The true state of equality

Last night I went down a bit of a rabbit hole reading the latest opinion articles published on the topic of equality. This took me Kevin Roberts’ now infamous interview to Sarah Jessica Parker’s ill received comment that she’s not a feminist.

While there are some very inspiring pieces covering this area, it’s hard not to come away from a reading session feeling slightly deflated.

Largely because when you’re an advocate for the equality movement it’s hard to see how it isn’t just common sense. And, sadly, when you read some of the more polarising points of view on the subject (as in those that say “get over it”) it’s clear there are a lot of people still in the opposing corner.

Despite the data, statistics and anecdotal experiences, there are still those who categorically believe equality as a subject is void; that things are just fine.

As with most topics where opinions are culturally engrained, people will never respond well to being told they’re wrong; shouting matches, especially online, achieve nothing. So instead, I went to bed trying to think of a way to bring the very passionate way I feel about equality into a concept anyone could understand. And, while it’s hardly going to be the next historic quote of the century, I landed on this:

Unless you would, without hesitation, swap places with any single person in the world irrespective of gender, sexuality or race because you knew the opportunities and social treatment would be exactly the same, then the fight for equality is still relevant.

Now, I’m aware that this statement won’t have much impact on some people. Sadly, there are those who would read this and not feel even slightly bothered by the concept of inequality. It doesn’t affect them, so why should they care?

For this cohort, I don’t know what analogy might cause a shift. That’s a much bigger job than my musings before bed can tackle.

However, I hope there’s some perspective in this statement for people who seem complacent with where we’ve got to in the fight for equal rights. For the Kevin Roberts of the world who believe the conversation is over. I hope it can act as a check in on unconscious bias and social privilege.

The fact is, if there is even the slightest concern about being willing to trade places with anyone else in the world we have to stop and think why.

Would I not want to be a black female for fear of racial prejudice? Would I not want to be gay because of the way people may look at me differently? Would a man in a high powered job hesitate to trade places with a woman because it could impact his pay or promotion opportunities? Basically, do I feel lucky for the situation I lucked out born into because it’s a hell of a lot easier that some other people’s?

If the answer is yes (and don’t be fooled, the answer is yes to all of these), then equality has not been reached.

Equal rights is a human right. It’s a subject that has made massive strides in the last 100 years but one that has many more to go.

We should celebrate where we have come but not lose sight of where we need to get to. And in whatever way, shape or form it takes, it’s something we need to remind ourselves of constantly.

We cannot afford to be complacent, it’s important to keep pushing on until this idea of trading places doesn’t even warrant pause.

Until then, we are not there and the conversation on equality is far from over.