Saturday, 26 March 2016
League table of oppression

The first shall be last, said Jesus. He obviously hadn't checked his privilege. Michael Deacon in The Telegraph:

Good news and bad news for gay men. The good news is: congratulations! You are officially no longer oppressed.

The bad news is: you’re now the oppressors.

Or so I gather from the National Union of Students. According to Pink News, the NUS Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender conference haspassed a motion calling for gay men to lose their LGBT representation. First, they “do not face oppression” in their community. Second, they are too often guilty of “misogyny, transphobia, racism and biphobia”.

I must confess that I’m finding this sort of thing difficult to keep up with. First students tell us Germaine Greer is a misogynist. Then they tell us Peter Tatchell is a racist. Then they tell us the founder of Hope Not Hate is an Islamophobe. And now they tell us gay men are bigots.

I’m trying to understand, I really am. But I suspect I’m not alone in needing some help here. That’s why I propose the following solution.

To let everyone know where they stand, the NUS must publish a weekly League Table of Oppression.

Obviously at the bottom [are we allowed to say "bottom" these days? - M.J.] would be white, British, middle-class, heterosexual men like me. Shamefully, we aren’t oppressed at all. But where does everyone else fit in? Does the NUS rank transgender people above depressives? Are lesbians below the disabled? And what about Muslim men versus Muslim women?

Actually, I think I know the answer to that last one. Six months ago, an ex-Muslim woman, Maryam Namazie, was due to give a speech at Warwick University arguing that patriarchal Islamic culture oppresses women. However, the student union tried to bar her on the grounds that her views were “inflammatory”. So that’s that one sorted: Muslim men are more important victims than Muslim women.

Other questions, however, will be more complex, because some people have a frustrating habit of not conforming to easy stereotypes. Is, say, a heterosexual, middle-class, black, immigrant woman more or less oppressed than a gay, working-class, white, British man? On the one hand, she has the hateful privileges of being heterosexual and middle-class. On the other hand, she also has the noble disadvantages of being black, an immigrant, and a woman.

Is she oppressor, or oppressed? Should we celebrate her as a victim, or jeer her as a Tory? The NUS must decide how many points to award or subtract for each of her characteristics, and position her in the league table accordingly.

Be in no doubt: if we are ever to achieve social justice, it is vital that the NUS decree precisely how much every person on Earth is to be resented or pitied.

Posted on 03/26/2016 9:29 AM by Mary Jackson
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