Leigh Wilson: Equality requires everyone having a voice - even the privileged non-minorities

Leigh Wilson says the world is moving backwards and progressive voices across the spectrum must find unity

FROM a historical perspective it can often appear, somewhat erroneously, that we are now living in an enlightened period of liberal sanctity. 

Relativity is nonetheless crucial to judging this, and, were it not for the seismic global events of the past two years, this claim may be more convincingly substantiated. In the context of recent tectonic changes, though, it seems as if we are regressing more than we care to admit.

The current UK Government consists of a reactionary Conservative party in coalition with the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) - a party more concerned with fundamentalist religious rights than minority ones; in America, women's reproductive rights are at risk from a megalomaniac, despotic president, with Congress acting as an unquestioning accomplice; LGBTI rights are still non-existent in much of the world and extremist hate crime is increasing across much of the West. 

There has to be a recognition of the sensitivity of specific circumstances, but it is when non-minorities start mobilising for equal rights for all that we will influence change.

The notion pervaded for years that the left won the social argument is now ringing precariously hollow.

Of course, we can all rejoice in the knowledge that equal marriage is now legal in an increasing number of countries, that most women are now financially independent and that mental health is finally - albeit painfully slowly - starting to gain the prominence it requires alongside physical health. 

This is not enough, though. As global elites suffer the political consequences for their predisposition to an extreme neoliberal agenda, it falls on those of us who share a progressive, globalist outlook to ensure that social rights are not included in the bonfire of bureaucracy that many regressive politicians are now igniting.

I have followed with interest the blog of Woke Daddy, a converted male feminist, who made the transition to enlightenment after the birth of his first daughter. Now a vegan, non-drinking free thinker, he has embodied the spirit of the metropolitan liberal to almost parodical levels. But, I like it.  

There is, of course, a fine balance to be drawn in gender politics between talking with women and talking for them but, in totality, the blog manages to err on the right side of the divide. 

While gender discrimination is still so prevalent in society it would be rather perverse to reject the value of this contribution, however bombastic, for purist ideology. If we want to solidify some of the feminist gains made over recent years we need to, I would argue, encourage more men to proclaim their allegiance to the cause.

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The most intellectual of our decision makers realise, however, that we cannot keep pace with our rapidly changing society unless we radically adapt. Globalisation and technology bring challenges which most politicians have yet elucidated the solutions to. 

Structural inequality, for example, is becoming an increasingly complex challenge of our time. There is nothing equal about more female participation in the workplace if so much of that participation involves short-term, low-wage employment; how do we foster the notion of equality if our ageing demographics lead to a rising demand for personal family care - disproportionately delivered by women? 

These challenges also provide opportunities but they can only be addressed once we start having the conversations of reformulating our economy and reclassifying our definition of work.

Inequality, of course, does not just exist within gender confines. Who could argue against the racial inequality exemplified by the treatment of the - predominantly minority - residents of Grenfell Tower, their pleas for safety truculently ignored before bearing witness to their homes smouldering afire?

These atrocities do not affect just one group or one community though; they affect all of us. 

We have made progress but to really achieve equality - to break down all the barriers that hold too many people back - we have to coalesce as one voice, one people.

The white civil rights activist, Rachel Dolezal, recently achieved notoriety for admitting that she "identified herself as black". While I acknowledge the uneasiness many people have with this example and the natural accusations of cultural appropriation that follow, it nonetheless strikes me as important that if we are to achieve a more equal society then all of us have to have a voice in it - including those who are not categorised as minorities. 

Of course, there has to be a recognition of the sensitivity of specific circumstances, but it is when non-minorities start mobilising for equal rights for all that we will influence change.

We have made progress but to really achieve equality - to break down all the barriers that hold too many people back - we have to coalesce as one voice, one people, to challenge the discriminations that still pervade our society. There must be a mobilisation of all strands of society to normalise the changes we want to see. 

Let us recognise that examples of discrimination are not cases to just be argued by minorities; they are cases to be argued by all of us.

Picture courtesy of TEDx UIdaho

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