For the greater good

There have been a number of different events over the last week, where it’s been suggested that women should stop fighting for their rights for the sake of the greater good.

There have been a number of incidences of this in the occupy protests. @thenatfantastic has written a really interesting post about her experiences of anti-female language in Bristol, while in North America we have heard accounts of a rape victim accused of damaging the protest by reporting her attack.
Elsewhere, when a tweet went out about involving women with policy, immediately responses came that this shouldn’t be the priority issue, that the attack on the NHS and disability living allowances should be the priority as the need is more immediately felt.

But this thinking is so flawed it makes me really angry.  It is such an over-simplification to suggest that some rights should be put aside for others.  It’s patronising that women’s rights don’t matter as much as others.  When people are asking for solidarity on one hand, to simply dismiss women’s equality as a ‘nice to have’ but not an important right is incredibly insulting.

Many have pointed out that women are not only part of the 99%, they are the majority of it. There are clear links between poverty and women being excluded from education and political life. The poorest people in the world are abandoned and widowed women. So to exclude them from the 99% protests is not just insulting, it’s also making the problems that the protests seek to solve worse.
The culture amongst bankers that has caused these problems – the macho attitude, the ‘too big to fail’ belief, the god complex demonstrated by these idiots, are the same traits that make it uncomfortable and difficult for women to work in this profession. The city is one of the worst perpetrators of the glass ceiling. And yet women are sidelined by protesters against this attitude.

On my other example, of the cuts to the NHS and targeting of the most vulnerable for cuts taking priority over women’s rights; again, by sidelining women the situation is being made worse. Women are disproportionately hit by the cuts because they are so often left to be carers. If women had a greater say in this parliament and especially in this government, perhaps some of these cuts wouldn’t be going ahead. Perhaps someone would have thought through the consequences of these actions if they were the ones left to pick up the pieces.

Whilst there are other very important issues facing the world today, the idea that women should stand aside for the greater good is patronising and harmful. Acknowledging that women can play an important role, and developing equality will improve society.

Women shouldn’t stand aside for the greater good. Women’s rights should be embraced for the greater good.

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