The year is 2020. Women around the world no longer have to look over their shoulder on the streets. Employers have all employed men and women in equal measure. The gender gap is a thing of the past. Women’s rights movements are passé; only a history lesson we teach to the kids. We now live in a post-sexist world. Does that sound fictitious, almost absurd?
It’s no less absurd than our reality where our tryst with equality has turned on its head and we are fining organisations for being “too feminist” and employing too many women.
Recently, the authorities of the city of Paris were fined for employing too many women in senior positions. Anne Hidalgo, who is the first female mayor of the city (in her second term), reacted to this absurd €90,000 fine with much indignation. The Sauvadet law implemented in 2013 mandates that neither of the sexes can occupy more than 60 per cent seats in senior management positions. Interestingly, this comes at a time when a woman is at the helm of the office. To impose such ridiculous fines is to imply the existence of “reverse inequality”. However, much like reverse racism, it is both implausible and a figment of imagination of a society where men refuse to let go.
Women are already at a disadvantageous position in society. Levying such ludicrous fines is greatly detrimental to the limited employment opportunities for women. It is an additional and unwanted barrier between them and their collective goal of equality.
Strangely (or not), this has never been the case when too many men occupied senior management positions, nor when the number of male employees in political offices or other corporations was skewed against women. The occupation of important roles, senior or not, by women indicates a levelled playing field. It goes to show that these jobs were not handed out to women for virtue of them belonging to a certain sex. It proves that their claim was solely on the basis of merit and competence.
Women are already at a disadvantageous position in society.
Having women occupy these positions that can influence change, paves way for others to be able to scale similarly demanding summits. History is witness to the fact that so long as men have occupied these positions, women have had a very limited scope to get to the top. It sets a precedent in the private and the public sector. It reinforces the belief in women and their ability to flourish in spaces that have been occupied by only men in the past.
Another outcome of this “reverse inequality” fine has also been that it will retroactively deter positive discrimination in the future, the most important function of which has been to provide not just equality but also access to opportunities to the discriminated section, women in this case. Such impositions negate its function entirely and create a false reality wherein women are not in disfavour and have the same opportunities in a capacity similar to men.
If the beginning of this piece sounded like a pipe dream, then that’s because it is. An equal world does not await us in the near future and the odds are always stacked against us. Penalising corporations or governments for supporting women establishes that the path ahead for this utopian future is teemed with hindrances created by men. This remains a win for meninists alone.