Saturday, June 11, 2016

Laurie Penny sets out the true goal of feminism: the state must replace the husband

Laurie Penny is a radical English feminist. In a column for the New Statesman she has called for women to walk away from marriage. There are passages in her column which are very significant, as they reveal what feminism is really pushing toward. So I'd encourage readers to persevere with this post as it touches on fundamentals.

She begins by asking whether marriage is "worth it for women who value their personal autonomy." Straight from the beginning you can see that she has adopted the liberal ideal that the highest good in life is personal autonomy. Feminism, therefore, becomes the attempt to maximise personal autonomy for women (it is assumed by feminists that men already have this precious commodity).
So why does marriage harm women's personal autonomy? Laurie Penny gives an unusual answer: she claims that it involves unpaid emotional labour. The idea seems to be that women are being exploited by undertaking emotional labour within marriage that is not remunerated.

I don't want to dwell on this as it's not the most significant aspect of Laurie Penny's article. I will just point out that it is very odd for someone like Penny who is supposedly anti-capitalist to conceptualise something as intimate as marriage in terms of the market. It is also blinkered for Penny not to recognise that husbands also "perform unpaid emotional labour" in a marriage; in fact, on men's sites there are complaints that men do too great a share of this within modern relationships (which happens to be my experience.)

What Laurie Penny writes next is reasonably important:
Not so long ago, marriage was most women’s only option if they wanted financial security, children who would be considered legitimate, social status and semi-regular sex. Our foremothers fought for the right to all of those things outside the confines of partnership, and today the benefits of marriage and monogamy are increasingly outweighed by the costs.

Feminists wanted women to be autonomous and to have the goods that women traditionally obtained within marriage without having to be married. In doing so, marriage inevitably took a mighty hit - Laurie Penny herself believes that in taking away the goods of marriage feminists have made the costs of marriage greater than the benefits for women.

But the key part of Laurie Penny's column comes next. What is the next step for feminism in liberating women? Well, according to Penny there still remains one little problem. When women shun marriage they might well have access to welfare, but they don't have access to a husband's earnings and so are not as well off as married women financially:
there's still a price to pay for choosing not to pair up...It’s also about the money. Over half of Americans earning minimum wage or below are single women – and single mothers are five times as likely to live in poverty as married ones. This has been taken as proof that marriage is better for women – when it should, in fact, be a sign that society must do more, and better, to support women’s choices

And here is where Laurie Penny is unusually honest. She says outright what others would might try to obscure. She approvingly quotes another feminist writer to the effect that the state should be expected to act as the husband of single women, guaranteeing the same sort of income that married women might expect:
Traister is relaxed about the prospect of single women asking that the support a husband might once have provided be publicly available. “In looking to the government to support their ambitions, choices and independence through better policy,” she writes, “Single women are asserting themselves as citizens in ways that American men have for generations.”

Now, it has to be said that this would only be one more step along the same feminist path that we have already travelled a long way along. The state already acts as husband to sole mothers. It already enacts laws allowing women to divorce husbands and continue to live off their husband's earnings. So no wonder that Laurie Penny thinks she is on a winner.

But if marriage is already teetering, then this would surely finish it off - which is Laurie Penny's stated intention. She writes that she believes "in dismantling the social and economic institutions of marriage and family".

Like the feminists of the early 1900s, she believes that by dismantling marriage you would then have "pure" relationships between men and women, equal relationships based on love alone.
I believe in all of that not despite my squishy, tender heart, but because of it. I’m a romantic. I think love needs to be freed from the confines of the traditional, monogamous, nuclear family – and so do women...In the real world, love is perhaps the one truly infinite, renewable resource we have – and it’s beyond time that we had more options. I want more options for myself, and I want them for all of us, not just as a feminist, but as a romantic, too – because it’s the only chance we have of one day, at last, meeting and mating as true equals.

She is deluded, just like the first-wave feminists. The reality is that when you don't need anything from the opposite sex, you don't form "pure" attachments, you become fussy, demanding, ungrateful and unrealistic toward the opposite sex. If Laurie Penny's policy were really to get off the ground, then you could expect women to treat men worse, not better. Women would probably find themselves even less willing to commit to relationships and confused about the reasons why - but probably believing that the available men were just not quite good enough for them.

The moral of the story? If we want to have a successful culture of family life then we need to reject the idea that personal autonomy is always and everywhere the highest good in life, the one that defines freedom. We also need to maintain or even attempt to restore the goods of marriage, the goods that were carelessly subverted by the state in modern times.


  1. She is a parasite. The very definition of it. She wants to have her cake and eat it too.

    Have the state use violence to take resources and earnings from men and give it to her. She's fine with the violence, as long as she can look the other way.

    She gets benefits from men, with no need to be accountable in order to get those benefits.

    Really evil when you take this attitude apart. The 'state' is other people this woman doesnt want to have to deal with. She just wants them to pay for her 'choices', her failures, her needs.


    “The state is that great fiction by which everyone tries to live at the expense of everyone else.”

    “I have never understood why it is "greed" to want to keep the money you have earned but not greed to want to take somebody else's money.” Thomas Sowell.

    1. Yes, it's interesting. She's not even pretending to give something back. It is all framed in terms of "you can give me money so I can do whatever I want". As I wrote in the post, she thinks this is possible, because maximising autonomy is a key aspect of the state ideology, so she is challenging the liberal state to live up to its own principles.

  2. Penny has absolutely no real sense of what it means to be autonomous. She has probably never truly struggled a single day in her life. This lack of understanding appears to be widespread amongst liberal women who suggest, without a smidgen of irony, that autonomy is obtained when they have no obligations to anyone but themselves and the government is providing them sufficient financial, health, and educational benefits to offset their own personal deficits.

    I don't know what's more galling, their massive sense of entitlement or their total lack of self awareness.

    1. Yes, I get your point. There is a good sense to the word autonomy - something along the lines of "being able to stand on one's own two feet; having responsibility and foresight in ordering one's life to accrue the resources to live from one's own labours" and so on.

      But liberals do not think of individual autonomy in this way. For them it has a more philosophical meaning. They think that there is nothing outside of the individual which gives meaning to life. Therefore, what matters is that we each determine our own self and values and respect others doing the same. Freedom then comes to mean a freedom to live according to one's own self-design, without external impediment. Laurie Penny is saying: I don't want to marry, I should not be punished for my choice, as all choices are equally valid. Therefore, I should get the same goods from not marrying that other women get from marrying. She is in line with the state ideology in making this claim.

    2. I understand, but I genuinely think a lot of it is driven by malformed social sensitivities and pure selfishness, not by a strict theory of liberal self-interest

      Check out this thoroughly rationalised approach to gimme dats

      This woman has a poor work/life balance, so obviously it's time for someone else (business, government) to subsidise her "me time" so that she can "find herself". Their lives aren't perfect and they have some kind of personal/emotional deficit that they can't deal with. The more the system obliges this behaviour, the more they will demand.

    3. "liberals do not think of individual autonomy in this way. For them it has a more philosophical meaning."

      Nah. "Autonomy" is all about political power.

      "Stand on your own two feet" = no political power for liberal politicians

      "Redistribute wealth to provide sham autonomy" = political power for liberal politicians who will bribe creatures like Laurie Penny in exchange for votes

    4. Dexter, it's true that politics has the aspect you describe. But don't underestimate the need for the intellectual type to have a philosophy to live by. When the high courts of Western countries decide the big issues they do so on the basis of liberal autonomy theory. The politics departments of the universities likewise discuss and debate issues around liberal autonomy theory.

  3. Liberalism is not simply about the individual will and his choices nor is it about autonomy after all, Liberal societies rapidly descend into oppressive tyranny. It is the denial of the Truth and the replacement of God as ruler with man as ruler.

    Once Truth is deposed, denied and obscured, human life loses its anchor in Truth and reality and becomes based upon lies, falsehoods and sin. As Chesterton said, humans who reject God do not believe in nothing, they believe in anything.

    Human behaviour and values become regulated by thoughts and feelings instead of transcendent truth. At the present time, material comfort renders most people immune to Truth. Most people are concerned primarily for the pursuit of their interests and passions and Truth is an obstruction to that.

    Marriage is not about "goods" or benefits. It is about the fulfilment of God's plan for human procreation. Happiness, sexual and emotional gratification are neither assured nor guaranteed. For many people marriage will always be a burden and impediment to the fulfilment of their desires.

    Marriage is the primary social institution, the building block of the nation and the goal of the political left is to destroy both institutions family and nation.

    A Roman Catholic priest in Rome, Italy recently said that the Sacrament of Marriage must be based upon Truth and Reason and not upon thoughts and feelings. The decision to consecrate one's life to another must be based upon the objective Truth of the spouse's suitability as a life partner and not upon subjective feelings. Hence marriage must be accepted as the unconditional plan for human life regardless of individual thought and emotion and conditional incentives of "goods" and "benefits". The latter terms come from the field of economics and not theology.

    1. Anon, I agree with much of what you have written, but you are framing the mindset of liberals according to your own mindset. To truly understand them we have to step outside of our own mindset and into that of the people who are running society. We then have to trace the inner logic of that mindset.

      So I agree that liberals deny the truth. They don't deny this. It is the starting point of liberalism. A liberal would say either that there is no truth or that it can't be reliably known.

      But this doesn't then lead liberals to believe in nothing. They do have a belief system, the one that is shaping our society. Liberals then say, OK, there is no truth that we can know, therefore what matters is a human freedom to define our own truth. There is value, claim the liberals, not in what we define as the truth, but in the freedom of choice that is asserted in the act of self-defining our own subjective truth. This is what gives human life its particular dignity/this is the "sacred" point for liberals that makes the human individual something of inherent value.

      So morality comes to mean: the individual must be free to self-define his own being and his own truth, but must also respect others doing the same. This means that anything that is thought to define the individual, that is not freely chosen, is offensive to the life of the individual (hence - the attempts to deracinate the individual and to make sex something that the individual chooses for himself).

      It also means that morality comes to be based on accepting the self-defining lives of others: the focus is on accepting diversity, non-discrimination, inclusiveness and so on.

      Does this lead logically to tyranny rather than to individual freedom? Yes, because it requires a war on human nature that is policed in ever more intrusive terms by the liberal state. I'm not sure, though, that it is this tyranny that will eventually bring down liberalism. Liberalism, by promising "equal satisfaction of desires" is rapidly breeding a grievance mentality in just about everyone - everyone is convinced that they are being illegitimately treated (discriminated against) on the false grounds of a racial/sexual group they belong to. It is having a splintering effect.

      As for marriage, I mostly agree with you. Marriage cannot be based primarily on subjective feelings as it is today. You are probably correct too that the term "goods" is an inappropriate one for marriage - I will consider this is future posts.

      Even so, it seems worthwhile to me to try to understand the differences between men and women in relationships. This is especially true in current conditions, when the traditionally Catholic view of marriage you describe has fallen out of the culture, and people have to contend with "human nature unleashed". Men, understandably, are interested in knowing what they are dealing with.

    2. "So morality comes to mean: the individual must be free to self-define his own being and his own truth, but must also respect others doing the same. This means that anything that is thought to define the individual, that is not freely chosen, is offensive to the life of the individual (hence - the attempts to deracinate the individual and to make sex something that the individual chooses for himself)."

      This is a description of liberalism which is advanced to deceive and dupe the naive into going along with it. However the ones who push and control this agenda (and pay for its advancement) are quite clear that there is one Truth. The rejection of Truth is the deposition of God and the replacement of the rule of God with the rule of Satan.

      That is nothing to do with my mindset or the mindset of anyone else. It is a fact of both Christian and Jewish teaching. There are many liberals who do not understand this and there are many who do but go along with it anyway because they are either paid or blackmailed to do so. However the pretext of "man being free to define his being and his own truth" is just a pretext to deceive the naive and simple minded into accepting certain positions. The euthanasia movement is advanced as a "kind way to allow people to die in dignity" but this is a pretext to get people to accept the real agenda which is mass killing of the elderly and sick.

      In summary you have the pretext used to advanced the covert, concealed agenda. Liberal "morality" as you describe it is a pretext to advanced satanism. Your own position would fall apart should you try to defend Christian truths publicly when you would find that the "freedom to define your own truth" would rapidly be crushed. It is not about freedom to define ones own truth at all but the imposition of a satanic agenda.

      Your own position is further undermined by the fact that Truth is based upon reason, a product of logical deduction. Given that reason and truth cannot be in opposition, a man who has an XY genotype and male phenotype cannot believe he is a woman as evidence and reason contradict this. His belief in his female gender is thus deluded, contrary to objective reality and a product of disordered thought and feeling.This is not a truth but a psychosis.