Tuesday, 15 February 2011

Collateral Damage

It would be fair to say that the packing is not going well. Were I Mary Poppins and could fit any quantity into a normal-sized carpet bag, then it wouldn't be a problem, but I'm not, so it is. In fact, somewhere in the mix, is the anti-Mary Poppins effect. When Alex and Seth arrived last year, they brought their luggage allowance, and when each in turn left, they left with their luggage allowance. Yet somehow, Alex's room is still completely full. We won't be able to take a fraction of the contents.
Ah well.
To add insult to injury, snow is forecast for here, for Thursday.

So, radical feminism, how goes it? you are wondering.
Sweden's Chief Prosecutor has been accused by (in the words of Liz Lemon) 'the folk hero who nobody likes anymore' 's lawyers of being a radical feminist, and a malicious one at that.
Well, in a superb article in the Graun, Jonathan Dean asks what the hell a radical feminist is. The term is loaded. We are supposed to sharply draw in our breath and shake our heads, but he points out that radical simply means grass roots. He says,

"Historically, radical feminism was a specific strand of the feminist movement that emerged in Europe and North America in the late 1960s. Distinctive to this strand was its emphasis on the role of male violence against women in the creation and maintenance of gender inequality"

He goes on to point out that

"in Britain at least, radical feminism has never been particularly dominant, partly because – in the eyes of many socialist and postcolonial feminists – it has been insufficiently attentive to the intersections between gender inequality and other categories, such as race and class. So Rod Liddle's peddling of the tiresome rightwing idea that radical feminism has destroyed the family, along with Dominic Raab's assault on "feminist bigotry" and the Vatican's efforts to address "distortions" caused by radical feminism, rest on at least two implausible assumptions. First, they reduce feminism to a horrifying caricature that never really existed and second, they make the frankly bizarre suggestion that radical feminism is the dominant ideology of our times. It would seem that not only do these radical feminists commit the outrage of not wearing makeup, but they use the time this frees up to consolidate their world domination. Or an alternative explanation might be that these are the paranoid anxieties of fearful anti-feminists. "

So, another way of discrediting a woman in authority.
Since Feminism in any case, is concerned with gender equality, I would argue that it should be a necessary condition for anyone, either woman or man who is involved at any stage in the process of Justice.

A grey area for me in the whole issue of gender equality, is that of positive discrimination whereby if you have two equally qualified and experienced candidates for a job, you would pick a woman over a man.
The hypothetical has always worried me, because what you always want is the BEST candidate for a job, except that the scenario always posits two equals. The writer of the article, which I cannot now find, points out that in actual fact, in real life, the man is far more likely to get the job simply because he is a man, which is in and of itself discrimination, just that it's in favour of the man.
But. But. If I test this out, it becomes more complicated still.

I am a teacher. For many years, teaching has been dominated in numbers by women, but in management positions by men. I honestly believe that this is changing.
Kevin is an engineer. Engineering has always been dominated by men.
Now my own situation is that because of my immigrant status, ie, being one, I not only cannot practise my profession, but if I went back and did those pesky courses that I'm qualified to teach, I would still be in a position, research shows, to be discriminated against because of my immigrant status.
Take this a step further, and if Kevin, who is the one of us who is able to make a living, was discriminated against in favour of a woman with whom he was competing for a promotion or job, and next to whom he was equally qualified, there would still be a woman in the equation, and one who is already being discriminated against quite soundly on other grounds,me, who would lose.

Out on the spiral arm of Feminism are those women who literally dislike men as a result of the negative impact on women, of inequality. One of my favourite Feminist websites has recently become to all intents and purposes a women-only site. And that, of course, is the prerogative of the owner.
There has been much discussion about this.
I will continue to read it, because of the insight and sheer bloody amazing writing of the author.
But my own view is that men count a great deal in the slog towards gender equality. No equality has ever been won by the disenfranchised alone.
Racial equality has advanced because a significant part of the privileged class, in most cases white people, have woken up to the evil of discrimination.
Likewise men had to 'do the paperwork' to give women the vote, at a time when many women were still against it. A paradigm shift as huge as gender or racial equality, requires action on all levels. Yes, we need strong, affirmative leaders. We need loud-voiced, articulate writers, we need activists to turn out to marches and demonstrations, but we also need people who challenge the disease of inequality every day and on every level.
There's always a cost. I've said it before and I'll say it again and again and again. There's a cost to Kevin, and by extension to me, that he refuses to join in the institutionalised sexism he encounters at work. There is a cost to me when I challenge sexist language. There is a cost to every person who refuses to simper and flirt to get their own way. But without those women AND men paying that price, the gender or race gap will not only never be closed, but it will widen again.

Collateral damage. That's what it is.

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