Thursday, March 24, 2011
Life In the Neolithic Ages. A Feminazi Rant.
That's the current era in terms of gender equality (Ogg has rock. Ogg bang head of Oggette! bangbangbang! Oggette stupid. Ogg smart, look at Ogg bang!).
We don't live in a feminist era, whatever the nuttiest types of Men's Rights Activists say, and we don't live in a post-feminist era, unless by "post-feminism" we mean that feminism came and went, like a dirty ring around the collar. All gone now! Besides, it was all about man-hating, unshaved armpits and ugly women not being able to get laid.
Women don't want equality, Counterpunch, an extreme left-wing site, tells us, borrowing heavily from non-existing research from a British wingnut. Women can't drive and shouldn't wear the pants, right-wingers tell us when it looks like female advisers persuaded the president to make a certain decision. And the president is now effete, weak and contemptible, because women should not have power.
Elsewhere, the American invasion troops in Afghanistan have decided to back-pedal on the topic of women's rights. Trying to change the oppression of women there is like rolling that stone up the hill, only having it roll back down again. (Poor Sisyphus. I know how he felt.) But we must all be pragmatic! What can be achieved in Afghanistan is something safer for the west and something better for the Afghan men and that must serve us.
In Egypt, the transitional government has no women and the Muslim Brotherhood (not sisterhood) is likely to win many seats in the next parliament. Tunisia's revolution has a similar male flavor and so it goes.
And in the ivory towers, new theories are created every day in those weird type of evolutionary psychology workshops about the innermost nature of women as coy, not very smart, keen on trading sex for money and best judged by how close to a human-sized Barbie doll* she might look, preferably with blond hair and blue eyes.
Most people are comfortably numb with this state of affairs. Even many feminists have switched their focus from women to oppressions of every kind.
But of course things have much improved in this country and in many other countries when it comes to the acceptable roles of women. Even international progress is visible if you squint hard enough.
The reason for my rant is not that. It's the obliviousness with which writers carefully pen the term "post-feminist," the pretend-seriousness with which they discuss the imaginary coming era of men's oppression by women, all combined with jokes about women as bad drivers or worries about whether women should be in power. It's the opining on feminist topics by many who appear to have done their research by having a ten-minute thought one night over a beer or two, and it's our willingness to take such thoughts every bit as seriously (if not more so) than the writings of people who actually have done the necessary research.
Take, for instance, the often expressed view that we now live in a post-feminist world? When honor killings exist? When the United States has never had a female president? When the Erick Ericksons of this world can proudly compare the US Secretary of State to bad women drivers? When work-life balance is just yet another women's issue? When I can watch a week of Japanese television about the earthquake-tsunami-nuclear-disaster combination and not see one female expert or politician interviewed, when all those rooms of power are full of only men? When the US Republican Party has declared an all-out war on women, and few notice this? Post-feminist, indeed, but only in the sense of feminism being irrelevant.
What about the ominous rise of the new matriarchy, some of you might ask**. Aren't women now dominant among university students? Isn't the world soon going to be run by those bad female drivers? Perhaps it is time for a counter-revolution! Perhaps we have gone too far in the direction of favoring women. And look what that got us? As commentators from both the left and the right told us, weren't women supposed to be the peaceful sex, the sex that will stop the wars? But look what three women did in the case of president Obama's Libya decision! They were the heedless warmongers. Which means...what?
Iran fixed the too-many-women problem in its universities by putting up quotas against female students in "manly" disciplines, such as engineering. The US tries to fix it by telling us stories about how bad it is ultimately for women (not for men, mind you, or for all of us) if they are the majority of college graduates:
They have nobody higher up or equal to marry! That something which we would applaud in a randomly picked student (hard work and drive) is so often presented as a problem: too-many-women, should make you think. It's a sign of the neolithic age of gender relationships: Zero-sum thinking, gender myths based on man-the-provider-and-leader and woman-the-subservient-housewife and generalized diffuse sexism which always leads us to the conclusion that women should do with something slightly less than full equality.
As I mention in the title of this post, this is a rant. But if it still comes across as too earnest and serious, think about why that might be the case.
Gender equality is not something that is taken seriously, in general. That's why Erickson can present his contempt of women as a joke and that's why we don't all riot when we are told that women should cut back on higher education so as to leave more space for men which they then could marry. We are uncomfortable with taking the topic seriously because we are still living the neolithic era of gender relationships. And that is what makes us uncomfortable with feminazi rants.
*These link to the first posts of two series, not to the specific posts in which those arguments are presented. You can find loads more in my archives if you are bent that way.
**Just an aside: Note how outdated some of the arguments made about the "end of men" are less than one year later. The mancession, for instance, is rapidly disappearing and there are some signs that a womancession might come next.