Monday, September 04, 2006

I want these mother***** dinosaurs out the mother***** newspaper!

Via the Britblog roundup, I found a feminist group blog and was surfing some of the links. I've always been uncomfortable with the 'dark' side of feminist discussion, the strand of feminism that views typical women's issues like abortion as being purely about women (the guy's just the doofus sperm donor), that high heels are patriarchial (ok, those shoes are silly and that blog's a spoof... I think) and that men are assumed to be benignly or secretly sexist.

But feminism like most 'isms' isn't an 'ism', it's a range of different viewpoints. So it's a shame that the extremist feminism and its misrepresentations have caused a lot of women to say they're not feminists when gender issues haven't disappeared completely... we're still talking about them whereas we're not still talking about the earth being flat (mostly). Even the Telegraph and Daily Wail doesn't write articles yearning for a return to geocentricism. They do still publish articles claiming married couples are having less sex because women are working, saying men don't want paternity leave, that men are mad if they marry a 'career woman' ('career' woman being someone who has a degree, works over 16 hours a week and earns over £17,000... so about 70 % of the female population if you exclude the degree and at least 35 % otherwise) and that woman have HWS (Hurried Woman Syndrome) due to combining children and a career. And that's just the reactionary right. The statist left responds with articles complaining that women are objectifying themselves by taking up pole-dancing classes... oh, and that women are obsessed with being gauntly thin.

Column inches are devoted to complaining that:

there's a constant jockeying for position on the weight front among women, a competitive, low-grade bitchery (rarely expressed, but captured, often, on the cover of heat or Now) which reveres the dropping of a dress size and stigmatises the gaining of a kilo. Of course, if you're bright and grown-up and plugged into the issues of the day, you tend not to let on that you're fascinated by other women's bottoms. But you are. We are. We look. We compare.

And asserting that:

birth... doesn’t mean we suddenly want to fill our days with baby talk and the smell of nappies and moisturising cream... The early weeks and months of parenthood, you see, are women’s work. We men are almost entirely useless... If you stay at home, you don’t see nearly so many people. The quietness will drive you mad - if visiting family members have not already done so. A prominent war reporter once said that his job was 99 per cent boredom and one per cent terror. The statistics for looking after infants are much the same.

Or that:

'Until they programme men to notice you're out of toilet paper, a happy domestic life will always be up to women' - a sentiment almost unanimously held by the working mothers I know. What we've learnt during this 30-year grand experiment is that men can be cajoled into doing household tasks, but will not do them the way a woman would... They will... do what men have always done: reduce a job to its simplest essentials and utterly ignore the fillips and niceties that women tend to regard as equally essential. And a lot of women feel cheated and angry and even - bless their hearts - surprised about this.

So what's the sensible, liberal response to this. Well, it's quite simple. If assuming Muslims (2.7 % of the UK population) are a homogenous group is stupid then assuming women (~ 50 % of the UK population) are homogenous is downright crazy.

To a liberal, it really doesn't matter if men are, on average, more intelligent than woman. Or whether men are, on average, more competitive than women. Because the average Canadian has one breast and one testicle. If you're interviewing someone for a job, you don't want to know the average characteristics of women or African-Americans or lesbians... you want to know whether the African-American lesbian woman sitting in front of you is more capable than the white heterosexual guy sitting outside. And if you're going to make that decision based on averages rather than interviewing the individual then the more fool you... and it's probably a lucky escape for the woman interviewee who has narrowly avoided being employed by a boss who doesn't understand the difference between a probability distribution and a random sample.

So gender equality, to a liberal, is not about ensuring that there are equal numbers of men and women. It's about ensuring that, in this beautiful quote by Fiat Lux:

to me, that is the essence of feminism -- the belief that women should be just as able to set and steer their own life's course as men are... even the most intelligent and self-aware women are not going to make the same choices in their lives. The problem lies when people, for whatever reason, think that not only are they are better able to decide what another person should or should not do, but that they have a better understanding of the underlying emotions and motivations that go into the choice.

And that's why Caitlin 'she's never scrubbed her own bath' Flanagan and friends should just butt out of trying to tell me what women want to do, what women should be doing and what women are designed to do. Some women are maternal carers who remember to buy toilet paper, find cleaning therapeutic and want a man to support them. Others, erm, aren't... the only reason you'd put me in a kitchen is because you wanted to make an home insurance claim under the flood, fire and extreme weather clause and the only thing I know about babies is which end is up. The essence of liberal feminism is that knowing myself as I do, I should know better than the Daily Wail where to apply myself to be most useful to society... like an office where the only thing I can injure is a profit margin. So let me get on with it, stop whittering about the average woman and get the mother**** dinosaurs out of the mother**** newspaper.

[NB: More discussion about that Forbes article here, here and here. Hat tip to Feministing].

3 Comments:

  • At 1:27 pm , Anonymous Martin Young said...

    I don't normally agree with much of this blog but I think that post is spot on.

    I wonder where you stand on the issue of the proportion of female MPs. What approach should a real liberal party take? Given that there's no barrier to entry, is there really an addressable problem at all? What about Ming's approach (giving female candidates a dowry)?

     
  • At 5:14 pm , Blogger fiat lux said...

    Thanks for the mention!

     
  • At 6:40 pm , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Bloggers and Others

    I found a great site on personal goals.If you want to change your life or learn about personal goals and find the answers to other self help questions. Visit http://purposesetting.com/sitemap_1.html

     

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