Monday, February 20, 2012

Why a unified fight for rights is vital

The idea that there is a schism between various human rights issues is dangerous.  While there is often a variety of reasons for the lack of basic human rights in differing groups, this does not mean they are unrelated.  Nor does it mean that each individual struggle against oppression operates in a vacuum.

The belief that different human rights movements should not work together is one of the single greatest ways for any and all of those movements to be greatly hindered, or even blocked entirely.  For a group to say that it only wants the aid of those fighting the same fight does nothing but strengthens the opposition and reduce the support base of those working for their own rights.

I mention this because of Erin Nanasi's recent post "Women’s rights and LGBT: It’s not a competition".  Both in her article and in the comments that follow, there is mention that women are in no place to complain when the LGBT community has it so much worse.  There is also mention that for the LGBT rights movement to join forces with women's rights and the atheist community would "cloud the issue at hand".

These claims utterly ignores certain key facts, ones that have consequences for all human rights groups.  Whenever any group of individuals has its basic rights under attack, those that look to revoke these rights are rarely content to stop there.  To those in any of these groups who think that the fight for their rights is a stand alone issue, I ask you this:  Do you really think that they will be content to stop with just one group?

Time and time again we have seen such bigots and hate mongers use their successes in opposing or removing the rights of one group as a test bed for future attacks.  If their backwards views can be accepted against one group, they will quickly begin to branch out and start targeting other groups more openly and with increased vigor.

The rolling back of women's rights has dire consequences for the LGBT movement, and vice versa.  For the more radical of a 'win' against one group, the more bold they will become and the more they will want.  It tells them that just because rights have been established in the past, there is nothing stopping them from stepping in and taking that all away.  If they succeed in their attack on women, what is to stop them from more aggressive attacks against the LGBT community?

In fact, the LGBT community has a lot to lose with the loss of rights for women.  By setting up such a standard, not only does it make future attacks against them more likely, but it also reduces the influence of half of its own population.  When women's rights are mentioned, it is not just straight women, it is every woman.  This would be a set back the LGBT community can not afford.

But the inverse is true as well.  Any gains in rights of one group can strengthen the cause of the others.  Any win for those who see all humans as deserving of basic rights not only stop the advancements of the bigots, but it also frees up many supporters to help in the fight for rights in other areas.  While this has, sadly, not always happened, we must not let dissension from the past carry over into our future.  With every win, those in favor of rights have had other violations revealed to them for which they can fight against.  We cannot afford to be content with one area of success and must strive for more as the forces against us never tire.
With disgustingly large numbers of those in the LGBT community faced with the possibility of rape, women's rights become even more vital.  For if a straight woman cannot get the proper care after being raped, what hope will someone that the establishment sees as less have?

To those who claim that such a unified fight clouds the issues at hand, I will admit there is some truth to this based on the nature of politics.  It is impossible to strive for all rights in one fell swoop and they must be fought on a myriad of fronts.  Sometimes, the establishment will use the connection of one group to another against them, saying that they are supported by 'immoral' individuals.  But this misses that such statements are attempts to scatter and dis-empower those who fight for their rights.  It is a move to shatter the support base and reduce the number of voters in support of an issue.  We cannot allow such tactics to win because we believe that we have to play by their rules.  We are the ones who are in the right after all.

Now this should not be seen as a statement in support of those who struggle in one area to drop what they are doing and focus on something else.  This would only destroy what those groups have fought so hard for.  Instead, I am stating that the work of one group does not negate the work of another and can help their ultimate cause in the end.  The fight for human rights is a universal thing, it is something everyone who has been seen by society as less deserving wishes to correct.

So to every group that has been pushed aside by those in power.  To everyone who has had their rights kept from them because of the beliefs of the religious.  To all that want more for their future, let us not fall into petty quarreling that will only hinder us all.  Let us fight side by side against a common enemy so that, one day, none of us will have to be afraid.
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1 comment:

Ahab said...

Sadly, this kind of division plays into the hands of oppressors. I've seen this sort of thing in other forms -- for instance, wedges between bisexuals and gays, or between women's rights and the rights of racial minorities. If groups can work together and find overlap, their efforts will be more efficacious.