[Just seen my colleagues excellent essay ]
Courtesy of Women Against Feminism and Godless Indian Feminists, respectively.
I think both of these pictures are important and true, and it’s something that those of us, myself included, who wince at the word ‘feminism’ need to be clear about.
This may come as a surprise, but the reason that many people, myself included, think of ‘feminism’ as a bad word is not because we want to return to the days when a woman could be confined to a mental hospital for falling pregnant outside of marriage, when domestic abuse was treated as a private matter, or when it was standard practice to tell a woman buying a car or whatever “Here’s where you sign, and here’s where you get the signature of your father or husband”.
That was real, those things happened, and people have no right to forget. Michelle Smith, writing in The Independent, makes these points with some force.
However, with all due respect to Ms Smith, she is missing the point. The fact that there were bad things fifty years ago that were opposed by what feminism meant fifty years ago, does not mean that what feminism means right now is the same thing.
What those of us who feel poorly disposed towards feminism object to are things like the political hackwork that claims that one in five women at American Universities are sexually assaulted. Heather MacDonald tears this piece of nonsense apart here – something people should know is that in the original study this came from 73% of women did not classify their experience as rape, and 42% voluntarily slept with the ‘rapist’ again. We also don’t care for the idea that rampant promiscuity is the same thing as ’empowerment’, nor do we like terms like ‘rape culture’ being used to say that all men are rapists, or of the blanket dismissal of any fear of false rape accusations. Or we don’t like feminists saying that women who were born in the wrong kind of body just have a weird sexual fetish.
In the developed West – I’ll come back to this point – there is no rape culture directed against women, but there very much is one directed against men. Jokes about men getting raped in prison are so acceptable that they appear in television ads directed intended for children, and comics can laugh about boys being taken advantage of by women teachers. (To give Western feminism full credit, that last link is from Jezebel).
For me, my annoyance with Western feminism is that it is completely useless when it comes down to actually doing anything for women’s emancipation.
This is where that second picture comes in. Covering the jihad-beat for the last eight years, I have been wearily accustomed to seeing feminists stare out the window and whistle ‘Dixie’ when we could use them. I’ve noticed, Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s noticed, Anne Marie Waters noticed, Phyllis Chesler’s written a whole book on the damn phenomenon.
Think I’m exaggerating? Here’s The Feminist Wire
The stereotype that Islam justifies violence against women, or that Muslims uniquely hate women, is unfounded, dangerous,
Here’s Naomi Wolf getting all hot for the Burqa.
Try finding anything on Jezebel, or Feministing that bothers to confront Islamic misogyny. What you’ll end up with is a bunch of posts complaining that those of us who do speak up are waaaycist.
But the problem isn’t just with Islam. As we have seen, there’s a big struggle going on in India, and there are reform movements in Christian Africa too.
You don’t need to go that far though. One of the major disasters that resulted from the sexual revolution, particularly in Britain, is skyrocketing violence against women.
I just do not see what on earth feminism has to do with addressing any of these issues. It seems an exclusive club for angry, hateful middle- and upper-class women, usually based in a university somewhere. It’s about self-congratulation and making life miserable for others. It’s not about women’s emancipation.
For goodness sakes, things are so bad that Erin Pizzey, the woman who founded the first women’s shelter in the UK, is now writing for the Daily Mail.
I believe in women’s emancipation – I think that it is one of the most important issues in the world today. Apart from anything, it is the achilles heel of the jihad. I just don’t see any connection of feminism to it.