Monday, 20 April 2009

Just because it's for a good cause doesn't justify discrimination

I am disgusted by sex discrimination. It seems bizarre that it still exists. I can't understand why, for example, anyone would want to be a member of a club or organization that excludes half the population. No one has ever invited me to be a freemason, but if anyone did, I would tell them where to stick their initiation rituals. I couldn't imagine joining such a male-only group (though I admit this isn't the only reason I have my doubts about the masons).

Apologists will say, yes, but look at all the money freemasonary raises for good causes. This is the hoary old 'the end justifies the means' argument - and it doesn't wash. There's no connection between fund-raising and exclusion.

Just imagine a group of friends and I decided to raise some money for the DEC's latest appeal, and a female friend comments 'Oh, I know what I can do this weekend...' only to be interrupted and told 'Sorry, you can't!' She would probably reply: 'Why not?' to be told: 'Because only men can raise money in this appeal. This is a man's thing.' She would rightly laugh them all the way to the collecting tin.

So it's with some sadness that I have to criticize the Race for Life. At the moment our local radio station is bombarded with ads telling us all to pull together and join the Race for Life to raise money for charity. As long as we're women. I'm sorry - it works both ways. This is just as ridiculous as my hypothetical 'only men can raise money in this appeal.'

I'm surprised (and, frankly, appalled) that the authorities tasked with policing sex discrimination let them get away with it. There is no justification for it, except to reinforce the old stereotypes that only women can be caring and supportive.

I'm not suggesting anyone pulls out of Race for Life, or refuses to sponsor participants. The money is going to Cancer Research UK, a charity that should get all the money it can - but I do think the organizers of Race for Life should drop their appalling sexism, and if they don't voluntarily, they should be forced to do so.
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