Positive discrimination is still discrimination
Discrimination is discrimination. End of.
You may have read the article published in the Independent yesterday headlined “White men should never hold positions in British universities again.”
If you didn’t, let me fill you in on its main sentiment: due to years of structural oppression of minorities and women under the rule of white men we should ban, literally ban, white men from elected student political positions.
“Nothing is ever going to change if we keep letting them run everything”
Yes, I understand that this article is probably satire, intentionally antagonistic, and designed to attract attention to a problem not solve it. If so, it is not only humourless in its attempt, but damaging. Like all satire, it has a message. And that message is that to combat years of oppression, we should legislate for oppression in the opposite direction.
“We need to ban white men from activism…” – yep, satire (please be satire). But this is not acceptable satire in any capacity. It’s not funny, it’s not intelligent.
It’s message is nasty and reductive. It proliferates the worryingly blunt sentiment that rather than educating white males about privilege and oppression, we should cut them off from social participation altogether. It contains the presupposition that ethnic minorities and women are by default more progressive than white males. And that’s not cool, bro.
Yes, we do live in a world that looks upon white men more favourably than other sects in society. It is bad, it does need to change and we should all be doing our bit to change it.
But what we shouldn’t be doing is implementing the same structures that caused this institutionalised oppression of certain groups in the first place, just in the opposite direction.
Structural oppression, like structural privilege, is conceptually the same, regardless of which group it’s affecting. And structural oppression is bad, right? Right.
Some among the far left have become so tyrannical that they are blatantly willing to disregard democracy in favour of their own agenda. We all know what happens when we do that: Stalin, and The One Show…
It seems that rather than allow for democratic representation, in the god-awful event that a white male may be elected to a SU position, we should just disallow representation if its not the exact representation that some people want.
I stress some people, because were it a lot of people, then the individual, by virtue of democracy, would not be elected in the first place. Isn’t democracy cool? It’s almost like we have a say. Sweet.
Obviously we want all groups in society to be represented. And if we don’t want white males being allowed to run for student based political positions, then surely it’s logical to disenfranchise them totally? That sounds right, let’s disenfranchise the men! It’ll be just like Athens, where the women couldn’t vote or participate in government, except the opposite. Anti-Athens! But with the same fundamental problem – inherent privilege of one gender over the other. Cool.
Student Union president should not be a place reserved for the white male. Nobody is claiming that it should be. It’s a place for a competent, intelligent and politically-minded person. Fucking news flash, white men can be just that. In fact, anybody can be that, regardless of their race or their gender or their sexuality or their political inclination or number of fucking eyebrows. Because that stuff doesn’t matter. That’s the message we want to send, right? Then why do that by suggesting the exact opposite?
“White men have had the last several millennia in charge, and it’s been a s***show from start to finish”. No it hasn’t. Humanity has done some cool things, like science things, and progressive social things, bad things too but #notallthings (hahah it’s a joke about #notallmen, funny).
Global warming is bad. Cows are a causal factor. Shit. WWII also happened while cows were a thing. Quick, Disenfranchise the cows. No platform for cows. No platform for bulls either (#equality)
Even jokingly suggesting the disenfranchisement of any group is just not productive.
Using positive discrimination to counter privilege is lazy. It puts a comfortable and concealing blanket over change that actually needs to occur; like improving social mobility, closing the wealth gap and improving access to education. If we can do that, negative discrimination won’t exist, and positive discrimination won’t need to.
Shutting out certain groups from politics might make everything look better, but it changes nothing about the fundamental and basic inequality in our society.
I want actual equality, not just the appearance of it. #notallcows