The principle of the thing

British journalist and men's rights activist Peter Lloyd is suing a gym over its women's only hours.  The gym offers 442 hours a year of women's only hours.

Lloyd feels he and his fellow males are being discriminated against. He argues that some men are intimidated by women, that men and boys also suffer from eating disorders and body image hang ups. He also thinks it's not men's fault that some women are uncomfortable around men, it's something women has to deal with. Also, excluding men is totally sexist because it presumes all men are heterosexual.

I find this rather distressing. On the surface it's the principle of the thing, it's wrong to discriminate for any reason. Equality demands no less. It's a very simple, straightforward kind of thing.

But, we make exception from this principle all the time. As I see it there are two main reasons vulnerability and righting a greater wrong.

The vulnerability argument goes something like this: we make extra resources available for people who are not able to provide for themselves, the elderly, the ill, the mentally ill, the young, the abused, etc.

Affirmative action and quotas fall into the category of righting a greater wrong. These exceptions are justified by the current state of things. Long term, as we move toward a world where each group is represented relative to its prevalence, these types of exceptions will no longer be needed.

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