Equality Control

Before anyone completely loses their shit over this article I would just like to point out that I’m pro-equality. I just want to talk about some of the silliness that happens around the quest for equality that needs to be addressed.

Feminists are not bad people, despite some people’s view of them. OK, there will be some who are not quite as amiable as others just as there are in just about every single other section of society. Seeing people (usually men) trying to shout feminists down in a perfectly ordinary debate by yelling “FEMINAZI” at them is preposterous. The word itself is ridiculous and needs to be banned.

Just as ridiculous on the other side is “mansplaining”. Put simply it is the behaviour of a patronising twat who thinks they’re better than anyone else. This behaviour is in no way exclusive to men, nor is it exclusively done towards women.

There are issues which need to be addressed, such as the lack of women in executive and management positions. Although in all honesty in many of these old boys’ clubs not many of us stand a chance anyway. The same with the gender pay gap. It exists, but those of us at the lower end of the scale will probably never get to be affected by it in any way. That doesn’t make it right though.

Objectification is another issue. Either it’s ok for everyone to objectify everybody or it’s not ok for anyone to do it at all. Posting a lot of feminist articles to Facebook and then posting pictures of random men with their shirts off with “phwoar!” written beneath them is clearly not on. Nor is demanding that shops stop selling “lad mags” (if any still exist) or that The Sun (which only idiots read) stop Page 3, but then going to a seedy male strip show in the kind of pub where your shoes stick to the carpet because it’s “harmless fun”. Likewise men who complain about all forms of objectification and then go home and practically pull their penis clean off whilst browsing the huge arsenal of pornography they have stored on their PCs need to have a look at themselves. And possibly delete their browser histories and destroy their computers in an acid bath

Yes, women have been treated awfully by men — say “but not all men” at your peril — and it needs to stop. There are rare occasions where it works in the opposite direction. During my early 20s working in a pub, getting my bum grabbed by frightening hen party participants and then being told “it’s only a laugh” as I recoiled in horror is the closest I’ll hopefully ever come. I’ve never been wolf-whistled at by builders or had lecherous statements yelled at me on public transport and my life doesn’t feel incomplete because of it.

Online it’s a minefield. Everyday Sexism on Twitter only seem to be interested in highlighting sexism against women ironically making them sexist (lambast me for this one if you want because I haven’t looked at their posts in absolutely ages, but it was certainly true two years ago). They once ignored a photo I sent them of the exterior of a hotel in Doncaster where there were four bays marked ‘Women Parking Only’ by the door. The opposite side of the parking lot was poorly lit and in theory would be a good place for attackers to lurk, but the idea that a man could fight off attackers any easier than a woman could depends on the individual man or woman put in that situation. This was surely a case of positive discrimination and even disabled people had a right to feel aggrieved as only females with disabilities could park next to the entrance. They weren’t interested. And the hotel in question really should have addressed the illumination issue in the car park.

I did once get into an internet spat with a woman who shared a photo of a woman applying lip gloss in what she deemed an “overtly sensual manner” and called it out out as sexist in the same place though. I innocently asked why it was sexist and was greeted with a barrage of fairly demeaning abuse. I continued by asking what the context was. More abuse. So I went and researched it myself. As it was a photograph of an actual newspaper she’d taken herself and not an online image it took some tracking down, but I did it. The result was that it was from the Femail section of the Daily Mail. Having taken the photograph herself she was fully aware of this. An article about lip gloss in a women’s section of a newspaper using a picture of a woman is surely far from from problematic. I didn’t bother to point any of this out to a woman who had already said to me “I hope you never have children and teach them your women-hating ways” and “the exploitation of women is far more complicated than your tiny man brain could ever understand”. Well done. You are one of the reasons that a lot of people think feminism and equality is bad. You and the tiny minority who think that feminism means destroying men and becoming their masters, like that’s the way to deal with years of subjugation. Quite the paradox.

It also seems that this woman’s manufactured outrage at the photograph was all just part of the increasingly popular pastime of Being Offended By Everything, an activity you can only excel at if you are more offended by more things than anybody else is.

But it shouldn’t be about point scoring. “You’ll never understand how bad it is because you’ve never had to go through things anywhere near as bad as we have” might well be very true in a lot of cases, but it shouldn’t be used to negate the opinion of anyone else. Wrong is wrong no matter which way you look at it.

And society is fucked more than we thought if boys now need to be taught not to rape and that no means no. What kind of world do we live in where people need to be told that something that everyone should surely already understand to be unacceptable is bad?

But then the legal system will let down a lot of victims. Old judges saying “she was asking for it dressed like that” are abhorrent. Attitudes need to change and quickly.

If we all want equality we all need to stand together and demand it. We need to tell those who don’t want it or oppose it in any way that they’re wrong.

It’s all played out very well so far for those at the top. Division is exactly what they want, because if we’re busy squabbling with each other we’re distracted while they implement new and more exciting ways to shaft all of us.