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Tag Archives: discrimination

Are women humans?

It’s about freedom. Basically that’s what it’s all about. The right to your own life. The right to dream your own dreams. The right to decide over your own actions. The right to decide over your own body and what happens to it. That’s what we mean when we talk about human rights. And how ever we twist and turn this issue there’s no getting away from the fact that if you want to have the full right to decide over your own life you should avoid being born a woman. Regardless of where you look on this planet men have greater freedom that women. Of course there are lot of other things you should avoid if you want freedom; for instance being non-white, non-heterosexual, disabled or poor. But above all you should avoid being a woman. Of all the poor people in this world 70% are women. 99% of the worlds assets are owned by men. Women do 60% of the labour in this world but earn 10% of the money. There’s just no way to shrug those statistics off.

We can talk about injustice, unfair distribution, power abuse, corruption, we can all agree that our world isn’t fair. It’s true. And we do talk about it, but in those conversations we very rarely state that it’s actually also a gender issue. The world isn’t fair, but it’s even less fair if you’re a woman. No matter how bad the situation is in a country, be it war, famine or poverty,  there’s one thing you can be sure of, and that’s that the situation for women and girls will be worse. Regardless of where we are in the world it’s always worse to be a woman. Why is that?

The oppression of women is never the highest item on the political agenda, it’s always one of the “minor issues”, one of those issues that aren’t as important. In all the debates on global poverty the blatant connection to gender is never mentioned, it becomes a sub-issue. Women are made into a “special interest” group whose interests can be pretty much be disregarded. Oppression of women becomes an issue that’s not really important. It’s not one of the big issues on the global political agenda. But 51% of the world’s population are women. How can something that concerns more than half of the world’s population be considered a “special interest”? And when looking at aid initiatives targeting poverty the results are unanimous: if you give the aid directly to women it will reach more people, children, old people, even men, the distribution will be wider and the success sustainable. It actually works. It’s been proven time and time again that if you really want increased living quality, disease and hunger reduction, financial stability and sustainable change for everyone, women should be the target for aid. And yet, this is not the rule, it’s the exception. Even though the evidence couldn’t be clearer, from an economic standpoint, anything else is even irrational, but it’s still not the rule. Why is that?

When we say “human”, what do we actually mean? What’s the norm for a human? What archetype are we referring to? Is it a woman in Rwanda? A girl in Bangladesh? Or even a lady in Brighton? No, when we speak of a human we are referring to a man. A white, heterosexual middle-class man in the western world. That’s a human. Strange isn’t it? How did we end up having a an absolute minority be the norm? And even if we extend it to include non-white people it still doesn’t include women. Women are an exception. We speak of freedom of speech, democracy and human rights. We criticize governments who hold political prisoners, we condemn acts of terrorism. It’s all on the public agenda. And at times, as a parenthesis, we can even go as far as to state that it’s important that women’s rights are taken into consideration. That they get access to education, that they have the right to vote. But in the subtext one burning fact stands out: Human rights and women’s rights are not synonymous. Human rights equal men’s rights. Read more of this post

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Affirmative action

Today is the International Women’s Day. In a lot of countries this day has lost its political meaning and has become a bizarre mixture of valentine’s day and mother’s day where men are supposed to give women gifts. Nothing wrong with gifts, but I think finally awarding women basic human rights would be a better bargain. And equal representation. I.e. real gender equality. As in 50/50. In all areas all the time everywhere. But unfortunately that’s not even nearly the case. Far from it. And there’s so much statistics to back this up that there’s absolutely no room, none, zero, for doubt – Our world has a serious issue with gender equality. As in there is none to be found. Anywhere. Not even is our so-called “civilized western world”. We suck at it too. Massively.

One of the things that’s constantly being debated in our part of the world is the lack of female representation in parliament as well as in the corporate world. And a lot of possible solutions on how to attack this tremendous eye-sore of an issue have been discussed. Some pledge for a sort of self-regulation approach. As if it was somehow a pure knowledge issue. That people just need to be informed that hey, women aren’t retarded, and then everything will be ok. Eventually. Well, seems like we’ve been trying that for quite a while now and not a whole lot has happened so far. And in light of that very blatant fact, voices are being raised for affirmative action. Read more of this post

Regarding the Romani.

I don’t like prejudices. I know have plenty of my own, but I do my best to challenge them. And I am not saying that just because it’s the politically correct thing to say, I actually mean it. Because I really hate prejudices. And the reason is very simple: plenty have been expressed about me. Based on my gender, nationality, hair color, breast size, tattoos, piercings, opinions, lifestyle choices etc, etc ad infinitum. And I hate it. And don’t care that much what people think about me, but never the less I would very much like it if their opinions were based on me and not the things they associate with certain attributes I have. Because that limits my possibilities. Or rather, I don’t get the possibilities I would get if the things people thought about me were actually a true reflection of my person. Essentially it’s all about accuracy. That’s the problem with prejudices, they are seriously lacking in accuracy. And that annoys the hell out of me.

Most people would probably agree, I hope, that prejudices are a bad thing and that you should strive to challenge them. Like I said it’s the politically correct thing to do, but there seems to be an exception from this idea when it comes to the Romani. When it comes to this group of people it all of a sudden seems ok to state complete an utter bullshit that’s based on nothing but ignorant, racist, prejudice. I may be wrong, but I don’t really recall that type of opinions being aired quite that openly just 15 years ago. Sure racism aired it’s ugly face from time to time, but I don’t really recall it being that frequent. Or was I just too blind to notice? I’m really not sure. But I have been discussing this so many times in the past few months that I feel a serious need to put it all into writing. That way I can just refer people to here when the topic comes up again. Yeah, maybe I am lazy, but I am just so sick of having the same conversation over and over again. Sure I will still say “yes, I think you are a fucking racist for thinking that all Romani  are thieves”, but at least I can spare myself the remaining hours of trying to explain why I say that. But I will still say “you’re a fucking racist”. Naturally I’m really sick of having to say that all the time too, but at least it’s short and efficient. Read more of this post

Equality – Sorting the shit out.

I was talking to my dad yesterday and somehow we landed in the topic of things that are wrong with this world. We often do that. This particular time we were dwelling on the topic of equality. He was going on about all the things that were wrong in the world, about gender inequality and how that was still such a major issue globally, and he ended with saying that he was not convinced that it was even possible to reach a state of total equality. I was listening to his rant, feeling a certain sense of pride because my father hasn’t always had these views, ten or so years ago he would never have talked about this, let alone in the kind of fairly nuanced way he was doing now, but that finishing statement made me think. Is it possible to reach a state of total equality?

Equality is of course a term that needs some definition, as is the case with most concepts that are used in a political context. A dictionary will tell you that equality means “the state or quality of being equal”. But in a political context there’s a bit more attached to it than that. Different aspects of equality if you will. The most common being gender, race and social. Essentially it has to do with perspective, what you see as the bigger issue. But does that really make sense? Can you really grade it like that? I am fully aware that this has been discussed at length on various arenas and that there have been countless texts written on the topic, but if equality really means the state or quality of being equal there are a few things we must assume regardless of what perspective we choose. Read more of this post

Please, let’s mention the war.

There’s an episode of Fawlty Towers where this phrase, “don’t mention the war”, gets repeated several times. A group of Germans are staying at the hotel and therefore Basil Fawlty, the hotel owner, who at the time is suffering from a head injury, instructs his staff to, no matter what happens, not mention World War II. I have been thinking about that phrase lately. “Don’t mention the war.” I actually think we should. We should mention the war, World War II. We should mention it a lot. Because we seem to be forgetting it. We seem to be forgetting that all of that happened right here on European soil, that this is where it started, that it was people just like us who were involved, who started it. It happened right here and it wasn’t that long ago, in a time not that different from now. We seem to be forgetting all the atrocities that took place. All the unfathomable acts of human cruelty that were conducted by regular people right here, people just like you and me.

World War II has become a symbol of evil, something we swore we would never repeat. It was a wake up call that lead us to form the United Nations and the European Union. We wanted to manifest our commitment to make sure that something like this could never happen again on European soil. Whether we have been able to completely keep that promise or not is a debatable issue, but at least we have never had a war on that scale since. So we must have learned something. But the question is what. Read more of this post

The abomination of gender based identity and sexual conservatism.

There are some things that I will just never be able to understand. One of these is homophobia. I really and honestly do not understand it. And I am not talking about the various cultural and psychological reasons that are generally used to explain this phenomena, or abomination if we want to be a bit more precise, I get those. I understand what they are trying to get at when religion is brought into the picture and I understand what the whole threat to established gender identities theory is about. What I don’t understand is why anyone even cares in the first place. Why does it matter? How can it be that important what gender people are attracted to? Why on earth does anyone bother to care about that? Why is that particular preference given such a determining value?

I was reading a blog post by a mother whose son dressed up in a woman’s outfit for halloween and how that caused people to express a concern that he might grow up to be gay. Say what?! Apart from the fact that I really can’t see any issue what so ever with someone being gay, why would dressing up in women’s clothing make someone gay? How the hell would that causality work? It’s just beyond stupid. You don’t become gay, you are gay. Just like you are straight. Or bisexual. And gender identity has very little to do with that. A gay man is no less male than a straight man, just like a lesbian is no less female than a straight woman. Your gender or sexuality is not tied to your level of masculinity or femininity. But this line of reasoning does put focus on the problem of gender identity itself.  Why is it so important that a boy sticks to the attributes assigned to his male gender? Why does him dressing up as a girl become such an issue? And why is the immediate fear that he’ll grow up to be gay? Why is the transcending of the gender roles perceived such a big threat even when it’s a 5-year-old boy doing it? Read more of this post

Clothes, politics and conspiracy.

In India you see a lot of people wearing so-called traditional clothes. Colorful saris, salwar kameez, dhoti, lungi and kurta. Especially in the villages, there you see very few women wearing western style clothes. Men yes, but women no. Women wearing jeans is one of the best tell-tale signs that you are in a city. I made a casual observation about this:

“I suppose now we are in a city. You see a lot more women in western clothing here.”

“Yes, but I think it’s a shame when they give up the traditional style. The saris are so much more beautiful.”

I didn’t say anything because I’m not sure I agree. Of course the saris are beautiful, but what do they really represent? Is it really a free choice? And if so, how come you see more women making the choice to stick to the traditional clothes? Not just in India, but all over the world. How come women always seem to be the ones that have to carry the traditions?   I also think the traditional women’s clothes in India are beautiful but it’s not really a relevant argument or point in this context. Especially not if you follow the observation through on a more global level. A burqa isn’t beautiful. A burqa is a prison that hinders your movements and deprives you of sensory input. The sensory deprivation isn’t applicable for a sari, but it does hinder your movements. Then again, so does high heels. Read more of this post

Why multikulti is actually the only option and always has been.

Foreigners. Immigrants. There’s a lot of talk about that these days. About how problematic it is. And sure, it is problematic, but not half as problematic as the ugly, brown stained, so-called far right movement that’s emerging from the sewers all over Europe right now. That’s far more problematic. These people who call themselves nationalists and are all about preserving the purity of the race and culture, they are more than problematic. They are actually becoming quite a significant pain in the ass. They are really fucking annoying. Racist, homophobic, xenophobic, paranoid loudmouths that just never shut up about how the immigrants are ruining Europe. As if they themselves weren’t…

I was watching a comedy show the other night and one of the guys was saying: “with all this talk about immigrants and second-generation immigrants, I’m just wondering, when do you actually get there? When are you done with the whole immigration business and just fucking arrive?” Yeah, when indeed. Let’s face it, we’re all immigrants. One way or another. It’s not like there has never been any inflow in the gene pool, otherwise we’d be a world full of really awesome banjo players by now. Mating with close relatives isn’t good, we all know that and we have known it for a very log time. Read more of this post

The desire for the comfortable truth

The truth. It’s a problematic concept but we like to treat it as if it wasn’t. We as a society seem to have this prevailing idea about the one ultimate truth that can be revealed. Almost like a law of nature. The one truth. Like a holy grail, a sacred quest. The real goal of all efforts, be it in science, in law or everyday life, is to find that one single truth. The one answer to everything. The truth. We like to think that we cherish truth in our culture. That once we see the truth we will immediately and almost automatically be able to identify it as such and thus fully embrace it. Like an inherit mechanism in our culture. We like to think we have a very profound love for truth. Do we really? Do we even know what truth is, what we really mean when we talk about truth? I am not so sure. Read more of this post

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