There’s a club called Vision and Verb. It claims it empowers “people” but when you go there, you see it’s not “people” they mean but women.
It is therefore exclusive, it excludes. Which is very interesting because, that club being of the left*, I rather thought it was all about “inclusivity”.
I was asked what was wrong with women having their own club? Absolutely nothing wrong – go to it rightly, I say. As long as men are allowed their clubs too, e.g. in London, sporting clubs, the MCC.
But that’s not how things are. The ladies in that women’s guild, in years gone by, would have passed unnoticed, they’re possibly gentle souls, gentle-ladies so to speak, churchwomen even but we don’t have just the two parties here today – the included ladies and the excluded gentlemen – we have a third party involved, sticking its oar in and helping neither of the other parties.
This is the govt. The govt says that it is legislation to force all male clubs to open membership to women and apply quotas and that if the club is of the male species, this comes under Social Policy, so that if women, another race, the aged or the disabled are excluded, then there are fines, disbanding and even jail ahead.
On the other hand, if there is a club for Jamaicans only, pensioners or women or the disabled, then it’s fine for them to exclude non-desired sections of the population, i.e. one half of the indigenous.
How does that work now? Could there be the teensiest suggestion of utter hypocrisy here?
The ladies might well claim that they didn’t exclude anyone … or at least not officiously. That may well be true but in the light of the PCist stance of the govt, which affects everyone, this smiled-upon exclusivity versus the suppressed exclusivity of the other side makes for division and rancour.
It’s not an even playing field.
This factor of the groundrules changing is not unlike offside in football. One moment, standing in one position, you are onside but the movement of other people on the field – nothing to do with what you are peacefully doing – now renders you offside.
Thus the women of Vision and Verb are now offside because of the interference of the govt. So when one of these ladies says this is rubbish, there is no prejudice whatever, she is not right in this. In terms of the third party, the govt, it now looks quite prejudiced indeed but this is approved prejudice, as against the other kind which brings the big stick down.
One group of loonies called feminists got their claws into govt a long time back and that now renders benign clubs non-benign.
So just how benign is Vision and Verb anyway?* “Empowering people”. Political. Not looking at gardening mags and discussing the latest home furnishings but “empowering” people. One section of “people” only. Tell me this is not what they’re doing.
In the light of this, the place of clubs in society takes on another character. People have clubs for their sport, for other interests, their own social set and it’s never been a problem before.
Now it is – why is that? Why is it carefully scoured to see if it’s a possible hate organization, a heading Vision and Verb comes under by govt definition? By being formed to “empower women”, how is it any different to Muslim cells designed to empower Islam?
We thus inevitably face the question of prejudice. I think there should not be Muslim schools. Is it because I’m prejudiced against my Muslim friends, of whom I have a few? Or is it because such organizations have track histories?
For how long, for how many Lee Rigbys, do we ignore the track histories? Do we equally suppress any exclusive organization, e.g. Vision and Verb, on the grounds of deep distress and offence taken by the excluded parties?
Obviously that’s insane. Then what about the opposite way – that any club or group can have exclusivity all it likes – it’s their gaff, their rules – unless [and this is the biggy], that organization is planning physical action or legislation against other parts of the society?
In the light of the latter, where does that leave the MCC with its former all-male membership, allowed to purchase ladies tickets to bring one’s lady in to a match? Are they planning to oppress women when they attend a match? Or would they just like a bit of peace and quiet for one day of the week?
And if we argue for lifting restrictions on ALL exclusivity except for nefarious purposes, where does that leave the Imams in mosques and Muslim schools? I’d suggest it leaves them with a track record – not with all but with the bad eggs who get in and ruin it for everyone else.
And yes, they should be disbanded officially. Naturally they’d still meet clandestinely but it wouldn’t have the blessing of this society’s approval.
Who makes this decision about what is and isn’t acceptable? There comes a point where blanket rules about non-prejudice no longer work. At some point, there is very much the prejudice of the indigenous culture, the tyranny of the historical majority and that is no bad thing. Other groups try to become part of that culture and that’s called politics, lobbying.
Thus, I’d go to France and not expect in the least to impose my culture on them. And in their prejudice against me, they’re very much within their rights. If it is a crime to speak and English word when there is a French one available, yes that’s extreme, insane but it’s their country, their gaff, their rules.
My job is to fit in or leave. If the colour I bring to them rubs off in some way – maybe via cuisine – then that is no bad thing but it’s their choice, not mine.
So, to wind up this first part, it’s not a neutral thing these days forming clubs as many have now been put offside by govt interference. Therefore it’s necessary to determine which clubs are acceptable and which are not. A Morris Dancing club is fine, a Sri Lankan Dance Ensemble is fine. A jihadi cell for blowing up crowded places and slitting throats is not.
We need to ditch the hypocrisy about prejudice and admit yes – we do have certain prejudices arising from our historical roots. That’s no bad thing. People who can take that onboard would then be quick to point out that in general, they’re not prejudiced people. But if they’re members of, say, the Caledonian Club, then that is an exclusive organization which meets at certain times for Rabbie nights.
It’s the hypocrisy which rankles.
Filed under: Society & human issues