Straight white men: you’re not oppressed.

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I’m going to reveal a fundamental truth. Evidently this will come as a shock to some.

Newsflash: straight white men are not an underclass. They have all the rights. Still do, always have. More rights than anyone else.

A few weeks ago we ran this piece from the Prime Minister about the importance of continuing the good fight for gender equality.

What we didn’t expect when we published it, was to unearth a new underclass of ‘oppressed’ people who objected to the idea of our PM (or anyone) singling out women for special mention.  I’m paraphrasing:

‘What about men? We have issues too!’

‘How dare you mention women’s rights when men are suffering’.

‘We shouldn’t focus on women’s rights until we fix the problems men have’.

Ah, of course, it’s the loud and noisy Faux Oppressed. A minority of individuals in a social majority of straight white men who cling desperately to the notion that the rest of us have come to rob them of the immense privilege they have in this world. Priveleges they don’t even realise they have.

We must have completely missed the subtext of that article (apparently only obvious to a few white men) which was, more or less, a call for women to subjugate men everywhere.

Battle stations fair wenches, you have more testicles to crush. And what about gay people and their search for equality? That’s a right too far for some!

Let’s be perfectly clear: if you have all the rights, you are out in front. You’re winning. Somebody or some group gaining a few more rights so they begin to catch up isn’t going to alter the privilege you already have. Rights are not a finite commodity. Rights are not, for example, coal. You can’t run out of them. They’re as infinite as society wants to make them.

Equality isn’t a question of Robin Hood economics. We don’t have to take any rights to grant new ones. That’s the beauty of it.

Now, far be it for me to couch the debate over gender equality (or any other social issue) in terms of winners and losers. Truth be told there should be no winners. And no losers. It should be a tie. But currently, there are losers in these particular debates: women, gays and lesbians, transgender people, Indigenous people. Every time this subject comes up a chorus line of the Faux Oppressed emerges with arguments about how they’re really doing it tough. Tougher than the lot we’d originally gathered to discuss. When Julia Gillard says that women aren’t paid as much as men for doing the same job, that’s a fact, not an opinion.

In almost every scenario imaginable, the Faux Oppressed are of the dominant gender, skin colour, religion, political party, club, group, whatever.

We’re talking straight white men. This is important: Not all of them. Not every straight white man is pining for lost rights (where did those ‘rights’ even go?) but almost every person who is outraged by any talk of equality is a straight, white man. Most of them get it. They know they’re out in front. And they’re OK about stopping to help others. Mostly Because:

When Indigenous people got the vote, men didn’t lose their vote.

When women are given pay increases, it doesn’t come from the pay packets of men.

When gays are eventually allowed to marry, straight marriages won’t self combust.

Want to argue with some facts? Sure!

Two thirds of the 800 million people worldwide who lack basic literacy skills are women. Globally 1 in 3 women and girls experience physical and sexual violence with rates as high as 2 in 3 in some Pacific countries. Australian women still earn, on average, 18 per cent less than Australian men in the workplace. At almost every turn, women are not out in front. Men are. So why anyone would get all huffy that we want to try and close this gap (note: close it, not widen it in the other direction) is beyond me.

“Can you just shut up about your ‘equality’ now? I’m sick of seeing gay stories all over the news.”

That’s an actual quote from somebody whose fundamental human right to not hear stories about the gays was being infringed right that minute on the news.

My favourite is ‘we have more important issues to worry about, like asylum seekers coming here and taking our privileges’!

It’s not that being a straight white male makes you immune to problems. Yes, some men are abused by female partners. But the vast majority of victims of domestic violence (to pick one example) are overwhelmingly women and children.

Of course men have problems. But women are still not equal.

Of course straight people have issues too. But gay people are still not equal.

Narrowing the headstart you have on equality does not suddenly mean you’re losing. It means society is learning to run a fairer race.

Need a funnier argument? There’s a bit of swearing but Louis CK has the goods:

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