Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Feminist-bashing, a rant

A nod to Pook's Mill who points us at Katherine Rake's article in The Manchester Guardian (UK) whose rallying cry to feminists is more of a tired rehash of the reasons why feminism is earning itself a bad rap.

People will stop "feminist-bashing" when feminism isn't deserving of a bashing. When it develops a sense of honesty and egalitarianism, when it stops portraying the few women who are victims as representative of all women, when it stops portraying the few men who are privileged as representative of all men. When it recognizes women's advantages over men and shows a willingness to redress those imbalances as well as those that do not work in women's favor. The "mythological figure of the dungaree-clad, scary, hairy and humourless feminist" will disappear when her obnoxious female-supremicist opinions are not held up as representative of what feminism wants. When it stops defining dissenting opinions as misogyny when from a man, and stupidity when from a woman.

Comparing modern feminism to the suffragettes of 100 years ago is disingenuous and disrespectful of the women who had something to fight for, but weren't intent on destruction in order to get it. I feel quite sure that many of the suffragettes would be embarrassed to be associated with modern feminism. Fighting to close the "pay gap" is all very well, but should one pay a person who is not committed to the long term development of a career in order to safeguard their future, their employer's future and the security of their family the same as one who is? It is right that "rape within marriage" should be illegal, but does that mean one should lift the safeguards that prevent false accusations or that one should consider all sex to be rape? No-one in this day and age thinks that feminism is about clothes and makeup, increasingly those of us out here in the real world think it is about oppressing us and forcing us, men and women, to be something that we aren't.

It is easy to say "violence against women is at crisis levels" and a little harder to quantify it with real data which compare men and women as equals, especially if one defines "crisis level" as any violence at all when it comes to women, and simultaneously blinds oneself to violence against men. If anything, "women's caring roles" are often over-valued. Oh, I don't mean, for example, in the hospitals among the nurses who, as far as I can see, get a lot more positive attention (if not pay) than the stereotyped arrogant male doctor who doesn't seem to care about his patients (which would make one wonder why he became a doctor in the first place, especially given the many years of hard work it took to do so). No, I mean in the court rooms where a mother's "caring role" is a trump card to any rights that the father might want to have when it comes to his own children, I mean in the schools where a man who wants to teach is an object of suspicion.

Picking and choosing and exaggerating the elements of life that they want is seen as the modus operandi of feminism, not its detractors. It is a direct result of there not being any one definition of feminism because this allows feminism's own predators to don the sheep's clothing of a "good cause" while undermining coherent discourse and the seeking of equality for all.

The question as to why "feminism [has] always provoked such hostility?" is trivially answered. It is a political movement. All political movements provoke hostility from their opponents, the more extreme the movement -- all sex is rape, "a woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle" -- the greater the hostility. What's laughable is the rank hypocrisy of so many of feminism's stalwarts - the originator of "a woman needs a man..." is now married, "The Vagina Monologues" promotes statutory rape. Women get payoffs in the millions for the kinds of treatment, albeit inappropriate, that men have withstood for generations. And you wonder why the hostility?

Your agenda not only threatens some of the few men (and, indeed, women) who are in a position of power and therefore invokes their opposition (which is really why they have the power in the first place), but it also undermines the identities and value system of normal men and women who are by and large happy with their lot and just want to live their lives in peace. Are you suprised they get upset when you tell a peaceful man he's a violent brute and a good woman she's letting down the sisterhood because she wants a family? Believe it or not, few men and women see their relationships as a power play, and they wonder at a political movement which seeks to turn them into such "not only in the public sphere, but also, much more trickily, in the private sphere". It's much more tricky because they shouldn't be trying, politics has no place dictating how men and women live together.

Who gets the top jobs in business should be dictated by who is most capable, not what is found between their legs. Who cleans the toilet is no-one's business but who owns that toilet. The fat, lazy, alcoholic husband who lolls in front of the TV while the missus does the washing, laundry, meals and cleans the toilet, is fast becoming a feminist canard with little basis in reality. The feminist reality is that both husband and wife are too exhausted at the end of their respective working days to clean the toilet and they end up arguing about it. Either that, or he comes home after too many hours at the office and she's bored and frustrated and decides to take it out on him by harping on about the stupid toilet, his frustrations had better be left at work or he's asking for the label "abuser".

As to who feels safe (as opposed to who is actually safe) walking home at night, many men don't feel safe walking into their own homes. When do we ever hear feminist condemnation of that? Moreover, it's all too easy now for those men to be victimized by the system when she finally kicks him out and claims he kicked her. He quickly finds out that the "rules of the game" aren't simply changed - for her, there are no rules and for him, if he doesn't follow every rule to the letter he becomes "the deadbeat" and quickly learns that most of his rules are predicated on the idea that he's the bad guy already. If feminists were about "caring for family and others" then why are their's the loudest contrarian voices when it comes to redressing these imbalances? It's got nothing to do with allowing women to lead the same lives that men have for many years, if that were the case, feminism would be as worried about men's shorter life span as it is about its "pay gap". Who's really being "short changed" there?

"Rape conviction levels are at their lowest ever" invites discussion on two points: what if it were at its highest ever, would you be as outraged (of course you would), and: does anyone know if this is because the meaning of the word "rape" has been rendered so broad that many accusations of rape are not actually rapes at all, but second-thoughts and hurt feelings, or, worse, deliberate attempts to destroy a man? I don't know the answer to these questions, no-one really does and very few seem to be interested to find out. It is easier to howl in vengeful rage that convictions are at their lowest ever than study real reasons why.

Feminism will gain some credibility when it recognizes the responsibility for women making their own bad choices. Some women are truly victims (as are some men), but if they are grouped with others who are choosing plastic surgery over self-betterment, and making themselves as sexually alluring as possible while simultaneously protesting attention from men they themselves are not attracted to, then what credibility can they expect? One is not simultaneously a victim and empowered, and to claim empowerment through victimhood is surely the most pernicious form of self harm.

Yes, feminism could do with a "third wave", a recognition that too much of it has not been about equality and is now being misused to gain unfair advantage in too many arenas. A wave which does not patronizingly suggest that no-one is listening, that men across the board do not understand, that many women who don't support such feminism are not somehow ignorant of reality. If feminism has become an "f-word" it is through its own hyprocisy and frequent unfairness, not because some parts of it are honest and fair, it is because it uses the blunt instruments of stereotype, misdirection, propoganda, and moral intimidation to bludgeon good people into the party line. In short, in many ways, feminism has become its own worst enemy.

The "five key freedoms: power, rights, autonomy, respect and choice" are all gender neutral words. How often does a feminist argue from that position? It is more important that women be in charge, as politicians, as managers of Premiership football teams. This last is compared to a male nursery nurse as an issue of choice as opposed to blunt appropriate reality (how many Premiership footballers are women or ever will be?) and is a prime example of the kind of surreal argumentation we have learned to expect from feminism, that men and women are equal, but only in areas where women want it.

Feminism can no more deliver this world than capitalism can make everyone rich and still provide the poor to do the hard work, that socialism can make sure everyone is protected by the state and still provide the individual freedom to seek one's own potential, which are things that many ordinary, naive men and women want to see. Sure, go ahead, reclaim the "f-word", and do it by removing the reasons why "feminist-bashing" is so easy and so inevitable, not by trying to claim that feminism has been victimized unfairly and that's just not right with a trembling lower lip.

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Anonymous said...

Excellent rant. Most men are too afraid of mommy and too obsessed with getting pussy to stand up to feminist evil. So men have been rendered third-class citizens at best.

invisibledad said...

I share many of your complaints with regard to feminism. As I see it, the fundamental flaw with it is the extent to which its intellectual heritage is Marxist. The entire structure of the system appears to be predicated on victimology--without a conception of the oppressors and the oppressed, it doesn't seem to know what to do with itself. I've found those feminists who refer to themselves as "individualist feminists" generally much more reasonable and sympathetic to the idea of real equality between the sexes, especially in the area of equal parenting.

Anonymous said...

Just a quick comment because I need to get to work: kudos. One of the most balanced, reasonable arguments I've read. I'm no stranger to the man's movement, but your article helped me develop my views just a little better. :)

Anonymous said...

Suffragettes ?

That group that conspired to hand out white feathers and send thousands of young men to theior deaths in the trenches ?

Yep - noble group that !!

Anonymous said...

Very well-written and well-defended essay. Feminism has become almost the stereotype of what a purely political issue looks like.

My guess is that feminism never will regain any of the past credibility it once had simply upon the basis that it isn't really needed anymore. There just isn't enough wide-scale injustice against women to justify a movement anymore, which basically means that feminists should really be happy - they've succeeded. Almost too well, though they'd never concede either point.

Anonymous said...

I have this sort of argument with the girls I know just about every week. It's so nice to see it in print somewhere. I'm female myself and I get accused of being a chauvinist constantly because I think that not every woman should be pushed into "male dominated" fields (I'm in engineering, hence the name, and I know I'm an oddity, nothing special).

I have a link now that I can use against a lot of them.

Now all I need to do is make a good rant about activism. Hmm. I guess I'm going to have to do some research for that.

On to more essays!

G M said...

Great rant!

And if there were more "Mad Engineers" out there, men and women could get along much better and in simple peace and logic.

Unfotunately, "teh patriarchy" is "forcing" most women to avoid logic-based, technical careers to focus on humanities and liberal farts instead. Has nothing to do with natural tendencies, and everything to do with EVILZ MALE OPPRESSION!!!!

masha said...

Totally agree with the feminism stuff. One caveat. You say it's impossible

that socialism can make sure everyone is protected by the state and still provide the individual freedom to seek one's own potential

FYI, they got that going in the Nordic countries. On and here, the feminist party recently stopped running for office because "the job is pretty much done" or something like that. :)

Anonymous said...

how does the vagina monologues promote statutory rape? i haven't read or studied it but i have seen it and i don't remember anything that seemed iffy to me?

Anonymous said...

If you want to rant have a look at the domestic violence industry. Here men are the perpetrators and women the victims, even though all the reliable data suggests that men and women are equally likely to assault their partners. This finding holds even if you only ask women about what they and their partners do! The probation service & prisons run programmes based on Duluth which is a feminist model with no empirical support. So why don't people complain? Well men might as well not bother because they just get accused of being a bunch of perps. Professionals who know better get bullied and harassed into going along with it even though they shouold have the courage to take a stand. And all the while everyone affected is let down by a system built on politics rather than trying to solve a massive social problem.

Goose said...

Thank you for the ammunition, I regularly argue with feminists both on their blog, and on mine, and actually just got accused of being a feminist basher.

Anonymous said...

Exactly! Very well said. I'm a woman, and I agree with every word you wrote. Your post is sound reasoning and based on reality, and I wish more people would realize that it's not about feminism, it's about equality.

Anonymous said...

I just always wondered why if a woman is drunk, she can't give consent to intimacy (=she was raped)

But if a man is drunk, he has no such defense?

tickletik said...

I don't agree with you regarding feminism. I believe that the movement was created with malicious intent. I also believe that the idea of a "rape within marriage law" is impossible to justly enforce. It sounds good on paper, it's demented in practice.

I do not believe in equal pay or pay scales or anything involving a government agency telling a private business what it can and cannot pay or who it can or cannot hire.

In all fairness, I am so jaded now by western women in general, that I have reached a point where I believe women should not have the vote.

It is clear that as long as woman has the vote she will never, she will be incapable, of giving up the socialist government network and rules which she perceives as being beneficial to her. She will, by her nature she must back the State over the common man.

It doesn't matter much to me, I already left the country years ago when I saw what was happening.