Tuesday, 5 November 2013

(Some) considerations about affirmative action in politics

As a female, I find a mistake to establish affirmative actions in order to increase the number of women in representative houses or in any other public offices by quotas for a simple reason: there shouldn’t be any different treatment regarding men and women since they are both equal.
If men and women are not treated equally in a prejudice-free society, than we can understand that different genders do not have the same capacity and female need, therefore, to be tutored or helped as beholders of some kind of disabling condition, which is not the case.
In response to those who think society has an historical debt regarding the female gender it is important to mention that the best way to make up for the lost time is to accept, to include and to treat someone not as a gay or as a woman, but as a human.  
When asked about why she didn’t treated anti-Semitism as a crime against Jews, Hannah Arendt said that it was because Jews were first human, so a crime against Jews was a crime against humanity. Like her, we should consider people first as individuals, than make assumptions based on their merits.
Camille Paglia has also made several comments on the subject. In an article about the feminist movement she said that she would not vote for Hillary Clinton as President just because of her being a woman. Camille affirmed that there was no need for “lockstep gender solidarity” when “women are rational creatures who can vote in each election on the merits”. Moreover, it seems rather futile to vote for women just because of their gender, as it seems wrong to violate meritocracy with the pretense to correct “social injustices”.
A government should be neutral, fair and it should not defend any position that puts others in disadvantage. Even though men have been in well-placed positions for a long time, affirmative action is not the solution.
The function of the government is to provide opportunities for each individual to compete freely and equally in different positions and to defend their values based on their personal conceptions and beliefs. Instead of imposing a harming policy, the State should provide equal education, thus giving equal opportunities for everyone in the work place. Affirmative actions do not give impartial opportunities for both groups and do not compensate the history of inequality of the human race.
Furthermore, a democracy should be based on the principle that everyone can become a politician, for instance, but only those who have the most merit or greater qualifications shall be nominated or voted for such functions. Men and women should compete on a fair level, measured only by their achievements.
By violating the principle of equality many countries which have implemented affirmative actions in their constitutions and laws are likely to damage their productivity and efficiency in politics and in other fields because the most qualified person is not, in fact, playing the role he or she is supposed to play.  
Affirmative action for women in politics is just a public policy which aims to reduce the symptoms of the poor engagement of the gender by attacking its side effects. It doesn’t do much, but its effects can be rather harming.
Like Camille Paglia, I too think “we must stop seeing everything in life through the narrow lens of gender”. Women shouldn’t ask for special protections, but demand equal rights and achieve with responsibility their own goals.
Likewise, society should not try to end prejudice and inequality with more imbalance, but it should attack the roots of the problem: education. Palliative measures just won’t do.

Gabriela Isa Rosendo Vieira Campos

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