I am a busy and professional person with a vagina who has wanted to speak out about the lunacy that I see in feminism for a long time. But life got in the way because I have better things to do than tell other people how to think and live their lives. However some people have nothing better to do than find reasons for why their lives aren’t perfect and then push them on everyone else. However, the feminist frenzy has now reached a stage where I feel that it is my duty to speak out, despite the public backlash I am likely to face, because many others probably feel too intimidated to do the same. I am sick of other women speaking for me. I have the right to speak for myself and that is what I am doing now.
Since I can remember I have listened to Woman’s Hour. My father loved it and always tuned in when I was little and I kept listening when I got older. I’ve always thought it was great because there are so many interesting items about things that would probably not be discussed without the focus on issues that might appeal to women – what happens to a tattoo that’s been on your belly for 40 years, how one guest’s mum stuck a wine gum to a table that will never come off in order to teach her not to take life too seriously. Random yet universal.
But recently I have been forced to stop listening. This recent wave of feminism that is dedicated to spreading the ‘patriarchy’ idea as though it were a proven fact was already permeating much of the programme’s content, but the last straw was when I actually heard a guest delivering something along these lines:
“Well, a lot of women tell me that they are not feminists, but then I say ‘hang on a minute, do you think men and women should be equal?’ Then they say ‘yes’, and I say ‘well then, you are a feminist’”.
Either Garvey or Murray (forgive me but I cannot remember which one of them was presenting) allowed this to go completely unchallenged. This is when I turned BBC iPlayer off. This false logic is about as rational as that of Senator Jo McCarthy – ‘anyone who dares to challenge me must be a communist’. I do not need an ‘ism’ to feel like a person, thank you very much, and I find it offensive that anyone would think I do! To further the McCarthyist analogy (and I really do believe it is very salient in this case), what is dangerous here is that an ideology – in this case feminism – is hijacking the concepts of justice and righteousness, and that is very disturbing because it then makes it possible for the owners of that ideology to demonise anybody that dares to contradict anything they say. If we end up in a scenario where it is accepted that people who do not identify themselves as feminists must automatically believe that women are worth less than men we are in very dangerous waters indeed.
And who are the owners of this ideology? The answer – people of either gender who want to find easy excuses and explanations for complex and difficult problems. What is so brilliant about it? The ambiguity of the term ‘equality’. Feminism fails to deal with an important distinction when it comes to this term – the difference between a) equality in terms of both genders having the same rights and being entitled to the same amount of respect and b) both genders actually being the same. Well I’m sorry folks, but no two human beings can ever be the same. Someone will be older, younger, taller, shorter, faster at running or a better ringer for Jerry Hall. Life is not fair. We all have to experience our share of human sadness, and sometimes those sadnesses are going to be affected by our gender. The insane refusal of feminists to accept this fact has led to the enforcement of such a skewed logic that, for example, more effort is now being placed on making sure that no woman should ever have to take responsibility for her own safety than actually trying to make women more safe.
There are many things we can do to try to make life a fairer place – that is what has the potential to make us great and noble. But teaching women that anything that could possibly cause them chagrin is the result of the so-called ‘patriarchy’ is not the answer. For example, I recently read the following in Stylist Magazine:
‘Being a secretary…is the number one occupation for American women with around 4 million people working as “secretaries and admin assistants,” 96% of whom are women. This means that the most common job for women today is the same as it was in the Fifties. Which says a depressing amount about the march for equality.’ (Issue 162, 27February 2013)
In case you have not heard of Stylist Magazine, it is a weekly free magazine that is totally designed for women. It contains pages and pages of gender specific advertising and features. The cover of this particular issue was an advert for Revlon which featured a sketched outline of a very slim and gorgeous naked woman with beautiful hair, a tiny bum and an enticing look on her face (not graphically showing any naughty bits, of course). So, even though this is a magazine that fully buys in to our culture’s concept of female beauty and the fact that women are likely to have gender specific interests, it uses evidence that other things – such as career choices – also appear to be gender specific as proof of discrimination and the fact that women are not ‘equal’. What I find so sad about this is that it makes no attempt to assess the reasons why women and men often make very different choices. More worryingly, it also disregards the fact that women even make choices. Or it places pressure on women to make choices solely on the basis of not conforming to their stereotype. As for the idea that women are brainwashed from birth by the ‘patriarchy’ into making these choices, I think it is incredibly dehumanising to see women as constructs in this way – as this much more reasoned examination of the issue puts it, almost all truck drivers are male; should we see that as evidence of sexism, or just accept that certain things are, without any conscious malice involved whatsoever, likely to be gender specific?
What Alison Wolf’s article also demonstrates is how much more difficult to decipher and potentially uncomfortable the real issues here are – those of class and education. Many other issues and social problems being hijacked by feminism at this point in time may have effects that manifest in gender specific ways – poverty, desperation and sexual violence for example – but this is not evidence that the causes of these problems are gender specific also. What feminism, as a fundamentalist ideology, does is to distract us from dealing with the real problems in a mature and reasoned way. It is not helping us create a better world for our children.
If it is in my destiny to become a mother I don’t want my daughter to grow up in a world where she is taught that she is a victim and given an excuse that will enable her to blame every bad thing that happens to her on someone else. To be taught that when bad things happen to a man they are bad things, but when they happen to her they are the result of sexism. I was not brought up to believe that there are glass ceilings – I have never experienced any myself; I grew up seeing a woman in 10 Downing Street and a woman on the throne. The only people I have ever heard telling me that I am not ‘equal’ are feminists and I resent that. I may be able to see through their self-righteousness but I worry for those who can’t, and that is why I have been moved to write this article.
We all have days when we feel that the world is against us, and it is tempting to blame others for that. I have been tempted, many times, to believe that I was not successful at certain things because of my gender, but I have always realised afterwards that there were other factors involved in my lack of success – factors that were within my control, and therefore harder for me to face up to and deal with. I once met a girl at a party who was having a massive kvetch about how badly she was treated at work by a team that she had to manage because they were all men and hated being bossed around by a woman. Some time later I was chatting with a friend (who also happened to have a vagina) who mentioned that she worked with kvetcher girl’s company – I mentioned kvetcher’s name and asked if my friend knew her; “Oh God, her…” my friend instantly replied, “she’s awful, none of us can stand her!” I am not arguing that no woman has ever been discriminated against on the basis of her gender, all sorts of people are discriminated against at many different times, but what upsets me is that sexism has become the default explanation for anything that stands in a person’s way – if that person happens to be a woman.
I want this article to be constructive – yes, I am angry and I have the right to express that anger just like feminists have the right to express theirs, but I truly hope that this may help people to at least open their minds to the fact that this ideology may be unhelpful. I use ‘fundamental’ above. This is because I have heard it remarked, and agree, that feminism is very like a religion. A characteristic of healthy religion that its believers are well aware that their faith may have some unhealthiness to it, whereas in unhealthy religion believers do not even dream that their faith may be unhealthy. This is what I ask the feminists to consider.