Monday, July 30, 2012

Not as Far as you Might Think

I was floating around the internet the last few days and I found, once more, horrifying proof that things are not as far along as people like to pretend. I'm talking about equality, progressive attitudes, and rationality. One of the biggest arguments against equality these days seems to be that we are already equal, it's all done, thanks have a good life. An interesting conundrum, I say. No, really I use the word conundrum. So there.

It is understandable that the privileged don't like the idea of equality, at least the reactionary ones, but what always gets me are the people of the given oppressed class who support the status quo. They make excuses for it or claim that it is the way it was intended, alternately by god or nature, depending on the speaker. I saw a blog post today claiming Sally Ride, the recently deceased first American woman in space, was pointless. They claimed that she had no effect on women, that women didn't want to do science or be astronauts and that men naturally excelled at such jobs. This is an old claim that Sally would have had to fight back in her day, but one would hope she helped remove such sentiments, at least from other women, as the blogger in question claimed to be. No, I refuse to link because someone like that would take that as a sign she was influencing people. That decades later Sally Ride was being diminished so is a terrible sign, a sign that we haven't actually come that far. 

In the 1980s when the feminists from the civil rights movement pushed for an equal rights amendment, their former allies in the black male leaders of civil rights almost unilaterally abandoned them, having gotten (they thought) what they wanted and not willing to give up the privilege they did have, that of being male. In turn, it did not pass, excuses were once more made about women being equal already, and two decades later women still make less money for the same positions and are heavily underrepresented in traditionally male fields like science. So much for equal. Again, excuses are made, such as imaginary differences in mental make up making women less capable at math, something directly denied by grades in high school and undergrad, or that the fields are less attractive. Well the second one is true, at least, but no due to biology. Women are less attracted to certain fields because they are systematically made to feel unwelcome within those fields. Technical fields are, at the top, still dominated by men, who in turn discourage female students and employees, who deny them deserved promotions in place of men, who pay women less for identical positions. 

Conservatives of course cite women taking family time off, another social requirement, not biological, and miss the fact that the pay statistics aren't based on age but on position. It doesn't matter that a women got to a certain level later in life because she had children, the point is that she is paid less for the same level of responsibility. Alas, logic is not the strong suit of the conservative. Base emotional appeals, reactionary responses and claims of persecution are the strengths of the conservative. 

This issue is not at all limited to feminism. Women fight feminism, PoC (people of color, for some of you) fight for racism, homosexuals build gay conversion camps, etc. The status quo is comfortable, familiar and you are rewarded socially for supporting it, even as it hurts you. The worst part, though, is that in the long run, such discrimination hurts the privileged classes too. I am a cisgender, white male and patriarchy hurts me too. Racism hurts me too. It all hurts all of us. It makes us irrational, it forces us into postions we don't necessarily want to be in, and it makes it hard to defend anything we do. It destroys anyone's image of being rational, and it just doesn't make sense. While I of course don't claim to be hurt as bad as maligned classes, such enforced social roles are bad for everyone. A great example is the ERA, mentioned before. When black political leaders ditched women, especially black women, because they thought they had what they wanted, they got to watch what they had slip away. An excuse to discriminate against one class is an excuse to spread discrimination. The Reagan era "welfare queen", as invented by the conservatives in the Republican party, became an excuse to discriminate against all African Americans, and all PoC. The rights black men thought they had earned dissappeared as the War on Drugs started, becoming a system wide excuse to jail young black men, while young black women were expected to get pregnant and be abandoned so they could go on welfare and cost poor white people money. 

So it confuses me when one class of discriminated people encourages the status quo for another, but then I see the same people encouraging discrimination against themselves. We have not come so far when women justify gender inequality, when so called civil rights "leaders" abandon their own, when people say that X people are equal now. The only real way forward is for everyone supporting any equality to support all equality. Rational thought only forces us to. 

Logic Priest

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