Why Equality is Controversial

How did we get here? S(ocial) J(ustice) W(arrior)s, cringe compilations and the goddamn media. Media, I love you, you gave the world films, comics, YouTube and video games; so why did you also have to give us films, comics, YouTube and video games? 

Media platforms spawn bad ideas, that’s hardly a new or controversial thing to say but the danger comes in how they’re treated. Taking YouTube as the example, two channels, one lecturing about their personal experience as a concentration camp victim and the other trying to deny the Holocaust have equal standing simply due to their base subscriber count of 0. However, it doesn’t take much for Holocaust denial to be more popular than personal experiences – basically just activity on the video whether it be likes or dislikes, comments supporting or diatribes opposing. This is an extreme example but its meant to show how media platforms exploit bad ideas based on raw data and how these bad ideas can generate traction and permeate the mainstream.

Now, equality and Feminism. It’s hard to believe how equality among the sexes has brought about so much vitriolic and detestable discussion (especially on the internet). The people who oppose Feminism use the justification that either (a) women have the same rights as men legally so that means sexism is over (and/)or (b) that Feminism has evolved from women’s equality to women’s superiority. Let me be clear, this won’t turn into “men are too scared to allow women into positions of power”. Kinda. Let’s examine the two statements first, shall we?

Women have the same rights as men legally. Yes. They do. However, you can’t just give people the same rights and say: “Oops, sorry about that. It’s cool now though, right?” No. It’s not. Sex discrimination has remained as a societal barrier, ingrained among all people to at least some extent due to how long it has been around and how recently the push towards equal rights was made. The women’s liberation movement is 50 years old at a push. Fifty years is not enough time to completely break down a society and reorganise it along absolutely equal lines – especially since intersectionality is a thing that matters. White middle class women are obviously going to have a different experience to black working class women and the difference from such a standpoint due to race and economic background would mean that black working class women would have a much harder time in their search for equality than white middle class women.

Feminism is about women’s superiority over men. No. It depends. Positive discrimination is a thing that exists because societal attitudes have yet to fully change, and the fact that people believe they have is a sign that they haven’t. Our complacency as a socially and economically developed country has led to our vulnerability. Anti-feminists believe that women want superiority due to positive discrimination and quotas, yet fail to recognise that without these we aren’t living in a meritocracy because societal conditioning has made it impossible for women in socially advanced countries to reach the desired posts without aid. However, when looking at Feminism from a global perspective and one sees how some women in Africa lack even the basic human rights women in the UK take for granted, the quotas seem trivial if not wholly unimportant. Feminism seems like it is deconstructing what it means to be in a meritocracy while feminists seem to lack focus on basic global issues.

Ria Davies recently wrote her own article about why she rejects the label feminist and I sympathise – in many respects agree with her, but her search for equality shouldn’t be invalidated by others. Intersectionality is a thing that matters, but it’s not the only thing that matters. Equality is controversial not because it has been twisted into something it isn’t, but because it has been perceived differently which then allowed people to twist it into something it isn’t – the difference in perception is the root cause with the butchering of the term merely a symptom. Media has proliferated the narrative and now it seems impossible to identify as a feminist without looking like a man-hater, as such, equality isn’t controversial, our perceptions of it are.

Written by Kimberly Eckersley

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