My politics are of the left. I am a friend of the environment. I believe in a mixed economy with strong welfare. I eschew growth capitalist economic policies. I believe that democracy is increasingly becoming a corporate run oligarchy. My model of humanity is of the economy as a subset of society and of human society as a subset of the environment. As a result economic and population growth is not sustainable and can only be perused by driving more species into extinction. This not being the subject of this blog I will not go into detail except to say that politically this is my home. I am a member of the Australian Greens. I am a hetero male.
But I have a problem. Feminism is de rigueur for the left. I no longer identify with feminism. I have divorced myself from feminism. I have not divorced myself from feminism because I do not believe in the equality of the sexes. On the contrary I have divorced myself from feminism BECAUSE I DO believe in equality of the sexes. Whatever the dictionary definition of feminism, feminists do not practice what they preach. I have come to believe that feminism is a menace to the left, an embarrassment to the left and the achilles heel of the left. I said “divorced”. Yes I was married to feminism. I was very passionate about feminism. I dovetailed nicely with my passion for human rights. My move away from feminism has been a troubling journey for me causing me much angst. I feel like the village atheist in a village of evangelical Christians. I don’t think there was really a “road to Damascus” moment. Rather it has been a longer journey with a disease I might call ideological leprosy. That is bits and pieces falling off my feminist ideology along until finally I had to just step out of the burka of feminism and enjoy the freedom of fresh air on my body. Strangely a feeling of lightness and freedom has come over me since I have come out and decided come what may. The relief of putting a heavy load.
As an atheist I have often heard the story of committed Christians, strong believers from fine Christian homes and communities who devoted themselves to the task of reading the bible cover to cover and came out of the experience as atheists. The case that a little knowledge can make you a believer but a lot of knowledge can make you a skeptic. So it was for me in the area of feminism. What an eye opener! What a shocker! First there was feminist anthropology. Once there was a Garden of Eden which was a matriarchal paradise and everyone was happy and peace reigned supreme. Then came along the patriarchy to take control of the Agrarian Revolution. This was like the fall in the Garden of Eden. Since then everything has been war, empires and imperial exploitation. Not all feminists buy into this narrative. It’s nonsense. There is a comparison with religion here. Not all Christians buy the Genesis narrative of creation. I contented myself with safe in the knowledge I did not have to buy into feminist anthropology. Feminism was about equality and human rights and believing in fantasy notions of a prehistoric matriarchy wasn’t needed.
I had my first WTF moment one day listening to the radio as a feminist talked about ALL heterosexual sex being exploitation of women in ALL circumstances. It was an early hint that feminism having a dark side. I put this out of my mind because feminism is about the equality of the sexes. Then came my first disillusionment moment. I picked up a book by Katie Roiphe called “Sex Fear and Feminism”. It was opposed to feminism. The book was an account of her years in college but she made reference to studies about the incidence of rape and domestic violence. The first knowledge I was to have about flawed and fraudulent research methodology. I was surprised but several worrying questions in my mind seemed to fall into place, mainly the inconsistency between the claims of what males were and my experience and how weak and vulnerable women are and in need of protection and the alternate narrative of how strong women are, very often in the same sentence without irony or insight by the feminist in question.
Roiphie’s book is a great personal account of what she described as an “Alice in Wonderland” experience of weirdness of the feminist politics at college where nothing made sense and anything might be falling down the rabbit hole next. She did not write a very detailed analysis of feminism preferring to tell her story. That forensic microscopic analysis was provided by Renee Denfeld in her book “The New Victorians” and feminist Christina Hoff Summers in her book “Who Stole Feminism”. In it is the statistic of the oft repeated “1 in 4 women are raped”. The source was found to be very flawed study by Mary Koss. Only 1/4 of those Koss identified as “rape victims” actually claimed they were raped. The other 3/4 were assigned “rape victim” status by Koss on the basis of a questionnaire for as little as regretting the night before the morning after. Domestic violence occurred equally between men and women as perpetrators and domestic violence in gay and lesbian relationships runs at the same level as heterosexual relationships. Everywhere Summers looked there was flaw or fraud. I also learned the difference between “gender feminism” and “equity feminism”. I decided with identifying with “equity feminism” because feminism is really about the equality of the sexes and all the above could be put behind. The problem that arose was that equity feminists and moderate feminists actually used the flawed statistics on a routine basis, statistics which I knew were dodgy. By this time I was not talking about feminism with anyone any more. It was filed away. I still identified with it but I was no longer passionate about it.
It was becoming more frustrating trying to discuss feminism or to air differences of opinions. If I agreed with a feminist that was well and good as a male who knew a little on the subject. If I disagreed then suddenly I had no right to an opinion as a male and I had “male privilege”. My gender matter nothing before. My opinion should also have been “male privilege” precluded when I was in agreement. I have also noticed this between feminists themselves; between feminists who have been raped and those who have not. Any feminist can speak on the subject of rape when in agreement with the party line of the “rape culture” line but those who are without the “rape card” are excluded when they challenge the party line on rape or any other issue. The years rolled on and I came to have a looser and looser attachment to feminism. It was no longer near the top of my passions but was a bit heavy and near the bottom. I was being asked to feel responsible for all the bad things other men do. Indeed not just responsible but actually guilty. I was also supposed to be innately evil myself on account of being male. Discussing differences was like arguing with a Spanish Inquisition who have already made up their minds about your guilt. This was not equality of the sexes. This was religious fervour and very likely actually mental illness in many cases.
It became apparent to me that feminism takes it’s definition from “equity feminism”, apple pie all things sweet and nice yadda yadda yadda but its actual influence comes from the darker “gender feminism” side and unfortunately so do more and more government policies and laws. So where is the influence of “equity feminism” in all this. Nowhere. “Equity feminists” spend more time spin doctoring and apologising and making noises about “I’m not that sort of feminist” than they spend actually countering their darker sisters. There is a sort of “honour among thieves” code operating.
Fast forward to 2010. In Australia Julia Gillard becomes the first female prime minter of the country. She attracted a lot of animosity. There was a lot of hate driven by shock jocks on the carbon tax issue. At this time the word “misogyny” was being branded about but the adjective was being devalued by being used needlessly. Sure there was hate of Julia but hate of one woman is not hate of all women any more than hate of Tony Abbott is not hate for all men. Pointing this out would label you as a misogynist too. Misogyny is hate of women, not one woman and misandry is hate of all men, not one man.
Another experience was the subject of a possible male contraceptive pill. This is something that brings out all the feminist insecurities. Fond of repeating that men need to take responsibility for the children they sire they are strangely reluctant to actually allow men the agency to take on this responsibility. The main objection being that “men will forget to take the pill” and that women will bear the greater consequences of this. No drug has ever been denied scheduling on the basis that people may forget to take it. This objection also ignores the fact that women do not have to stop contraception themselves. In fact the result would be far better. No child would be born unless wanted by both parents.
I finally got tired of all the fictions, myths, spin doctoring, the misandry, the denial of inconvenient facts, the unfair methods of arguing, all the vile and vitriol and I lost patience with moderate feminists to step up to the mark. I decided it was time to divorce feminism altogether. In future posts I will explain why feminism is one of the best things the one percent had going for it and why I believe feminism is the achilles heel of the left.
When I finally peeled back the last bit of feminist wallpaper I felt like a load had been lifted from my shoulders. I can appreciate how Darwin must have felt. He was very sickly but once he was forced to publish the “Origin of Species” by the threat of Alfred Wallace publishing his theory Darwin’s health improved. Dan Barker in his book “Losing Faith in Faith” tells the story of how he finally gave up on religion and the lifting of the burden. I have heard this also from other former Christians. Pretending to believe what is false is a great drain on energy.