the heart of equality
it isn’t even a radical notion for feminism to be about females; otherwise why should we differentiate between feminism and egalitarianism? (The Arbourist)
Depending on your experiences in life, you may see problems in society through one particular lens. Your lens may be sexism, classism, or racism, to name but a few of the most popular.
If you think most of the problems in society are due to discrimination and inequality you might think that this is a sex issue. Once your biological sex is identified, your future is set, and for women it’s a struggle to be treated like a full human being by the rest of society. Gender roles enforced by an eternity of male-led societies ensure that doors are closed before you even get started; your appearance identifies you as the weak underdog at every level of society.
If you think most of the problems in society are due to discrimination and inequality you might think that this is a class issue. Once you are born into a particular area, it’s hard to get out and be treated like a full human being by the rest of society. Limited access to decent education can close doors before you even get started; your accent or neighbourhood could identify you as ‘undesirable’ even if you overcome these initial hurdles.
If you think most of the problems in society are due to discrimination and inequality you might think that this is a race issue. Your skin colour determines immediately what opportunities are available to you and it’s a struggle to be treated like a full human being by the rest of society. Discrimination is deeply rooted, ensuring doors are closed before you even get started; your appearance identifies you as of lesser worth even once you get going.
If you were born into a position of privilege, or if you are one of the relatively few people who manages to evade the disadvantages inherent in being a certain sex, skin colour or class, you might think that everyone who is moaning about their perspective on life is suffering from ‘victimhood’. You might think they just need to get off their arses and do something positive.
You’d be wrong. All these lenses are a true reflection of the barriers faced by many people who fall into these groups.
But the problem with lenses is that people tend to use just one. They forget that the most pressing issue for them doesn’t exist in isolation. Every one of these worlds of disadvantage and discrimination impacts on the other. Equality for humans cannot be reached by shutting out the concerns of other groups: be that by belittling the uphill struggle that individuals from any group who are discriminated against face, and sneeringly labelling it ‘victimhood’; or by cordoning off one area of concern while perpetuating discrimination against any other disadvantaged group.
I could be wrong, but I’d like to think the very essence of the campaign in the name of feminism is egalitarianism. If not, what kind of wonky ‘equal’ treatment are we seeking?