Arrest of a suffragette organization member in London, 1914. Suffragette organizations campaigned for women’s right to vote.
(This article was reprinted in the online magazine of the Institute for Ethics & Emerging Technologies, May 27, 2016.)
I read an interesting article this morning titled, “Late-breaking sexism”: why younger women aren’t excited about electing a woman president.” Its main theme is that while women have made great strides, there is still a lot of sexism in the USA, especially the kind that manifests itself in a woman’s late twenties and early thirties when the demands of career and family intersect.
I agree with the article completely, and I believe any woman who tells me the article speaks to their concerns. But it did get me to thinking about how to respond to this injustice or to any injustice. In the simplest language I’d say something like: we should try to make the world more just while remembering at the same time that there is a lot of good in life too. I know this is trite, but the point is to maintain a creative tension between being dissatisfied with injustice enough to want to remedy it, but not so dissatisfied that you sour on life and miss its beauty.
Of course this is easy for a white male who has never been discriminated against to say. Moreover I have sufficient food, clothing, and shelter—as well as time to blog. For those who are starving, imprisoned, enslaved, etc. there is nothing one can say except that such injustices should be eradicated. So I address my concerns mostly to first world people who nonetheless face grave injustice. But again I admit that I can’t understand how difficult it is to be black or gay or a woman in this world either.
The only thing I might say is that we should all be sympathetic with each other. Consider that racism is about understanding the unique obstacles blacks face; xenophobia about understanding the unique obstacles that immigrants face, and sexism is about understanding the unique obstacles that women face. All these groups face obstacles that white men do not. But teaching existentialism always reminded me how hard life is for everyone. Still being discriminated against makes things much harder.
There is something amiss about the reality we live in, and I’d guess it has something to do both with ourselves and the stars. But if we change ourselves then we might change the stars too.