Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Feminism vs. Women's Lib, Suffragettes, Bluestockings, etc.

Whenever I hear the word "feminst" or any of its relations, my blood boils just a little. Not because I don't believe in women's equality (I probably lean towards thinking they're the superior sex in many ways) or their right to equal pay or any career or a comprehensive education or owning property or even control over their own fertility, etc. etc. etc.

No, the feminism I take objection to is something very different.

It is that school of thought which trots out "the Patriarchy" as the reason that horrid things sometimes happen to specific women. Worse, it is that school of thought which, when representatives of "the Patriarchy" advocate harsh punishments (up to and including the death penalty) for rapists, child molesters and wife beaters, claim that this is because "the Patriarchy" is upset at having its property spoiled. No, you fuckwits - it's because there's nothing we despise more than people who do bad things to women and children.

It is that school of thought which decries teaching young girls to be able to defend themselves physically in favour of "educating" boys to treat girls decently. We used to do this once upon a time, but if "nice girls don't and nice boys don't ask" was a shade too far the other way, it at least allowed us to define a standard of behaviour which responsible and enterprising adolescents could choose to set aside in private once they had discussed the matter between themselves, and which irresponsible boys could be punished harshly for breaching. The baby clearly went out with the bath-water here. The other problem I have with the "feminist" line here is that it puts control of a girl's safety in the hands of the boy. If he's not the sort to accept her advice (and let's face it, there are boys who simply aren't), she's in big trouble if she doesn't have both the means and the mental attitude to fight him off.

It is that school of thought which holds that catalogues featuring young adult women in very revealing bikinis (and the clothing they advertise) are exploitative of women and worthy of making a big hue and cry about. Ditto jelly wrestling and other spectator sports in which scantily clad women are the participants and men are overwhelmingly the intended audience. Um, no. Nobody is forcing these women to be there. When you liberate women in the sphere of their sexuality and careers, you have to accept that some of those women are going to take both in directions you don't approve of.

There are more pressing problems. The original push for women's rights in the Western World was for more basic and essential things - the right to own property (including themselves, basically); the right to vote (and by extension, to be voted for); the right to work; the right to an education. All of those battles HAVE BEEN WON in the Western World, and were won long before the current crop of twentysomething campaigners for "women's rights" were even born - to which the lives of both Golda Meir and Margaret Thatcher will attest.

These days we are the bemused observers of essays in which these "feminists" angst over the eating of meat as a symbol of approval of male violence over women. In the meantime, there are millions of women around the world who do NOT have the basic rights outlined in bold above. I think "feminism" as a whole should get a grip on itself, shut the fucking hell up about its ideological concerns and concentrate on rectifying these deficiencies in the rest of the world.

Then, and only then, should it come back and lecture us about the sexual politics of being a carnivore, telling adult women what brands of bikini they're allowed to wear when they choose to participate in mud-wrestling, and insisting that it's not as important to teach adolescent girls how to repel a pushy or aggressive boyfriend who won't take no for an answer as it is to try to indoctrinate boys who won't listen.

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