As you may know, we had scheduled Heina Dadabhoy to join us this past week in our REASON discussion on feminism. Unfortunately, she had to cancel due to an illness. Since I was not too familiar with her work or opinions, I decided to take the opportunity to read her latest piece, “Is is time to stop reading books by white men?”, which you can find here. In it, she discusses the “No White Male Authors” challenge recently presented by science fiction author K.T. Bradford. She titled the presentation of her piece “When Discrimination Is Necessary to Achieve Equality”.
I disagree with this overall premise that discrimination is necessary. It seems ironic and hypocritical that one who is ostensibly advocating for equality and against discrimination based upon immutable traits would suggest that these very tactics be utilized to achieve that goal. Just as Heina came to the sobering realization that she was not doing much to support minority authors, imagine how sobering it would be for a white, male, cis-gendered author to have his livelihood threatened simply because of attributes which he was born with. This all smacks of “reverse racism” to me, to draw a parallel. There’s no “reverse discrimination”, there’s just discrimination, and it’s never proper. I’m seeing this type of ideology increasingly among modern feminists, and it greatly concerns me. I absolutely am on board with gender equality, I’m just not so keen on the “Affirmative Action” approach, where we take opportunities away from deserving people and give them to others simply on the basis of their skin color or what their second chromosome is.
Now, I can appreciate that Heina struggled with this, and that she admits that she can recognize the unfairness in this approach. Yet, in the end, she is still in support of it. I cannot accept that. I fully agree that people should be exposed to diverse opinions and perspectives, and that we should seek them out. However, this isn’t something that should be forced onto people or which should come at the expense of others through no fault of their own. I certainly don’t choose material to read based on the gender or race of the author, but rather if the subject matter and style appeal to me. In an ideal scenario, we’d be able to choose what to read without any information about who wrote it, and really, it’s what people say and do that is far more important than to which demographics they belong. Certainly a person’s background can be central to their perspective and add impact, but what we shouldn’t do is discount the perspective or opinions of people because of this. It seems both counter-productive and vindictive to an extent to suggest that we follow this course of action.
I intend on sharing this post with Heina, in hopes to start a dialogue. My fellow REASON member, ExemplaryChad, may also be offering up a different perspective on this, so stay tuned.