Posts Tagged ‘women’s issues’

Once a Feminist…

In ideology, morality, politics on March 20, 2014 at 10:13 pm

When young and even middle-aged women today pick me up on major gaffes, examples of hopeless social ineptitude like calling a woman a girl, or holding a door open for one — that define me as a first class male chauvinist pig in the time-honored nomenclature — I just think to myself “Where were you in 1971, bitch?” — the form it often comes out as afterwards, verbalising it under my breath, as I relive the moment. (Don’t bother saying it — I’ve already taken an anger management course for it and I’m a lot better than I was. Thanks for askin’.) That year, at 15, was when I first got seriously curious about what made women tick. Of course, growing up in a household headed by a solo mother and two older sisters, I had only become used to the “Go to your room, now!” or “Stop it or I’ll break your face!” style of feminism whenever I was deemed to have stepped out of line (and no court of appeal to discuss facts) rather than the plaintive “We just want equality/okay, more than equality” approach as women present themselves today, ladylike, in public; but this calm, assertive approach is as ruthless as ever, and can seem so rational.

Of course, only women then wrote serious polemics about what has become the abiding cross-gender study of “women’s issues” — and solely from their point of view because not only was there very little research about men to draw on but very little curiosity from women about what makes men tick. (I’m still waiting for this small level of official interest in terms of men getting seriously involved in themselves. But since it hasn’t happened by now I can only assume the strong cultural imperative from both genders that men not “wimp out” or object to their lives in any way prohibits this from ever happening: a thinly disguised version of the white feather of yesteryear sent to “cowards” who refused to sacrifice themselves or to kill on the altar of war.)

The three biggies in feminist literature were Frenchwoman Simone de Beauvoir, New York sophisticate Betty Friedan and mod icon Germaine Greer from next door in Australia. Suffice to say, they set me on the wrong track for many years on my expectations of women and forming relationships based on any kind of reality. These women authors were arguing from their own ideals as stridently independent women, maybe representing about three percent of women in those days, tops. None of the big three were in the least photogenic or appealing in a girly way. This would wait until Gloria Steinem started appearing on magazine covers as eye candy, later joined by girlish Naomi Klein and others in somewhat glammed-up attire and displaying other sexual cues — which of course defeated the purpose and the principle in a pretty big way but made the whole phenomenon of watered-down feminism more popular.

As a willing feminist at the time, I took their words as gospel and did not for one minute expect emancipated modern women to be: unalterably passive when it came to pursuing relationships with men (just flirting outrageously), to be silent or ambiguous when it came to any course of reciprocation, or actually claim changing their minds as a “woman’s perogative”. For many, many years I ignored the evidence of my own senses, thinking “Oh, she must be an exception.” My mother, seeing the trouble I was in, finally said, “I think you’re the kind of guy who will have good relationships [in later life].”

Brando and Vivien Leigh playing a butterfly broken on the wheel

Brando and Vivien Leigh imagery in A Streetcar Named Desire (1951), representing female feminists’ heroic view of themselves: the butterfly oppressed by the beast

A few years later, in my twenties, I came across The Female Woman by Ariana Stassinopoulis (Huffington), who seemed to me to be letting quite a few cats out of the bag. The sisterhood — whose hold was weakening on me by this time — and who were tired of squabbling with each other about political priorities in the war against men’s privileges — was understandably concerned about this development. The original message was unalterably diverted through magazine editor Steinem and others in influential media positions compromising and playing on market forces. This trend has continued into “modern feminism” and women role models today who parade in 8-inch heels (rightly characterised as “Fuck me” shoes by Germaine Greer all those decades ago), have their faces and bodies rearranged to suit themselves (somehow said to be men’s fault) and twerk their asses off in public with strangers are said to be making important cultural statements on the importance and value of women’s free expression today.

Maybe they are.

anna_nicole_weight300 The modern echo of Marilyn Monroe, or a grotesque caricature symbolic of the times?[/caption]


In anthropology, psychology/psychiatry, sociology on May 16, 2013 at 7:13 am

Some of us are more equal than others, as various animal characters found out in George Orwell’s classic satire on Stalinism, Animal Farm. In coming musings I will discuss how this applies to different sectors of society. Tonight: women.

* Women are equal to men in numbers around the world — in fact outnumber them in virtually every country, PLUS retain the privilege of calling themselves a minority

* Women are equal to men — PLUS have the right to form statutory groups exclusive to their own gender

* Women are equal to men in intelligence — PLUS have educational privileges and attainment to the point where there are now more female than male graduates in law, medicine and education to cite a few; but retain the claim to be downtrodden careerwise and economically and don’t hold more than 50% of political careers.

* Women are equal to men in talent — and command financial returns from talk shows, starring in movies and on music recordings often superior to that of males; PLUS demand equal pay for those activities in which they can never be as good as the best males or cope with the same physical demands, like police enforcement, special military services and sports.

* Women are equal to men in drive and motivation — but are notoriously fickle, even when favored, recruited, cosseted to commit to an occupation that doesn’t suit. The national intake of women police in New Zealand, a country that goes out of its way to please women, is 33% of the total of rookie recruits. Within a very short time, two to three years on the force, the female component of the police force reduces to 10%.

HateThatcher* Women are equal to men in political ruthlessness — PLUS bathe in the haloed glow of self-anointment as forces for world peace: after Baroness Margaret Thatcher, Catherine the Great, Golda Meir, Indira Gandhi, Mrs Mao Zedong, Boudicca, Jeanne d’Arc, all of them sainted in one way or another and all fit to dwell in Madame Tussaud’s chamber of horrors. This is not counting the Mata Haris, Eva Perons, Imelda Marcoses and Winnie Mandelas made to seem helpless victims of men by hagiographic movies and other rewritings of history.

* Women are equal to men in personal violence — but aren’t acknowledged for it because don’t generally have the temperament or physical force to apply it without lethal weapons, and haven’t built up such a record as serial killers, PLUS have been among the most destructive provocateurs in inciting genocides and individual homicides.

* Women are equal to men in physical force (sometimes) — PLUS have the cunning to paint themselves as victims to the authorities.

* Women are equal to men — PLUS have the prerogative of changing their minds for no given reason

* Women are equal to men — PLUS have the right to demand they be wooed and won (or not won), before they change their mind again

* Women are equal to men — PLUS have the right to ask a man to pick up the tab without opprobrium (i.e. being called a gigolo)

* Women are equal to men — PLUS have the right to demand their life partner take on the same activities, even the same beliefs, as them; women rightly call the reverse case in male-dominated cultures “oppression”.

* Women are equal to men — PLUS claim superior intuition, morality, caring…

* Women are equal to men — PLUS have far greater susceptibility when flattered for irrational beliefs, believing male clerics and other civic leaders are just as superstitious as they are when preaching orthodoxies such as the existence of a higher being and acquiescing in the delusion that many of these men don’t have ulterior motives.

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