Posts Tagged: Feminism

What Equality Looks Like

Sunday 4th July 2010

Wimbledon finals this weekend. It’s been a really good tournament, so it’s a bit of a pity the singles finals were both fairly unexciting. Ho hum.

The subject of prize money in tennis majors is relatively controversial. This is because in men’s tennis, they play the best of 5 sets, whereas women play best of 3. Both get the same amount of prize money (£1 million this year), even though male players do more work and provide more entertainment.

I think it’s right that the male and female players get paid the same amount of prize money. I think it would also be right if they both had the same challenge; if they both had to play to 5 sets.

Yes, men and women’s bodies are different. Yes, men are generally stronger, but that’s why there are two tournaments. I don’t think that women are that weak and incapable of handling the extra sets, provided they trained for it. We’re talking about stamina here rather than strength, and women are hardly incapable of completing marathons and the like…

It amuses me when alleged “feminists” argue (correctly) that men and women should be equal and that women are just as capable as men, but then fail to see the irony when they argue that women aren’t strong enough to play for as long as men do. This is a relatively small example, but these sorts of people offer similar arguments to justify all sorts of other inequalities (in the name of “equality”!) and frankly it’s ridiculous.

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Friday 21st May 2010

I read through the coalition agreement the other day, and on the whole it actually seems rather good. Of course it remains to be seen how well the coalition works, but as I’ve said before I’m quite optimistic. Especially when Nick Clegg makes speeches like this

But when I read the document, there was one line in particular that I was unsure about. The promise that “we will extend anonymity in rape cases to defendants”. I did a sort of double-take when I read it (if that makes sense), because to put it frankly, there are almost definitely more important issues surrounding rape than whether or not the defendant is anonymous. Like the fact that a hideously low amount of rape victims even bother to report the crime, or the appalling way they are treated if they do report it. If it were me, that would be my priority to be honest.

Irrespective of that though, is this a good idea? The arguments in favour of anonymity are clear; rape (quite rightly) carries a certain amount of stigma, and I can imagine that even if someone is found not guilty of raping someone, it’s still a weight around their neck. There’s no smoke without fire, after all… This is a simple argument, but to my mind it’s an incredibly persuasive one. After all the fundamental idea is that someone is “innocent until proven guilty”.

I can sort of understand the counterarguments though. In some cases – such as John Worboys – the naming of the person who has been accused has spurred other victims into reporting their cases, and this obviously increases the likelihood of the defendant being found guilty. I’m not sure how common this is though, and even if it is common I’m not sure if it’s a valid reason not to have anonymity. Because to my mind the underlying problem is still that most victims don’t report the crime, and this doesn’t really solve that issue all that effectively.

I read on the BBC that Labour introduced anonymity for rape defendants in 1976, and the subsequant Conservative government reversed this in 1988. I don’t know what the rationale was for the Tories doing that, and it’d also be pretty interesting to find out what – if any – effect it had.

Not surprisingly, shouty feminists have pointed out that this is a very bad thing.  They say that it’s misogynistic, that it reinforces the idea that when a woman reports a rape, she’s obviously lying. To put it simply, I think that’s a complete load of bullshit. I think that all this aims to do is to address the effects of the accusation on those people who are innocent, and I don’t think that is a bad thing at all. Clearly there are valid arguments for and against, but I think the negative reaction is overblown. Yes, anonymity may have a negative effect in some proportion of cases, but isn’t it important to balance the rights of both sides?

No doubt someone will come along later and say “oh you would say that you’re a man” and put this down to “male privilege”. And to anyone tempted to say that, then just No. This is just trying to look at both sides of the argument in a balanced way, rather than simply jump to a conclusion. It’s very easy to over-react to things we disapprove of (and make no mistake, I think the way rape is dealt with in this country is atrocious), but I think it’s important to try to retain some sense of perspective.

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