Wednesday, September 10, 2008

What do European feminists want banned?

A report by a women's rights committee of the European Union has called for laws against ads which reinforce gender stereotypes. It would be illegal to show an image of a woman in the role of a mother and housewife or a man working as a builder.

Why? Eva-Britt Svensson, a Swedish member of the committee, explained as follows:

Gender stereotyping in advertising straitjackets women, men, girls and boys by restricting individuals to predetermined and artificial roles ...

This is a very clear-cut expression of liberal autonomy theory. According to this theory, our status as humans depends on our ability to be self-determining individuals. Therefore, whatever is significant about our own self which is not self-determined, but rather "predetermined", is a held to be an impediment from which we must be liberated.

Our sex is something we don't get to determine for ourselves; therefore, Eva-Britt Svensson follows the theory logically in speaking of gender as a limiting impediment placed on the individual (a "straitjacket" responsible for "restricting individuals").

If your aim is to make the fact of being male or female not matter, then you will of course deny that there is any natural basis to gender difference. So again Eva-Britt is following the theory logically when she calls gender roles "artificial".

How might we criticise Eva-Britt and her autonomy theory? Some of the more obvious objections are that:

a) Science has shown conclusively that gender difference is not entirely socialised, but is also biologically hardwired. Therefore, it's not true that sex distinctions in society are artificial.

b) We don't experience the fact of being distinctly male and female as negatively as Eva-Britt claims. Few of us would want to be "liberated" from our masculinity or femininity. Our heterosexuality generally leads us to appreciate at least some aspects of gender difference.

c) We don't develop and fulfil ourselves as neutered individuals, but as men and women. Therefore, even if our sex is predetermined, it is nonetheless highly significant to a full expression of who we are. It would be a loss of our individual potential to reject our masculine or feminine natures.

If you look at a photo of Britt-Eva Svensson, a woman who rejects femininity on principle, you don't get a sense that she has been liberated toward a larger, happier sense of self; she looks defiant, but tightly-wound and shrunk into herself. If you had to choose whether she looks full-natured or denatured, which would you say?

d) If the aim of the theory is to maximise autonomy, then a contradiction emerges. If you attempt to maximise autonomy by allowing people to freely choose in any direction, then people will choose other goods besides autonomy, for instance, by following a 'predetermined' masculinity and femininity. So you don't get the autonomous outcome you were seeking by following this option.

However, if you attempt to maximise autonomy by coercively repressing non-autonomous choices, as Eva-Britt is seeking to do, then you limit autonomy by removing the ability of individuals to choose in any direction. So again you don't arrive at the condition of autonomy called for by the theory.

Either way, the theory doesn't work.

e) There is much in life which is predetermined. We generally don't self-determine our own sex, our ethnicity, the culture we inherit, the religion we are raised in, our sexuality, the traditional form of the family, social mores and patterns of life. Are we really to reject all these significant aspects of existence simply because they are inherited rather than self-created?

Autonomy theory strips the individual of much that is of value. It is onerous in its implications. We are more likely to experience a true sense of liberation by rejecting its demands and embracing what is best in our given natures as men and women.


  1. People like her are very strange. They must be deeply unhappy, if all they want to do is impose their own unnatural and totalitarian ideologies. It seems they just to inflict their suffering and misery on others.

    To my mind, gender ideinties should be a matter of choice. Thiose who like them can embrace them, and those who don't are free to not follow them. That seems to me to be the most natural way.

  2. Women like this are driven by a restless hatred of life. They need to overthrow it entirely, everywhere they find it, and have tireless reserves of energy and bile to that end. There is something daemonic about the whole thing.

    We need to find the will (backbone) and a way to challenge, provoke, and rout hag-witches like her, and to rally the disheartened manhood of the West.

  3. Gender equality = androgyny = human extinction

    It is an unfortunate fact for some, that in order for human life to sustain its existence, we need both men and women acting in "stereotyped gender roles."

    Recently, a columnist in a San Francisco newspaper wrote an article about a family from Arkansas that has 17 children. They are somewhat famous here as they have a reality TV show. He complained that they are "asexual."

    That is now screwed up liberalism has become. Sex is totally removed from reproduction and redefined as some sort of recreation that must be public and unrestricted expect with regard to preventing and ending pregnancy. Which is the entire point of sex in the first place. Say what you will about them , but the parents of 17 children are probably among the least asexual people on the planet.

    This philosophy has no basis is biological or material reality.

  4. So they are saying that there should be no men or women on television at all?

    Because whatever role they are in, it is going to be "stereotyping" them.

    Looks like it will be only nature documentaries in Europe, unless of course that is banned because it is stereotyping animals into their roles.

    We wouldn't want lions to be pigeonholed as carnivores, you now.

  5. How she look like has no relation to her sense of being liberated!
    And modern society has evolved to allow for human society to survive, nay thrive without traditional gender roles. Indeed if gender roles are a matter of choice, then we must give women the opportunity to know the option to traditional roles. If you keep hammering into them that they need to stay at home and *cook*, how do you expect them to be not influenced. Hence the need to strip television and other media from gender stereotypes and *then* let people decide.