C of (In)Equality

A resounding knock-back to women’s rights occurred this week. Yes women’s rights- we’re still fighting for those. It might seem like something you’d read in a history textbook or on a museum display. Women’s rights, mis-representatively so, evokes images of suffragettes marching in green, white and purple; a time of political protest, a time of inequality. We look back and think ‘well thank you for that ladies, procuring us the vote and all that’, but do we not realise that this struggle is not over? That feminism should still play a role in every woman- every girl’s life?

‘I hate feminists’ some women say. For some reason this term draws up an image of a hairy arm-pitted lesbian. But why? A feminist is defined as ‘an advocate or supporter of the rights and equality of women’ (Oxford English Dictionary 2012) this should be every woman, every female should be a supporter of her own rights- at least. Why would any woman want to limit her own rights; prevent equality in the workplace, equal representation and an equal right to education? They don’t. Many women feel, as we are taught in history, that our battle for equality is over, it was procured in the past; however the evidence from the last week or so suggests otherwise.

One establishment that one would expect to support equality to the highest level is the Church. Everyone’s heard the phrases ‘love thy neighbour’ and ‘treat other’s as you would like to be treated’ which are apparently fundamental principles of the Church of England, after all it was Jesus that said them. One would assume that equal rights for men and women would be right up the Church’s street. Evidently this is not so. For some reason ‘neighbour’ and ‘other’ are only applicable to men; white heterosexual men for that matter and us women are left outcast amongst other’s who are deemed ‘undesirable’ by the Church. Targeting the Church of England directly, how can the state headed Church claim to be ‘of England’ when it is more unrepresentative of our country than any other establishment?

The guardian newspaper has argued that the Church, by voting against the ordination of female bishops, has committed it’s own suicide speeding up the previously gradual death of the Church’s importance in society. But rather than this has the pledge for women’s equal rights been murdered?

Parliament has suggested that the Church be forced on this issue: but applying force does not equal change. To some extent it’s not worth it- female bishops permitted for the wrong reasons, and realistically not many women will step up knowing the hostility they will receive from male bishops. But parliament has a point, for one, the House of Lords holds 26 Lords Spiritual, all male, impacting the degree in which the House of Lords represents the people and also holding significant influence over the passing of measures through the House. In terms of the law, religious institutions fare immunity from such equality legislation such as the Equality Act 2010, however the EU could challenge the immunity of the Church of England with the equality of women being one of the foundations of the ‘Treaty on the Functioning of the EU’ regarding occupation and employment. Again, the Church may be forced into allowing women the same opportunities as men. Force is not the answer, by using force we are only having favours granted for us by men, this doesn’t change the attitudes to women within the Church, nothing can do that, our own salvation lays within our own persuasion but as women seem disinterested by this gender battle our hopes are pretty low…

As the Church’s stature dwindles due to this issue we might wonder why people are making the effort to change the attitudes of an already dying institution. One simple reason:

this isn’t religion anymore it’s politics.

The Green Light

“He stretched out his arms toward the dark water in a curious way, and, far as I was from him, I could have sworn he was trembling. Involuntarily I glanced seaward—and distinguished nothing except a single green light, minute and far away” (The Great Gatsby, F. Scott Fitzgerald)

The American Dream; an ideal that was, and still is, inexplicably unreachable.  However, was this ideal in danger of being on an even more unreachable precipice in the last week? As with Gatsby, there’s always that object, the dark water, blocking our ability to fulfil our dreams, be that the restrictions of society, our own fears or the actions of others; it is arguable that this dark water, this object preventing us from reaching our dreams and fulfilling our desires was going to have a face: Mitt Romney’s.

Romney’s political stance, the political stance of GOP in it’s entirety, jeopardises any hope that the American Dream still exists. Like Gatsby’s world, the proposed policies of Romney involved money, and money alone; reminiscent of the laissez faire-minimal government-maximise profits ideology of the 1920’s, with one difference: economic state. The idea to maximise profits and minimise government policy seems justifiable in a society where social issues are non-existent, however, this utopia is purely fictional. Similarly to the 1920’s, 2012 America has many social issues; issues of welfare, rights and still, race. Romney condemned Obama’s social policies as ‘extraordinary financial gifts’, citing free health care and contraceptive medications in particular, things that we, in Britain, perhaps take advantage of. Nonetheless, doesn’t the fact that we take advantage of these things, show how essential they are to our welfare?

Romney claims that the ‘big issues for the whole country’ are: military strategy, foreign policy and a strong economy. But what about freedom, education and healthcare? Surely these are greater, and more widely applicable issues for the population of America. The foundation of every society should be personal liberties: freedom of speech, press, the right to vote and so on. But, even in America, these liberties are still not established. Romney’s stance on social issues projects anti-abortion and anti-gay rights and therefore anti-freedom, setting back the progress of the last 60 years. Is this really in the best interests of the American population: imposing on, rather than granting further rights?

The loss of, or lack of such rights seriously imposes on any ideal of the ‘American Dream’, an ideal dependent on the ability to choose, and hence the availability of freedom. The loss of our, the common people’s ability to achieve their ‘American Dream’ allow people, like Mitt Romney, to achieve theirs. This is unethical, at least, according to Kantian Ethics: an act that uses others as a means to an end is wrong. The eyes of a Dr T.J Eckleburg looks over us judging our morality, or lack of, placing our dreams on a precipice.

And so, the dark water ebbs onwards between us and our dreams, until disillusion forms and we are left with nothing, hardly a glimmer of hope.

All in the name of political ideology.