Equality and the example of cutting (not splitting) hair (Transcript.)

Should a business be allowed to set different prices depending on the customer’s skin-color or gender? For example, is it okay to say that “this service costs X if you are male, but X times 2 if you are female?”

More and more of modern society says no. Discrimination is not okay. We should never treat people differently, except when there is a very valid reason. It is not okay to systematically discriminate people based on a parameter that doesn’t have to matter.

Lets take the simple example of cutting hair. You know, women having to pay twice as much as men for having their hairs cut. This example is good not only because it is simple, but also because it is often ridiculed. People who don’t like the concept of equality love to roll their eyes. They go all “well, duh, women have longer hair! Of course they should pay more when they have it cut”.

Well, I live in Sweden. My country had this big debate a few years ago. The government was going to outlaw the practice of having different prices for male and female customers. Some barbers were furious, for the reason I just mentioned. But as the decision was made, the debate quickly became obsolete. The barbers kept their signs and prices. They simply replaced he word “men” with “short hair” and the word “women” with “long hair”. With their fees now based on their actual work rather than gender stereotypes, nobody had any reason to feel discriminated.

As one of the few who lost on this reform… my hair was twice as long back then by the way… I think it was a really good reform. Surely it wasn’t any big good thing. But small good things are good too. I mean, seriously? Lets say a skinhead girl forget to shave one morning. She drops by a barber, and it only takes him a few seconds to buzz over her head with shaver. Would anyone honestly think it’s reasonable to have her pay twice as much as I pay for a full haircut, just because she happens to have two X chromosomes? It is reasonable to let customers with short hair pay less for haircuts. Having everyone pay the same is okay to, if the barber likes it that way. It is however ludicrous to let a long-haired man pay less or have a short-haired woman pay more because of what hairstyle OTHER men and women might have.

Like I said, cutting hair is a simple example. More complex examples often require more complex solutions. But the principles are very simple. Try to base your policies on the actual reality, rather than stereotypes about how reality usually is. Of course, we sometimes do have to use such stereotypes. This brings me to issues such as age and ageism. Which I’ll return to in a future video. But first a much more serious equality issue. Conscription.

Until then… Live Long And Prosper!


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