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AIBU - "white, straight, able-bodied man? You cannot attend" - it's finally happened!

(133 Posts)
enterYourPassword Tue 07-Jun-16 06:26:42

Story here

A lecturers’ union is refusing to let its officers take part in debates at an equality summit if they are white, straight, able-bodied men.

The equality conference of the University and College Union said that members must declare their ‘protected characteristic’ – whether they are gay, disabled, female or from an ethnic minority – when applying to attend.

Activists say that it means representatives who do not qualify cannot participate in all of the discussions – even though they have been elected by their union branch.

AIBU in thinking that this is exactly the opposite of what is supposed to be being achieved? It reminds me of that horrible excuse for a human Bahar Mustafa.

A Union refusing to let any officers take part (despite their jobs being working in equality) unless they have a "protected characteristic" makes no sense to me. A simplistic arguement to say that if the roles were reversed there would be an outcry but surely it should swing both ways.

It's patronising in the extreme to suggest the professionals have nothing to contribute unless they are part of a 'minority'. I've posted as my SIL (white, straight, middle class) is involved in this insomuch as she was invited to attend or perhaps invited to apply to attend (immaterial).

I personally think this is wrong. Any form of discrimination is bad and can have no positive outcome and no less so when enacted by what were a traditionally struggling minority - although they now seem to be a flourishing and powerful political force with extremely misguided attempts to create 'safe spaces' becoming the very thing they purport to be against.

confusedandemployed Tue 07-Jun-16 06:30:44

YANBU. Talk about the point of the Equality Act whooshing above them unnoticed.

Of course this is discrimination. What a load of idiots.

contortionist Tue 07-Jun-16 06:34:05

YABU for posting a Daily Mail link. Especially since the story doesn't match the headline. The main track is open to everyone. There are various breakout sessions, and only people with the relevant characteristic can attend them. So black gay women without a disability can't attend the disabled track either. That doesn't seem unreasonable to me.

enterYourPassword Tue 07-Jun-16 06:39:53


Yes, DailyMail so fashionable to hate it. I posted a snippet of the headline (ellipsis aren't expected at the end of a quotation).

"So black gay women without a disability can't attend the disabled track either. That doesn't seem unreasonable to me."

So you're all for positive discrimination are you?

FuzzyWizard Tue 07-Jun-16 06:41:34

So anyone can attend the main session but there are going to be breakout sessions for people from minority groups. I don't see the problem. Why would a straight, able, bodied white male want to crash a meeting designed as a space for disabled people or lesbians to discuss the issues that affect them? Surely they can just pop off to the bar at that point? I go to teaching conferences sometimes where there are breakout rooms for different subjects. If there wasn't one for my subject then I'd just skip that bit and go home early or pop out for a drink, not crash a maths meeting full of maths teachers and start talking about topics I don't understand.

FuzzyWizard Tue 07-Jun-16 06:44:30

It's not positive discrimination confused
They are smaller group meetings for people who are gay or disabled or from minority ethnic groups to meet with each other and discuss things that affect them. They aren't all going to be in one place together with all the straight, able bodied white men kicked out.

OurBlanche Tue 07-Jun-16 06:45:13

Bloody hell... yet more of that stupid 'safe space' shite.

Yet another good intention scuppered by fuckwits!

Hey! That's OK though. I 'self identify' as a one legged black man... can I come in now?

OurBlanche Tue 07-Jun-16 06:47:31

Fuzzy you have missed the point. Those men / people are fully elected representatives acting, working on behalf of their electorate - who would be black, LGBT, disabled etc.

By disbarring the rep you are ignoring the wished of those who elected them!

It is wrong on so very many levels!

TheNotoriousPMT Tue 07-Jun-16 06:48:03

Is there a straight, white, able-bodied man who is desperate to join in the "safe space" discussions for people with a protected characteristic that he does not share?

Sorry, this is like a perfectly happy person getting peed off that they can't sit in on someone else's counselling session.

OurBlanche Tue 07-Jun-16 06:49:09

Notorious see my last post!!!!

FuzzyWizard Tue 07-Jun-16 06:56:56

Blanche- they aren't being disbarred. They will be in the main meeting.

TheNotoriousPMT Tue 07-Jun-16 07:00:01

I saw it. The white, straight, able-bodied male elected reps are not barred from the conference per se, just the break-out sessions. I don't think it's beyond the bounds of possibility that one discussion held by people who share a protected characteristic, without anyone popping up to remind everyone that '#NotAllWhiteStraightAble-BodiedMen' might be helpful.

OurBlanche Tue 07-Jun-16 07:04:13

I would agree with you more if they weren't applying it to people who have been elected to attend on behalf of people with said characteristics!

Where is their voice to be heard in these break out sessions? They elected A Person to be there for them. Now someone is taking away their right ot listen, to be heard.

OTheHugeManatee Tue 07-Jun-16 07:14:05

I think this kind of stuff risks chipping away at solidarity and encouraging rights groups to pit themselves against one another.

There is a real conflict between the universalism that says it's on the basis of our common humanity that we should all be equal, and the social justice view that no-one can speak about a particular type of oppression unless they themselves have the oppressed characteristic.

FuzzyWizard Tue 07-Jun-16 07:15:27

What about all of the gay people who elected a disabled rep or disabled people who elected a black rep? What about their voices. They won't have their voices heard in the relevant breakout either? Which of the people who elected them should these reps without characteristics choose to attend?

zippey Tue 07-Jun-16 07:19:58

That DM article is deliberately trying to be obtuse and trying to make a point which isn't there. Everyone is allowed to attend this conference. It is a non story. Please sort yourself out. Clearly the article cherry picks the headline and makes it a story about something else.

LumpySpacedPrincess Tue 07-Jun-16 07:20:46

How do the representatives that are being excluded feel?

Perhaps this was their idea?

OurBlanche Tue 07-Jun-16 07:24:20

I didn't read the DM version....

MrsJayy Tue 07-Jun-16 07:26:55

Im not sure what discrimitory issues a straight white man would have however they need to take that up with their union at the conference which they are allowed to go to.

Lailalee Tue 07-Jun-16 07:32:44

How about DM write an article about the lack of Black male representation everywhere?! No, I don't think they would bother!

LumpySpacedPrincess Tue 07-Jun-16 07:33:09

I'll read the link later OurBlanche. First day back at work now though, bluergh....

OddBoots Tue 07-Jun-16 07:33:15

It seems like a well meaning but odd decision.

Are they trying to tell the people voting for their reps that unless they vote in someone with the same protected characteristic as themselves then their voice (through their rep) will not be heard?

Sniv Tue 07-Jun-16 07:35:08

It seems odd to have a conference of this type that has limited entry sessions. But this is truth:

She said the that break-out sessions would be dominated by those with no personal experience of the issues being discussed

This really does happen. I attend a lot of feminist/LGBT stuff and the amount of time wasted during Q&A sessions by someone (almost always a man) with apparently zero knowledge and experience who expects an auditorium of 300+ engaged people to be their personal classroom and talk them through the babysteps of the issue at hand which they could read from even the most basic online primer on the subject, while time ticks past of the real discussion most of us have come for.

I see lots of sneering at 'safe spaces' on here. Women-only, LGBT-only, or lesbian-only spaces have been hugely positive and beneficial to me. Doesn't make me bitter that I can't attend events just for muslims, BME people or even the working men's social club.

TheRugbyValkyrie Tue 07-Jun-16 07:40:17

OP as a white, able bodied woman, what could you possibly contribute to a discussion for black, gay men?
This isn't about the main conference, these are break away rooms for discussion among a particular group of people. Many hate the term "safe space" but these rooms are for particular groups to share their experiences. If you are not part of the group you will have nothing to contribute to the discussion and frankly your presence might inhibit full and frank disclosure.

OurBlanche Tue 07-Jun-16 07:44:42

Again, Sniv, I would agree more if those being told they can't go to the break out sessions weren't the elected representatives acting on behalf of people with said characterstics.

These "white, straight able bodied men" are equality representatives elected by their union branch.

They could just lie (as I sort of said in my first, more angry post) and 'self identify'. But why should they do that inorder to do the job they were elcted to do?

And again... what about the voice of those who elected them to act on their behalf? Why are they being marginalised?

Why is there a race to the bottom in the equality debate? Why divide and conquer yourselves?

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