Feminism Means Equality For Everyone

27/01/2011 13:36 | Updated 22 May 2015

Good news, fellow feminists! According to the insightful Conservative MP Dominic Raab, we should get out the fire extinguishers and staunch the flames that are consuming our brassieres, because in promoting our common goal of gender equality, we have become "obnoxious bigots" in our ongoing pursuit of gender equality instead of accepting the status quo.

Writing this week in Politics Home – and later, in the Daily Telegraph, apparently fearing that he had not been convincing enough in his claims that feminism is ruining the lives of British men by promoting "flagrant discrimination against men". In particular, he's concerned that men are getting a raw deal when it comes to work, seeing that they "work longer hours, they die earlier but they retire later than women."

In comparison, you see, women have it easy. After all, we earn – on average – about 20% less than what men earn, for which we should be grateful, since we used to earn much less than that. And when we're in our twenties, Raab points out, most of us are now (after a mere forty years of campaigning by "obnoxious bigots") lucky enough to earn the same amount as our male counterparts for doing the same work.

Of course, that's only until we have children, when statistics show that we're likely to take up twice as much domestic responsibility than men while continuing to go to work. Unless, that is, we're amongst the 30,000 women who are simply sacked each year for getting pregnant. But perhaps we should see that as a privilege as well, as being unemployed means that we won't be victims of sexual harassment in the workplace.

And when all of the upcoming budget cuts, courtesy the coalition government of which Raab is an enthusiastic member, come in, women will bear only two-thirds of the brunt of it – for which, I suppose, we should also be grateful. Since it could, ostensibly, be worse.

Raab argues that people are "fed up of men and women being pitted against each other in an outdated battle of the sexes". So am I, and that's why I'm a feminist. And I imagine that's the reason that most people who are feminists – and I'm talking about male feminists, as well as female ones – do, too. It's a movement that aims to combat in all of its forms, and that means we're no more interested in seeing discrimination against men than discrimination against women.

It cannot be overlooked that the point of departure for the gender equality movement is endemic discrimination against women, but it's not a zero-sum game: feminists are trying to make the playing field equal for everyone, not to redress the imbalance in some kind of act of revenge by taking privileges away from men and giving it to women. Yes, it does mean that at times, people who were counting on maintain a place high up in the social or economic hierarchy merely on the basis of their chromosomes will have to struggle alongside the rest of us. I can only imagine that this must be a bit galling, but I can't say that it makes me feel a rush of sympathy for them.

Everyone who believes in equality – yes, that means you, Dominic Raab, MP, in light of your expressed interest in the abolition of sex discrimination – should be proud to call themselves a feminist. And as for those who continue to regard "feminism" a dirty word? Well, I wouldn't go so far as to call them "obnoxious bigots". But they're definitely a bit misguided.


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