02 February, 2011

Gotta love me some privilege

"I'm all for [minority] rights, but [minority issue] is hardly pressing, so I don't see why [small group of people] need to worry about it right now."

In a fantastic case of not-getting-it, I read a stream of comments to that effect on a Facebook page organising a protest to draw attention to the non-binary nature of gender, by ticking both boxes on the next New Zealand census.

Apparently, we should only care about issues that are immediately pressing. If we took that attitude, then minority issues would never be brought up. We would still find homosexuality illegal and women would still predominantly be found in the kitchen.

It's a similar thing as what was said to me by a local politician in the Open Labout project. Open Labour was about allowing the people to suggest policies that the Labour Party should push, with the intention of allowing citizens an active part in the process of government policy making. This is something I agree with; democracy should be open to all people and not just in picking who gets to make the decisions once every three years.

I suggested that Labour adopt a policy to allow same sex marriage. Yes, we have civil unions, but equivalence is not equality and don't very much like being treated like a second class citizen, and all that. My suggestion got a lot of attention, and most of the responses were positive. But then, Clare Curran commented, "that's not really the point in [Open Labour]." What? Then what is the point? What's the point in asking for the people to suggest policy that's important to them, if you dismiss suggestions that aren't important to you?

Privilege is an annoying thing for those who don't have it, and those that do have it seem hell bent on denying it. So what if the issue isn't pressing (on the majority of people)? That's not the point, and it's certainly not relevent.  The point is that we have an imperitive on being consistent on human rights and doing all that we can to ensure that all people have the ability to participate freely in our society without having to worry about artificial blockades we put up, whether it's by prohibiting them from marrying whom they love, or not including options that describe them on the census.

It's not relevant because we deal with non-pressing issues every day, and we are more than capable of dealing with many issues simultaneously.

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