Positive Discrimination in Women – Some Thoughts


Leandro Castelluccio


At the political level and in the State in general there should be no men or women, only individuals.


Often the debate about the female quota law in political activity arises, a fact that finds defenders and detractors whether their implementation or continuity is discussed. And arguments abound for one side or the other. In Uruguay, the situation may have particularities that prevent us from transferring the matter and comparing it entirely with other countries, but certain arguments can be generalized. On this I want to raise some thoughts.

It is often argued that if the quota law imposes at one point having a woman instead of a man, but the latter is better qualified for the position, then the law has a detrimental effect on the quality of the representatives in the political field. This would be a good argument, but the way in which it is affirmed leaves aside the daily context where political figures emerge. In a particular theoretical framework where certain variables come into play, such an argument is feasible, but in everyday life the reasons why a person reaches a certain position in politics are not often a matter of capacity and competencies for the position. Therefore, regardless of having a law of quotas, the female person who is integrated into the position or the particular place in the political system may be more capable than their male counterparts, so in the end the law may have the opposite effect to that which was made in the argument above, or it may happen that someone less qualified actually enters the political system at a certain level, but this is not something necessarily given by the law in the current context. In a context where the person’s ability, knowledge or skills played a fundamental role in the political ascension of citizen representatives then the quota law could have a detrimental effect on more capable individuals who turned out to be male.

In this context, an argument for the representation of the population, which is made up of a greater percentage of women, is also important. It is said that there should be more women in politics, since this implies a greater representation of women in general. This argument, however, has a weak substrate, and implies a wrong premise, which refers to the notion of the collective and how we group ourselves in abstract terms. Seen otherwise, a man can perfectly vote for a woman who considers her more representative of his political ideas, of his thoughts about the law, about the role of the State, of public proposals in particular, of his understanding of things like rights or justice. These things are important, but moreover, decisive when we choose our representatives.

From an individual point of view, the just politician favors the person for being a person, regardless of his or her gender, ethnicity or racial origin (if there is anything like race in the case human beings), religious belief, social class, etc. Otherwise it would be discriminating, and this is what happens when people from minority groups see their rights denied at the political-institutional level. That is why the opposite of the previous example also happens: that a woman can perfectly be seen more represented in her ideals in a person who happens to be a male. And this is true for any other case where arguments based on how collectively people are grouped in abstract terms are used.

Persons of Hispanic origin, Afro-descendants, Native Americans, or any religious collectivity, are not necessarily represented more by people of their origin or creed in parliament or at the political level in general, since ideologically and at the level of values, which is crucial, other people different in those aspects to oneself can come to represent oneself much better. What is more, the right politician would not discriminate on these factors of grouping, but would act to promote those things that are naturally good for people because they are people, so it would not matter the origin or the religious creed. Voting someone exclusively because they belong to that community with which one identifies oneself with can be reckless, and does not necessarily imply greater personal representation.

This is why it is a mistake to say that a woman as a person is more represented in the political sphere if she votes for a woman or if there is a woman on a list with prospects to obtain a certain place in parliament, etc. Women and men can vote for men and women indistinctly, representation is not on the side of sex but for the promotion or defense of the ideas and values ​​that the political subject presents. The false belief of the political representation of minorities or of women or of certain communities by having an equal person in the parliament in these terms, seems a paradigm where there are different excluding logics, that in the end is a racist or sexist paradigm, since the logic is understandable in human and not in racial terms or on the basis of sex (men and women reason in the same way in logical terms).

In this sense many times the notion of gender violence ends up being transformed into the same thing as a racist concept, in this case we would say sexist, because it implies that certain crimes are exclusive of men against women (it could be from women to men but the usual sense used is the opposite), which then implies in the discussion, although not always evident, that there must be some defect in men for being men. But the “passionate crime”, which is almost always referred to as gender violence, or the neologism “femicide” (for a crime of hatred toward women as such is seldom seen in the same sense as crimes against Jews for being Jews, for example), is not exclusive to man, women also commit, against men and against women, and men against men. The reasons, motives and causes are the same practically, but with all possible combinations of victims and perpetrators. This can be considered relative if we think of violence and discrimination against the LGBT community as gender violence, since acts of aggression of the type committed against a particular community (such as the example of the Jewish community) is more frequent and visible against that community. Now, a hate crime against women for being women, where acts of passionate violence and crimes of passion that transcend the gender of the person, seem to be more rare, and comprise diverse directions (men against women, women against men, men against men, etc.) and have causes that are more diverse and common to the tendencies and psychology of men and women alike, but are nevertheless confused with hate crimes under the label of “gender violence”.

These debates emerge in a context of the so-called “struggle for liberties and equality of women”, where interpretations of reality are often far from common sense and where the facts that are handled many times are simply false, resulting in a combination of factors that end in detriment of such freedoms and equality. Consider the example of the “Free the nipple” movement, which promotes that women can display their breasts in public without police repression or punishment by law, in the same sense as men can walk without a shirt on a beach, for example. Here there is a cultural factor on the one hand, and an aspect that is discussed regarding the biological and sexual meaning of the breasts, within the framework of what is acceptable or not to show in public. The point here is not to discuss these aspects but to ask a question that I consider crucial: is it really liberating and fundamentally egalitarian that women can have their breasts exposed on the public space? Or seen in another way: would the power of women in the world significantly improve beyond what it is in the present? Think of the man, and assuming that the breasts had a definite sexual character, independent of the culture, would it be liberating for the male sex to be able to show his penis in public, would that grant him greater power in a social context? If the answer is affirmative, then movements such as “Free the nipple” should be considered more closely, but if this were not the case, emphasis should not be placed on such aspects as being fundamental.

Equality claims abounds in the constant acts of coercion legitimized by laws that force people to do things where results are not always clearly measured, which is ultimately important beyond good intentions, as those actions can have bad results. Men can be stronger physically than women, but the force has no power over reason and one’s convictions, it takes more than brute force to be more capable than another, for that there is no gender that is at a disadvantage but to hoard more women to the different areas of human activity based on coercion leaves in evidence the lack of rational cultivation, of cultivating self-esteem and overcoming a level of subordination, so to speak, this is the key aspect in bringing human nature to its optimal state in relation to the coexistence between men and women.

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