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Friday, 2 May 2014

The Equal Divide

"Nobody really believes in equality anyway."
Warren Farrell

[disclaimer: my views have since changed in relation to parts of this post].

The longer I spend on the internet, the more I'm convinced of the quote above. Whenever an issue comes up surrounding equality, as much as I see people trying to better the rights for people, there always seems to be a lot of people who want to tear others down too. Whether it be gender, race, sexuality or disability related, there is always this us and them mentality that only serves to reinforce the divide that striving for equality is supposed to be bridging. I understand where it comes from, I know it's easy to begrudge someone something they take for granted that you don't have, but at the end of the day progress is about making things better for everyone involved, not wishing the struggle you're going through on somebody else. And the bigger problem is when I see people reacting in this negative way, a lot of the time it isn't aimed at one person. Most of the time it's aimed at a whole group of people, a mass generalisation.

I only have to go on certain Tumblr tags and I see a bunch of posts about things 'able-bodied people' have done, 'cis people' have done, 'straight people' have done. And don't get me wrong, I've made jokes in the past about 'things able-bodied people say' so I'm not going to pretend I'm not guilty in some way, but I know the reality is that lumping people together under certain label and making out they all act a certain way is damaging to society. Granted there are certain things have been said to me or I've been asked by non-disabled people that other disabled people probably wouldn't say or ask, but I think that generally just says more about that particular person than able-bodied people altogether.

I'm using disability as an example because I guess it's what I have experience with and lived first hand, but I feel the same in relation to other groups of society. We talk about how important equality is, but each group has their own rules for who can use what label or what 'outsiders' can do or say. It reminds me of the 'you can't sit with us' scene from Mean Girls. We expect progress and everyone to share the same rights, and we can't even share words. We reclaim them for ourselves, and forbid others to use them. Creating a lack of equality and a divide in the most basic of form.

As I get older, and I hear people talk about equality and equal rights, I find myself becoming cynical. Don't get me wrong, I believe everyone should have the same rights. On the most part at least. But do I believe true equality is achievable? I'm not so sure. I'm not convinced we humans are built for it, despite how much we want to believe we are. How can something so diverse as humanity ever be truly equal? I'm not saying we shouldn't strive to better our situation and move in the right direction, progress has been and will hopefully continue to be made. But equal rights will never mean half as much without the ability to treat each other as equals in our daily lives and that is something we seem to struggle with most. We need to learn to forget the us and them mentality, the stereotypes and the generalisations. Remember for all our differences, we are still fundamentally the same. We're all people. Still, I can't imagine a day when this quote won't ring true.

"All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others"
George Orwell

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