Zero sum?

Is there any truth in what Billy Bragg said here?

Is it true that women’s rights were won at the expense of men? Is it true that a loss of rights for one set of people is what must happen for an excluded group to win their human rights?

I don’t think so.

There may be some truth in it in the case of women, because of the role of childbearing, which brings with it some physical needs (or lacks, if you want to put it that way) and some responsibilities that can’t be shared. There may be some truth in the claim that men have to give up or dial back some of their advantages and freedoms if women are to have equal rights. If men just walk away from the children they half-created then the women who bear the children lose a lot of freedoms, aka rights.

But other than that, I don’t think it is true. Exploiting the labor of groups of people deemed subordinate is not a right in the first place. Abusing them, shunning them, forcing them to accept bad housing in neglected neighborhoods – none of that is a right.

But maybe I’m overlooking something…

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