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January 22nd 2018 print

Lucinda Spier

The Sisterhood’s Self-interested Sophists

The feminism of my youth professed to advocate equality for all, men and women alike. Today that objective lies in ruins, buried beneath policies, attitudes and hypocrisies that see men assailed for being men and the cultural outrages inflicted on Muslim women pointedly ignored

bikini burkaI consider myself a feminist. But the word “feminist” has become so debased its meaning has been lost, not to mention deliberately distorted from what it was taken to mean in decades gone by. What it meant to me in the Seventies and Eighties, and what it remains today, is equal pay for equal work, equal access to tertiary education and the ability to get a bank loan. It may seem incredible that females once needed the signature of a father or husband but that was indeed the case. Go back a little further and women were generally expected to resign their jobs when they married. Those to whom this sanction was not applied nevertheless received their marching orders upon becoming pregnant. It was unfair, unjust and, sadly, the way things were, which is why it had to change.

I know about the issue of equality between the sexes, which I studied it at university as an elective unit before working for a time in the Office of the Status of Women (OSW) in Canberra. I know all the so-called arguments why women were denied equality and how this imbalance was to be redressed. And I know that some of the prescriptions for redressing inequality were objectionable then and are even more so today. For example, the OSW worked hard to give girls gender-partisan encouragement and advantage in the classrom. A worthy goal, you say, but it came at the cost of boys doing less well. Some 20 years later the results of policies and attitudes overtly favouring female academic performance can be seen in the feminisation of medicine and law. It can also be seen, I would argue, in the declining numbers of young men at universities.

What I hear in modern feminists’ rhetoric is that no longer do these professional women want equality. Rather, they want to be more than equal, having adopted the strange idea that there should be some kind of payback or penalty for past male wrongs — the sins of the fathers being visited upon their sons, so to speak. Your ever-ready-with-a-quote-and-grievance modern feminist want to be compensated for men having had a better a deal than women in the past. The stupidity of this idea manifests itself in the utterances of women who claim to speak for all women when they are the chief recipients and beneficiaries of the attention they demand and attract.  On an individual level, the likes of Germaine Greer and Anne Summers did enormously well out of feminism. It made their careers and, in the case of Greer, a lot of money from sales of The Female Eunuch.

This idea of being “more equal” extends to quotas in the workforce which see second-rate candidates — indeed, in some cases incompetent candidates – employed and promoted ahead of competent men solely by virtue of their gender. Clearly, the merit principle is dead and Australia is much the poorer for that.

This push for affirmative action against men is abhorrent, denying as it does the very idea and principle of gender equality for which women of my generation fought. More than that, it is a philosophy that tilts the playing field in favour of ‘’professional women’’ motivated by self-interest and agendas of personal advancement.

The most pressing issue for true feminists should be the inenviable position of Muslim women, whose value is reckoned to be half the value of men. Why is female genital mutilation so often glossed over? We have clinics for the treatment of mutilated women and girls, yet we see very few prosecutions. Why must women cover their bodies outside the home while men don’t? Sharia law, which derives its authority from the Koran, completely controls woman’s lives. A man can divorce his wife by saying he divorces her three times; a woman does not have this same right. Under sharia a divorced man gets custody of the children, the woman is a non-starter. In Islamic countries a woman must answer to a male guardian who has complete control of what she does. If a woman defies a male guardian he can avenge her disobedience by imprisoning, even killing her. In short, women have no rights and no amount of blathering by token, tame Muslim women about “Islam is the most feminist religions” changes that one bit.

yammyThis type of behaviour should not be acceptable in Australia, and there is no way of dressing it up to make it acceptable, especially when women of my generation fought so hard for the freedoms we currently enjoy. That sharia’s misogyny can be tolerated in Australia, even if only by a refusal to acknowledge its pernicious influence on so many thousands of female lives, is a disgrace. What of the gains women made under the first waves of feminism? Weren’t they supposed to apply to all women? Yet today’s alleged feminists say not a word about the injustice that sees a segment of the population trapped in and by the mores of the 7th century. The hypocrisy is blinding, the silence deafening. The same women who take to the opinion pages with vague, aggrieved and subjective complaints about “masculinist air conditioning” or “mansplaining” or “manspreading” do not raise their voices on behalf of Muslim sisters oppressed from birth. The late Bill Leak captured that attitude perfectly (above).

If we go along with the shrill voices of false feminists and keep beating up men and boys, keep ignoring the blatant injustice of consigning women to lives in black sacks, we risk poisoning the well of gender relations for generations to come. Men are now suffering some of the same inequality women of my generation fought against. The early gains should have been a win-win situation. Clearly they were not, there were winners and losers.

Pardon me for being down in the mouth about all this, but it is impossible not to be. I ask myself where the real feminists have gone, but already know the answer. What we see masquerading as feminists are no better than opportunists.

Comments [38]

  1. Doubting Thomas says:

    It’s difficult if not impossible to take the current generation of feminists seriously. Indeed, their mothers must cringe at the idiocy of those who seem to dominate our print and electronic media. Clementine Ford? Van Badham? Oh, dear! And then there is dear old Queen Elizabeth Farrelly, who deserves her own permanent place in Private Eye’s Pseuds’ Corner. One glance at the work of the likes of the majestic Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Camille Paglia, Lionel Shriver, et al ought to be sufficient to send those relative intellectual pygmies into retirement.

  2. Jody says:

    Couldn’t agree more with your closing sentence. These woman are my heroes!! The others you mention are ugly individuals in every way. (Did you know that Camille identifies as transgender?)

    What has happened to women in general today and feminists in particular? The answers to that are complex. First the Pill, then education, then careers, then children with record levels of drug-taking and depression, then strident political activism, then record levels of divorce, then raunch culture and then affirmative action so that you get incompetents into the parliament because they are female. I’ve seen all of it. And now #metoo. The men who’ve been accused of sexual harassment, abuse and rape are represented in all occupations and social strata. This isn’t new; it’s happened since we emerged from the cave. What HAS happened since The Pill is tha women have claimed equal opportunity to be promiscuous and don’t want to be judged the same as men. Consequently, they are not judged that way and men now think anything goes – and mostly it does. In short, women have asked that they deserve no more respect than promiscuous men and males have gladly taken the invitation. Meanwhile, back in real feminist territory women like Janet Albrechtsen, Jennifer Oriel and Grace Collier have shown themselves to be powerful, fair-minded and respectful women who can hold their own against any man without having to shout about it from the rooftops. These modern women also have a set of values which are clear to anybody who reads what they write. They don’t have to abandon morality in the interests of ‘equality’ because they know what I do; that real feminism is a state of mind. The ability to think individually, to be a woman who is respected and intelligent and who does not need to shout from the rooftops at men and over the top of them in the long claw to the top. Amen.

  3. Doubting Thomas says:

    Yes, I was aware that Paglia identifies as transgender but she doesn’t carry on as if she invented the concept or that it gives her some special insight into human nature like the radical idiot fringe does. I agree about Albrechsten, Oriel and Collier. Miranda Devine is usually pretty solid too, but her apparent inability to see Turnbull’s faults worries me a bit.

    I think I am somewhat older than you, but we both seem to have grown to adulthood in the one end or other of the 60s, so we experienced the rapid changes that occurred in those turbulent times. With three granddaughters, two of whom are in their mid to late teens, we worry that they will understand that self-respect trumps self-esteem, and that they must not squander it for the sake of cheap popularity. However, like the experimental frog being slowly brought to the boil, they know no other environment than the one they were born into, and they are comfortable in it, even if we perceive it to be hostile. I think galloping dementia is nature’s way of preventing grandparents from going stark raving nuts.

    • Tony Thomas says:

      Actually, this boiling frog thing is a dud. Further checks found the frogs jumped out of the water.

    • Jody says:

      I think self-respect does trump self-esteem, so I’m unsure about your point. I’m over 65 and have 2 grandchildren – boy and girl – in primary school. Their parents are going through a divorce and they get mixed messages, but my conservative son won’t have a bar of school propaganda (NAIDOC, ‘welcome to country’ etc.) and lets the school know it!! None of us in our family are SJWs and none has any time for strident feminists (or the milquetoast males who say they also are!) and their “it’s all about me” ideology. Lasch was right when he wrote, in 1979, “The Culture of Narcissism: American life in an Age of Diminishing Expectations”.

      Paglia and Prof. Peterson are on the same page. I’ve just bought my tickets to see Dr. Peterson, whom the left is busy savaging in the UK as we speak!!

      • ianl says:

        > “… Peterson, whom the left is busy savaging in the UK as we speak”

        Peterson is not my cup of tea. I just find him very noisily propagating statements of the bleeding obvious, but Google him and find that Google does its’ very best to bury any links to his voluminous utubes.

        That categorisation by Google, that Peterson should be buried, says it all. The millenial snowflake answer to opposition is to deny a platform. Twitter shadowbans, I’m told.

        • Jody says:

          They might be ‘bleeding obvious’ to you but to (more than) a generation of young people schooled in neo-Marxism, postmodernism and their SJW tutors. It’s a threat to the Left’s entire sense of self – since they believe they are singular repository of virtues and compassion and that the conservatives/the Right are exploitative, racist, homophobic, sexist, xenophobic, cold and cruel.

          • Jody says:

            Sorry, I left “not” out of the first sentence.

          • ianl says:

            The real point is that the MSM and electronic media are now doing their best to de-person him. The Ch4 interview was a rare mistake on their part and will not be repeated (like the UK plebiscite on Brexit – a massive own goal that Cameron is now de-personified for).

            So all he (Peterson) is doing now is the very familiar pattern of preaching to the converted. 90+% of millenials will *never* listen. I’ve watched them when a question arises that they don’t know an answer to: they just “google” it on their phones and accept the first link or whatever that Google throws up. So Peterson’s utubes are never listed.

            My own children, both with Master’s degrees and responsible jobs, still tell me that Google knows everything. End of story.

      • oldsailor says:

        The good doctor has been himself been doing a bit of savaging, I thought.

      • Doubting Thomas says:

        My mistake, Jody. Poor writing. My point was precisely that self respect does trump self esteem and our worry is that, with peer group and other post-modernist pressures, they will NOT understand this. Hopefully, the two grandsons will also understand. We’re very fortunate that our sons’ marriages are rock solid and that they and their spouses share our values. They’ve spent much of their married lives living and working overseas, so they recognise “shithole” countries when they see them.

        Being very deaf, I haven’t been able to access the Peterson links you’ve been posting, but I must chase up his writings. One other star in the conservative firmament whom I’ve been following for years is the British journalist Melanie Phillips, yet another person who has successfully metamorphosed from a leftist Guardianista into a sensible conservative. As a Jew, she is staunchly pro-Israel and has the bruises to prove it. Finally, yet another woman with real bruises who is worth following is Heather MacDonald in the Manhatten institute’s City Journal. She of “The War on Cops” – a phenomenon that has become an increasingly problematic situation in Australia.

        I really do fear that we’ve still got a long way to go before we reach Peak Stupid.

  4. Jon R says:

    It is axiomatic that every good idea eventually suffers from, what I call the band wagon syndrome. In the case of actresses, the real driver is attention deficit disorder, if their face is not on the front page, they get a call from their agent. In the case of Ms Greer, and (just for balance) Mr James, if they have not done anything to get on the front page their careers are over. Fame for Fames sake, is the absolute definition of Narcissism, most of these people should be under some sort of care.

    • Doubting Thomas says:

      One of our sons’ former teachers who became a close family friend was prominent in the local Arts milieu and an actor and director in the semi-professional drama productions. He insisted that an essential prerequisite for a successful career as an actor was an empty head available to be temporarily filled by whatever the director of a current production chose to insert. The more vacant space, the better. I’ve never seen any reason to dispute that.

      • Jody says:

        One of my closest friends in teaching was a Drama teacher; a funny, intelligent, down-to-earth and open woman who wasn’t the least bit Lefty. We laughed a lot together and she ridiculed the notion that in order to be a member of the ‘club’ in teaching (or many professions, in fact) you needed to display your virtue and Lefty credentials. She knew many fine actors but wasn’t lulled into the infantile political stance many of them adopted (Nick Enright and Bill Brown – both deceased – were friends of hers). She is a rare bird and sanity-saver from my POV. And she doesn’t have a jealous or envious streak in her constitution.

    • Ian Mackenzie says:

      “Me too” is what a child says when it wants something others have. When one group of celebrities received attention by making claims about the behavior of movie mogul Harvey Weinstein, a different celebrity launched “Me Too”. This generalised the complaint to encompass many others and created a meme, or internet theme. While one cannot deny that many women have been treated badly by men in power over many years, one cannot also fail to notice that the celebrity who launched “Me Too” garnered a lot of attention. If one looks at the motive for creating “Me Too” (and in these post-modern days, how can one not?) does it relate to a concern for the welfare of all women or is it assuaging the attention deficit disorder of a few? If we believe that means justify the ends then it doesn’t matter, and many have taken this position in recent weeks. If however we take the position that some, even one of those accused is innocent, then it matters a great deal.

      It appears to me that we are encountering a generational shift here. “Me too” suggests to me envy; to my children it suggests inclusion. I assume most of us grew up when it was believed that virtue was its own reward. The acme of this belief in anonymous virtue was encapsulated in the parable of the widow’s mite. These days identity politics and virtue signaling have replaced the ethics and values we grew up with.

      Virtue signaling only achieves its aims if the signal is received, and a combination of celebrity culture and social media results in the widest possible dissemination of the views of an elect/unelected few. The generations which have come after us believe that this is how social advancement is achieved, and sometimes they are correct. The widow’s mite achieves only very minor change – celebrity endorsements can achieve much more. However, the reverse is also true – a few cents in a church collection box rarely create much damage; celebrity endorsements – well what do you think?

      Those of us who were told of the experiences and sacrifices of our parents know that virtue signaling in the 20th century was used to create some of the most destructive regimes the world has ever seen. If Marx was right and history repeats itself, the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce, which are we living now?

      • Jody says:

        As Jordan Peterson says, “beware of the compassionate advocate in politics; these people are NOT your friends”.

        Wasn’t that an ironic comment by Marx? Do you think it aroused a scintilla of self-awareness in the man? If Wilde had said this it would pass muster, but not out of the mouth of Marx. Thanks, but no thanks.

  5. Warty says:

    One may indeed know ‘all the so called arguments why women were denied equality’ (a loaded term in itself) but the compelling question might be to ask whether society as a whole has benefited from the ‘equality’feminism has passed down to us.
    It’s a difficult question to evaluate, if not because we are subsisting in the ensuing maelstrom. The thing about living in a maelstrom is that it is difficult dragging oneself out of it back to a time when it wasn’t directly affecting us. Unfortunately electives in ‘Women’s Studies’ (apart from ‘women’s’ being ungrammatical) are not designed to throw any positive light on societies governed by today’s ‘trigger term’: ‘male patriarchy’.
    Now, I have no idea how old Lucinda Spier might be, and yes, it is indeed relevant to the stance she adopts, and it is again relevant to any counter argument, because some of us have lived through both periods. Ironically, some of us were once even sympathetic to the feminist cause when it was becoming all the rage. On the other hand, male teenagers, for those of us who were teenagers back in the 1960s, have a propensity for being overly idealistic: developmentally, this means their brains had not as yet relocated to their collective craniums, meaning they trended towards the irrational. This echoes DT’s comment about actors and their empty heads: for feminism to take root, being a tad vacuous is rather essential.

    • Jody says:

      The good Dr. Peterson says of raging 18 year olds who arrive at university, wave placards and want to change the world. “You don’t know anything. Six years ago you were only 12″!!! Gold.

      • Warty says:

        As we have both taught for a number of years, both you and I know a little about Piaget’s developmental stages, so Peterson’s statement is not news. At eighteen girls are streets ahead of boys, but I’d still advocate pushing the voting age back to 25 for both sexes, as I believe people need to use reason when voting . . . not hormones.

        • Doubting Thomas says:

          In one of my earlier messages in this thread in response to Jody’s point about what had happened to women in general, I wrote, but deleted, that one of the worst decisions ever made by an Australian government was to reduce the voting age to 18. As usual, there was no compelling need for the change, but it was just a typically cynical move by the ALP to exploit the political naïveté of idealistic youth. Now, the push is on to lower the voting age to 16. But, as you say, an increase to age 25 makes far more sense.

          • whitelaughter says:

            rather than a voting age, it makes more sense to gain the right to vote when you start paying tax. That would reboot the Left into focusing on people getting jobs. It would also neutralise the students trapped in the university ivory tower.

        • Jody says:

          It’s news to precious snowflakes, Warty, whose parents have spent the better part of their childs’ lives telling them how clever and percipient they are!!!

  6. Keith Kennelly says:

    What is wrong?

    There are too many half educated pseudo intellectuals telling us what is wrong.

    In this thread the statements about self respect trumping self esteem is typical of the muddle headed thinking of the pseudo educate.

    It is obvious to thoughtful individuals one cannot exist without the other.
    A heirarchy of esteem, utter bumpkin.

    As for the pill.
    Ours was the first civilisation to have a sure way of controlling conception since the ancient Egyptians.
    It should have liberated modern women, as it did the ancient Egyptians.

    Modern women should have thrown off the shackles of the mysognist notions of chastity, as espoused by Augustine and promoted as the dogma of the mysognist Catholic Church for nearly 1700 years , and often enforced through the practise of burning women at the stake if they disagree.

    Greer came closed to expounding this but stopped short with her ‘burn your bras’. She should have said dump the male enforced notions of fidelity, marriage, chastity etc.

    Jody’s wish for the return to the predominance of these misogynist values evidences the clinging of women to these madnesses.

    Check out the ancient Egyptians. They had no monotheist god, no marriage, had effective contraception, were highly promiscuous, family centred on women only, and their society lasted many thousands of years. Much longer than ours.

    You need read more Jody. Your limited intellect is reflected in your outdated prostestations.

    • whitelaughter says:

      And that was appalling. Where to start?

      Well, Mesopotamian, Greek and Roman civilizations all had reliable contraceptives. A simple google of ‘marriage ancient Egypt’ will provide you with countless places to dispel your belief that they didn’t have the institution.

      Our earliest proven example of monotheism is Egyptian.

      The abandonment of marriage has been tried multiple times, and inevitably leaves women as discarded trash. Heck, here on Quadrant we’ve had descriptions of the USSR’s attempt; Australians should know about the abortive hippy commune created by the Bounty mutineers. The litany of woes of Revolutionary France included a disastrous attempt to abandon marriage.

      Catholic church, misogynist? Maybe: but *do* have a look at what they were fighting. A standard argument from Platonic philosophy, that Aquinas has to refute, is that the Bible must be wrong because God created both man and woman, and said that creation was perfect…when any selfrespecting Platonist *knew* that women were merely a broken, inferior version of men (so yes, the Platonists would insist that Eden would have been populated by Adam and Steve). What you see as flaws in their treatment of women are better described at battle scars, from fighting the good fight (and I’ve no fondness for Rome, and frankly am sick of having to defend an organisation I don’t like from such daft slanders).

  7. Warty says:

    I know Jody is rather enamoured with Jordan Peterson, but the bloke does articulate himself rather well, and he certainly knows how to disturb a rats nest. My only criticism is that he can at times sit on the fence, as he did when speaking in Holland https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kgcoHmgqLBE
    regarding immigration. I mean how do you implement ‘be as good as you damn well can be’ as a way of countering evil? Personally I’d like a few specific pointers.
    But, getting back to this feminism business. You see, when your Eva Coxes and Germaine Greers and Simone de Beauvoires threw down their collective gauntlets they may not have known what the eventual outcome might have been: a deeply divided set of societies in a half destroyed West.
    Jordan Peterson, along with the American, the late Russel Kirk, emphasised the need to be immensely careful regarding what one says, and I use speech in the broadest sense possible (i.e. including action). Their point was that one needs to be careful about what one wishes for.
    What was all-too apparent in the Cathy Newman ‘interview’, on BBC Channel 4, was that Jordan Peterson was the epitome of moderation, and Newman was called out, not only because of her inaccuracies, but because of the highly partisan approach she took to the interview. This had consequences, not least being the fact that an overwhelming 80% of tweets were critical of the way she handled the debate. Unless I’m mistaken Jody was the first to alert us to the Cathy Newman interview.
    Jordan followed the BBC interview with a critique of Newman’s methodology, before the interviewer, Timon Dios, broadened the session in questioning him on other aspects of his philosophy. Personally I think it is one of his best interviews yet. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E6qBxn_hFDQ
    Vitriol in whatever form eventually has its consequences. It is infinitely wiser not to make assumptions, particularly of people you have never met. The person meting out the abuse inadvertently says more of himself that he does of the person he is attacking, so don’t go there.
    Intelligent debate is infinitely preferable.

  8. Doubting Thomas says:

    Fx: Snore,

  9. Keith Kennelly says:

    Yes the attack on Jody was gratuitous.
    The attack on her desire to have us return to the ways prior to the pill and the very limited feminism prior to 1968 is deserved.

    I just find it incredible anyone would want to abolish the freedoms we have all gained, to not want to attempt reasoned alterations and address issues on their own merits without grandiose ‘silver bullet’ solutions which hark back to a ‘Dreamtime, sanctified’ past because social mores don’t suit their personal outdated and muddleheaded beliefs.

    Jody could always give us examples when her beliefs trump our modern ways.

    Monotheism, mysognism, inter religious hatreds, barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen. … who would want that … today?

    Jody? How about you doubting Thomas?

    It’s better to look at all our past and see what wouked and debate what we could do. That’s what has happened for generations, in the West.

    Why can’t we do that.

    Instead Jody dishes up things we’ve all rejected as the panacea fir curing all our ills.

    This claims to be an intellectual site discussing intellectual ideas, with the intent, presumingly to voice radical (in the original sense) ideas.

    Jody’s contributions don’t fit that bill and nor does her hero’s.

  10. Doubting Thomas says:

    Jody can fight her own fights, but I disagree with your interpretation of her posts in this thread. I don’t see anything that could reasonably be interpreted as a call for a return to the status quo ante pre-pill, or whatever. To my mind she has simply listed some consequences, mostly unanticipated if not exactly unintended, of the sudden and dramatic changes in the status of women brought about, or assisted by the development of the pill. That this process is still evolving with some socially undesirable side-effects is undeniable, and to identify those is not to argue for reactionary change.

    Your intellectual condescension and grandiose remarks about “things we’ve all rejected” are noted.