Cathy Dobbs: We don't live with equality

Does every voice have a right to be heard?

If we lived in a world where we were all perceived as equal, then we could listen to other people’s views without it creating any upset. However, we don’t live with equality. In fact, what is becoming increasing clear is that equality is something that is impossible to achieve and the more we strive for it, the more unreachable it becomes.

You see, the balancing act that hampers equality means that if extra rights and privileges are given to one group, then it automatically disadvantages another. As society evolves this attempt to balance out each group is only getting harder. As more groups emerge, each one battles for equality – which is akin to trying to find a unicorn.

For example, we know that the lowest achievers at school are white, working-class boys. However, this is a group that, sadly, isn’t valued highly enough in society for people to get angry about. You won’t see statues being pulled down, or celebrities lecturing us at the BAFTAs about the disadvantages faced by white, working-class boys. In the last week the think-and-action tank LKMco has said that schools struggled to support white working-glass boys because the government does not have a suitable definition of the term. So, it seems that if you want action to be taken you need to be classified into a group that can be easily defined.

This is something that is becoming increasingly problematic for women. Recently we have seen MP Yvette Cooper decline to define what a woman is, saying she was not going to go down a 'rabbit hole'. It came just after her colleague Anneliese Dodds said ‘there are different definitions legally around what a woman actually is’. She added that ‘We need to end up in a situation where we see equality across the board’. But, as most women will tell you, equality is just a figment of the imagination.

Comedian Aisling Bea did a sketch recently where she talked about how men are intimidated by funny women. She said: “Do you know what women are intimidated by? The fact that men can kill us with their hands. And that’s a fair swap isn’t it? I have no idea what it’s like from my privileged position, to be walking down a lane at night, potentially after a comedy gig, you’ve had a few beers and you’re very nervous. Your phone is dead…and you’ve got your keys out because at any moment a woman might jump out of a hedge and tell you a joke.”

It's a joke that made us all laugh, because as women we can identify with that fear of being attacked – but obviously not by a comedian. And while the definition of ‘women’ becomes even more unclear, does this mean that we will struggle to garner support to help us with those issues that affect us, our daughters and granddaughters?

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