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Half a brain more like 9 April 2011

Posted by cooperatoby in Uncategorized.
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I read in Guardian Weekly that the British universities minister, David Willetts, blames social immobility on female emancipation. He says that well-educated careerist women have taken all the good jobs that working-class men would otherwise have been able to get. He says he has nothing against feminism, but it has trumped egalitarianism.
I beg to differ. Surely his perception is based on a prejudice, an asymmetry. As a child, when I was out in the car with my father, he used to complain at T-junctions that the cars would go past quickly, but then some straggling cyclists would get in the way. I (being a cyclist and not a motorist at that time) would object that he might as well blame the cars from blocking the way before the cyclists as blame the cyclists for blocking the way after the cars,
And so it is with Willetts. He blames two-earner couples for blocking the path of working-class men. But his perception is selective, as he ignores working-class women. There is a basic symmetry he’s overlooking. It’s not just the middle class that have benefitted from women’s equality at work. Working-class families have benefitted just as much if not more. Social mobility is just as much about increasing opportunities for the female half of the population as it is about male careers. The underlying issue is the fact that such inequality exists in the first place, not which of the oppressed groups is benefitting most.

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