Equality – How Hard Can it Be?

Most people who follow gender equality, are affiliated with York University, or who are aware of International Men’s Day, may well have heard the news that York University cancelled an International Men’s Day event due to pressure from a group feminists.

A lot of feminists who genuinely support full equality were supportive of the men’s event, and challenged the cancellation.

What I find difficult to understand is:

How hard is it to understand the word equality?

What it doesn’t mean:

  • Equality doesn’t mean that some people are more equal than others

Feminism is a subset of equalism. Everyone should just called themselves equalists. I encourage any feminist to think about renaming themselves as an equalist. If you support full equality for everyone then this is the most sensible way to advertise this fact. If you ONLY support women the keep the label feminist.

We need to know which side we are all on.

In my personal life I have:

  • Given refuge to a woman who was being physically and emotionally abused by her male partner
  • Given shelter (during colder times of the year) and years of support to a homeless man (who has a flat as of yesterday 19th November 2015)
  • Encouraged one of the few women on my computer science degree (back in the 1990s) to remain on the course, and encouraged other men to show their support for her
  • Gave confidence to a woman who felt she was stupid. She signed up for a degree in social science at Cambridge and has since completed her degree
  • Supported both male and female people who have been suicidal
  • Challenged a work colleague who sexually abused one of my female friends
  • Supported three transgender friends
  • Supported gay friends (male and female)
  • Helped a second male homeless friend (he’s now happily got a girlfriend and place to live and is thriving)

The list goes on. I didn’t even think about their gender when I helped them. I didn’t see it as an equality issue. This is how much I support equality. The reason I set up a men’s mental health organisation was because lots of women, who were interested in mental health, encouraged me to focus on men rather than men and women. I found it interesting that so many women encouraged me. I had initially planned to set up a mental health organisation for men and women, however I learned the suicide rate in men was three to four times higher than for women. These factors spurred me on. It wasn’t a decision made due to me being sexist. In my personal life I still support both men and women.

This year two men I know died by suicide. Each of them at one time or another came to one of my men’s groups. It was devastating to me. One was a particularly great painter who I used to play in a band with for a short time. His name was Kane. A few years before than another man I knew killed himself. I was particularly distressed when I heard about him dying.

So to hear that York University cancelled an International Men’s Day event due to a certain group of feminists is sickening to me. They broke their own gender equality statement.

See the reason for the cancellation here:

International Mens Day Event Cancelled York University

I walked into a book shop earlier this year and happened to see a group of feminist books. One of them was called The End of Men. My heart sank when I saw it, as I thought how callous a statement that was, particularly as I was working my guts out running a men’s mental health organisation off my own back. Also callous considering how high the suicide rate is in men.

There is an equality thought experiment I use sometimes in order that I can overcome my unconscious bias caused by social conditioning. The way it works is that you swap a named group in a sentence with another named group.

Here’s an example:

York University cancels an International Men’s Day event due to pressure from feminists

Becomes

York University cancels a gay pride event due to pressure from a pro-straight group

The substitution highlights our bias. We just need to check our reaction or the expected reaction from others to see how biased we are. Some people wouldn’t be too bothered about the first phrase, however a lot of people would find the second phrase more evocative. I recommend you using this technique in future to test your own bias (unfortunately we all have them even if we’ve worked hard to be unbiased). I work hard to reduce my unconscious biases all the time (which is why I like non-duality).

I have asked York University whether they feel they have breached their gender equality guidelines:

York University's Gender Equality Guidelines

Let’s hope we can all learn to understand the extremely simple concept of equality. It means equality for all, not just for some.

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