Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Union head thinks dresses worse than burqa

Sally McManus is the first female Secretary of the ACTU - Australia's peak trade union body. She is also an anti-male radical lesbian feminist who is critical of women wearing dresses.

And yet she has attracted support because she is willing to take a militant stand against Australian jobs being sent offshore.

It seems that the price of trying to defend your job, if you are an Australian worker, is accepting the leadership of radical leftist feminists who want to overthrow heterosexual culture and the family. Not much of a choice on offer.

There is a political vacuum here of the sort that Trump was able to fill in the United States.

Below is a clip of Sally McManus at a "defend the burqa" meeting. She argues on the grounds of liberal autonomy theory that the burqa should not be banned because "women themselves as individuals have the right to choose who they are and what they do".

As part of her argument she also outlines a series of things that Western women are allowed to do that she considers more oppressive than wearing the burqa, including wearing dresses, high heels and makeup, and going on diets - she complains that these are oppressive as they are not done for the sake of the women herself but for the sake of appealing to men.

(There is some logical consistency here. If you believe in liberal autonomy theory then you are supposed to only make choices that follow from the wants and desires of your own "authentic" self. So Sally McManus is suggesting that women are not choosing what they want, but what men want, i.e. that it is not their own wills, but men's wills, that are driving the choices being made.)

It's interesting to note that the radical union left in Australia is so orthodox in its liberalism, and also that liberal autonomy theory can be used to suggest something so counterintuitive, namely that it is more oppressive for a woman to wear a dress than a burqa.

It seems unlikely that women began to wear the burqa in the Middle East because of some authentic, autonomous, individual desire of their own to do so. I can think of two possible reasons for the burqa being imposed. The first is that if you have a polygamous society in which one older man can have up to four much younger wives, then there will be many sexually frustrated younger men. The husbands will then have reason to impose on their wives a much stricter form of modest attire in public than would be needed elsewhere.

The second is that when women dress beautifully it does give them a degree of power in the public square. Men do feel the power of feminine beauty and attraction. Perhaps the Muslim system was designed to very strictly limit this female power to the home.

The liberal approach to the issue doesn't help much, as it is artificial to say that we should make choices as if were atomised, blank slate individuals expressing unique desires within a moral vacuum. We need a standard to measure what we choose apart from "it's my own authentic will that I desire this".

Sally McMahon believes it to be wrong, a violation of autonomy, if a woman chooses to dress attractively for the sake of men. But it seems to me that if a wife dresses attractively because she thinks it is pleasing to her husband that this is a more moral reason than if she just arbitrarily wants to do so as part of her own will. At least she is acting for the happiness of another.

I don't have a carefully worked out position on the morality of feminine beauty, but my instinctive attitude is that the Western mind sees an inspiring good in it, which means that its erasure by the burqa is strikingly alien and confronting, and that just as any creature seeks to fulfil the potential within itself, so too is it to be expected that a woman would wish to embody feminine beauty.


  1. Another possible reason for modest attire among today's Muslims is that desert people might often have nomadic groups of men spending a night or two at another oasis or village and the local men didn't want to have to be defending their women from agressive approaches, so they made them cover up. I think those who say this isn't so much a Muslim thing as a desert tribal thing are correct, although now it has BECOME a Muslim custom.

    Women dress sexually for their OWN benefit. As you say it gives them power, and in fact a woman's sexual appeal is her major source of power. Wearing the burqa is done for the men. It is not an autonomous choice.

  2. She needs to cover up from head to toe, jeez what a mess,I'm offended by the photo, I need a safe space now.

    1. It is extraordinary how many of these women who advocate for the suppression of feminine beauty are themselves so lacking in these qualities.

  3. "We need a standard to measure what we choose ...": a critical point. But what is the standard?

  4. Another reason I have come across is that they adopted the practice from the Byzantine aristocracy.
    If women's magazines are anything to go by women mostly dress to appeal or compete with each other. If Sally Mc Manus wants men's opinions she'd find that most men don't place high importance on how women dress, they can see past the clothes.
    She obviously dresses to appeal to other lesbians.

    1. I think this is correct. It is not men who drive women to spend extraordinary amounts of time and money on apparel, make-up, jewelry, etc. They do this because they are in one way or another in competition with other women for male attention and, yes, marriage. For women it is self-serving, not man-serving. Apparently this displeases some lesbians, which should not bother anyone in the least.

  5. I'm just playing devil's advocate here for a moment.

    On the other hand there are major pluses for women in adopting the burqa. It reduces sexual competition among women. This is a good thing if you're a woman and you've already found a husband and you don't want younger more attractive women trying to steal him. The burqa is the great equaliser! It also means that if you're trying to catch a man you have to rely more on personality than looks, which is useful for women who don't have the looks.

    It also means that married women don't feel pressured to dress like sluts just because every other woman in the office is dressing like a slut.

    The problem we have is that the choice is increasingly between the western slut culture and Muslim Puritanism.

    It makes sense that a radical lesbian feminist would come down on the side of Puritanism. In fact the regulation lesbian haircut is the equivalent of a burqa. You could say that lesbians adopted the burqa in the 1970s when they adopted that standard haircut and the rest of the lesbian uniform.

    1. I hadn't thought of that. The Burqa is ugly. It' levels the playing field for ugly left-liberal women. Very good observation.

  6. I have not been able to convince Kalb or Zippy but I dispute the traditionalist's unified theory of liberalism which suggests that what we see in contemporary Western societies is autonomy as the highest good. I think equality/victimology and freedom/autonomy, while not unrelated, are two distinct aspects of current Westen left-liberalism and when they come into confict, equality trumps autonomy.
    For what it's worth, I also reject the other extreme idea I've seen others put forward that liberalism is a constellation of unrelated ideas.
    In this case, the equality principle rules, because a non-Western, alien, dark-skinned people are involved. As Auster used to point out, alien people are demigods to white Westerners.

    1. I think equality/victimology and freedom/autonomy, while not unrelated, are two distinct aspects of current Westen left-liberalism and when they come into conflict, equality trumps autonomy.

      They have odd ideas about equality. They seem to have few problems with the vast inequalities in wealth in our society. If you examine carefully their demands for equality you find that these demands mostly benefit wealthy middle-class people. Feminism is bad for most women but it's great for wealthy white college-educated middle-class women. Homosexual marriage is irrelevant to poor people but it's good for certain wealthy white college-educated middle-class people. Black Lives Matter provides benefits for an elite sub-section of black society but it does nothing for poor blacks. Diversity is great for rich whites (lots of terrific ethnic restaurants) but disastrous for poor people. Legalising cannabis appeals to middle-class potheads but will have negative effects on poor communities.

      Pretty much the whole liberal agenda seems solely designed to improve the lives of rich people at the expense of poor people. And to provide a convenient smokescreen so that nobody notices that things are getting better and better for the rich and worse and worse for the poor.

      I think it's safe to say that if there's one thing liberals don't care about it's equality.