Is it because I'm a white male?

31 Oct 2012

I’m about to make a claim that will infuriate many – one, however, that I believe is becoming commonplace. White males are now becoming one of the most discriminated groups in society, suffering because of the lack of fair and equal representation and role models. I agree that historically men have had more than their fair share of control, power and advantages in life – but I think it is time to reflect on how far the pendulum has swung. In homage to Ali G’s “Is it cause I’m black” – a severely underrepresented group of society is now asking itself – “Is it cause we’re White Males?”.

 

Two years after Jeremy Paxman caused a stir by pointing to the active discrimination happening at the BBC; where qualified males were being prevented from rising through the ranks of the corporation because of their gender, it is time to fight a battle that for too long has been ignored. It is correct, truthful and fair to say that – in the past – males have had too much control. In the 21st century however the equality climate has truly changed. With the advent of equality law; isn’t it time that we practised what we preached; stood by our laws – and stood by the members of our society that are becoming ostracised, forgotten. The situation we now find ourselves in is nothing more than shambolic and indicates our failure as a fair and equal society. We are not listening. 

When I am debating the fact that at present the white male, which being a white male myself makes it more than hard to persuade someone of the uncomfortable reality, are today one of the most discriminated groups in society; I am asked about my experiences of discrimination. I’m cornered. I have no argument. Using the established thesis I am the exception to the rule, I am never discriminated against. This however, is false to the core. Men are discriminated against, to the worrying point where they do not recognise they are. I do not know of the advantages I could have had, the courses I could have been placed on, the opportunities that I could have stepped in to. And because I do not know the extent of which I am being discriminated – it is argued that I am not. The issue is far more complicated than that. Discrimination can, and does happen to everyone – and denying it (to argue therefore I am not discriminated against), contradicts the same argument that for centuries was used against those with power to define the situation the oppressed were in. 

This problem of discrimination is highlighted when the lack of fair representation, along with voice and identity is compared between segments of society. From the Women’s Institute to Women’s Hour, and The National Black Police Association, these programmes have done great good in giving minorities a voice; and should be strengthened. Now though, let’s go whole hog with gender equality – be fair and give people from every strand of society equal opportunities and an equal voice. This is being recognised, now – later than ever, by local authorities. Derby City and Nottingham City council are now just two of many local authorities which are using their initiative and pushing forward with Male Clinics, as they have done for Indian communities, Women and minorities. This is a move in the right direction.

Discrimination happens at every level of and to all parts of our society – nobody is safe. Along with employment, the government in both United Kingdom and others around the world are centred solely at logger heads with the needs of males. Two of these key departments are Health and Education. Breast Cancer accounted for more than 11,500 deaths last year, below the average of 12,500. In part this is because of better detection at an early stage through the use of mammograms. This was an amazing feat. Imagine the similar feat that could be achieved if regular screenings were given to men to check for prostate cancer. The 4th most common cancer, thousands of lives could be saved year after year if there was a level of detection. This however is too much to ask for. It is time that we offered help and assistance (including screening) to everyone, regardless of gender. It’s not rocket science – it’s about changing peoples’ lives and diverting disaster. In education, after decades of discrimination against female students – our neglect of male pupils has now returned to haunt us. Through a concerted effort to promote the Sciences and Technologies to girls, boys were not just ignored, but realistically lost out. It is impossible, now, not to recognise the trailing results for boys in the ‘boy v. girl’ world. This education inequality is highlighted in America where, in the Ivy League set of Universities are 59% are Women and 41% men. Although it could be suggested that men have more sectors to ‘move in to’ – are we to assume, and at the same time discriminate, that women “cannot do manual labour” – as that is as offensive. We should ensure that there are equal opportunities for all – based on merit and skill rather than gender. In this matriarchal society; with a female monarch and with teaching still very much female based profession – we must ensure that male role models are created; inspiring everyone and proving that barriers are being broken.

Feminists, at least some, and others may have been shocked and angered at my points; but I will not apologise. There is nothing wrong in wanting equality, uniformity and fairness in public life. There is no beating around the bush. In a country where women can outlive their male counterparts by 8 years, we must ensure that where we offer services to one group we ensure, where possible, we can offer a similar one to others. This is about levelling a playing field- promoting equality and ensuring that maybe one day we will reach the idyllic parity that we all want.

By James Wand

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