Theories of Equality – are we fighting the wrong battle?

A friend recently posed a theory to me about equality.

He said that he didn’t think we (LGBT people) would have equality until women had equality first.

I thought about it, and have been ever since. It’s an interesting point really.

I am writing my dissertation on women in management and have read paper after paper about the glass ceiling and how it’s still very much intact.

Norway recently introduced a quota to have 40% women in all their boardrooms. To all intent and purposes it has worked too, the representation of women has exponentially increased… More over their equality policies are actually much more… Well… Equal.

Fathers get 6 weeks paternity leave, in the UK we get 2. Mothers get a full years salary on maternity leave. We get statutory.

In fact their perspective on lgbt rights is much better than the UK. They introduced a gender neutral marriage bill in 2009… Right around the time their female representation shot through the roof.

It got me thinking, are we fighting the wrong battle? Should we be going back to the grass roots of solidarity and rooting for women first and then our LGBT rights? Maybe one leads to the other?

I thought I would pose the question because I found it fascinating.

What do you think?

7 thoughts on “Theories of Equality – are we fighting the wrong battle?”

  1. I think it’s a much messier question than a simple dichotomy of women or gays, them first or after us. And traditional, hierarchical religious precepts are at the root of that.

    Our battles are not distinct. When women win, LGBT causes advance, and vice versa, maybe not immediately or legislatively, but in the broader cultural context. Because either victory is a triumph over traditional gender roles. And those have been reinforced over millennia by religious authorities, almost exclusively powerful old men. You mentioned two countries: the most advanced in terms of both women’s lib and LGBT equality, Norway, is incredibly secular. Quite a bit behind for both issues, the UK still shows quite a bit of deference to religious institutions. And then in a distant third, my homeland, the US can’t get through an election without elected officials saying that rape babies are a gift from God.

    There was a rally outside my building today, protesting the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. All morning I was listening to praise songs mixed with fiery speeches with heavy religious overtones. Those are the same people leading the charge against our equality.

    In short, we’re fighting the right battle. A move towards equality for some is a move towards equality for all. We can just be smarter about the way we shape our alliances.


  2. That being said, I imagine that your friend is right. Women will probably realize at least the visible trappings of equality sooner than the LGBT community. Everybody knows a woman, everybody has loved a woman, there’s one in every family. We’re still making sure that everybody knows a queer. Which makes it all the more important that closet doors are broken down for good. No matter what Jodie Foster says. It’s important.


  3. Thanks for commenting, also I completely agree! Of course it’s a messier question. It can’t be black and white but I thought if I wrote all the shades of grey it wouldn’t allow to any debate. Yes I did hear about mitt romneys comments and really couldn’t believe someone could actually say that. Totally ridiculous.

    I think you summarise nicely that a move towards equality for some is a move for all. I think that’s what Norway shows though…? Forgive me because I don’t know the inns and outs of not ways politics and policies, but from the outside it seems like it is at least trying to be more “equal”.

    My point being that it looks like the equality for women has also kick started the equality for everyone else.. Men included (re: the paternity pay)

    I wasn’t suggesting we don’t fight for LGBT rights, but maybe taking a leaf out of someone else’s book might help. Maybe baby steps with women’s rights pushes society into a more accepting mindset and will help us to get equality too?

    It’s fascinating :) thanks again for commenting



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