Monday, September 14, 2009

So this justifies feminism?

Jill Singer, a columnist for the Melbourne Herald Sun, has written a fighting article. She believes that women are being treated as second-class citizens and should fight back and not take it lying down.

It's another one of those "we still need feminism" pieces. But why does she think women are hard done by? She gives four reasons, the last being the most original.

1) The bedroom

Jill Singer is outraged at the idea that a woman might have sex with her husband when she doesn't really feel like it:

We might as well start with the bedroom. You'd like to think that women these days wouldn't have sex unless they wanted to. Yet nothing could be further from the case.

Evidence is a book by Australian writer Bettina Arndt which encourages women to say yes at times to give their marriages a chance. An offended Jill Singer is not amused:

... the likes of Bettina Arndt, author of The Sex Diaries - an odious little tome that advises women it is their wifely duty to sexually serve their husbands.

The dutiful Bettina would be a hit in Afghanistan today, considering her views dovetail nicely with the likes of the grunting primitives running that women-hating joint.

So Jill Singer wants us to treat Bettina Arndt's views as repugnant, backward and beyond the pale. Which is a pity as Bettina Arndt is doing nothing more than encouraging wives to be generous towards their husbands as an expression of marital love:

it seems extraordinary that sex is treated so differently from all the other ways in which a loving couple cater to each other's needs and desires. We are willing to go out of our way to do other things to please each other - cooking his favourite meal, sitting through repeats of her beloved television show. Why, then, are we so ungenerous when it comes to "making love", the ultimate expression of that mutual caring?

What does Jill Singer really expect? That you can have a system of marriage based on sacred female choice alone? That there is to be no giving or caring from the female side? Arndt wrote her book because she actually listened to some anguished husbands who loved their wives and who wanted their marriages to last but who felt unable, as one of them put it, to "live like a monk".

Jill Singer wants women to fight for a principle which puts the utmost strain on fidelity in marriage. It does not reasonably justify a commitment to feminism.

2) Violence

Jill Singer believes that violence against women justifies feminist outrage:

... while not as severe as the problem in Afghanistan, an unholy number of men here are bashing, raping and killing women.

According to Rob Hulls, Victoria's Attorney-General, violence against women is the leading cause of death, disease and disability in women aged from 15 to 44. It's a disgrace.

Ironically, the only time Jill Singer has gone on record as being the victim of violence the perpetrators were a group of self-entitled young women:

While [the tram] stops in Middle Park, a loud and boisterous cluster of teenage girls shove me aside as they make to leap aboard.

"Get out of our way, you effing slut," says one of these charmers ...

The aggression of the girls did not seem fuelled by alcohol or drugs - but by an apparent sense of absolute entitlement.

... It was the "Out of our way!" that inflamed, and the sheer arrogance ... to my shame, I fired back a barb ... "Well, I might be an effing slut but at least I'm not fat".

With this I jump off the tram. The five screaming banshees leap off after me, screaming: "You effing slut" - and worse.

... one girl throws a drink in my face, while another whacks me over the head.

As for the claim that violence against women is the leading cause of death, disease and disability in women aged from 15 to 44, this is a preposterous lie. That Jill Singer is willing to believe this statistic undermines her credibility.

I've dealt with this rogue statistic many times before. It has also been taken apart by Tim Harford, who presents a statistics show for BBC radio. For the record, the main causes of death for young Australian women are, by a long way, cancer, suicide and car accidents.

A useful counter-statistic, one listed in the Australian Bureau of Statistics Women's Safety Survey (1996) is that women are much less likely to suffer violence when in a married or de facto relationship than when single. Single women are more than twice as likely to suffer violence from any source, four times as likely to suffer violence from strangers and eleven times as likely to suffer violence from a previous partner. Being in a stable relationship with a man does make a woman, on average, more physically secure.

3) Pay gap

Jill Singer is shocked that there is a pay gap of 17% between men and women:

According to a concerned Tanya Plibersek, Minister for Women's Affairs, the pay gap between male and female earnings in Australia is a shocking 17.2 per cent.

A recently announced review will attempt to find ways of reducing this gulf, but we shouldn't hold our breath waiting.

Again, I've dealt with this issue many times before (you can click on the "feminism and equal pay tag" below if you're interested). I'll limit myself here to two points. First, I managed to get into an argument with a feminist on this issue just recently. I did finally get her to admit that women in most jobs are paid the same rate as men. Her fall back position was that amongst executives in private industry a woman with equivalent experience and qualifications would be paid less than a man.

It turns out that even this isn't true. Last year a Carnegie Mellon University study was released that looked at the earnings of 16,000 executives over 14 years. It found that women were promoted as quickly as men of the same age, educational background and experience and earned on average a higher salary. (hat tip: Feckblog)

Despite these advantages, the female executives ended up earning less - but only because they were more likely to quit their jobs:

At any given level of the career hierarchy, women are paid slightly more than men with the same background, have slightly less income uncertainty and are promoted as quickly ... We concluded that the gender pay gap and differences in job rank in this most lucrative occupation is explained by females leaving the market at higher rates than males.

My second point is this: it wouldn't help relationships much if men weren't so committed to holding down their jobs and earning a steady income. Married women generally expect their husbands to be good providers. If you don't believe me, you only have to listen to Jill Singer herself in a column from 2006:

While there's a growing number of women fortunate to have supportive stay-at-home husbands, the majority probably still prefer their man to be a traditional bread-winner.

Just as men hanker for women who are more gorgeous but less clever than themselves, women will generally keep seeking men who can provide for their family in material terms ...

Women might melt at the sight of men who are good with children and doggies, but what really brings us undone is an old-style bloke who knows one end of a spanner from the other and black from red in a balance sheet.

... Snags are for nagging, not shagging.

It seems that Jill Singer is underwhelmed by men who can't take care of the family finances. She recognises that the majority of women feel this way. And yet she somehow thinks that you can have a sexual dynamic in which men are expected to be providers and still end up with equal lifetime earnings for men and women.

4) Public role

Jill Singer does make one telling point at the end:

I was recently invited, for example, to be interviewed on 3AW about single sex clubs.

The male interviewer wrongly assumed I'd be irate about "men only" clubs - but I couldn't care less about them and pointed out I personally favour "women only" gyms.

As he blathered on about how outrageous he thought men's clubs are, it didn't occur to him that 3AW is one of the most exclusive men's clubs in town.

She's caught a radio host following the "liberalism for thee but not for me" syndrome. He deserves to have this pointed out to him.

But Jill Singer follows up with her own feminist syndrome. She says she wants more women in public life, but it turns out that only a certain type of woman, acceptable to her, will do. It's similar to the response of feminist women in America to the idea of Sarah Palin becoming Vice-President. The American feminists unleashed a most bitter and hostile attack on Sarah Palin, much more intense than anything they subjected a male politician to. What feminists seem to want is not more women in public life but more women of a certain kind, made in their own likeness.

What grounds do most women have, therefore, to support feminism? The rate of violence against women who are married to men without mental health, drug or employment issues is not high. The wage gap for Generation X women is small and is not due to discrimination. And the idea of becoming a feminist to deny a husband sex is, hopefully, not going to inspire most women to a lifelong political commitment.


  1. [Alvy and Annie are seeing their therapists at the same time on a split screen]

    Alvy's Therapist: How often do you sleep together?
    Annie's Therapist: Do you have sex often?
    Alvy Singer: [lamenting] Hardly ever. Maybe three times a week.
    Annie Hall: [annoyed] Constantly. I'd say three times a week.

  2. Jill Singer: at 58 she'll be writing how feminism let her down, in the hopes that young women won't follow her folly. She'll be ignored.

  3. Women prefer men to make more money than they do for the same reason women prefer men to be larger than they are. It makes us feel feminine.

    Feminism makes women feel masculine which in turn make them despise themselves but encourages them to blame men for their bad feelings.

  4. "Ironically, the only time Jill Singer has gone on record as being the victim of violence the perpetrators were a group of self-entitled young women:"

    We can say with a blushing cheek that least they're equal. As Mark has stated now we need more state intervention, in the form of more police on the street for this instance, to remedy the fact that people are increasingly irresposnible.

  5. Like many feminists, she seems not to have given much thought to male incentives. Why exactly would a man sign up for marriage if the terms were those that Jill Singer and her ilk would demand? Sheesh, forget it, I'd rather masturbate to porn than live with a feminist termagant.

  6. "What grounds do most women have, therefore, to support feminism?"

    From what I've seen of women in my social circle (mostly aged in their late 20s to late 30s), the reason they support feminism is that they're ambitious. They're no longer content to be the power behind the throne; they want the throne itself. In short, they want to wear the trousers. Why? I think it's because we were told we wouldn't be happy unless we were free and had control. We were constantly browbeaten into believing we could and should take on traditionally male roles, and most women feel they've failed if they don't. Even domestic-minded young women feel they will be wasting their minds if they don't go to uni and "just" get married and have children. It doesn't occur to them that freedom, choice, and superiority might not make them happy... and most people will consider you crazy if you suggest they might be the very cause of unhappiness. Women like Jill Singer will only continue to recite these myths of feminism and most women in public life will, by virtue of being in public life, only strengthen them.

  7. One thing I have noticed about Jill Singer's writing in the H/S is that it is extremely predictable. You simply have to scan the byline "By Jill Singer" and you know that what you are in for another dose of left-wing feminist orthodoxy that is probably better suited to a student rag. The usual feminazi chestnuts and holy cows are trotted out and presented as self-evident truths.

  8. Thanks for the comments.

    Liesel, I think you might be right when you observe:

    Feminism makes women feel masculine which in turn make them despise themselves but encourages them to blame men for their bad feelings.

    Anonymous (12:20), I wouldn't have put it quite as bluntly as you, but I do agree that feminists don't give much thought to male incentives.

    I had an awkward discussion with a feminist acquaintance a few weeks ago about family life in northern Europe.

    She disliked the traditional Australian family arrangement and preferred the emerging Scandinavian model in which a woman has a baby as a single mother when quite young, aims to have fun in her 20s and then settles into an independent career and finds a male partner in her 30s.

    I asked her if she thought men would continue to make the same kind of sacrifices for this new family arrangement. She seemed taken aback to be asked this question and then answered "Yes, why wouldn't they?"

    She just assumed that the same benefits from men would always be there, no matter what position men were put in.

  9. On your last point Mark yes the penny will drop on that one. Feminism seems to combine new school empowerment with old school "I'm a princess" mentality. So the idea that you won't necessarily get what you want seems impossibly ridiculous. Its really quite uncomfortable to watch when a women begins to make concessions out of shear necessity.

  10. referred the emerging Scandinavian model in which a woman has a baby as a single mother when quite young, aims to have fun in her 20s and then settles into an independent career and finds a male partner in her 30s.

    Does this assume the man who fathered this child in her 20s doesn't have to pay for it? Is he out "having fun", too? If not, why would he do this? This would never work in the USA where he'd be on the hook for child support.

    Why does the man in his 30s want a woman in her 30s who already has a kid? Assuming this is not the father of the child she already had, why would the guy want her and not a fertile chick in her 20s?

  11. If the feminism Jill Singer refers to were just and true it would need no justification.
    Feminism - as described by JP2 and others - that encourages the virtues of true femininity and protecting those virtues needs no justification for it is based on what is true. Such a feminism has no room for abortion, no-fault divorce, "inclusive language", contraception or any of the other tripe we are asked to swallow in it's name. A true feminism embraces all women, not just those embrace "right-thinking".

  12. Mark,
    As an individual extremely interested in science, I can proclaim that feminism is product of science of the early 19th century.

    No one knew the concepts of gender differences, evolutionary psychology, Human sexuality at the time the foundation for liberal feminism was being laid on.

    Feminism is superstitious, illogical and un-scientific. To me it just an exercise of best practical humour.

  13. Cadence Interrupted said "Feminism - as described by JP2 and others - that encourages the virtues of true femininity and protecting those virtues needs no justification for it is based on what is true."

    Feminism, by its very nature, is problematic. Perhaps it would be better termed female chauvinism, and as such I abhor it. How is the promotion of femininity and other female virtues feminist? Why do we have to call ourselves "feminist" in case we're thought of as backward? The true promotion of femininity is not feminist and to call it feminist is insulting.

    The feminism of Catholics such as John Paul II is far preferable to other forms of feminism, but it still misses the point about women's vocations. As long as women think that motherhood can be combined with an ambitious career path, they are doing themselves, their husbands, and their children a disservice. Motherhood is a vocation in itself that ought to be accorded the value it deserves. It's not enough to acknowledge the differences between the sexes; the constant striving for "equality" creates a false issue, a bone of contention where none should exist. Sure, these Catholic feminists are largely on the right track, especially when it comes to moral issues like abortion, but they're still talking about how women need to be promoted and given more roles within the Church when they need to be talking about how women need to support their men as the head of the family, etc.. They're constantly going on about the need to have women take on more roles within the Church when the feminisation of the Church is one of its biggest problems. And Catholic feminism is dangerous because everyone assumes it's harmless when it's actually insidious and noxious.

  14. Feminism - as described by JP2 and others - that encourages the virtues of true femininity and protecting those virtues needs no justification for it is based on what is true.

    This is not so much "feminism" as just The Gospel applied to relations between the sexes.

    I certainly make a distinction between The Gospel and the ideology of Feminism.

  15. "According to Rob Hulls, Victoria's Attorney-General, violence against women is the leading cause of death, disease and disability in women aged from 15 to 44. It's a disgrace."

    Jill Singer is pretty much ignorable, but more concerning to me is the claim that the AG Rob Hulls is peddling this dubious statistic. Has someone asked him to justify it?

    I can imagine that the inventors of this stat would have a broad interpretation of "disease and disability" and their causes, so that eg eating disorders, depression, headaches, dissatisfaction with their bodies etc could be blamed on their interractions with men.

  16. Rob Hulls, the same man who brought in anti free speech laws to attack pakistani Christian pastors for reading the Koran out loud.

    The same man who put the pressure on to institute the "Soft whips" and the counting of the amount of times a horse can be whipped in the racing industry, now currently prompting Industrial action.

    Rob Hulls, the same man who has packed the courts of Victoria with left wing, and especially female left wing, Judges who continue to outrage the tabloid press and the general community alike with their progressive rulings.

    This man is a red crusader, hes the most dangerous man in the state, and this should be exposed.

    Jill Singer is the token shrivled old feminazi who has managed to scribble a half readable column every now and then. Hulls is in charge of some of the most important parts of our state.

  17. old hat,

    I was not going to discuss church politics because it was not relevent to this thread. However to clarify my position, the feminism JP2 spoke of in his writing on the dignity and vocation of women is not the feminism that seeks a greater role in the Church. These women ARE the feminists who are trying to be like men and of who I speak against.

    The feminism I speak of - and perhaps feminism is not the right word - views motherhood and marriage as a vocation in and of itself. I agree that the feminisation of the church has been a bad thing indeed.

    Equality is not a helpful term. It is suggesting that one sex is suprerior to the other and that the lesser needs to be equalised. I believe in feminism that helps to restore the dignity of women.
    In doing so it can only help to promote the dignity of men.

  18. Thanks for clarifying that, Cadence Interrupted. What you've described doesn't sound like feminism at all, and I suggest that you and others who share your views stop calling it that. It's not just misleading; it gives ground to real feminists by admitting that any form of feminism is necessary. The very nature of it as an 'ism' means you are putting women ahead of men or at the very least suggesting that women are denied rights by men on a societal or institutional level.

    That said, I know quite a few Catholic women who would say what you have said and yet pursue their careers at the expense of their family. They believe they can be feminists in the mould described by JPII and that there's nothing wrong with this. That's the danger I'm talking about in calling it feminism - real feminism creeps in and before you know it instead of promoting dignity you're promoting "rights" and instead of vocation there'll be career. You say that the term equality isn't helpful, but that's what feminism is about - equality of the sexes or, worse, making men inferior.

  19. The female proponents of sexual freedom for women, a chief tenet of feminist ideology, tend to be the most uptight and repressed about sex.

  20. The biggest supporters of female sexual freedom tend to be young males... I wonder why?

  21. Jill Singer can sometimes write a decent article, but most of the time she's just an idiot. Good to see that there is someone on the net able to take her apart.

    Congrats Mark.

  22. This comment has been removed by the author.