Gender Equality is Not Negotiable

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It’s encouraging that as Nicola Sturgeon gets her feet under the table as the leader of the SNP and Scotland’s first ever female First Minister that the response to her accession is almost entirely positive and that one of her first acts has been to reshuffle the Scottish cabinet to reflect a 50/50 gender balance, even including Roseanna Cunningham with whom she has had a stormy relationship in the past.

Perhaps you could say that it is not the most progressive selection she could have made, but then the SNP isn’t the most progressive party on the block, so we have to take the new gender balance in the cabinet is a step in the right direction.

However, even if we are only looking at gender equality, it’s only a small step. The UK parliament has around one in five of it’s members being women, which places the UK fifteenth from the 28 EU member states in terms of gender equality in parliamentary representation, while the Scottish parliament boasts a more impressive, yet still insufficient third of MSP’s being female.

Both legislatures fall well short of a representative selection of 50/50, which will always be hard to hit exactly given the vagaries of elections but the proportion could be significantly closer, or even result in a majority of female MPs if steps such as those proposed by the Women 50:50 campaign were initiated.

But why does this matter anyway?

Simply put, equal gender representation in our governing bodies is an important step to reducing the inequality between men and women in everyday life.

It is a fact that women on average earn less than men for the same work (and the social pressures which compel women to seek different career paths from men only exacerbates this inequality), women are more likely to suffer mental, physical and sexual assault than a man (although I would say that female on male abuse is a much overlooked subject, but that is another discussion) and women are socially bullied into certain behaviors and roles which demean their ability to shape their lives and those around them.

It has also been shown that the most effective way to combat inequality and poverty is to empower women through education, control of their own finances and equal access to positions of power.

Simply put, gender equality is not a women’s issue, it is a human issue. I am a man, but I am also a son, husband and maybe one day, father to a female. I cannot abide the notion that my female friends or relatives should be constrained or victimised in ways which I am not, purely because of the chance arrangement of their chromosomes.

Government (and indeed any field or aspect of human existence) should not be a male dominated environment.

Scotland has a tremendous chance at this time with a new female First Minister, a relatively high proportion of female MSPs and a large number of charismatic women in the political sphere, if not (yet) in Holyrood themselves, combined with our partially proportionate electoral system and the notion of sweeping , progressive constitutional change still alive and well in the nation’s consciousness.

It would be a shame if such a hopeful time did not lead us to a more gender balanced parliament and thence to a fairer, more socially responsible country.

 

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http://www.women5050.org
http://www.heforshe.org
http://ukfeminista.org.uk
http://www.fawcettsociety.org.uk
http://www.thegreatinitiative.org.uk

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One response to “Gender Equality is Not Negotiable

  1. > one of her first acts has been to reshuffle the Scottish cabinet to reflect a 50/50 gender balance

    There are two kinds of equality…. equality of opportunity (nobody is allowed to deny girls an education in maths) and equality of outcome (we must mark down boys’ maths papers until the number of A grades reaches a 50/50 split between boys and girls).

    There is currently no inequality of opportunity for women to have careers in politics. The reason why there are less female politicians is that statistically women have less of an interest in politics as a career than men, perhaps because women have more opportunities to have other sorts of careers instead – or even no career at all (stay at home wife or part time worker). What you are advocating is *equality of outcome* which is achieved in this case by denying men an equal opportunity at employment as politicians.

    Do you believe men should also be denied an equal opportunity at getting employment in other careers which women are not very interested in…. such as logging, rubbish collection, maintenance of infrastructure, factory and warehouse work, police etc in order to artificially raise the number of female employees to the 50% mark?

    Men currently are killed at work a rate 20 times that of women. Do you think we should use legislation to ensure this gender imbalance is corrected, by fast tracking women into those specific ‘male dominated’ careers which give rise to such an unfair gender imbalance in the workplace?

    In simple terms: do you believe in gender equality (equality of outcome) when it happens to benefit men… or is it only a good idea when it benefits women?

    > Simply put, equal gender representation in our governing bodies is an important step to reducing the inequality between men and women in everyday life.

    Studies have shown that women have a hard wired gender bias in favour of women as a group, whereas men exhibit no particular gender bias towards men as a group, and a slight gender bias in favour of women as a group. In other words, statistically speaking, women will tend to make decisions that will benefit women, but men will tend to make decisions which benefit women also.

    How should we seek to offset this tendency in the name of gender equality?

    > It is a fact that women on average earn less than men for the same work

    This claim was disproven as far back as the 70’s by economists like Thomas Sowell. Men *earn* more, because they tend to work longer hours, more overtime and they do not drop in and out of the workforce as much as women do. When you study men and women with equal work histories the pay is equal, or if anything in women’s favour.

    However, why should men earning more than women even be an automatic indication of the oppression of women/ male privilege? Surely what counts is what happens to the money *after* it is earned? In other words – who the money is spent on!

    Women control about 80% of household income, despite the fact that women earn less due to women’s choice to work less hours, in less well paying (and less stressful) jobs. And men’s high earnings are taxed ore than any other group and then redistributed by the welfare system to women far more than it is to other men. This means that more than any other group in society it is men (particularly hard working/ high earning men) who are the ones working to earn money to pay for other people’s livelihood – including paying for the salaries of politicians of course! Therefore, logically, men *need* to earn more just to keep up with everybody else. This makes the so called ‘glass ceiling’ a men’s rights issue, wouldn’t you say?

    > (and the social pressures which compel women to seek different career paths from men only exacerbates this inequality),

    You are denying women have the agency to make their own career/ lifestyle choices which means you are objectifying women as passive ‘acted upon’ objects who are not in control of their own minds and actions. In what way (specifically) are women’s choices any less their own responsibility or their own doing than men’s choices?

    The career/ lifestyle choices of both men and women have consequences positive and negative. In what way are men and women different in this respect? Or are they in fact the same?

    > women are more likely to suffer mental, physical and sexual assault than a man

    This is also not true. Men are far more likely to be assaulted in public than women. Domestic abuse is split about 40/60 (but the stigma for males to report it mean the figure could easily be more like 50/50). 1 in 4 women *admit* to being violent towards their partner. The figures for rape are not that different either (even more hard to evaluate due to men’s socialised reluctance to label themselves as victims). Some studies now claim more men are raped in the US than women, due to the huge male prison population which is ITSELF a product of gender inequality (men are charged more often, sentenced more often and given harsher sentences than women for the same crimes – a huge gender inequality).

    > (although I would say that female on male abuse is a much overlooked subject, but that is another discussion)

    Except of course it *never is* another discussion. Ever. Not in the media. Not in the political realm. Not in schools. Nowhere.

    > and women are socially bullied into certain behaviors and roles which demean their ability to shape their lives and those around them.

    As are men. Being socially bullied (not least by women) into going off to fight some war and have your legs blown off or get PTSD severely demeans their ability to shape their lives and those around them – assuming they even live.

    Another example would be bullying men out of employment as politicians even though that is their ambition, just so that a 50/50 gender split can be achieved.

    > It has also been shown that the most effective way to combat inequality and poverty is to empower women through education, control of their own finances

    Women already have equal access (equality of opportunity) to education. In fact the entire education system is now biased in favour of women with boys and young men failing terribly as a result.

    When you say “controlling their finances” do you mean forcing other people (such as men) to pay for stuff which benefits women directly, either via taxation or via divorce courts?

    > Simply put, gender equality is not a women’s issue, it is a human issue.

    Can you name five examples of active feminist / political campaigns which are currently addressing a gender inequality which happens to adversely affect men and/ or give women unfair privilege?

    What specific issues of gender inequality against men do YOU actively support and how do you support them?

    > I am a man, but I am also a son, husband and maybe one day, father to a female. I cannot abide the notion that my female friends or relatives should be constrained or victimised in ways which I am not, purely because of the chance arrangement of their chromosomes.

    In what way do you think they are (specifically)?

    > Government (and indeed any field or aspect of human existence) should not be a male dominated environment

    This presumes men are either sociopaths who cannot help but conspire to oppress women whenever they get together OR that men somehow oppress women just as a natural consequence of being men. Yet (as I already mentioned) the evidence actually says the exact opposite. Men are far more concerned for female wellbeing than females are concerned for male wellbeing – statistically speaking.

    A good example of this in action would be voting rights – a cornerstone of feminist theory. For most of history neither men nor women had the vote. When men eventually got the right to vote this was conditional on men agreeing to go to war for the state (and quite probably die a horrific death)…. not long after women demanded the vote and got it with no such obligations. I think we can agree that the government of the time was largely composed of patriarchal men.

    Feminist claim women getting the vote was an act of gender equality, however there are two groups and one has obligations to the state (which may lead to death) and the other has no such obligations is that gender equality or female privilege?

    If men had got the vote without any obligations while women were obliged to go off and lay down their lives on the battlefield do you think women would accept men’s claims that this represented anything even remotely resembling ‘gender equality’?

    Once again men’s willingness to let female privilege pass as ‘gender equality’ indicates men are biased towards women and accommodating to women’s security, comfort and wellbeing ….. even to their own detriment.

    Meanwhile, a man only has to wear the wrong shirt while landing a probe on a comet and there is a feminist uproar about it and a shaming campaign which reduce him to tears.

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