Monday, April 8, 2013

Margaret Thatcher, R.I.P.


The death of Margaret Thatcher today marks the end of an era. The Economist offers the best appraisal of her influence. It emphasizes that she was a fearless champion of freedom:

ONLY a handful of peace-time politicians can claim to have changed the world. Margaret Thatcher, who died this morning, was one. She transformed not just her own Conservative Party, but the whole of British politics. Her enthusiasm for privatisation launched a global revolution and her willingness to stand up to tyranny helped to bring an end to the Soviet Union. Winston Churchill won a war, but he never created an “ism”.

The essence of Thatcherism was to oppose the status quo and bet on freedom—odd, since as a prim control freak, she was in some ways the embodiment of conservatism. She thought nations could become great only if individuals were set free. Her struggles had a theme: the right of individuals to run their own lives, as free as possible from the micromanagement of the state.

Her attitude toward government control and government intervention was consistent:

Yet her achievements cannot be gainsaid. She reversed what her mentor, Keith Joseph, liked to call “the ratchet effect”, whereby the state was rewarded for its failures with yet more power. 

Her influence was felt the world over:

The post-communist countries embraced her revolution heartily: by 1996 Russia had privatised some 18,000 industrial enterprises. India dismantled the licence Raj—a legacy of British Fabianism—and unleashed a cavalcade of successful companies. Across Latin America governments embraced market liberalisation. Whether they managed well or badly, all of them looked to the British example.

Yet, the world has lately been shifting away from freedom and toward increased government power.

It feels strange, however, to read the following words on the website of a magazine that supported the re-election of Barack Obama, an anti-Thatcher if ever there was one.

About the Iron Lady, The Economist writes:

But today, the pendulum is swinging dangerously away from the principles Mrs Thatcher espoused. In most of the rich world, the state’s share of the economy has grown sharply in recent years. Regulations—excessive, as well as necessary—are tying up the private sector. Businessmen are under scrutiny as they have not been for 30 years. Demonstrators protest against the very existence of the banking industry. And with the rise of China, state control, not economic liberalism, is being hailed as a model for emerging countries.

For a world in desperate need of growth, this is the wrong direction to head in. Europe will never thrive until it frees up its markets. America will throttle its recovery unless it avoids over-regulation. China will not sustain its success unless it starts to liberalise. This is a crucial time to hang on to Margaret Thatcher’s central perception—that for countries to flourish, people need to push back against the advance of the state. What the world needs now is more Thatcherism, not less.

If you read through the articles about Thatcher you will notice she posed one great predicament. The most powerful and influential woman in the twentieth century was not a feminist.

In her words:

The feminists hate me, don’t they? And I don’t blame them. For I hate feminism. It is poison.

Why did she think that, you might ask?

The reason must be that feminism is less about women and their rights and more about propagating leftist ideology.

Margaret Thatcher was a role model for women who want to succeed in the world of politics and even want to make history. Surely, she set a better example than the grievance mongers who are constantly complaining about what is wrong  while never imagining that an increase in freedom, coupled with a decrease in government power, might be the best for both men and women. 

33 comments:

Veronica said...

What we tend to forget today is how overwhelmingly male dominated the entire world of public life, and particularly politics, was in 1979 when Thatcher became PM. I was 8 years old at the time and watched with wide eyed awe as she singlehandedly smashed the gender roles I had been taught up to that point. She may not have cared much for the women's rights movement, but she certainly inspired a great deal of feminism among girls like me merely by her example. She is exhibit A in favor of feminism despite her wishes to the contrary.

RIP.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

But, why didn't she inspire you to become a Tory?

Veronica said...

Ha ha, I pretty much was one until around 10 to 15 years ago. During that period, I became more and more alienated by the religious and social conservatives' hold on the Republican Party. I also came to feel more and more strongly about reproductive freedom after experiencing pregnancy and childbirth, and watching my friends have their babies. So I started listening to the Democrats more and slowly grew more liberal in all areas (though I was always very liberal on women's roles all my life).

Lastango said...

On the death of Margaret Thatcher, let's all stand as tall as she did. This is no time to go wobbly.

One other thing: Thatcher "exhibit A in favor of feminism" - ? It is precisely because she was not that it is so important for feminism to try to hijack her. Her non-feminism is simply intolerable. She is exhibit A for principle and accomplishment -- the very opposite of feminism's grievance culture and claim to entitlement.

Anonymous said...

Veronica, whether you intended to or not, you've highlighted that Margaret Thatcher's career success shows feminism as the anachronistic ideology that it is. And you insist on attaching a label that the deceased has consistently eschewed. Even in death you cannot help but label someone or use it to pursue political ends.

My problem is with feminism as an "-ism," and whether it is a relevant philosophy or movement... at least in today's context. When you point out the Thatcher's election was so long ago, you're reinforcing this point. Today's feminism is increasingly defined by malcontents with PhDs, whose ideas derive from perennial disaffection.

Thatcher wasn't a feminist at all. Her entire cabinet was male. She was a divisive figure who cleverly used her gender when it suited her. If she was the breakthrough politician "who smashed gender roles," she didn't go out of her way to sustain it for other women. She mentored none. If all we do is remark on how inspiring she was to females, fine. But she didn't benefit from the women's movement, and she didn't care for the women's movement.

Margaret Thatcher stood on an unyielding commitment to her political philosophy. That's why she won. Men and women connected with her ideas on a level playing field, with an equal vote.

She stood for the individual. Labeling her as "Exhibit A in favor of feminism" is preposterous. Feminism is an ideology based on women's political, social and economic equality to men. Her election was an de facto demonstration of feminism's irrelevance, and it occurred on the size and scale of a national plebiscite. Presenting feminism as necessary to achieve these ends became a non-distinction in 1979 Great Britain, and in a career field you characterize as "overwhelmingly male dominated." Yet she went on to win three more general elections. So... why is the feminist bit necessary?

She never once ran on a feminist platform, nor did she direct any policies that recognized specific classes of people. Her womanhood was questioned by Britain's leftist press because of her unabashed philosophy of free markets... talk about stereotyping! She stood for the rights of the individual, not a group. She succeeded as an individual. She thought groupthink was the problem with British society.

Like all group ideologies, feminism is intensely romantic, emotional and gravitates to the left. Leftist politics is based on a zero-sum game that believes in economic/social stasis where an aggrieved group's economic fortunes cannot change until fortunes are forcibly taken from the people who have them. Margaret Thatcher believed such thinking was rubbish.

Thatcher did what she did because she wanted to, and gave no heed to the ramblings of a monolithic, gender-obsessed pity party. Modern leftist positions are not based on equality of opportunity, but equality of result. Therefore, "the cause" is never over. Inequality is a self-fulfilling prophesy, and thus all the activist can see is injustice. It's a rigged game, one that cannot bring happiness. Thatcher succeeded with an aplomb, grace and cheer that drove her opponents mad.

Margaret Thatcher brought down the Soviet Union philosophically. Ronald Reagan brought down the Soviet Union economically. Pope John Paul II brought down the Soviet Union spiritually. This three-pronged attack in the battle of ideas made military conflict unnecessary. Thank God. And this was achieved by human beings, two men and a woman who would not be denied. Today they are all gone. Where do we find greatness now?

Tip

Anonymous said...

To Lastango's point, one of the most shameful things I have ever seen on the screen was how Thatcher was portrayed by those involved with last year's movie "The Iron Lady." They couldn't bring her down with ideas, so they de-humanized her as a senile old bag who got her just deserves. Disgusting... a new low in the cowardice of cinema.

Veronica said...

Hi Tip,

Oh, I am quite aware that Thatcher declared herself opposed to feminism, althought I am not sure how she was defining the term. But by all accounts, she is said not to have cared much about the social equality of women as a class. But simply by virtue of being female and having achieved what she did in the way she did, she proved that blanket beliefs about women's supposed essential nature and highest and best use to be completely false.

It doesn't matter what she called herself. The feminist ramifications of her legacy, whether intentional or not, obvious. And surely her death is the appropriate time to reflect on the legacy of such a public figure.


n.n said...

Feminism was a reactive movement which purported to serve half of the human population. Thatcher was a woman, a wife, a mother, and a leader of the free world. Her tribe will not soon forget her contributions. She proved her mettle. RIP

n.n said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
n.n said...

Veronica:

A human life evolves from conception to grave. Your concept of "reproductive freedom" is an abstention from responsibility for a predictable outcome of a voluntary behavior. Elective abortion is premeditated murder of a human life when it does not have a voice to protest or arms to challenge its premature termination.

The choice is not abortion for the convenience of the mother and/or father. That choice is the premise for a general devaluation of human life. It is also illegal, despite the capricious ruling of the court. Our national charter establishes our unalienable Right to Life from "creation." Our Constitution establishes that citizens will be accorded equal protection. It is the government's duty to protect the rights of its citizens, and certainly of the most vulnerable and incapable members of society.

The only legitimate choice is to accept responsibility for your actions. For women and men who have sex, that potentially means accepting responsibility for caring for an innocent human life.

Veronica said...

Hi NN,

Thank you for your thoughts on abortion, which I read carefully. I've thought about it a lot over the course of many years, and have landed firmly on the opposite side of the fence on this one. Maybe if our host publishes an abortion thread, I will weigh in more but I fear causing a derail.

On Thatcher, I will say that her opposition to feminism does not surprise me. Women brought up in traditionalist societies have three choices: (1) conform to prescribed social roles and try to be the most feminine women they can be; (2) view themselves as exceptions to the general rules for women and act accordingly (the Thatcher approach); or (3) embrace feminism and challenge traditional social norms and views regarding the sexes. The Thatcher approach is not unusual. 9

Anonymous said...

Veronica, I respectfully disagree at the most basic level. And if we're going to get down to her understanding of terms, I think she was capable of understanding "feminism" quite well. And I'm sure she was disgusted by it because it meant defining herself as part of an aggrieved class or social unity movement that diminishes the impact of the individual. Margaret Thatcher was not plain vanilla, and wouldn't stand for being treated as such. Instead, she stood out. Always in blue.

Gender is binary. The spirit that animates the individual is spectral. If we do not honor the female, we become savages, destined for extinction. When we put too much emphasis on the fact of femininity, we create victims. It is the essence and purpose within us that determines our choices. Margaret Thatcher made her choice, and we all benefitted from it. She could've chosen the path of conformity, following what someone else told her was the proper way... whatever that was. What made her special was that she did not conform, and both men and women can celebrate it. That's not feminism. That's humanism. As a result, I have NEVER heard a man speak ill of her because she was a woman. Ever.

So her self-concept does matter. How she held herself as a human being, and her contribution to the world, is absolutely critical to understanding her, and therefore her legacy. If she didn't view herself as part of an aggrieved class, and was able to act in the face of stereotypes, she personified the dignity of the individual against all those who would label her.

Hers was a triumph of the human spirit in truth: freedom and dignity. She stood for unleashing creativity. She stood against the philosophies of dependence. She stood to say, "I am who I am, and will be judged on my own merit." As all great human beings do. Groupism, in any form, is definitionally the sworn enemy of this perspective.

"It does not matter what she called herself." Nonsense! It does matter what she called herself, because that is who she declared herself to be. Otherwise, her legacy is hijacked and politicized by people who want to reassign the meaning of her achievements for their own purposes and ends. Absent such a declaration, she would be labeled into a "social class" that she broke away from. This point is distinct from any other assignment of "essential nature" society might foist on her.

She was refreshing because she stood on her own. That is her legacy. It had nothing to do with being a woman. It may have inspired you that she was a woman, but I saw something else that was incredibly powerful, just like Reagan and Pope John Paul II... I saw courage, strength and conviction. It was special when I was a young boy of 8, too. It showed me what heights I might climb to, and how one person can make a difference.

And she often had to stand alone against powerful forces that sought to tear her down, and 'twas not because she was a woman. She stood for everything they despised, and all they need in order to thrive: labeling, division, dependence, victimization, etc. She just kept calm and carried on in the face of such noise, and it infuriated them. Godspeed.

Tip

n.n said...

Veronica:

You have been misinformed about "traditionalist" societies. At best, you have extrapolated from specific examples to characterize some societies or communities. At worst, you deny individual dignity, of both men and women, and treat them as a collective. Either way, it does not justify arbitrary discrimination against half of the world's population. Not against women or men.

As for Thatcher, she was a complete individual. As are many women and men. She was a a wife, a mother, and a leader of men and women. She was only the exception in the sense that few men and women will ever realize her stature. She was an individual who achieved biological, economic, social, and political success.

n.n said...

Well said, Tip.

Our mentors are both men and women. We receive inspiration from men and women equally. We judge each individual by the character of their words and actions.

Thatcher was extraordinary because she recognized and promoted individual dignity. She was successful because she was capable of ordering her life to be a wife, a mother, and a leader of men and women.

Thatcher was exemplary of human enlightenment.

Anonymous said...

Veronica, with regards to your 2:47P post, I am curious about two things:

Firstly, will you please provide a counterexample of a "traditionalist society," at least as it applies to the level of a modern nation state? Taken further, do not all cultures have traditions? Are these things not the social glue that hold society together? Are all traditions, by definition, unfair to someone? What is the citizen's responsibility to the nonconformist's choices? When is the nonconformist responsible for their own choices?

Secondly, I don't understand the distinction between woman's option #2 or option #3. #2 was more than ample, since each human being is both ordinary and exceptional. It seems #3 is artificially created to support a label (read: feminism). Thank you for establishing that feminism requires one to embrace one societal vision and challenge another, but it needn't be a separate option.

To be transparent, my frustration with the present fragmentation of society is the chaos of multiple social groups trying to forcibly (whether through laws and regulations) apply their values to everyone else, beyond the proportion of their real democratic and demographic presence. I view feminists as one of these micro-groups, one driven by malcontents whose conflicts with society cannot be assuaged by normal social dialogue (read: they are hopelessly angry). This sort of fragmentation has caused our society's institutions (notably schools and universities) to become battlegrounds for social experimentation. Again, I are talking about influence way beyond their proportion to the population. It is political obfuscation. In the process, we have lost sight of what is required to lead a good life and have instead glorified every micro-group's ideology to be equal to all others, regardless of evidence. Everything is politicized by single-issue groups whose noise far outweighs their numbers. By the way, I will equate creationists with gay advocacy textbooks in this regard. They're both zany and, to be fair, from different sides of the political spectrum. But this is happening at all levels of society. The schools are the most visible example.

Tip

Veronica said...

Tip at 3:05

You say that Thatcher was not a feminist because she refused to define herself "as part of an aggrieved class or social unity movement that diminishes the impact of the individual." But feminism did not invent the idea of defining women as members of a class; feminists merely pointed out that that is in fact how society operates. As Gloria Steinem noted when asked why she viewed society through the prism of gender, it is actually society that views her through the prism of gender. In other words, traditionally society, by culture, religion and laws, has assigned women as a class a particular social role. It is this social "gender binary" that diminishes the impact of individual women. It is this herding of women (and men too) into socially prescribed roles based on gender that feminism resists. Thatcher resisted such socially prescribed roles as well, but only on her own behalf. Feminism seeks social change in order to provide the freedom for women (and men too) across the board to assert themselves as individuals, rather than in terms of predefined social roles. And by the way, the social roles feminists resist are defined entirely by "philosophies of dependence," I.e. that it is right and proper and necessary for women to enter into dependent relationships with men.

That is why Thatcher is an ironic figure. She was very feminist precisely in her determination to be seen and to succeed as an individual rather than as a member of the social group into which she was born. Yet she refused to align herself with those who wished the same for other women.

Veronica said...

NN,

I am so glad to hear that you and Tip have role models of both sexes. So do I! I agree with you that ultimately individual character and accomplishments are what count. I think sex, race, ethnicity or other inherent characteristics can be relevant if it meant the person achieved in the face of discrimination based on those characteristics. For example, my admiration of Colin Powell has nothing to do with the fact that he is black but my admiration for Frederick Douglass is related in part to his determination to achieve despite and push back against the inhumane treatment and diminished opportunity he faced as a 19th century black man.

Anonymous said...

Actually, Veronica, you are saying that Thatcher is a feminist. I am saying she did not portray herself this way, and that nothing about her views or role that she chose says she is a feminist. She said as much herself. You own the label, you are looking through the prism of gender, you define woman in opposition to the society's supposedly defined role(s) for women, which I am saying are spectral in their humanity, binary in biology. It's a canard, and this is becoming a circular conversation. Freedom doesn't come from a label that fancies itself as propelling social change. True freedom transcends labels, as Thatcher did herself. Real change occurs at the individual level, as societies are made of of individuals. We each have the ability to define ourselves, and she clearly did it herself in words and actions. You are doing a post-mortem labeling of Margaret Thatcher's being and aligning it with your own political viewpoint, which I find unseemly because she clearly stated otherwise. I don't know what more to say.

Veronica said...

Tip at 336,

Thank you for the question because it gives me a chance to clarify, where I have been confusing. I definitely did NOT mean to imply that all "tradition" is automatically bad or to be rejected. I was really using the term "traditional" to refer to mores which assign women specific and generally subservient and/or dependent social roles. I am basically using "traditional" as the opposite of "feminist," although as we seem to be defining or understanding "feminism" quite differently, this explanation could cause problems.

I suppose I am using "traditional" as a stand in for "patriarchal." I don't want to use the term "patriarchal" because that term is generally misunderstood in forums like this as referring to a conspiracy among men to oppress women, when really it is a more organically occurring set of values and mores that tend to elevate men into positions of social power over women.

I agree with you that each individual is both ordinary and exceptional - but often individuals face severe social constraints based on their membership in a particular social category. For example, Margaret Thatcher may have had a contemporary of equal drive and talent in Saudi Arabia and from whom we never heard because the constraints on women in Saudi Arabia were too severe for even the most determined and brilliant woman to overcome. (NOTE: the existence of extreme patriarchy in Saudi Arabia does not render less extreme sexism and discrimination in the west irrelevant).

I am not as concerned as you by the existence of groups with their own pet issues. But I certainly wouldn't call feminism a micro group. Women comprise roughly half the human race.

As for the charge that feminists are "hopelessly angry," I would say that I have the same impression of Internet anti-feminists. Surely, anger is an appropriate response to injustice. It is just that we disagree as to when anger is warranted. (I would also note that feminism has a long history of using pranks and humor to highlight important issues - so it's both a FUN and angry movement.)

Veronica said...

Anonymous at 440 p.m.

But I am quite sure I never said Thatcher was a feminist! I don't have time to reread the whole thread, but I am pretty sure that I repeatedly acknowledged that Thatcher did NOT align herself with the women's movement. What I said was that regardless of Thatcher's views, her life was an example that supports feminism.

I like what you said about real change occurring at an individual level because society is made up of individuals. I do think feminism has succeeded as dramatically as it has in large part because countless individual women rolled up their sleeves in the face of naysayers and excelled in areas of endeavor traditionally considered outside women's purview. Thatcher was not the only one.

Anonymous said...

I'm so glad the conversations has flowed to its terminous with "patriarchy" in time for my bedtime. I'll sleep soundly.

Tip

J.R. said...

Veronica,

("NOTE: the existence of extreme patriarchy in Saudi Arabia does not render less extreme sexism and discrimination in the west irrelevant.")

Thank you for that disclaimer, but I was under the impression that Western feminism has claimed a "War on Women," so I'm not sure the disclaimer was necessary.

In a time where the U.S. is fighting wars on a couple fronts, does the term "War on Women" sound a little more like hyperbole to you? Or can you start to see the "aggrieved class or social unity movement that diminishes the impact of the individual" that Tip mentioned?

Regarding the government's role, I believe it's a bad game, politically and in general, when legislation is being made on the platform of "equality." If you ask ten different feminists today what kind of equality feminism is aiming to achieve and you'll most likely get ten different/vague answers. And so forcing people/government to see the population as disparate groups in need of quotas is NOT my idea of equality nor empowerment. It promotes victimhood and splinters up society, even when opportunities exist.

R.I.P. Margaret Thatcher. True leader of individual rights.

Veronica said...

Tip, ha ha. See I knew the term "patriarchy" would clear the room. But do you seriously dispute the historic existence of norms and rules that enshrine or encourage rule by men? Did not virtually every western religion until about 40 years ago, and the Catholic Church even today, limit their leadership to men only? Do not various brands of fundamentalism still teach women to submit to their husbands? Was it not commonly understood that the man was the head of the household? Were the most lucrative and powerful jobs frequently or even usually closed to women? Did I hallucinate my entire childhood? Isn't patriarchy precisely what those of you who are opposed to feminism defending? If not, what are we arguing about?

JR, the War on Women is a political catch phrase designed to convey in a pithy way the widespread efforts by various branches of the GOP throughout the country to oppose, rollback or interfere with women's rights and autonomy. Obviously, it is hyperbole in the sense that the GOP is not literally shooting at women with guns. As Jon Stewart has pointed, the right has applied similar rhetoric to far more trivial matters, such as the alleged War on Christmas. I am not sure how this pertains to what I said about Saudi Arabia? Again just because the term "war" is hyperbole does not mean that the GOP's hostility towards women's rights is trivial.

Veronica said...

In my insomnia tonight, I am learning some very interesting things about Margaret Thatcher. I did not enter this discussion to prove that she was a feminist. In fact, I assumed she was not since she said she was not. But . . .

She did vote to legalize abortion (though she later defended her decision by stating it applied only to the early days under controlled conditions) and to decriminalize male homosexual acts, the latter vote way back in the 60s. In the 1980s she is said to have spoken up in favor of the ordination of women in the Anglican Church. And in 1952, she published an editorial arguing that it is a "pity" for women to cut short their careers when thy marry. She noted that women need only take a "short break" when families arrive and then resume working. She argued that women should aspire to the pinnacles of the professions so as not to betray the movement for women's equality. The editorial is here:

http://www.margaretthatcher.org/document/100936

Hmmm, if it walks like a duck, and talks like a duck . . .
I think that if she hadn't happened to become a wildly successful world leader who ushered in an era of fiscal and foreign policy conservatism in the UK, she would be considered by many here exactly the sort of mean feminist who supposedly "dictates" to women what their life plan should be. Why, she was saying much the same things as Linda Hirshman and Sheryl Sandberg way back in 1952.

Anonymous said...

I guess there will always be those who see themselves as the victims of the male hegemony - who see every situation underscored by gender and personal entitlement, even when all doors are open.

I'm not sure who you're trying to convince Veronica, but it's certainly entertaining.

Dennis said...

Isn't interesting how Veronica has attempted to make this her blog. Like all feminists she has to control the conversation. No matter the subject it always is "nudged" towards feminism and how very important Veronica is to the world. Funny how she seems to miss all the ills that feminism has foisted on the world. Abortion, infanticide, statism, the slow destruction of Constitutional protections and equal treatment under the law, poisoning the well of human interaction, the degrading of what it is to be a male or even a female, the desire to control what people say or the thoughts they are allowed to think, the need for hate speech laws, the thought that they now have the right to determine who has a right to live or die, the concept that religions have to meet feminists demands no matter how it affects the tenets of that religion, the idea of pro-choice as long as it is the choice that feminists dictate, the fact that women are supposed to only lead life that is determined to meet feminists' demands, et al al.
I agreed with early feminism and the desire for equal pay for equal work, but feminism has turned into malignant disease that wants to control. One can see it demonstrated clearly in Veronica's comments. Like William Wilberforce who was anti-slavery, Nelson Mandela who was anti-apartheid, I am happily antifeminist. I don't have to be nice to someone who desires to control every aspect of my life. Humorous that Veronica is so intelligent that she just knew that saying "patriarchy" was going to cause a stir. Does not that one comment give one a peek into what Veronica actually thinks.
Anon @ 3:56,
It does seem that she spends a lot of time trying to convince herself. The world has been so mean to her and men are such beasts. Isn't it nice to have Veronica tell us all what we think, feel, believe et al because we all know how feminists know everything and can run the world so much better. There was a reason that Thatcher was anti-feminist because she was prescient enough to see what is was going to become.
It has become rather entertaining reading the machination of a thoroughly self absorbed individual who seems to need attention. I am reminded of the words of Rhett Butler, "Frankly my dear I don't give a damn." I suspect Webutante would get the history and import behind that comments, but "its all about me" is never going to figure it out.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

For my part I am very happy that Veronica has been contributing to the comments. Her contributions have elicited a great deal of interesting and thought commentary, so, I'm afraid that this is one of those rare occasions where I do am not in complete agreement with Dennis.

Sam L. said...

Of course feminism is lefty: It divides, rather than unites, based on "you must do it our way, or else".

n.n said...

Veronica:

My respect for any individual person does not influence or diminish my respect for any other person. It is for this reason that I do not support discrimination by class, gender, ethnicity, etc. I do not support denigration of individual dignity except in extraordinary circumstances and only for individuals directly harmed. The overriding concern is always that compromise of basic principles, including individual dignity and sanctity of human life, will sponsor corruption.

Anonymous said...

Veronica @5:16:

If I was describing the "patriarchy" that you are deriding, do you seriously believe I would have written the glowing comments I have about Margaret Thatcher? What Thatcher stood for is just as important for me as it is any woman. That's an odd place for a patriarchal, misogynist 40-something to be, don't you think?

And if the Catholic Church wants to have a clerics who are exclusively men, why do you care? Are you going to mandate that the Catholic Church do what you want them to do? Are you suggesting that a male-only clergy is wrong in some capacity? Cannot a man have a special capacity in any religious institution? Does this choice preclude or diminish the fact that the Catholic Church educates, clothes, nurses and feeds more people everyday than any institution or group on the Earth?

Consider something that our friend Mr. Obama is not willing to... that this country was founded on freedom of religion. Not minority religions, ALL religions. And that freedom is based on the fact that any government which attempts to control the religious or spiritual mind is engaging in abject thought control. We're not talking about brainwashing... that's for public schools. We're talking about tyranny over the mind. That is a very scary government indeed. I don't want to live in a country like that. I assume you would shudder yourself, if the thought police came after you. And they'd have to get to me before they got to you, because I oppose all tyranny over the mind of humankind.

You know, Veronica, we're not all that different... you and I. What I oppose is this ludicrous, fanatical idea of feminism based exclusively on a woman's gender identity. I could be wrong, but you seem to think it's grand. What I see is an ideology that looks at the world through the prism of gender. You see one that champions equality. But you can't see equality through that lens, because you're only paying attention to what's wrong based on one half of the equation. It doesn't work. I stand with much of what you've said, in principle. However, the reality is that the "gender feminists" I describe do not want women to be equal to men, they want see women being superior to men. They think men are brutish idiots. That is what I oppose. If that's not your brand of feminism, great... just consider that the standard-bearers of the cause tend to be pretty out there, and you might want to choose a different label before they learn what you believe and then label you as an apostate, too.

Tip

Veronica said...

Oh, I really appreciate the kind words, Stuart and Tip! Much obliged!

Veronica said...

Hi Tip,

I never accused of being a patriarchal, misogynist 40-something! Again, acknowledging the existence of patriarchy (a set of rules, customs and/or beliefs that favor or enshrine rule by men) does not imply that individual men are the enemy.

In terms of the Catholic Church: The Catholic Church is an example of a patriarchal institution - proof in fact that patriarchy exists because it is an institution that only permits rule by men over the church. Is it any of my business as a non- Catholic? I'd say that it most certainly is. Although its influence has waned somewhat in the west, it is still a worldwide institution of enormous power and influence. The all male clergy and hierarchy normalizes the notion of women's subordination within social hierarchy. It purports to tell women how God wants them to manage their fertility. It's representatives ( such as the US Council of Bishops) lobby Congress to try to impose this views as legislation affecting all of us. They and those influence by the Church work hard to influence public opinion and the political process in order to interfere with all women's choices with respect to reproduction. Now the Church should have the right and freedom to do all these things, but it is certainly the business of feminists of all religious backgrounds to criticize the Church (and harshly so) for what they say and do in this regard. And it's not just about picking on the Catholic Church, whose positive charitable contributions I do recognize. We should and do pick on the Southern Baptists and Reformed Calvinists, Wahabbi Muslims, Haredi Jews, and any other religious group that consigns women to second class status.

I think you and I probably DO have a lot in common! I like looking for commonalities with people who are opposed to me on this issue. Feminists are not monsters, but reasonable human beings. We come to different conclusions from you because we are differently situated in society, because we have been treated differently since birth than you because of our sex. (At least those of us who are women. Of course, there are male feminists too.)

I see very few instances in which feminists want female superiority. You did raise the good point (maybe in another thread) about special benefits for women-owned businesses. I do agree that that is probably not fair today; we are, I think, arguably past the point where women owned businesses in most fields are facing gender based obstacles any longer.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

You might want to take a look at Michael Carroll's book: The Cult of the Virgin Mary... he sees the patriarchy/matriarchy question slightly differently.