Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Latham Diaries IV: Positive Discrimination and the left

A related thread on Larvae Prodder prompted me to share a little anecdote from the diaries.

Latham rocked up to a Labor women's meet. He proposed its expansion to a broader gender affairs role, citing a raft of issues faced by working class men in particular. This was no Evil Pundit style baiting; he pointed to depressing matters that need addressing, such as lowering uni entry levels and diminishing prospects. He copped a room's worth of hateful stares. Someone commented that this was why men shouldn't be able to attend their little meet at all.

So, for how long does 'positive discrimination' remain untouchable within Labor? So sensitive that a comment like
It’s sexist to have a Women’s Department when there is no Men’s department
on a left-wing thread attracts the threat of deletion, even though it is neither irrational nor vicious and is at its face entirely correct.

I believe 'discrimination' can be 'positive', but under the most limited and extraordinary circumstances of exclusion. For an egalitarian party there is, or at least has been, some merit in using this tool to rectify massive imbalances. But this must always be weighed against the fact that discrimination is discrimination, and to treat arguments against positive discrimination as heretical in my view borders on offensive.

I have the newest High Court justice, one of the most powerful and barrier-busting women in Australia, on my side...

4 comments:

Brownie said...

oh armagnac man how can you disappoint me this way? OLD women like me can recall the days when there were ONLY MEN's DEPARTMENTS. That's why a movement for Women's departments evolved. I am not the one to be writing a precis of Feminism, but, it came out of an era (I lived through) when an Air Hostess* was compelled to resign her job if she got married, the theory being "you have a hubby now so he will feed you, now leave your job vacant for a single girl". You find that hard to understand I bet.(* there were no male cabin crew).

I can't go on, going to drinks cabinet . . . .

Armagnac Esq. said...

Ah Brownie, put that thing down.

No, that one too. It's not that depressing. I didn't argue for immediate cessation of all forms of reverse discrimination, only that the issue should be negotiable without shouting, and that ongoing discriminatory practices should be kept under scrutiny.

If there were men-only departments, wouldn't the ultimate objective be all-gender-neutral departments, with any reverse discrimination being a means, not an end?

Guy said...

I think you raise a valid point, although it's hard to imagine Latho coming across as subtle or nuanced when he fronted the Womens' Meet and made his suggestions...

Armagnac Esq. said...

No... he doesn't 'do' subtle or nuanced...