Saturday, December 23, 2006

What's twisting the sisters?

From the website of an Australian feminist (Kate) we learn that:

Some feminists do actually hate men. And if you're a man I think you just need to accept that.

So here is a feminist admitting that she belongs to what these days is termed a hate group (a hate movement?) and that the targets of this hatred should casually accept the situation.

What kind of a response did this get from her feminist sisters? The feedback was as follows:

Ariel: Bloody brilliant!

Mindy: Keep up the good work Kate.

Cristy: Great post Kate.

Dogpossum: I applaud the sentiments.

Janet: Right on, sister.

Lizzy: This is a fantastic post.

What could possibly twist the minds of these women so much that they would applaud an article which so casually discusses a feminist hatred of men?

It's notable that many of these women unquestioningly accept the ideas of patriarchy theory.

Patriarchy theory claims that society is organised on the basis of power and domination. Men are the dominant class and all aspects of society are designed to secure the subordination of women. There is no natural masculinity or femininity to explain the differing roles and behaviour of men and women. This too is a creation of the patriarchy designed to subordinate women, and must therefore be overthrown.

Imagine what it would be like to be a heterosexual woman who believed in this theory. You would be attracted sexually to the very group who were your oppressors. You would also have to question the expression of your own feminine identity. Talk about being conflicted!

Little wonder that "dogpossum" declares in the comments that:

Sometimes I think it would be easier to just become a lesbian separatist, and hate men.

The influence of patriarchy theory runs right through Kate's article. For instance, she justifies feminists hating men on the basis that it's harmless, as women like herself are powerless within a patriarchal system:

Even if I do hate men, so what? Do I have the power to do anything with my hypothetical burning hatred of human beings with penises? Nope ... I am a Man-Hater, in a world where the institutions of power favour the XY chromosome.

The problem is that reality doesn't fit the theory. Feminists have not been left as powerless oppressed women within a patriarchy. Quite the opposite, in fact. Ever since the mid-1800s, feminists have been granted a great deal of power in Western societies.

In Australia, feminists have secured a special office to help shape government policy; they have had university faculties established for them; they have been helped into political positions via a quota system within the ALP; and they have been helped into positions of influence in the professions via affirmative action policies.

In the 1980s and 90s, as many of us will recall, feminists were powerful enough to establish their own views as politically correct.

The fact that feminists have been so readily promoted within the power structure means not only that patriarchy theory itself is wrong, but that a feminist hatred of men is not to be taken lightly.

Kate also tries to justify a feminist hatred of men on the grounds that women are callously victimised within a patriarchal system. She writes that she is a man-hater in a world:

where women are regularly raped and abused and murdered, where child abuse is rampant, and where my gender guarantees I'll make less money than a male colleague.

Again, this fits the theory of patriarchy well (as it reinforces the idea of women as a subjugated class), but not reality. In the comments to her article, I pointed out that it's actually men who are more likely than women to be victims of violence and that women are more likely than men to abuse children.

There was much resistance to accepting these facts. I was told I was ignorant, incorrect, dishonest and a poor role model for men. But when I linked to some persuasive evidence the counter-argument changed. It was accepted that women did in fact abuse children more often than men, but this too was blamed on the patriarchy (for "making" women spend more time with children than men).

Here again you see the concern to fit reality into the theory rather than the other way around.

Finally, Kate tells us that she doesn't really hate men, but just masculinity:

You see, I don't really hate you, if you're a man. If I criticise 'masculinity' I'm not being critical of you as an individual ... I'm being critical of an idea, a performance, a culturally inscribed set of ideals about how 'men' should behave.

Once again, this fits in neatly with patriarchy theory. Patriarchy theory explains the traditional male role in society as being a result of an oppressive, illegitimate power system and not as a natural expression of masculine drives. So Kate is being perfectly orthodox in her feminism when she describes masculinity negatively as a mere "performance" or "culturally inscribed set of ideals" rather than as a true expression of men's nature.

But once again there are problems. First, science has now confirmed that gender is not just a social construct but is hard-wired into human biology. So Kate is forced to complicate matters by adding on as a kind of postscript that:

I'm not a complete moron and I do think there are differences in male and female behaviour that come down to chromosomes and hormones and suchlike.

So Kate is running with two competing views: first, that masculinity is simply a "performance" and, second, that masculinity has a natural basis in human biology.

There are other tensions produced by the patriarchy theory view of gender. On the one hand, women like Kate are duty bound to reject both masculinity and femininity as pillars of patriarchal dominance.

But where does this leave a heterosexual woman? How is she then to secure a sense of her own feminine identity and her attractiveness to men?

It seems to me that the more that such feminist women reject femininity in theory, the more that they attempt to bolster it in practice. How else can you explain the feminist craze for the most feminine of interests, such as knitting, sewing, decorating, flowers and kittens.

Kate herself lists her primary interest as knitting; Mindy makes quilts; Laura likes baking and kittens; and Janet likes to sew pink clothes for her daughter. Janet, in fact, runs one website about her passion for laundry and another about her love for motherhood, her daughter, flowers, gardens and sewing.

So we have this very odd situation. The feminists who are adamant in theory that there is no essential masculinity and femininity are in practice the best living proof of the existence of essential gender differences between men and women.

Heterosexual feminists have done themselves a disservice in accepting patriarchy theory so uncritically. It is a theory which can only leave such women deeply conflicted.

Patriarchy theory leaves women with a conflicted view of men as being loving fathers, husbands and sons but also a hateful enemy who subjugate women in every facet of their lives. It leads feminist women to see themselves as hard-pressed, powerless victims at a time when feminists hold considerable power within the institutions of society. It puts feminists who view gender difference primarily as a social construct on a collision course with modern science. And it creates a powerful conflict between the rejection of femininity as a tool of patriarchal domination and the expression by feminist women of their own feminine identity.

If feminist women suffer it is not at the hands of hard-working, masculine men but more as a consequence of what their own theory imposes on them.


  1. A hint, Mark. Examine the Nietzchean concept of ressentiment:

    " Ressentiment is a reassignment of the pain and itch that accompanies a sense of one's own inferiority/failure onto an external 'scapegoat', which scapegoat is itself the thing that 'made' one realize one's own inferiority/failure. "

    I think it helps to understand feminists rather well.

  2. I don’t take life to seriously; however, this problem of the Feminazi movement is one of concern to me.

    I have never in my life been accused of hating women, and indeed, never have, and still don’t. But it is for sure and certain that there is a growing movement out there that is misandrist. And it is bent on something political.

    I have termed it a Feminocracy, which means a Feminist or Feminised political leadership in the making. It has an anarchist base.

    These people believe in many spiteful things, such as eugenics and foetuscide, and the redundancy of men not of the movements liking. They believe themselves to be on an ultra-modernist course, in keeping with Marxist conclusions about the world and the capitalist market. Only the technocrats of this movement, know this aspect; the rest are radicalised ala feminism and misandrism.

    This is a new phenomenon in the modern world, and may eclipse the feminist of the sixties, particularly if Labor wins the next election.

    The problem with the GFN movement, is that it openly castigates currently living men, for the sins of our fathers. So immediately, one sees the prime fault with the movement.

    But wait.

    Unless, this is not a fault, but part of the plan. A distraction away from the real direction that the movement is taking. An attack on the federation.

    Existentially, the feminist woe is 'about the trouble with men'. but the real agenda of the movement is a one-party political movement, run by women, a modern Matriarchy.

    An oestrogen fuelled, vitriolic one at that.

  3. My daughter, with whom I discuss this kind of thing, tells me that among her female friends, male-bashing is a popular pastime. Apparently she feels uncomfortable with it because it's so flagrant. Even her married friends, or those in relationships, express those feelings.
    I remember back in the 70s, there were feminists who called themselves 'political lesbians', who chose to be lesbians for political reasons. They could not 'sleep with The Enemy', so to speak, so they chose lesbianism. Of course that whole idea is no longer mentioned because it conflicts with today's pro-homosexual dogma, which says homosexuality is innate and congenital.
    Feminists claim victimhood which carries power; it's easier to claim victimhood and the privilege that goes with it. And just as with 'racism', they claim that they have no power, so their hatred is allowable; only those with power can be haters, so they claim.
    So males can be held accountable for hating females, but not vice-versa.
    Typical convoluted lefty 'reasoning.'

  4. I don't really have time to comment sensibly, but I must note:

    "Patriarchy theory claims that society is organised on the basis of power and domination. Men are the dominant class and all aspects of society are designed to secure the subordination of women. " (from this post)

    This is kind of inaccurate - there are as many definitions of 'patriarchy' (and I'm not really familiar with the term 'patriarchy theory' - I've not heard that combination before) as there are people interested in talking about gender and power and so on.

    The definition of patriarchy that I prefer doesn't actually agree with the second sentence there. I would argue that in the patriarchal society in which I live (21st century, urban Australia), it is not 'men' who are the 'dominant class', but a particular type of masculinity which seems disproportionately represented in sites (or positions) of power.
    So, in my country, we see white, middle class, heterosexual, middle aged, able-bodied men over-represented in positions of power (ie politics, business, etc etc), and men who do not fit neatly into this (fairly rigid) group absent from positions of power - aboriginal men, for example.

    I do also think that you have misrepresented (or at least misunderstood) my comment. When I say "Sometimes I think it would be easier to just become a lesbian separatist, and hate men", I am referring to this point that to simply dismiss all men as hateful is too simple - it does not account for the differences in masculinity, and for the complexities of 'patriarchy'. When I say 'it would be easier to just hate men' (somewhat tongue in cheek, btw), I am saying 'despite the appeal of a simple response to social injustice and inequity, I feel that we must make more complex, more sophisticated responses, we must think around corners.'

    Equally, I feel that to dismiss all women or all feminists as 'the same' is to overlook the diversity within the feminist movement (and I do feel it's misleading to posit feminism as a 'movement' even in these terms) and the fact that there are as many ways of being a feminist (and doing feminism) as there are women. And feminists. Equally, there are many different ways of performing femininity (to borrow from Judith Butler), or 'being female' as there are women, or societies or culture.

    To sum those latter points up, then, when I write 'Sometimes I think it would be easier to just become a lesbian separatist, and hate men' I am saying that, with these complexities of gender and identity in mind, I can't say 'I hate men' because it isn't true. I don't hate all men. I've certainly hated some men, but not so much because they are men, but because they, themselves, were hateworthy (in my mind).

    Being a feminist, then, for me, is about avoiding simplistic, monologic notions of identity and gender and power and culture and society, and instead asking questions, listening to individual men and women and considering, etc, as well as considering groups (which do often collude with gender or sex) and group-identity and consensual needs, interests and concerns.

    I cannot speak for Kate or any of the other women whom you have quoted (out of context, and misleadingly I do feel), but I suspect that you might have missed a little of the back story.

    And the fact that no one tells a good joke about feminists like a feminist. Did you miss the punch line, perhaps?

  5. Dogpossum, first let me give you credit for writing a serious comment in the short time available to you.

    What's really interesting to me is not just any specific argument you've made, but the whole modernist mindset which you express.

    Have you ever thought about where this mindset came from? Or why it is so orthodox amongst the Western political class?

    It seems to me to fit in with a liberalism which says that, above all, we must be self-determining individuals.

    Hence your concern to claim that "there are as many ways of doing feminism as there are women" and that "there are as many definitions of patriarchy as there are people interested in talking about gender".

    You want to make it sound as if every individual is determining their own view of feminism and patriarchy theory for themselves, as this fits in with the liberal orthodoxy of the self-determining individual.

    Do you get the contradiction embedded into this approach?

    You are proving how much you do not self-determine your own theory when you all follow a modernist, liberal orthodoxy in claiming that every individual self-determines their own feminism or patriarchy theory.

    Nor is the claim that there are as many feminisms as there are women a credible one. Feminism has generated the same themes, and the same internal debates, since the 1600s.

    There has tended to be a strong group-think within feminism, to the point where second and third wave feminists were able (for a period of time) to generate a politically correct orthodoxy.

  6. Let me also use Katherine's (aka dogpossum) post to illustrate some differences between the traditionalist and modernist views.

    According to Katherine "there are many different ways of performing femininity ... or 'being female' as there are women, or societies or cultures."

    So for Katherine there is no essential femininity and even the concept of being female is something questionable enough to put in scare quotes.

    Instead, femininity is something women "perform", which means that it is made up at the individual level.

    The traditionalist view could hardly be more different. For us there is a real category, femininity, which exists as an essential part of a woman's nature, and which is a particular good to be defended within society.

    In Katherine's modernist view reality is a product of individual desire and preferences. She does not recognise as traditionalists do a "transcendent" good existing apart from such desires and preferences.

    It is to be expected, therefore, that Katherine doesn't focus on protecting such goods, but on power relationships - on questions of who is advantaged or disadvantaged in enacting their reality-creating desires and preferences.

    So which view is the more valid?

    Katherine's view doesn't fit reality well for two reasons. First, she claims that there are as many different ways of performing femininity as there are societies and cultures.

    This is not true at a basic level. If you look at the traditional concept of femininity in societies as diverse as Japan or England or India, you find an underlying similarity.

    Second, if femininity and 'being a woman' are something indefinite with no real basis, then you would expect a woman to choose at random between the range of possible activities.

    But women don't do this, not even after decades of encouragement to adopt masculine behaviours.

    Katherine herself is a good example of this. She is into cats, sewing, cooking, dancing and gardening. How many men, for instance, would choose to spend their spare time making one of these?

    Katherine does not appear to be performing some randomly chosen set of behaviours. She appears to be expressing an essential, clearly recognisable, feminine nature.

  7. Oh- tha contradictions, the contradictions;

    Looking at possums purring points, we can see that: 'Being a feminist, then, for me, is about avoiding simplistic, monologic notions of identity and gender and power and culture and society, and instead asking questions, listening to individual men and women and considering, etc, as well as considering groups (which do often collude with gender or sex) and group-identity and consensual needs, interests and concerns.'

    In fact, I see this as an overcomplicated even convuluted way of saying that the feminist movement is in fact a fascist movement; hence the Feminazi tag (the GFN).

    Interesting that the 'monologic notions', the Marxologists Modus- Operandi is resolutley discounted. This leaves the movement with a magnificent tasta la Mussolini el flavour de spugetti-an-meatballs to round off the pallet of words.


  8. dispite their professed desire to live without men I have yet to find many feminists who know which end of a hammer to hold or how to drive a nail into a piece of wood straight.Like wise my experiance raising a daughter has thus far been that she has no interest or apititude in the use of many tools. If the sisters truly wanted to do it for themselves there would be more focus upon learning to make and understand the things that they need ,on a daily basis, to make their lives work.

  9. Bobby, nice comment. There's only a couple of points I'd qualify.

    1) I don't think women are going to change things. There do exist individual women who write impressively about these issues. As a whole, though, women tend to be a bit fatalistic ("what can you do?", "this is just how it was meant to be" etc).

    It's really up to men to take the leadership in challenging feminism. I think this is happening already at a grassroots level.

    2) What you say about women leaving things too late, until men are less likely to want to partner, is spot on.

    It's true, too, that this does leave men more independent and therefore with a greater flexibility in terms of work and free time.

    But even though women end up worse off, the situation still isn't great for men.

    To be a masculine provider within a traditional family is more a fulfilment than an oppression for men.

    Nor is it impossible to achieve such a thing, even in current conditions.

    I married an Anglo girl who is happily at home looking after our son while I'm at work. Our marriage arrangements are very traditional.

    It works well and I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.

  10. " feminists ... believe that they can hate men into loving them."

    That would make a good bumper sticker or signature quote.

  11. Just to follow up on Julian's comment, I want to add that ressentiment is only possible when a feminist perceives her inequality due to natural reasons in subcategory X as overall inferiority.