In the past 100 years, there has been more social change than ever before. People of colour have equal rights, you can get married regardless of sexual orientation, women have become presidents of countries and CEOs of Fortune 500 businesses, abortions are legal, there are dozens of recognized types of gender, and so much more. None of these things would have even been a seed of a concept all those years ago.
However, the mindset of society is starting to split off into multiple directions. Planned Parenthood is losing funding if it provides assistance with abortions, there is an endless debate over the racial profiling and the police, women aren’t paid as much as men, millions of people denounce any gender that isn’t male or female, and all of this and much more is leading people to revolt and form groups against the constant progressive chance.
All of the issues of today boil down to equality, and in the news, I’ve seen a lot of different opinions on social issues. One of the biggest reasons many arguments on these issues end in stalemates is because both sides define equality in different ways. To properly debate social equality, both sides need to agree on what the definition of equality actually is. So that poses the question – is equality a scale or a bar?
Let me explain.
To even out a scale, you need to put enough weight on both sides of the scale until it balances itself out. For example, If I put a one pound weight and a seven pound weight on the left side of the scale, and then I put a five pound weight and a three pound weight on the right side, both sides equal eight pounds, and therefore, both sides are equal, and the scale is balanced.
If we look at equality as a scale, every type of person doesn’t need to have the same programs, platforms, and privileges but need the same value when you add them all up. If we applied this logic to social equality, men making more money than women would be okay as long as they pay more for dates, groceries, gifts, childcare, etc.
On the other hand, equality is also seen as a bar. This logic means a standard (or bar) is set, and to achieve equality everyone has to reach it. If you see social equality as a bar, men and women should make the same amount of money for the same amount of work because the standard pay for that job requirement is set at X amount.
So equality is a bar, right? Well, it’s not that simple.
When you look at the example of equal pay, it’s easier to see equality as a bar because we are all human, and humans should be paid the same regardless of gender, ethnicity, or religion.
But now let’s look at scholarships. Milo Yiannopoulos started the Privilege Grant. It’s a scholarship only available to white men. The media has a field day with this news, criticizing him for being a sexist white supremacist.
Before I continue, I just want it on the record that on almost every issue I am in opposition of Milo Yiannopolous. However, is it fair to label him a sexist white supremacist on this issue alone? Obviously, he has done other things to back up that theory, but block out everything you know about him and try and focus on this one stance.
NerdScholar conducted a study on demographics of university scholarships. They discovered there are four times as many scholarships for women than there are for men. If you see equality as a bar than this should be appalling to you because men are at a severe disadvantage when it comes financial assistance from schools. There are also thousands of scholarships exclusively available for African-Americans, Asians, Latinos, and Indigenous, and scholarships only available for people of a certain religion as well. If equality is a bar, then offering a scholarship for white men is a step in the right direction.
“Well, that’s different because white men have had it good for so long.”
Ah, but now you’re looking at equality as a scale because you’re weighing the centuries of higher social status and opportunity against the surplus of scholarships for minority groups. But then that begs the almost impossible-to-answer question – how much is either side worth?
“Well, why can’t it be a scale in some cases and a bar in others?”
Because that’s the problem!
Everyone has their own take on when equality should be a scale and when it should be a bar. This leads to confusion between the parties involved in the debate because depending on the argument, people will flip flop between seeing it as a scale or as a bar to suit their personal agenda.
So what’s the right answer?
That’s something we need to decide as a society. If it’s a scale, then some groups can have more than other, but it’s harder to manage because now we need to numerically add value to social equality, which is highly subjective depending on your background. If it’s a bar, then everyone gets the same programs, platforms, and privileges regardless of the past, present, and future.
Discussing this dilemma is imperative, so please comment below and let’s start this conversation together. It’s the only way to solve the problem.