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Feminism and Positive Discrimination

Updated on July 10, 2018

This might be controversial in this day and age but I've never really thought of myself as a feminist. I want women to have equal rights with men, but I'm not sure if that is enough to make me a feminist. I (hopefully obviously) support all the women stepping forward in the #metoo campaign and I think it's disgusting that men in such senior positions have been allowed to get away with this for so long. I am also probably guilty of being de-sensitized to it over the years. I accepted that men will wolf-whistle when you walk down the street or grope you in a club, I hate it, but it's always just been the way things are. My worries don't really stem from this though, other than that I think we're all so blinded by the fury that we're in danger of getting carried away.

The only way I think I can explain what I am talking about is with an example which is what started off my anger at "feminism" so many years ago and made me wonder if some people do what is in fact positive discrimination under the guise of feminism. For those of you that don’t know about the UK political system (many Brits do not understand it), in its simplest form imagine the country broken up into hundreds of pieces (the size of a small town). These are constituencies and each constituency has an elective that has a seat in Parliament (an MP). At elections you vote for the political party you want to represent your constituency, you vote for the man or woman you want to be MP for your constituency (not which party you want running the country) although the chances are it will be the same. Then the party that has the most MPs usually (but not always) is the party that runs the government. Confusing? Yes. But you don’t need to fully understand it to see what my problem is.

There are some constituencies where the government stated that there must be only women candidates. This made me so mad. This is not how you run a country. It is positive discrimination, in fact, discriminating again men. What if there was a man better qualified to have that post? What if there weren’t any women that really wanted to do it, but people were forced into it because men weren’t allowed? Women don’t have to do everything that men do. They should have the opportunity to, but they don’t HAVE to. If a woman is best qualified for a job, any job then that should be why she gets it. If nothing else, it’s insulting to say that a woman wouldn’t be able to get into Parliament without this helping hand. I’m sure I’m going to get plenty of people disagreeing with me, and I’m sure I know what they’ll say. But quotas are a bad idea, whether it’s in gender, race or anything else.

Women ARE different to men, we all know this. Women (usually) are more compassionate than men, it’s in their genetic make-up, part of the child raising. They are (usually) physically weaker than men, and they do (often) let emotions play a bigger part in decision making. Men have better spacial awareness. Women are more able to see the bigger picture when men go steaming into something all hotheaded. There are some jobs that are just better suited in general to women, and some better suited in general to men. I am 100% in favour of equal opportunities and equal pay, women should be able to be whatever they want to be, but they shouldn’t be forced into mens’ jobs when there may be men better suited to it. This is discriminating and insulting.


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    • profile image


      5 years ago

      I recommend you read "Delusions of Gender" by Cordelia Fine. It might help with a better understanding of the lack of differences between sexes.

      I'm not advocating positive discrimination, there is little more that I hate that articles such as "20 women to watch in the industry" or any definition of anybody purely by their race, gender or sexual preference.

      Equality is humanism not what we see as discrimination dressed up as feminism under some guise of balancing the books with a goal of equality.

      I treat my friends, colleagues, partner and my kids as equals because they are people - irrespective of their age or gender. I also accept their differences because they are people.

    • jenblacksheep profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from England

      My point originally is that there shouldn't be complete equality. When I said men and women should be equal I mean they should have equal opportunities, not that they should be physically equal in terms of there being the same amount of men and women in each job.

      So, you think the reason there are more male plumbers than female plumbers is because women have never been given the opportunity and men are forced against their will to be plumbers? It's not just because more men want to be plumbers? My point was that men do not HAVE to choose plumbing, but they do.

      Men can be a primary carer if it means the woman is going to work full time. Men don't have as much paternity leave as women because they don't have to deal with the physical and emotional stress of carrying a child and childbirth, and that's got nothing to do with nurture. Men are often the greater earners because women choose to stay at home and look after the children. They can go back to work, but choose to look after kids. Women have just as many responsibilites as men, just because they're not always the primary earner doesn't mean that they have no responisibilites.

      You said that the fact that there are lots of non-violent men shows that nurture plays an important part. But doesn't that also show that by nature then they are violent but have been conditioned, if you like, not to be. I'm not denying that nurture plays a big part in society but it doesn't effect everything.

      Here are some websites backing up the fact that men and women have different brains. I find it weird that this is such a foreign concept to you:

    • profile image

      pirate party 

      8 years ago

      Where are all these studies that are always being done that show men are the predominant...puzzle solvers? that are not hard and fast differences because you (I presume average female) are great at these and your mum says you would be a good plumber. It is one of my pet hates to say a body of evidence exists to support an untruth that supports your point of view. I would be interested to see some of this evidence so I can critique the methodology and results.

      I agree that an element of nature must make up both male and female traits, however that there are many men who are not in the slightest bit violent, suggests that nurture plays a far more important role than nature. Look at the Aka tribe for an example of how differing nurture changes male/female roles entirely. As you say the differences are undeniable, but the cause of them is what we need to address. More men are plumbers is accepted, but why is that? Puzzle solving ability? Or streaming from education to workplace combined with early socialisation into gender roles? I suppose that is a false dichotomy...

      You say that a man should (and can ) become primary carer, but men are not afforded this by employment law. They do not get a great deal of paternity leave and as women are inherently bad at puzzle solving, the men are often the greatest earners, meaning that their role as parent is reduced primarily to earner. This is essentially limiting the amount of options a man has, in exactly the same way that women have theirs restricted by unhealthy stereotypes that guide behaviour. Man must be earner, man must choose plumbing. It seems the whole man thing comes with a lot of responsibilities that women don’t have to carry in fact, maybe this would explain the high suicide rate. To continue to propagate this under the guise of nature is unhelpful for both sexes.

      As mentioned previously...Equality is impossible; as long as women maintain child rearing (and having...) as feminine duties. I won’t harp on about liberty vs equality again. But suffice to say that competing for equality is... stupid.

    • jenblacksheep profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from England

      I don't think men are born with an inherent desire to plumb. I think that plumbing requires a certain mindset that is one predominantly found in men, puzzle-solving etc. It's not stereotyping ... it's the truth, studies are always being done that show these things. It's not a hard and fast difference. I am an excellent puzzle solver and my mum always tells me I would make a good plumber, and I know that a lot more guys like this than girls.

      I think it is both nature and nurture. I think society has a big role to play in the stereotypes but I genuinely think they are based on something real. Men are bigger than women, stronger. It's a fact. Men have testosterone that makes them more aggressive. There are undeniable differences, but it shouldn't be seen as a bad thing.

      It works both ways as well. If a man wants to be a hairdresser, nurse, carer ... watever, there's no reason why there shouldn't be. A guy shouldn't be laughed at if he wants to be a nurse in the same way that a woman shouldn't be laughed at if she wants to be plumber. I'm not denying that. If a man wants to stay at home and look after a child while the mother works then he can and should, if that's what they want.

      Women should be equal to men, and men should be equal to women. Equality that works both ways.

    • profile image

      pirate party 

      8 years ago

      I think you are missing the point, as people are socialised into roles in society that are restricting rather than liberating, to say that the stereotypes are based on differences is a self-fulfilling prophecy. We create the differences in our children, as a previous poster mentioned; by emotionally retarding men in childhood we remove their support networks as adults. By teaching boys to play fighting games, we encourage them to be violent or at least capable of violence as adults. By encouraging girls to play with dolls we encourage them to mother and care.

      Or do you believe in nature over nurture to the point where you think that men are born with an inherent desire to plumb? What about men that don't live up to stereotypes, wimpy men, house-husbands? are they genetically wrong somehow? What about women who don't live up to feminine traits? are they all dykes? The fact is that we mould a woman very early on to not want to be a plumber (even if the pay if twice as much as a beauty therapist), and then if by chance they want to do it, there is plenty of people shaking their head and a discriminatory system to work against.

      Surely not all men want to work hard jobs, that injure the back, that are exposed to weather? some may want to do creative jobs, caring, teaching etc? Do the same opportunities exist for men wanting to do creative work, or do they face similar barriers to women?

      It isn't about feminism, it is about liberation. Women don't need to be patted on the head and told, they need to be free enough to define their own lives in a level playing field. And if through that then men can start enjoying more freedom in their roles, then is that a bad thing?

    • jenblacksheep profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from England

      "You contradict yourself by arguing that women let emotion cloud their judgement but see the big picture when men go rushing in clouded by their emotions." This isn't what I said at all ... perhaps I need to re-phrase it. I just meant that men are more likely to make a snap decision. I stand by my judgements of men and women. There is a reason why there are stereotypes, they are based on truths. They might not apply to every man/woman in every instance but I believe they are true. Are you denying that there are differences between men and women?

      It's a fact that there are more male than female plumbers or electricians for example. What is more likely, that women are stopped from becoming plumbers or that there just aren't that many who want to be one? If women are being stopped from becoming them then that is wrong. No question. But if there just aren't many women who want to be a plumber then they shouldn't be forced into it.

    • profile image

      pirate party 

      8 years ago

      Not entirely convinced by your argument. Not that I am particularly convinced by positive discrimination, but maybe it is the lesser of two evils. But you make wild generalisations based on currently accepted stereotypes of accepted male and female behaviour. You contradict yourself by arguing that women let emotion cloud their judgement but see the big picture when men go rushing in clouded by their emotions. It's tosh.

      It is so easy for women to forget what feminism aimed to do, feminism was if anything a movement for liberty, not equality. Women should not aspire to live the lives of un-free men, the female potential and the male actual are not the same thing. Women should be free to live their own lives and find their own meaning into it, have their own job, family etc options and if this means short term positive discrimination then MAYBE that is good. Maybe.

      However, it is an aim for equality which as mentioned, is the wrong aim. And it is led primarily by men, which isn't women striving to live independent lives, it is a continuation of an essentially patriarchal system.

      So maybe positive discrimination is a good thing, and sure women should have an equal hand in government, but in no sense does this mean gender equality is possible. Particularly in a society where women are the primary child carers and choose to reduce the role of male parenting as you have done, to essentially a wallet. What I would much rather see is the government striving to give working class girls some real choice of skilled employment after they leave school, outside of hairdresser or fucking beauty therapist. And without some drive from central government, maybe positive discrimination, maybe investing in female skillsets (which is inherently discriminatory if not matched with investing in males, which would leave us at square one) but without this drive no change could ever occur. Particularly if women who are "brighter than average, not bragging, you just are" can't really do anything more constructive than moan at male attempts at introducing equality into government. #

      I just re-read your post before I submitted and was struck again by the way you analyse male and female roles, it is truly ridiculous that in the same post you can argue for equality and then long gone bigoted ideals of gender behaviour. It is...comic.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I agree with some of your thoughts, but not with everything, I agree that if any woman wants to go to the parliament, she has to go thought the same tests that men goes. As you said, quotas are a really bad idea, I do agree that women are different than men, if we would be all alike, we wouldn't look for couple, but some of the things you said about the compassion in women, are also product of the society, not necessarily genetic, if you see, when we are all young, parents let the girls cry and express their emotion, but if a boy cried, parents tell them that boys don't cry, in essence, society teach boys to repress their emotions, and men may be stronger physically than women, but biologically it is known that women lives a little bit more than men. I do consider myself a feminist, but I don't like when feminism is used for anything else than equality of rights.


    • James A Watkins profile image

      James A Watkins 

      9 years ago from Chicago

      I enjoyed reading your thoughts on this issue. Your article shows clear, intelligent understanding and you write very well, too. Thanks.

    • jenblacksheep profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from England

      I'm not surprised. I don't get massive amounts of comments at the best of times. I'm sure I'll get some responses before too long. As long as people don't comment with Bible quotes saying God says women should submit to their husbands, then I'm ready for any comments!

      Thanx for starting them off. Always good to start with a positive comment!!

    • Steve Rensch profile image

      Steve Rensch 

      9 years ago

      I'm struck by the lack of commentators, especially women. Your comments are astute, especially in the last paragraph, in my opinion. You would know better than I, but perhaps the lack of comments reflects the fact that women are working out the dilemma in their own minds and are not yet ready to speak.


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