Saturday, December 09, 2006

A feminism which ends in tears

Virginia Haussegger is becoming well-known in Australia as a feminist critic of feminism.

She already had a public profile as a TV journalist when she wrote an explosive newspaper article in 2002, The sins of our feminist mothers.

In this article she describes how her generation of women was brought up to believe “We could be and do whatever we pleased”. This is the basic principle of liberalism: that we should be “free” to create who we are and what we do through our own individual choices.

At first things seemed to go well. She writes of a generation of women who “crashed through barriers and carved out good, successful and even some brilliant careers.”

But the story ends unhappily. The feminist mothers forgot “to warn us that we would need to stop, take time out and learn to nurture our partnerships and relationships.”

Virginia Haussegger describes very well the incompetent attitude to relationships of women brought up in a culture of liberal individualism:

For those of us that did marry, marriage was perhaps akin to an accessory. And in our high-disposable-income lives, accessories pass their use-by date, and are thoughtlessly tossed aside. Frankly, the dominant message was to not let our man, or any man for that matter, get in the way of career and our own personal progress.

Nor did the feminist mothers warn their daughters of the biological clock, so that:

We are the ones, now in our late 30s and early 40s, who are suddenly sitting before a sheepish doctor listening to the words:

“Well, I’m sorry, but you may have left your run too late. Women at your age find it very difficult to get pregnant naturally ...”

For Virginia Haussegger the end result is that,

here we are, supposedly “having it all” as we edge 40; excellent education; good qualifications; great jobs; fast-moving careers; good incomes ... It’s a nice caffe-latte kind of life, really.

But the truth is – for me at least – the career is no longer a challenge, the lifestyle trappings are joyless ... and the point of it all seems, well, pointless.

I am childless and I am angry. Angry that I was so foolish to take the word of my feminist mothers as gospel. Angry that I was daft enough to believe female fulfilment came with a leather briefcase.

It was wrong. It was crap.

Of course, Virginia Haussegger received a bucketing from the sisterhood for her bold complaints. She has, though, held firm in making criticisms of feminism, even publishing a book this month, Wonder Woman, in which she declares feminism to be “an inadequate structure from which to build a life.”

I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know how far she goes in really challenging feminism. Not too far, I expect, as this would require a radical rethinking of the way things are valued in a liberal society.

Is the important thing in life, as liberals claim, establishing an unimpeded individual choice? If yes, then women who break down traditional restrictions on their choices, for instance by “breaking through” career barriers, really are the feminist heroines they are made out to be.

But what if this assumption is wrong? What if the important thing is to fulfil the better and deeper parts of our own inborn natures? Then the task would not be to break through traditional stereotypes but to create the best conditions in which we could fulfil our masculine or feminine natures – for instance, by protecting the conditions in which women could express and experience marital and maternal love.

Virginia Haussegger is trying to warn us that even when the liberal option is undertaken most successfully, even when we create the greatest level of individual autonomy, in which our individual choices are least impeded, all we get is a pleasant and comfortable, but barren and pointless existence.

This was first posted May 25, 2005. Although it covers similar ground to other articles I've written, I think it's worth revisiting as Virginia Haussegger describes so ably the effect of feminism on my generation. I'll be back to posting new items shortly.


  1. Censorship

    Interesting to see two posts about feminism, and one untouched to this very moment.

    I find radical feminism a topic so abrasive that it is barely contestable . The outrage expressed by the feminist movement (aka feminazism) is often exclusionary, censorist and vitriolic.

    It seems quite irrational to me, and I struggle to rationally locate the source of the oestrogen fuelled rage.

    Nevertheless, it is there. And it must be noted that it all began in those early years in the 60's when bucking the established became fashionable. Since then the ethos of liberal womens freedoms has been hijacked by a radical post-bra burning regime, the likes of which would probably frighten the original sisters of feminism.

    But i note too, that there is a generational issue with the feminazi movement. And it is suggested in Marks writings. The baby-boomers too engendered a sort of selfish ethos that has done two things. One, it has isolated the Gen X'rs; and two, it has created a large and aging demographic sector that will be isolated from the younger sectors.

    So the disparaging rampages of the modern feminist movement will again hit hard against the Xrs, as we head for middle-ageness. Divided once from the BB's, we now see Yrs tearing at the edges of social norms, blaming and again thrusting aside the Xrs.

    Thus we have a non-productive generation, that of the Xr.

    And this makes my blood boil, as I am one of them. And I don’t like the misogynist slander being bantered about by the feminazi misandrists in cyber space. Especially when they know not their targets, and nor do they care, for it is a generational problem now, this disease of struggle between the sexes.

    Generation X has little to do with the creation of the issues I have identified here.

    Generation X has little to do with the creation of the issues I have identified here.

    But they are/will be the custodians of it. The short-sightedness of feminism is what (indeed) makes my ‘blood boil’ as well. As long as popular liberal media continues to portray women who follow feminism’s idiocies as survivors, rather than culpably guilty of their own ‘willful’ decisions, it will simply perpetuate the same selfish mistakes without ever having to look into the mirror. Generation after generation acting like selfish idiots and then becoming (somehow) blameless ‘survivors’ afterward.

    The Marxist/Feminist attitude seldom (if ever) looks beyond their own lifespan. And even then, they cannot connect the dots. Feminists STILL refuse to understand that treating people (men mostly) with condemnation in their younger years has consequences in the latter ones. ‘Girlishly’ batting ones eyelids when sexual authority over men diminishes (mid-30s and beyond), and THEN being ‘sorry’ doesn’t ‘cut it’ for men with any type of self-respect.

    It is akin to the corporate executive who, after living life corruptly, pleads sympathy after he is bankrupt (which aging feminists become) - to the people whom he has willfully spat on in his past.

    Virginia Haussegger sits on the fence quite a bit in her book, while doing her best to ‘lean’ toward one side.

    I’ve read her book ‘Wonder Woman’, and while I commend her for ‘questioning’ feminism (as it’s the rare woman that does), it doesn’t speak out against it all that greatly. The book circles arguments all too often without coming to any definitive conclusions. It is drenched in anecdotally wheelchair-bound notions of “My friend Lisa is lost because…” and “Although Jennifer was successful, she was still unable to understand why she was alone”. The endings of each section are synonymous of female ‘fair-play’ where absolutely no conclusion is reached. No one is right or wrong, and no direction is sought. “I do not know the answer, but perhaps life can…”

    In a newspaper article promoting Virginia’s book (MX-2005 from memory), she doesn’t condemn feminism when asked by the interviewer to state whether she believes feminism is wrong, but rather states (and I paraphrase), “It’s important to have these topics out there for discussion” and “I don’t think feminism is good nor bad” – most likely so as not to cut off potential sales of her book. It can almost be seen as ‘commercial-shock-value’, rather than an honest account of one’s views on a topic. It’s saying, “I have something on my mind, but I’ll try not to hurt anyone’s feelings.” – and so the book comes across as fairly diluted. The books is a loaf of bread, when one is expecting a meal.

    I mean, really, why write a book if you are not ‘saying’ something. conclusive? At least Germain Greer’s “The Female Eunich” was well-written in comparison, if not for the fact that it was meant to be non-fiction.

    I do think Virginia Haussegger’s book IS a step in the right direction though, and I hope more women can break feminism down as it is ONLY WOMEN that can dismantle it. Men can’t. We are seen as “the problem”, and as such cannot participate. Men’s strongest protest on feminism is to be absent from it’s expectations and demands.

    There is only so long men can be treated badly by women as a whole, continue to appologise (for nothing), before they reach their limit and say “that’s enough” – and walk away from it all.

    As they have, and are.