Wednesday, April 10, 2013

The Silence of the Feminists

Almost all points of view have a place in the marketplace of ideas.

Considering how often we discuss feminism on this blog, I think it worthwhile to examine perspectives that differ from mine.

Yesterday, classics professor Bruce Thornton offered some much needed perspective on Margaret Thatcher and feminism.

Thornton believes that feminists should be embracing Thatcher as a true feminist heroine. In fact, some feminist commenters on this blog have done just that. They receive credit for integrity.

If, as I believe, feminism is an ideology, holding the right beliefs counts for far more than achievement, especially when the woman achiever holds the wrong beliefs. 

If feminism is about women succeeding in the world, it should embrace Margaret Thatcher. If it doesn't, then perhaps it is more about the ideology than women's success.

Thornton compares Margaret Thatcher with Hillary Clinton, the woman everyone seems to want as our next president. When it comes to accomplishments, there is no comparison

In his words:

Compared to [Thatcher], feminist hero Hillary Clinton is a rebooted version of a Mad-Men haute bourgeois housewife whose success comes not from her own achievements, but from her connection to and dependence on a politically talented man who ended up President, a man who humiliated her publicly with his juvenile, sordid philandering that reinforced every stereotype of the loyal mate who sacrifices herself on the altar of her husband’s career.

But then Thornton makes another, excellent point. Feminists who live in the country that affords women the greatest amount of freedom and opportunity are quick to take offense against the least slight, but they have fallen into abject silence when faced with the raw misogyny of Islamic cultures.

Thornton writes:

In fact, where have the feminists been the last ten years, when the West has been battling the same illiberal oppressive religion that justifies polygamy, misogyny, and genital mutilation? By invading Afghanistan, George Bush liberated more truly suffering and oppressed women than all the Women’s Studies courses, seminars, books, speeches, sit-ins, demonstrations, and articles put together. Yet the progressive ideology and multicultural delusions that define feminism required Bush to be the villain and warmonger of cartoonish leftism, no matter how many Afghan women benefitted from his war.

The silence of feminism, with some few exceptions, on the oppressive theology of Islam is exhibit number one in the corruption of liberal equity feminism by grievance politics, cultural relativism, and illiberal progressive ideology. While feminist professors and journalists wax hysterical over trivial or even illusory slights against women––Obama complimenting a beautiful state Attorney General, or ex-Harvard president Larry Summers speculating that there just maybe might be inherent differences in men and women when it comes to physics and math––millions of Muslim women across the globe are subject to honor killings, mutilation, polygamy, and sexual abuse by men just because they wanted some say over their lives. But drunk on multiculturalism, these feminists are silent, preferring to attack a Western culture that has made them free and independent, rather than confront the biggest, most lethal misogynist institution on the planet.

The silence is telling.


Bobbye said...

Feminism is not about achievment, but about a New World Order in which Husband is not the authority and children are not the purpose. But the nature of women is to Shut up, Sit down and Do what you are told in the face of real authority, such as the leaders of the Western World which tend to favor Islam. This makes them very useful in growing a powerful government; yes even an Islamic one.

Kristi said...

Like you, Stuart, I long ago realized feminism had nothing to do with women succeeding.

Where's the outrage over Kermit Gosnell? They want to talk about a war on women, this one actually involves dead women. Add to that the silence over sex selection abortions that have targeted females, which also involves dead women.

The funny thing about the whole compliment to the public figure kerfuffle is that Sarah Palin suffered much, much worse (and actually really worse because she wasn't afflicted by mild compliments, rather crude, sexist remarks).

Where were these people who are up in arms over Obama's comment when Palin was verbally attacked? Oh yeah, a bunch of them claim she isn't really a woman. I must have missed that day in Biology 101 when they taught us that its your ideology that actually makes you a woman.

Since I'm conservative and don't buy into feminism, I'll have to break the news to my husband that he is actually in a same sex marriage. He'll be surprised.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

The Kermit Gosnell story is one of the great horrors of our time. And yet, feminists and the mainstream media have nothing to say about it.... I sort of get it, but still the silence is inexcusable.

Anonymous said...

I'm a feminist and I read your blog regularly, mostly for amusement. I remain silent on your hysterical obsession with "feminism," though, because your comments about "feminsim" and your characterizations of what "feminism" is are just too ignorant to engage with. Honestly, actual feminists in the real world go about their business not deigning to engage their feminism with the idiot populace very much, whose notion of what "feminism" is basically derives from an Enjoli commercial, c. 1972.

There is nothing to do but stand back and laugh at the spectacle. People who have absolutely no idea what they are talking about yet never hesitate to blather their opinions about it.

I assure you actual feminists do not care: you are doing nothing but exorcising your OWN fantasies about feminism in public. It's amusing to listen to.

Veronica said...

I would say that feminism IS and should be an ideology. Specifically, feminism should be considered an ideology that values and emphasizes the social, legal and cultural equality, dignity and autonomy of women. Merely being a high achieving woman is in itself NOT enough to render a woman a feminist, much less a feminist heroine.

If mere achievement, by itself, were enough to make a woman a feminist, then feminism would encompass a number of women (like Phyllis Schlafly to give the most obvious example) who are tough and smart and accomplished, yet who advocate traditional gender roles for women, including even the submission of a wife to her husband. If we are to call every prominent woman a "feminist," the term "feminist" will lose all meaning. We need the term "feminism" because we need a term, a shorthand if you will, to express the ideological orientation I've described.

(I will note that I did not claim in the prior thread Thatcher was a feminist because of her achievements. Initially I said I admired her because of her achievements, and that her example shows why women's equality is a good idea. I didn't conclude that she herself was feminist until I found evidence that she believed in certain things, such as the importance of women embracing the professions, the right to abortion (at least in the early stages of pregnancy), and the ordination of women clergy. It was those BELIEFS that make her feminist, not her achievements in themselves.

Veronica said...

I also have to register a vigorous protest to the notion that feminists are silent as to the misogyny perpetrated by Islamic regimes. Nothing could be further from the truth. Women's organizations such as the Feminist Majority were protesting the Taliban's brutal system of gender apartheid since long before 9/11, long before the issue was on the right wing radar. Feminist charities such as the Global Fund for Women transfer scads of western money to feminist groups in the Islamic world (as well as to women's groups around the globe). Western feminist groups have worked closely with Somali women's groups to strategize ways to end the practice of female genital mutilation. The widely read feminist blogs regularly cover these issues. I am sure there are many other examples; I am only sharing what I happen to know about off the top of my head.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I' glad that I can brighten up Anon 6:48's days, but we would all be happier if she would enlighten us about what feminism really is. For the most part, when I write about feminism I quote feminists.

Anyway, Anon would make a more positive statement for feminism if she presented her ideas. Otherwise she leaves one with the impression that she can do no better than offer a contemptuous rant.

And thanks, as always, to Veronica for offering her views. It is true that some feminist groups have protested the Islamic treatment of women, but somehow their words have not occupied anywhere near the space that protestations about what Obama said about Kamala Harris.

Jay Leno's wife led a movement of international protest against the Taliban treatment of women, but how many feminists applauded G W Bush for overthrowing the Taliban?

How many feminists, Thornton asked, rushed to defend Ayaan Hirsi Ali?

Among those women who are leading the debate about the Islamic treatment of women are Phyllis Chesler and Pamela Geller.

We agree that feminism is an ideology. I trust that most people understand that it is leftist ideology.

If it's an ideology, then what happens when the demands of the ideology contradict what a woman CEO like Marissa Mayer, for example, believes is best for her company? Is she responsible to the ideology or responsible to her shareholders?

Bobbye said...

@ Virginia
The idea that feminism or any Identity Movement is about equality is laughable. Feminism is about moral and legal (especially legal) superiority for women. And in marriage politics the feminist have won. NWO- husband will not be your " boss" and you will not stay home and raise children in the event YOU choose not to abort them.

Anonymous said...

Wow, Anonymous @8:28A:

Feminism is worth considering because ideas have consequences.

Feminists who run around being "independent, autonomous... high-powered" is not what is nauseating about the movement. The challenge with feminism is not the people who have the independence, autonomy and high power and are satisfied (like Margaret Thatcher). It's the women who do all they do for "the cause" and prattle on about how they suffer and how much things need to change to suit their subjective, elitist, idealistic sensibilities.

The feminism pointed out on this blog is the sort promulgated by those who refuse to play the economic, social and political game as it exists. They say the rules must change for their benefit because it's all so unfair. They want their cake and want to eat it, too. Let's say it is unfair. We all encounter unfairness, all of us. Feminists seem to whine so much about the lot of feminine existence in a "man's world," portraying themselves as victims. In that vein, it is maddening because it is taken seriously. In the past year, these lamentations are offered as part of a crusade to defeat the sinister "War on Women" and other victim-oriented nonsense. It is a fiction.

When is it enough? This blog is full of such stories... the feminist movement provides so much material. It would be funny if it wasn't so sad, hilarious if it was only a joke. But it's not. It's taken seriously. And it creates special opportunities for women as a "protected class" based on immutable characteristics. I see it every single day firsthand. How is that just? Isn't that just more of it... rescue of the oppressed woman? When does it all end?

It never ends because being part of an aggrieved class in today's America affords one from said class special advantages. It's not about equality. Hillary Clinton didn't need a helping hand to get where she is today. The beneficiaries of so many of these carve-outs don't go to the poor and disadvantaged. They go to the elite and powerful as a tool for advantage, all while loudly complaining that their economic opportunity is restrained. This is untrue. It has never been so good to be a woman in America. Never. Still, the drumbeat of victimhood drones on. The society is never, ever doing enough.

Anonymous said...

Very articulate Anonymous @8:28A. Ha!

Sam L. said...

"If, as I believe, feminism is an ideology, holding the right beliefs counts for far more than achievement, especially when the woman achiever holds the wrong beliefs."

I've seen no evidence to the contrary. They HATE wrong beliefs. (See: Sarah Palin.) (And Ann Romney.)

Veronica said...

Hi Stuart,

I think sometimes feminists appear to conservative eyes on the issue of misogyny in the Islamic world because we are very sensitive about not wanting to condescend to women of other cultures. As women, we are used to being condescended to and told what's best for us, and we don't want to pass that dynamic along to Muslim women. As such, the western feminist strategy often involves supporting Muslim feminist groups and letting them take the lead and identify their own priorities. But as I pointed out above, western feminists have long worked to oppose abuses of women in other parts of the world, including the Islamic world ( as well as abuses within Islamic communities in the west).

Although I agreed with the Bush administration's overthrow of the Taliban, I did not applaud it on feminist grounds nor would I expect feminist groups to do so. Bush rightly overthrew the Taliban because they were harboring a terrorist organization that committed a major atrocity on American soil. The fact that in doing so, he rid Afghanistan's women of a particularly repressive misogynist regime was merely a happy coincidence. I haven't heard him or other American officials, except for feminist Hillary Clinton, weighing in on the appalling gender apartheid in Saudi Arabia.

I love Ayaan Hirsi Ali and would be happy to defend her if she needs defending from something. Where do I sign up?

Oh, and thank you for allowing me to opine in your space. I'm enjoying it but if my participation gets tiresome, please let me know! I promise I would not be offended. (I'm a big believer that blogs exist for the purposes of their owners and commenting is a privilege, not a right!)

Veronica said...

Anonymous at 11:56 am,

Women are not a special "protected class" under American law. Everyone is protected from sex discrimination under Title VII. So men are a "protected class" too. Title VII prohibits discrimination against men based on sex. Men can and do sue successfully for sex discrimination.


Why is it wrong to condemn beliefs one disagrees with? Don't commenters here do that all the time?

Anonymous said...

Veronica @3:47P:

I don't know Stuart's position (it's his blog, after all), but PLEASE do not disappear. I am thrilled that you are with us and delight in what you share. Honest. That's what getting ideas out in the open is all about. Thanks for being here.

And by the way, I forgot to sign off as myself on that post about the "protected class" bit. I get that women are not a protected class under Title VII, but I assure you that there minority-owned (read: including women) companies do receive preferential treatment by governments and large corporations. I erred by calling them a protected class, but stand by my comments based on preferential set-asides. It's grotesque and inefficient, and a fleecing of the taxpayer and supplier businesses. "Everyone" may be protected against sexual discrimination in theory, but I assure you this is not the case. It's so blatantly discriminatory, it's sickening. Most of the businesses that are actively discriminated are headed-up by people who weren't even born when Title VII was enacted.


Anonymous said...

RE: my Anonymous post of 6:31P:

I apologize for my grammar in that last post. Not good... or, rather, I done bad. I hate this interface. I should just write in Word and then cut-and-paste it in. Sorry.


Stuart Schneiderman said...

Re: Veronica 3;47-- allow me to second Tip's opinion. I too am delighted that Veronica has been contributing to the comments on the blog. I too see the blog as an open forum where people can engage in reasoned debate. I will say for my part that I am honored at the high quality of the comments.

So,thank you, Veronica.

Sam L. said...

Veronica, I see a difference between disagreeing with someone's argument/reasoning, and condemning it.

And how 'bout that Gosnell? Killing future feminists would seem to be something a feminist would condemn.

Veronica said...

Oops I thanked Tip and Stuart for the kind words in another thread by accident. It's been a long day but thank you! I'm really enjoying this. Will respond further after some sleep!

Veronica said...

Hi Sam,

I just wanted to respond to your question about Kermit Gosnell. By all accounts, this was a very dangerous man who let a woman die under his care, provided grossly negligent medical care (to say the least) and killed babies. Obviously, assuming he is guilty, any decent person would condemn what he did. It has nothing to do with "killing future feminists." Murder is appalling period, regardless of the potential ideological leanings of the victims. There is nothing controversial here. Nobody thinks what Gosnell did was okay.

Mogumbo Gono said...

"Anonymous" could not be any more of a hypocrite. If she applied her so-called principles in an even-handed way, Hillary Clinton would be rightly dismissed as the self-serving, anti-feminist politician that she is and always has been.

It is amusing to see the hypocrisy of the Left, which mouths the words, but which rejects them in silence when the shoe is on the other foot. "Anonymous" is a perfect example of that self-serving hypocrisy.

It turns out that, adjusted for age and childbearing, women now earn significantly MORE than men [from 8% – 15%, depending on the city].

But I am sure that "Anonymous" will try and find a way to negate that fact, since it also makes a hypocrisy of her feminist Agenda.