Saturday, October 14, 2006

The end of the wave?

Years ago I was browsing through a second hand bookshop and I found a pile of American magazines from the late 1940s. The lead column in one of these magazines was written by a female editor. The editor asked the question of whether feminism had really been worth it: worth the disruption to relationships, to family life and to motherhood. She answered no.

I wish now that I had bought the magazine for future reference. The article seems to mark a significant shift in attitude; it was, after all, at exactly this time that the very long phase of first wave feminism finally came to an end.

I wonder too if we have now reached a similar turning point. It's possible that the shorter, but more intense, wave of feminism which began in the early 1970s and peaked in Australia in 1994 is now really starting to turn.

Older feminists seem to have become disillusioned with the disruption caused by feminism to their own personal lives; instead of a stridently orthodox feminism it's now increasingly common for political women to reassert the traditional in relationships, or even to express regret at some of the effects of feminism on society.

I'll give two recent examples. Jill Singer is the resident left-wing columnist for the Melbourne Herald Sun (possibly in her mid 30s, though I'm not sure). In her recent article on masculinity (Latham Shot Down 02/20/06), there's a clear shift away from the usual feminist support for role reversal and raising empathetic men. Nor is there talk of traditional provider-type men being dinosaurs or oppressors. Instead we get this:

While there's a growing number of women fortunate to have supportive stay-at-home husbands, the majority probably still prefer their man to be a traditional bread-winner.

Just as men hanker for women who are more gorgeous but less clever than themselves, women will generally keep seeking men who can provide for their family in material terms.

I hear many women complain they feel dudded in their relationships, that gender equality means women's workload is made unbearable by both work and home duties.

Their husbands apparently benefit from their wife's income but don't put in more at home themselves.

We're not just talking about caring for children, but old-fashioned domestic duties that men used to do such as household repairs. Sure, there are lots of good handymen out there, but they're not married to anyone I know.

It's pretty sad hearing a bunch of educated, well-paid, busy working mothers fantasising about their husbands repairing a door hinge.

Women might melt at the sight of men who are good with children and doggies, but what really brings us undone is an old-style bloke who knows one end of a spanner from the other and black from red in a balance sheet.

... Snags are for nagging, not shagging.


What women really want, sugggests the very left-wing Jill Singer, is an "old-fashioned bloke" rather than a feminist new man.

Then there's the recent contribution of feminist novelist Fay Weldon. Now 75, she too has broken with the feminist orthodoxy of the past. Instead of promoting gender role reversal as a "liberation" for women, she now worries that,

many women are failing to accept that, hormonally and physiologically, they are programmed to experience life differently from men.

I think we need to make the most of being women as women, not aspirational men. The assumptions we all make now as to what comprises a good relationship are upside down. The differences between men and females are what we should be celebrating.


Fay Weldon even appears to feel some guilt for her own earlier feminism. A near death experience convinced her of the existence of an after life, but she wrote that "It is not all sweetness and light over there, at least it won't be for me." A journalist for the Melbourne Age sought clarification on this and asked her if she had a sense that she was being held responsible for doing something bad. She answered,

Yes. Because contempory culture is (partly) my fault. If you help shift the balance in gender, you feel a vague responsibility. Because at the time people shook their fists at you and walked out on you because you were doing that and they may have been right.


I'm not suggesting that feminism will go away entirely. There will still exist feminist academics and a layer of femocrats in government employment (just as there was in the 1950s).

But hopefully some space will open up for family formation, just as it did in the post-War period. If this does occur, the challenge then for conservatives will be to weaken the influence of the underlying liberalism which keeps generating fresh waves of feminism (when the personal costs have been forgotten).

12 comments:

  1. It seems to me that much of this could be solved if men and women were just more polite to one another, more considerate, more respectful. I think some women were pushed towards feminism by the boorish behavior of men: snide comments and assumptions that women were less capable, less smart, and really only competent in the kitchen and bedroom. Watch movies from the 1940s and 1950s and you see plenty of this sort of condescension towards the women in the films. "Don't you worry your pretty little head about it", etc.

    If people would just treat others with common respect and without that kind of belittlement, perhaps women could fully engage in their traditional, genetically-driven roles and behaviors without feeling like it's caving in to male oppression. The fact is, women aren't as smart, aren't as competent in some areas, and do get more emotional about things that men don't. But there's no need to shove that in their faces and cause a backlash.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Interesting that you mention 1994 as the year that feminism peaked in Australia.

    I was thinking to myself the other day that feminism probably peaked in the early to mid 1990s.

    That was about the time that the word 'political correctness' entered mainstream discourse and when feminists were coming under attack from US commentators like Camille Paglia.

    Leftists intellectuals seem to have moved onto multiculturalism and the disabled as their main object of focus.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Mark, I've seen the kind of films you're talking about. I think you're right that they can't have helped much (though modern culture has done much worse in disrespecting women: think of those gangsta rap videos).

    NZ Conservative, it's interesting how the left tends to move on from one cause to another.

    In 1994 the big campaign issue in Australia was domestic violence. The issue was used to attack men, to the point at which even some leftists thought it had gone too far and started to protest (Don Parham, Beatrice Faust, Terry Lane).

    Australian feminists never really recovered their position after that, and the left-wing focus shifted to Aborigines (reconciliation) and then refugees.

    The left in Australia today seems a bit bewildered. It's still strong in academia, but most younger heterosexual males tend toward a right-wing liberalism rather than leftism.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Mark Said:
    “I think some women were pushed towards feminism by the boorish behavior of men: snide comments and assumptions that women were less capable, less smart, and really only competent in the kitchen and bedroom. Watch movies from the 1940s and 1950s and you see plenty of this sort of condescension towards the women in the films. "Don't you worry your pretty little head about it", etc.”


    I doubt it was this simple. Both men and women still respected their gender roles (despite the teasing) and positions in a ‘working’ model of society. Aside from movies/TV where women we’re ‘teased’ – lets not forget that men got their share too. (See sitcoms like; ‘The Honymooners’, etc… where men were portrayed as ‘goofs’ while the women were smart.) – It’s interesting to note that since feminism, the male ‘goof’ is still prevalent today, whereas ‘teasing’ a woman (like those 50s & 60s shows) is intolerable. An obvious double-standard. It’s also important to note that men never got ‘angry’ at women the way feminist did/do. The people we are supposed to care about were never seen as the advisary. Somehow now, men are seen as the root of all society’s ills. The reason that women are kept down. The reason for their unhappiness. The reason why (after 40 years of LAW) she still can’t ‘make it’.

    Men used to respect women in those earlier times. (eg. “Women & children first” – “Never hit a woman” – “Treating her like a lady” – “One’s responsibility for wife & children”, etc ,etc…. all of which has (virtually) dissapeared in Germain Greer’s feminist utopia where women “Don’t need men”.

    Many modern women (feminists) may infact be ‘feeling’ disillusioned at feminism in today’s times, but it seems more a subjective surrender (read; “ok, we’re sorry we crossed the line.”… followed by batting the eyes), rather than a moral standpoint. Metaphorically, they are not ‘admitting’ to any mistakes themselves… they are blaming feminism. (How many articles have we read where women now ‘feel’ “Betrayed by feminism.”) They are blaming something other than themselves for their choices. As if they were not culpable themselves. Men (in general) don’t do this. It would be the equivalent of blaming pornography for a sex-maniac’s wrong actions and expecting sympathy. “I was betrayed by all those movies where women just wanted a gang-bang”. Though men can be simple/obvious creatures… we do tend to have a more responsible notion toward those things ‘outside’ ourselves – like society, community & future consequences.

    So, I for one, don’t tend to forgive all feminists today (carte blanche), because they’re ‘sorry’. They have to teach the younger generation that they were wrong, and relinquish many of their ill-gotten concessions (thanks to feminism). They need to ‘turn things around’. It’s no use saying, “Yes we’ll behave now boys” - when feminism has instituted laws that prohibit masculinity, and/or take a female-centric viewpoint to matters concerning personal relationship; or workplace ones. As long as we continue to hold onto ‘political correctness’, ‘affirmative action’ and all other manner of social convention (& law) that keeps men saying “yes dear” – while she doesn’t have to – there can’t be any real ‘men’ to love and care for women the way Jill Singer wishes. Women simply saying that they ‘want it’ (the way they said they ‘wanted’ things in the 70s) is simply asking for men to come to women’s rescue (again) to make their world better. Women cannot expect to make their world better simply by deconstructing men’s. Asking them to ‘change’, again, and again. First they wanted men to be more sensitive; then to be ‘house-husbands’; Then to be SNAG’s. Whatever it was, women were unhappy with their dictates. Reinventing some new ‘theory’ as to what would ‘finally’ make THEM happy. Trying to make men into their ‘answer to happiness’ didn’t work then, and it never does.

    As men, I don’t think it’s wise to continue to repeat historical mistakes. (Read the 1970s feminist demands where men/husbands said, “ If it stops them nagging, then what harm can it do?” )

    What harm indeed.

    If women are unhappy, then I think they need to rectify their own problems. Men have suffered the blame for women’s unhappiness at every turn, despite it being their feminist ‘choice’ to (as leftists would say) “Make their own life”. They have done exactly what they wanted for almost 40 years and it’s been getting worse for women all the time.

    When feminists relinquish their unfair laws and social morals to be conducive to harmony between the sexes & society, is when I’ll start to give the benefit of the doubt.

    I don’t believe someone who says “I won’t hurt you” – while they’re still holding a gun, and refuse to let it go.

    Bobby.N

    ReplyDelete
  5. As an added side-note;

    The schizophrenic feminist midset should be noted; Women see men as the monster/adversary and idiot - whilst looking to him as their savior (ie. marriage & love). Its the equivalent of 'Dr Jeckyl & Mr Hyde'.

    Women are not totally to blame for the psychotic relationship dynamics of todays couple (and it's failings), because men continue to ignore the "wolf in sheep's clothing."

    I'd say - if men wilfully place sex above everything else (especially logic & common-sense), then we tend to get what's coming to us. Much like feminists have reaped what they have sown.

    It's probably why I'm less forgiving of the 'sorry' lip-service of feminists when they've ended up alone. It's synonymous to the criminal who's 'sorry' once they've been 'caught'.

    They aren't sorry.
    They're sorry the game is up and they have to face consequences.

    Bobby.N

    ReplyDelete
  6. What women really want, sugggests the very left-wing Jill Singer, is an "old-fashioned bloke" rather than a feminist new man.

    My husband, Nick, is competent in a number of areas. And we can both fix hinges, but he's more likely to get around to these things before I do.

    Personaly, I really value Nick as my husband, friend, and father of our kids. I don't think it's an either/or.

    NZ Conservative, it's interesting how the left tends to move on from one cause to another.

    ADD?

    It would be the equivalent of blaming pornography for a sex-maniac’s wrong actions and expecting sympathy. “I was betrayed by all those movies where women just wanted a gang-bang”.

    bobby n, that's axactly what these kinds of blokes do!

    Sorry fellas, I don't believe men are better than women in terms of taking responsibility etc.

    We're as good and as bad as each other, I'd suggest. Though possibly in different ways.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Lyl said:
    “It would be the equivalent of blaming pornography for a sex-maniac’s wrong actions and expecting sympathy. “I was betrayed by all those movies where women just wanted a gang-bang”.

    bobby n, that's axactly what these kinds of blokes do!


    Your missing the point Lyl.
    My contention is that feminists must take responsibility for their actions – and not blame ‘something else’ for their decisions. The fact that there are psychotic people out there who do monstrous things doesn’t negate the fact that ‘they’ are to blame, and NOT what they’ve read or seen.

    Lyl said:
    Sorry fellas, I don't believe men are better than women in terms of taking responsibility etc.


    Really?
    Let me point to a few things where women are less responsible and shift the blame of their decisions over to others.

    1. Alimony: Requiring a man to pay for her lifestyle after they have separated.
    2. Abortion: A woman has the final say in whether she has a child or not. She can have an abortion without his consent. Men only have the children women ‘allow’ them to have. (This comes from feminist laws which constitute that “A child is an enlarged part of the female’s body.”) – although…
    3. Child-support: Requires a man to finance a ‘part of a female’s body’ (Even if he had no say in its birth) – THIS is a double-standard to the previous point.
    4. Government Funded Child Care: Which the feminists/liberals are pushing for. Apparently it’s the public taxpayer’s responsibility to pay for the care of a woman’s child while she goes to work.

    These are just a few ‘laws’ that arein place today. There were also old-fashioned ones (which are disappearing) – where the man would be ‘responsible’ for the family’s welfare and security. He would die for them & his country. “Women and children first” is an antiquated notion that made men accountable (with their lives) for everyone else. (nb: Men are still ‘required’ to enlist for military service when a country is under threat or war – whereas women have a ‘choice’).

    Lyl said:
    We're as good and as bad as each other, I'd suggest. Though possibly in different ways.


    Nice use of double-meaning and ‘smoke-&-mirrors’ to end a point.
    “Possibly in different ways”?..... more like ‘definitely’ in different ways. We are all capable of bad and good (as individuals), but we are observing the general ‘nature’ of men and women, as well as the prevailing sterotypes we see in society.

    Bobby.N

    ReplyDelete
  8. bobby n.

    It seems that you are confounding we with feminists!

    I don't identify with feminism as it has developed. I only believe that men and women are of equal dignity.

    If I bristle at some of the things you say it's only because you sound like a sexist pig. Not actually saying you are one, but I wish you could see the tone of your writing.

    I am the first to agree that feminism has done a great deal of damage.

    My contention is that feminists must take responsibility for their actions – and not blame ‘something else’ for their decisions.

    I agree with that, I just thought you were trying to suggest that men who commit rape etc *don't* try to excuse themselves.

    You keep saying "women" where I think you should be saying "feminists."

    It seems to me that you are suggesting that women are less responsible than men. This is what I resent.

    If my husband were to leave me I would certainly expect him to pay alimony, wouldn't you? Why should he be exempt from merely furnishing the material necessities of his own children?

    A woman has the final say in whether she has a child or not. She can have an abortion without his consent.

    I agree this sucks. I believe abortion is a great evil.

    I completely agree with your assertion of feminist double-standards.

    I just wish you would not say "women" where you mean "feminists."

    As Mark said: It seems to me that much of this could be solved if men and women were just more polite to one another, more considerate, more respectful.

    ReplyDelete
  9. FFirstly Lyl, please note – Im not ‘personally’ attacking you here.
    Honestly. Just exploring topics which I think we all don’t talk enough about.
    (so thanks for your ideas)

    Lyl said:
    It seems that you are confounding we with feminists!...I don't identify with feminism as it has developed.


    Most women say they don’t Lyl – but they ARE happy for feminists to ‘speak’ for them. Stay silent as laws introduced to favour feminists (women) at the expense of men/children. With political correctness, men aren’t even allowed to utter something anti-feminist in public – and who are the people that object to anti-feminist talk in a public setting?--- women. (Men generally object when they around women so they aren’t vilified).

    Lyl said:
    If I bristle at some of the things you say it's only because you sound like a sexist pig. Not actually saying you are one, but I wish you could see the tone of your writing.


    I ‘wrote’ my writing Lyl, so I can see it perfectly well. The reason I can’t see a subjective tone in it, is because I’m not a feminist (or a woman) and don’t place myself as the most important thing in every topic. I’m talking of ‘women’ and ‘men’ in general….. not yourself as an individual. I haven’t been critical of ‘you’ personally – not should I… I don’t know you.

    Lyl said:
    You keep saying "women" where I think you should be saying "feminists."


    No. I said exactly what I meant to say – women.
    Women created feminism. Women pushed certain laws in the name of feminism. Women continue to ‘voice’ feminism, or at the very least allow it to speak for them and are happy for the concession it gives them at the expense of men/children/society. I realize there are many politically correct males (as opposed to men) that support feminism. These males usually have wives, girlfriends or potential girlfriends to keep in mind…. “Yes dear.”

    Lyl said:
    If my husband were to leave me I would certainly expect him to pay alimony, wouldn't you? Why should he be exempt from merely furnishing the material necessities of his own children?


    Firstly, there’s a difference between ‘alimony’ & ‘child-support’.
    Alimony is the ridiculous notion where a man ‘pays’ only for the woman after divorce even if there aren’t any kids involved. You see it all the time in celebrity divorces. It’s the notion that a woman had a lifestyle with the man, and now it must be maintained. It’s ridiculous - If I leave my job (or they let me go) they don’t continue to pay my salary.

    Child support is a different matter – although still not far from a ridiculous state when we consider what is considered ‘fair’ in a divorce.

    This is an example of how willing you are that Feminism ‘speaks’ for you Lyl – while claiming not to be one. Firstly, almost 80% of divorces are initiated by women – but even ‘if’ your husband did leave you….. preference of child-custody always goes to the wife. Given you will get the children, then ‘why’ does he have to pay for something ‘you’ own? If he sees the kids only 5% of the time in visitations – then he should only pay for 5% of the cost. If I ‘own’ 95% of something (or someone), then I pay for 95% of it/him. Conveniently, feminists think that a man has no say in the birth of a child because “It’s a woman’s body!” – but his financial contribution after divorce is always greater because “Y’know… no women gets pregnant by herself.” – It’s a double standard. Also, if (as Feminists say) women are self-suffiecient and ‘equal’ to men… then they don’t deserve any help from men. (Least of all a man that wants nothing further to do with her.)

    Lyl said:
    I just wish you would not say "women" where you mean "feminists."


    Once again Lyl – I meant what I said.
    A feminist is genrerally almost always a woman. Especially the one’s who are ‘proud’ of it. It’s a generalization because almost all feminists ARE women. It’s a stereotype for a ‘reason’ – and that reason is almost every women walking the streets is a feminist by virtue of the fact that they are happy living by it’s concessions – regardless how many pay lip-service to not liking it. Most of the ‘male’ feminists simply agree with it so they don’t upset women for fear of ‘legal’ retribution.

    It’s analogous to a man (with his wife) observing another sexy woman with large breasts and skimpy clothing; where the wife says, “Look at her. Doesn’t she look like a slut.” – to which the man (if he knows whats good for him) will answer, “Yeah, I know.”

    Or when she askes, “Does my ass look big in this?”
    Can you guess the husband’s answer?

    Anyway, I’d be happy to omit ‘women’ from ‘feminism’ Lyl, when women stop coveting feminism and all it’s concessions. The fact is, it is women who drive, support and further Feminism. Men cannot disagree with feminism or they are labeled misogynists (believe me, I know) because it insults all women when a man disagrees with it. The fact that it insults almost all women to be anti-feminist should tell you that women hold all the keys. It is their political movement. They must be the ones to dismantle it. If women disagree with feminism, then they should oppose it’s unfair advantages when they surface, and not simply accept favoritism at others’ expense.

    Bobby.N

    ReplyDelete
  10. Bobby N.
    Firstly, there’s a difference between ‘alimony’ & ‘child-support’.
    Alimony is the ridiculous notion where a man ‘pays’ only for the woman after divorce even if there aren’t any kids involved.


    OK. Sorry, I had that wrong. I agree with you that it's unjust.

    I'll just clarify where, in particular, I resented your statement about women.

    It was where you said:

    we do tend to have a more responsible notion toward those things ‘outside’ ourselves

    I just don't agree. The world is full of irresponsible fathers who've left their wives and children. And have given no support.

    Yes, there are irresponsible mothers too. Just pointing out that men are not *better* than women.

    almost every women walking the streets is a feminist by virtue of the fact that they are happy living by it’s concessions

    I understand you. That's a fair comment and I will now address it.

    If we understand "feminism" as merely being the assertion of equal dignity of men and women, which was the initial point of it, then yes I am indeed happy to live by any improvements that this may have made in our lives.

    If we understand "feminism" as being what it has become - the systematic destruction of the family and society, then I am emphatically not happy to live by such "concessions." These things are a complete abomination to me.

    Just to fill you in on where I'm coming from. I'm a Catholic, so I believe that the *family* is the basis of society and that it must be protected by the state. That's the basis of all my own political activism - which is necessarily limited by the fact that my primary work at this point in my life is the care of my kids.

    For these reasons I do have a problem being lumped in with feminists.

    ReplyDelete
  11. Lly, if you ‘know’ you’re not a feminist, then that’s fine.

    I tend to lump ‘women’ with feminists because ‘most’ of them are. The exceptions don’t change the rule much. (Just like it would be valid to say, “Men are sexually driven”.) – which would also be a ‘true’ comment. The fact that I, or someone I know, ‘isnt’ doesn’t change the overall fact. When talking about society (as a group) – we cannot fall into ‘individuals’ – which is where the modern approach always fails, because everyone gets ‘offended’ at comments that aren’t directed to ‘them’ as individuals.

    It’s about ‘group’ characteristics.

    The best thing we all can do is not let important issues ‘slide’ in society if they are inherently wrong. Men and women shouldn’t just ‘put up’ with feminism if they disagree with it. They should speak out against it if they encounter it. Why is the feminist viewpoint accepted (and applauded), but a conservative one is vilified? If, as feminists say, they are about ‘equality’ – then an EQUAL viewpoint from both sides should be allowed in the aim of arriving at a solution for ‘everyone’.

    Lyl said:
    in particular, I resented your statement about women. It was where you said:

    “we do tend to have a more responsible notion toward those things ‘outside’ ourselves”

    I just don't agree. The world is full of irresponsible fathers who've left their wives and children. And have given no support. Yes, there are irresponsible mothers too. Just pointing out that men are not *better* than women.


    Again, you take it ‘personally’ when I make a ‘society-wide’ generalization about women, simply by virtue of the fact that you happen to be female. If you ‘know’ you’re different, then you should be confident in yourself about it. This is where it’s very difficult for me to ‘not’ think of you as a feminist. You take everything about women ‘personally’. There is no way of discussing men & women with feminists because they take issue with any viewpoint that ‘questions’ the female side. – which, by the way, leads in to your other comment about women going ‘outside’ themselves in society. Most women cannot, because they relate (as you have) to everything ‘personally’. The fact that women tend to take everything ‘personally’, is precisely the fact that almost NO women chose careers in Engineering, Computers or Mathematics. It’s because those careers don’t relate to their ‘feelings’ or female nature of socializing/people. Historically, men have ‘built’ the world (read: bridges, buildings, highways, oilfields, wars), which are things that don’t have much to do with the ‘individual’ – but rather the ‘greater’ good of society. A civic duty.

    It reminds me of a quote I once published years ago;
    “Women see no point in mathematics unless they are part of the equation.”

    Bobby.N

    PS: I hope you don’t take umbrage Lyl, but rather understand your own gender’s nature, and if women have ‘strayed’ off course from what they used to be, that we don’t pretend that they are ‘collectively’ still angels. I, for instance, understand that men have a far greater propensity to be aggressive & competitive which results in a certain ugliness that women are not associated with. I also know males have (largely) stopped being real-men in todays times. Men have also ‘strayed’. Men have also become ‘less’ than what they once were.

    Bobby.N

    ReplyDelete
  12. I, for instance, understand that men have a far greater propensity to be aggressive & competitive which results in a certain ugliness that women are not associated with.

    This would never be exhibited in a combox I suppose, Bobby N?

    Let's suppose I take things 'personally'. This shouldn't make much difference from your side of the equation because you can just rationally address any criticism I make.

    I don't really see that just because I have an emotional reaction within myself, then it necessarily follows I'm not using any reason whatever.

    There is no way of discussing men & women with feminists because they take issue with any viewpoint that ‘questions’ the female side.

    By your idea that feminist = woman then obviously you think it's not possible to discuss "men and women" with women at all.

    Funny, because many other men can manage it.

    which, by the way, leads in to your other comment about women going ‘outside’ themselves in society. Most women cannot, because they relate (as you have) to everything ‘personally’.

    If you mean that men can more easily "externalise" than women, then I agree. That might mean, though, that men are less likely to take responsibility for their own failings since they might just as equally blame others more readily than women.

    Certainly I tend to consider myself responsible for my own actions.

    But if you mean that we are totally self-absorbed, then I cannot agree. Women spend most of our time caring for and about other people.

    ReplyDelete

Note: only a member of this blog may post a comment.