The second rule of LEAF (Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund) is that you don’t write about, or talk about LEAF.
At least, not without their permission.
That’s what they told me in a phone call after I explained I was writing an article about equality, as defined by feminism.
I had called to ask the definition of a phrase used by the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund on their website: Substantive equality. How does the addition of the word “substantive” affect the definition of the word equality, to which it is attached?
By itself, that word ‘equality’ has already become slippery. In the context of law or basic civil rights it generally has two distinct, and mutually exclusive meanings. The most obvious of these is equality of either opportunity, or of rights in the eyes of the law. This is a straightforward definition most Canadians and Americans will recognize. However, without an identifying prefix or suffix, what some practitioners of social-justice mean when they use the word equality is equality of outcome.
The use of quotas, reserved seats, or group-specific discrimination to ensure that pre-determined numbers from a selected demographic is represented “fairly” in a field of what, previously, would have been populated by people of merit.
The two “types” of equality, as mentioned, are exclusive of each other. The reason equality of opportunity and equality of outcome don’t overlap is that people are not identical to one another. A child of recent immigrants may work significantly harder and achieve more than a child raised in the comfort and convention of the suburban middle class.
If the immigrant kid professionally outperforms the comfortable suburban kid because he worked harder in school getting an unequal result, tough luck for anyone who prizes equality of outcome. On the other hand, in some cases growing up in an established community, and being connected to the business associations of an already prosperous network might give the comfortable suburban kind an advantage that kid whose parents arrived by boat doesn’t have. This isn’t equality of outcome either. And, again, tough shit.
Life isn’t fair – wear a helmet. Not everybody is smart, or has well connected parents.
When we, or anybody else, attempt to impose equality of outcome, we do so by suppressing the choices and the rational discretion of individuals. You can choose to do your homework or not, you can choose to hire good employees or bad ones. Until equality of outcome is required. We can only create equal outcomes by using force against other people.
In attempting to unnaturally create an equivalent outcome, we must step on and suppress individuals, as well as diminish the actual achievement of the members of an artificially favoured group who could have succeeded by their own merit. We’ve stripped the esteem of actual accomplishment.
But LEAF, the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund has their own terminology to describe this sequence of events. They call it “Substantive Equality.” This is how they explained it to me.
I asked, “what does the word ‘substantive’ change about the word equality?”
“um well, it’s the basically it’s the kind of equality that Canada has signed on to. And what it means is, like, a formal definition of equality would mean that everybody gets the same thing. Substantive equality has to take into account um history and patterns of discrimination, and seek to allow the law to benefit everybody equally. So it doesn’t necessarily mean everybody is going to get the same thing”.
As with “social justice,” which is the opposite of justice, “substantive equality” is the opposite of equality. And this is what the largest feminist legal activism organization and intervener in the Canadian criminal courts promotes as equality.
If, as is often claimed, women have historically been discriminated against then treating them with actual equality eliminates that discrimination or imbalance.
Reverse discrimination or, as it’s called by social justice warriors, “substantive equality” – as implemented by those who should know better – is inexcusable.
What these substantive equality warriors with deep pockets and law degrees are actually seeking is more properly described as legal discrimination. A tilted playing field. One group advantaged over any opponents in the eyes of the law. However, by claiming connection to historical discrimination that existed prior to their lifetimes, social justice claims that what they’re doing now is actually equality. Are you convinced?
But, wait, we’re not supposed to talk about this. Most certainly not if we mention of the name of LEAF (the Women’s Legal Education and Action Fund) because, as their education manager told me on the telephone today, their permission is required before public mention of any of it.
I need their permission to talk about it. I’ll get right on that.