Thursday, August 16, 2012

W.L. George - when a male feminist gets it wrong

We sometimes forget that feminism is now a very old political movement. There were feminist writers in the early 1800s, but it seems to have been picked up at an institutional level by about the 1860s. The first wave reached a peak of radicalism in the years before WWI.

One of the male feminists of this radical pre-War period was an English writer by the name of W.L. George. He wrote a tract called Feminist Intentions which I want to look at. George began his piece as follows:
The Feminist propaganda...rests upon a revolutionary biological principle. Substantially, the Feminists argue that there are no men and that there are no women; there are only sexual majorities. To put the matter less obscurely, the Feminists base themselves on Weininger's theory, according to which the male principle may be found in woman, and the female principle in man. It follows that they recognize no masculine or feminine "spheres", and that they propose to identify absolutely the conditions of the sexes.

George recognises that the feminist programme is a revolutionary one in that it aims to overturn the principle of two distinct sexes, male and female. Sex is to be made not to matter, in keeping with the liberal principle that what is predetermined is an impediment to individual autonomy.

George's second paragraph is also worth reading:
Now there are two kinds of people who labor under illusions as regards the Feminist movement, its opponents and its supporters: both sides tend to limit the area of its influence; in few cases does either realize the movement as revolutionary. The methods are to have revolutionary results, are destined to be revolutionary; as a convinced but cautious Feminist, I do not think it honest or advisable to conceal this fact. I have myself been charged by a very well-known English author (whose name I may not give, as the charge was contained in a private letter) with having "let the cat out of the bag" in my little book, Woman and To-morrow. Well, I do not think it right that the cat should be kept in the bag. Feminists should not want to triumph by fraud. As promoters of a sex war, they should not hesitate to declare it, and I have little sympathy with the pretenses of those who contend that one may alter everything while leaving everything unaltered.

That last sentence is a good insight. Are there not many Westerners who sign on to a radical liberalism without recognising what they are bringing down in the process?

And George is not entirely faultless here either. He expected that feminism would "strengthen the race"; and that it would improve the character of both men and women. I wonder what he would say if he could travel forward in time and witness ladette behaviour, or the thugging up of men, or the declining fortunes of the Western family and the Western peoples:
Therein lies the mental revolution: while the Suffragists are content to attain immediate ends, the Feminists are aiming at ultimate ends. They contend that it is unhealthy for the race that man should not recognize woman as his equal; that this makes him intolerant, brutal, selfish, and sentimentally insincere. They believe likewise that the race suffers because women do not look upon men as their peers; that this makes them servile, untruthful, deceitful, narrow, and in every sense inferior.

Similarly, George thought that if traditional marriage were abolished that it would liberate men and women to have unions based on love alone - he didn't foresee the coarsening of relationships and the instability of family life that would result:
Their grievances against the home...are closely connected with the marriage question, for they believe that the desire of man to have a housekeeper, of woman to have a protector, deeply influence the complexion of unions which they would base exclusively upon love, and it follows that they do not accept as effective marriage any union where the attitudes of love do not exist.

Next comes an argument that time has proven to be utterly wrong. George says that the feminists of his time wanted women to be economically independent, in part, because it would then allow women to choose the best men as mates and that this would have a eugenic effect - which would then benefit the race:
Under Feminist rule, women will be able to select, because they will be able to sweep out of their minds the monetary consideration; therefore they will love better, and unless they love, they will not marry at all. It is therefore probable that they will raise the standard of masculine attractiveness by demanding physical and mental beauty in those whom they choose; that they will apply personal eugenics.

The men whom they do not choose will find themselves in exactly the same position as the old maids of modern times: that is to say, these men, if they are unwed, will be unwed because they have chosen to remain so, or because they were not sought in marriage. The eugenic characteristic appears, in that women will no longer consent to accept as husbands the old, the vicious, the unpleasant. They will tend to choose the finest of the species, and those likely to improve the race. As the Feminist revolution implies a social revolution, notably "proper work for proper pay", it follows that marriage will be easy, and that those women who wish to mate will not be compelled to wait indefinitely for the consummation of their loves. Incidentally, also, the Feminists point out that their proposals hold forth to men a far greater chance of happiness than they have had hitherto, for they will be sure that the women who select them do so because they love them, and not because they need to be supported.

Something like the opposite has happened. The emphasis on being independent and career focused has led many upper class women to delay family formation and then either to settle in a panic or else fail to reproduce; nor does it seem to be true that when women no longer need men to provide for them that they then select men of mental and physical beauty.

George next tells us that feminists want to loosen the marriage tie. However, they want the man to continue to pay even if the woman chooses to divorce as:
The rebels must accept situations such as the financial responsibility of man, while they struggle to make woman financially independent of man.

George then starts to dream of a utopian future:
Personally, I am inclined to believe that the ultimate aim of Feminism with regard to marriage is the practical suppression of marriage and the institution of free alliance. It may be that thus only can woman develop her own personality, but society itself must so greatly alter, do so very much more than equalize wages and provide work for all, that these ultimate ends seem very distant... common with many Feminists I incline to place a good deal of reliance on the ennobling of the nature of the male.

George is claiming that all the sacrifices men make for women as husbands and fathers has the ultimate effect of suppressing a woman's personality. So why would a man make such sacrifices if the effect is a negative one?

And can it really be said that a feminist sexual revolution has ennobled the nature of the male? It's more likely that it is we who look back to George's era and notice a stronger culture of masculine nobility that what we have today.

George also noticed that some feminist women of his time wanted to lay claim to children as theirs alone, with the father having no rights:
One feature manifests itself, and that is a change of attitude in woman with regard to the child. Indications in modern novels and modern conversation are not wanting to show that a type of woman is arising who believes in a new kind of matriarchate, that is to say, in a state of society where man will not figure in the life of woman except as the father of her child. Two cases have come to my knowledge where English women have been prepared to contract alliances with men with whom they did not intend to pass their lives,--this because they desired a child. They consider that the child is the expression of the feminine personality, while after the child's birth, the husband becomes a mere excrescence. They believe that the "Wife" should die in childbirth, and the "Mother" rise from her ashes. There is nothing utopian about this point of view, if we agree that Feminists can so rearrange society as to provide every woman with an independent living...

George did not have a high opinion of the New Woman - the radical feminist women of his own time:
The "New Woman", as we know her to-day, a woman who is not so new as the woman who will be born of her, is a very unpleasant product; armed with a little knowledge, she tends to be dogmatic in her views and offensive in argument. She tends to hate men, and to look upon Feminism as a revenge; she adopts mannish ways, tends to shout, to contradict, to flout principles because they are principles; also she affects a contempt for marriage which is the natural result of her hatred of man.

But, like most revolutionaries, he thought this was a necessary transitory stage and that new social conditions would then create a more ideal type of woman. In his words:
The New Woman is like a freshly painted railing: whoever touches it will stain his hands, but the railing will dry in time.

George then floats another idea, which is that women should wear a uniform:
One tentative suggestion is being made, and that is a uniform for women.

He seems to have associated an interest in appearance with sexually distinct feminine women - something which contradicted the idea of making the sexes the same. Hence a uniform for women.

Finally, George finishes with this:
Thus and thus only, if man will readjust his views, expel vir and enthrone homo, can woman cease to appear before him as a rival and a foe, realize herself in her natural and predestined role, that of partner and mate.

That strikes a false note. For a man to expel vir (manliness) and enthrone homo (humanliness) is not a readjustment of his views - it is overthrowing his own sex and his distinct identity as a man. Here again is the radical insistence on abolishing sex distinctions.

And George "readjusts" the truth by claiming that women traditionally appeared to men as rivals and foes, and only by getting with the feminist programme can women finally become partners and mates. The traditional understanding was not that men and women were foes but that they had interdependent and complementary roles; it is feminism which has institutionalised the idea that men and women are competing for power in the cause of maximising an individualistic autonomy.

One thing I hope this post has demonstrated conclusively is that feminism did not begin with Germaine Greer, nor even with Simone de Beauvoir. It existed in a radical form long before these women arrived on the scene. And the aim has been much the same, namely to make sex distinctions not matter; to maximise female independence and autonomy; and to promote relationships on female terms.

The sad thing is that George believed his feminist programme would strengthen the race, ennoble men and women, and create a more loving culture of relationships. In this he has been proved disastrously wrong.


  1. Quite frankly, I would prefer Hitler to this man. He says men must suffer a lifetime of misery and of being alone so that the superior eugenically derived race can be realised. Hitler got it over and done with pronto!

    They should just say what they mean. Kill all the BETA men!

  2. Well, he understood the issues as well as anyone today, but his predictions didn't work out. Giving women financial independence HAS allowed them to pick the most (immediately) desirable males for the fathers of of their children, but there is an insufficiency of such men, so we have the problem of single-motherhood. He seems not to have foreseen sex outside of marriage. And the eugenics effect is one of male children who are cocky/funny/handsome, but not necessarily capable of keeping a society running. I suppose he is correct, on average, that a husband can be more likely today to be correct in believing his wife loves him than was true in the past.

  3. I agree with CamelCaseRob,

    If the new competition for men is to entertain etc a women, these traits will be emphasised over the more longer lasting skills beneficial to broader society. At the same time older fashioned male skills, success in work, stability and reliability are still encouraged or expected. The recent argument used to be that women were required to be the super partner, now its very much on the men.

  4. I disagree with Camel.
    There is nothing exceptional about being a dead beat thug if that is what he is suggesting women are going for nowadays(and yes some are).
    The average man can be a cad/thug/dead beat and attract women.
    Eugenics which is abhorrent has nothing to do with it. Its a chaotic mistake by women encouraged by liberal society.
    The end result is ugly/violent/stupid and unreliable children.
    The society is then weakened to the advance of coordinated/educated/intelligent men who have a stronger ethnic glue from outside our society.

  5. Same anonymous.
    The thought that I didn't get out which was my disagreement was as some men put women on a pedestal.
    I think many people in this discussion are putting dead beat thugs on a pedestal.

  6. Your excerpts nicely illustrate the exoteric/esoteric nature of all progressive thought. The aims are always more radical than the inner circle gives out, even to the dupes who support them. By my reading of the 19th century feminists and socialists, I believe that the purpose of feminism and free love was to destroy the family as an instrument of socialization. The ultimate goal was to get children into government schools. Orestes Brownson, an American who was part of the socialist movement in the 1830s, said that this was the case in a book he wrote after his defection. The attack on marriage and proposed public schools “were intended to deprive, as well as to relive, parents of all care and responsibility of their children after a year or two of age,” on the grounds that “parents were in general incompetent” to perform this task. Once the children were in public schools, the socialists planned that expert “teachers and governors” w would train these children to “look upon this life as their only life, this earth as their only home, and the promotion of their earthly interests and enjoyments as their only end.”

  7. I can recommend two books related to the subject matter written of above, Libido Dominandi, by E. Michael Jones, & The Socialist Phenomenon, by Igor Shafarevich.

    The latter is a history of the socialist mentality, & of socialist states, from antiquity, to the present day.

    It is available for free on the internet, translated from the original Russian into English, at

    It can be printed, which I would advise doing, for all who care to read it, as no one knows how long before it goes into the memory hole.

  8. Shame on both the conservatives and modern liberals and any “ism” for using the government to force people to act in ways they think they should act.

  9. The only thing that should be worth dying for is freedom from men using the government to force people to act out their ideals. Governments should only exist to protect peoples life, liberty and personal selfishness as long as their selfishness does not lead to stealing, cheating, lying or causing harm to another’s private property or themselves.

  10. Those two comments are not utopian statements; they are only a method of preventing more moral hazards in an imperfect world

  11. Anon,

    You have very neatly set out the very liberal principles that I criticise at this blog.

    I criticise them on a number of grounds.

    First, they assume that a man can live a good and flourishing life in the pursuit of a cut down number of goods that can be attained at an individual level.

    So family and nation are out, careers, shopping and travel are in.

    Second, people do need an idea of what defines a good person and a good life. So what then happens if a community is not allowed to positively identify these things?

    In practice what happens is that a set of negative goods takes over. You become a good person by practising non-discrimination, non-judgementalism and so on. But these concepts of the good are pushed just as intrusively as the positive concepts ever were, and they are corrosive of society.

    Third, not even a radically liberal society can adequately function without retaining some kind of positive goods. That tells you something about how misguided liberal principles are.

    I am not allowed to walk around my local supermarket naked, nor marry three women, nor shoot up heroin in my local park etc.

    Finally, the very language of liberalism promotes a nihilism that a society is unlikely to survive.

    It leads to the view that there are not real and significant goods that can be known to men, but only personal, subjective ideals which have no wider application.

    Once you accept this, then yes it might seem as if the only thing worth defending is the "freedom" to pursue your own subjective concept of life and so this kind of "freedom" is the only positive thing stopping a complete slide into nihilistic pessimism.

    But it's not much to found a civilisation on. And the proof of the pudding is the modern West which has slid into self-contempt and a desire to abolish itself.

    We have to have the courage to discuss real positive goods.

  12. Fascinating.
    I always had reason to believe that a lot of the male contribution (especially in the role of progenitor) to fembot thought has been whitewashed, likely as a matter of political and ideological expediency.

    Seeing this, I realize my assumption was far more correct than I originally envisioned.

    How did you ever pull this one out of the memory hole?