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Equity feminism argues that all people should have equal ability to pursue their desires, barring biological or physical barriers, which is difficult to argue against. But it also argues that equal ability is all that matters; if a woman is as equally capable of becoming a university professor as a man, but there are still disproportionately more male professors, equity feminism sees nothing wrong.

This view has a number of issues (not least of which the assertion there are fundamental differences between men and women), but one in particular is how ahistorical it is; equity feminism doesn’t acknowledge that the past can effect your present or future. Feminists have been a bit slow to realize this, in general.

Those fighting racism, on the other hand, are acutely aware of the power of history. Courtesy Marcus Ranum:

Thus, purely as a consequence of discriminatory policies adopted explicitly by the Federal Government in the 1930s, the Smiths, who are White, have net assets of $52,400 in 1980 and the Robinsons, who are Black, have net assets of zero.

The long-term effects of the original discrimination do not end here, however. They are transmitted to the next generation – to Skip and Jane and Michael and Carolyn [all of whom, note, have grown up in stable, secure lower-middle-class homes with two parents and good family values].

First of all, the Smiths have been able to divert a considerable portion of their income to the education of their children, because of the beneficial laws and policies governing housing. This advantage shows up in the higher incomes the Smith children are able to earn, as compared with the equally talented but less-well-educated Robinson children.

I recommend reading his post in full  it’s the best description I’ve read of why historical discrimination still matters. It also shows why feminism must be intersectional, capable of learning from other social justice movements and assisting in their struggle where possible. Otherwise, we could have missed this important lesson.

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