Civil Rights laws.

    Did that answer your question?

    I guess, even after all this, it is still feasible that many in the US would nonetheless associate "equal rights" primarily with gender issues. I do not know whether that is so. The legal (and media, IMHO) usage of these terms, however, would not really support such colloquial association. But that may all be notwithstanding any "proper" usage.
    #8VerfasserOliver <de/us>09 Okt. 03, 20:37
    While I bow to Oliver's cautions about the technical legal meanings of the two phrases, I think Gary may well be right that in normal conversation "equal rights" is most normally associated with women's rights, a usage traceable at least in part to, um, the ERA era. Similarly, while in theory "civil rights" isn't technically or legally defined as pertaining only to race-related issues, in practice that seems to be how it's most often used.

    When lay people talk about other "rights" kinds of issues (say, ADA regulations requiring buildings to be wheelchair-accessible, or rights of children of illegal immigrants to health care, or gay rights or whatever), I'm not sure either "equal rights" or "civil rights" immediately comes to mind. But I'd be interested to hear other AE speakers' impressions, and whether usage is similar in other countries.

    And as Gary said, what about "human rights"? Legally that probably encompasses all of the above as well, but in practice many people tend to associate it with Amnesty International and so on...

    Gary, I'm not at all crazy about "gender-equality" either -- not wrong, but not that common either, and pretty jargon-y to my ears.

    Oliver, you mention the media use of these terms as parallelling the legal use (i.e., broader), whereas I would have expected it to be pretty much like the conversational use (i.e., equal rights +/- = women's rights, civil rights +/- = ethnic-minority rights). Are you thinking of some particular example?
    #9Verfasserhm -- us09 Okt. 03, 22:44
    Oliver, I want to stress that my immediate reaction, use "equal rights group", not "gender equality group", did not come from a conscious association with the ERA/Equal Rights Amendment. (Whether I have a association with either of those is another matter. I just don't know.)

    That's the point. It was a "knee-jerk" response. Right or wrong, it was my first impulse. "Gender equality" sounded very awkward, and "equal rights" was what came to mind. Regardless, I still suspect this is US only. (I don't know about Canadians.)

    I asked two women at work today what the first thing that came into their mind was when they heard the words "equal rights". And I asked them to answer immediately. Both had the same reaction I had. (We may have yet another variable here to muddy up the issue: do men and women use the words differently?) :-)

    Perhaps hm and I are not so uncommon (both lay people), using words that may have specific legal-meanings in non-legal ways.

    In my own area, music, I know that the term "classical", when used by almost everyone, differs radically from "classical", which describes music written approximately from 1750-1800, typified by the composers Mozart and Haydn (just naming two). People who are not professional musicians almost never use "classical" that way, so if you want to look up what "classical music" is, I think you might want to see both definitions, the one used by musicians and the one used by lay people.

    I think "equal rights" is similar, having a broader (legal) meaning and a more specific (or quirky), limited meaning assumed by at least quite a few people (in the US).
    #10VerfasserGary10 Okt. 03, 05:09
    Well, the fact that both you and hm are having similar "knee-jerk" associations with "equal rights," makes me pause. Perhaps I am just not the right person to speak to that matter, being infested with legal language that I am. The more I reflect on this, the more I think that Gary (and now hm) might be quite right. As such, my contributions serve only to point out that any potential colloquial understanding does not necessarily pinpoint the issues at hand completely. Of course, that's almost a truism, isn't it?

    hm, no, I actually do not have concrete media examples of the usage of "equal rights" and "civil rights" at hand. I am certain, however, that the media does use "civil rights," at least, in a broader sense than in a "mere" racial context. That's not to say, however, that such usage is common enough to have any impact on everyday use of those terms, or that journalists, if asked, had anything but the same colloquial associations. On the other hand, certain journalists are so used to cover legal issues that they, too, probably have adapted to a more technical legal expression than others (if they don't have some legal education anyway; some probably do).

    As such, I can only second the request for other native speakers, particularly now non-US speakers, to come forward in this question. I suspect that they might have similar things to say.
    #11VerfasserOliver <de/us>10 Okt. 03, 21:47

    I think you hit upon the number one problem in this discussion and many others—not enough comments from the "English" side. I don't know what the figures are for people who participate in these LEO forums, but my impression is that those who speak English as a first language are outnumbered considerably by those who speak German as a first language.

    My comments had to do with usage only, not what SHOULD be, not even what I would LIKE things to be. In addition, I was giving you (and I hope others) my own personal, intuitive reaction to a phrase. Logically, I think the idea that "equal rights" should be linked to sex/gender and not to all the other things you have mentioned is more than a bit crazy, but language itself is illogical. :)

    I would also love to hear from people in the UK (and elsewhere). My hunch is that the "colloquial" usage (gender-related=equal rights) is strongly linked to the US and AE. The problem is that without more input, we can't really take this any farther.
    #12VerfasserGary10 Okt. 03, 22:42
    When legislation for equality in employment and everything else between men and women was introduced here in Northern Ireland it was administered by the
    #13VerfasserJGMcI14 Okt. 03, 10:13
    @ Oliver,

    I was sick over the weekend and then catching up with work. Unforunately, I don't think we have gotten enough info from people as both of us had hoped, and that (unfortunately) seems to have brought this whole topic to an end.

    Too bad too, in my opinion. :(
    #15VerfasserGary17 Okt. 03, 07:17
    Gary, hope you are doing better now.
    #16VerfasserOliver <de/us>17 Okt. 03, 13:57
  • Pinyin
  • Tastatur
  • Sonderzeichen
  • Lautschrift
:-) automatisch zu 🙂 umgewandelt