Tuesday, August 04, 2009

The Sexism Paradox

Given the furore that Harriet Harman, the Equality Minister, caused the other day with her anti-male comments, and then her follow up comments about how the banking crisis wouldn't have happened if it was Lehman Sisters rather than Lehman Brothers, you have to wonder what on earth the mad old bint from Peckham is up too, don't you?

The reaction to her comments, from pretty much all quarters, have been ones of "stop talking bollocks Harriet". Obviously there have been exceptions, such as Sunny Hundal on Liberal Conspiracy thinking having a debate about sexism is something the Labour Party should do to expose the misogynistic and evil bastards of the Tory Party.

Of course, in order to go down that clever and sneaky path, it does require Sunny and others that may support the line to suspend reality for a moment. They would then need to perform a significant act of doublethink and forget that the misogynist bastard male MPs of the 1975 Tory Party chose a female leader for Opposition who then became the first female Prime Minister, and longest serving PM since Lord Salisbury.

Never fear though, such suspension is rather easy. What you do is pretend she had a willy - literally not metaphorically. She was on the wrong side of the political fence so it doesn't count that she had a womb. The narrative is simple, the Tories are sexist and that's that, got it? Only the Left, the side of angels and egalitarian equality can be the true supporters of gender equality, and any actions that the Right have done which in anyway disprove this rule are to be discarded with post-haste as historical aberrations.

Frankly the idea that the Tory Party wishes to avoid the subject is nonsense. The reality is rather more that the Tory Party want to have an honest debate that does not revolve around false narratives about themselves that suspend reality, nor to have a debate on the terms where honest criticism of proposals like quotas and positive discrimination are not met with hysterical screams about sexism or racism.

If you're going to call for equality by saying you want systems that require the downgrading of one groups' worth over another on the basis of their identity, then you don't really have much moral authority to say you're calling for equality. It's not a difficult paradox to spot now is it? What's more, what if you did bring schemes which made Parliament perfectly balanced in it's numbers, how would it work?

Think about it for just a moment. Would there have to be agreement for all-women or all-men constituency battles? After all, what happens if the vote results in Parliament being gender-balanced but Government and Opposition not being? If you did go down the route of all-women/all-male fights for the constituency votes, who decides (a) which constituencies? and (b) how you offset one woman or one man, representing a constituency that is split down the middle on gender? Someone, somewhere loses out right?

Whether it be female voter forced to have a male MP; a governing party with mostly women; an opposition of mostly men. Parliament may very well be balanced, but the governing might not be. There is nothing with having a debate about it all, but if that debate is dominated by paradoxical positioning, and hysterical accusations of ulterior motives behind criticisms, it will be, unfortunately, a complete waste of time.

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