Progressives are always bemoaning the fact that many young women say, “I’m not a feminist but…”, then these same young women demand to be judged on their merits, not their sex, and are angry if they perceive this as not being the case. This much more level playing field Gen X and millennials demand was fought for and gained by feminists of yore, progressives preen, so fall in line with our feminist agenda.
Not so fast, I say. I’m a member of third-wave feminism of the 1960s, ’70s and ’80s, and witnessed this movement moving further and further to the left, until its total dominance by the hard-left harridans of today. Witness the #MeToo movement where a woman’s accusation must be believed no matter the lack of evidence—except perhaps if you’re Justin Trudeau who wriggled off his petard with his hypocrisy intact—or character, for that matter. But that very hypocrisy—apply one standard to your left-liberal ‘woke’ friends and another one to conservatives of all stripes—is hardwired into the progressive troops.
A major motivation for me to get involved with Calgary’s Status of Women Action Committee (SWAC) in the 1970s was the grossly unfair treatment of farm women in the event of a divorce. Having grown up on a farm in Saskatchewan, I knew how hard farm women worked, how their contribution was every bit as valuable as their husband’s—in fact, most farm wives worked alongside their husbands in the fields and barnyards PLUS bore and looked after the children and the house—how without them many farming operations would fail or be considerably diminished.
But legally, wives had no value.
To briefly summarize, in 1968 when the marriage broke down, Irene Murdoch, the wife of an Alberta rancher, sought a share of the ranch property she had helped build up in 25 years of marriage. The judge found that the ‘routine work of a ranch wife’ did not justify a share of the property. Murdoch pursued her case to the Supreme Court of Canada only to be slapped down again in 1973 when it denied her appeal AND added insult to injury by ordering her to pay a portion of the court costs!
This was the prevailing attitude in that era, and I had to threaten to change banks before RBC would give me a $2,000.00 loan even though, from the beginning of our marriage, all of our earnings went into a joint account and my husband and I jointly owned our home.
The utter injustice of the Murdoch ruling galvanized women to protest the massive unfairness of the law, triggering intensive lobbying across Canada for family law reform. In Alberta, the Matrimonial Property Act was proclaimed on January 1, 1980, with the other provinces enacting similar legislation in the same period.
It was a victory celebrated by all women and men of good will.
The 1980s & 1990s
But as the ’80s and ’90s progressed, the left arm of the feminist movement became stronger and stronger and further and further left, that is, more and more socialist. This was no longer a movement to align women with men in the social hierarchy, but to move them to the head of the line with special privileges embedded in their sex.
In the mid-’90s, Katha Pollitt wrote Reasonable Creatures, a book I could endorse for its reasonable stance. “For me, to be a feminist is to answer the question ‘Are women human?’ with a yes. It is not about whether women are better than, worse than or identical with men. …It’s about justice, fairness and access to the broad range of human experience.” As I say, perfectly reasonable.
The new millennium, however, has seen reasonableness set aside as feminists continue their attack on males, especially white males, and Western civilization, especially because its development rests largely on the actions and ideas of white males.
In her latest screed in The Nation, Pollitt is leaning ever leftwards to excuse the vulgarity and stupidity of Democrat congresswomen. When Rashida Tlaib, a newly elected Muslim woman, said, “we’re gonna impeach the m…f…r.”, Pollitt scolds the people who scolded Tlaib on her manners and morals, “You’d think Congress was a Baptist prayer meeting,” she writes, ignoring the fact that Tlaib didn’t say this in Congress but at a public gathering with her 12-year-old son standing beside her, and excusing her vulgarity by citing instances of male politicians’ vulgarity. If men can swear in public, so can women, is Pollitt’s conclusion. Lowest common denominator, indeed.
She thinks it’s wonderful that women can curse in public and not apologize, giving credit to the Women’s Marches for awakening women to this wonderful right—marches with three of the four co-chairs, Linda Sarsour, Tamika Mallory and Carmen Perez, expressing love for Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan and sharing his virulent anti-Semitic views. Even this hatred of Jews doesn’t persuade Pollitt to boycott the marches. Her reasoning? “I don’t want to stomp on the grass roots and help destroy a multiracial movement that has transformed so much for women in such a short time. So, as an atheist half-Jew I will be marching in DC with a contingent of Jewish women…” Shades of Jews betraying Jews to the Nazis hoping to save their own skins. But it’s ‘first, they come for the Jews, then they come for …” until Hitler/Stalin/Mao dictates the way we live.
While Pollitt and her radical feminist colleagues call it ‘likability’ and eschew it for women, I call it ‘civility’ and posit that it is fundamental to civilization; in fact, it is part of the very word. We reject it at the peril of our Western liberal democracies and edge closer to the brutish, barbaric world of totalitarianism, whether of the communist or autocratic flavour.
Crudity and anger rule
Books of Anger
But Pollitt and her radical feminist colleagues celebrate crudity and anger, defining them as something to cultivate rather than something to weed out and control. Rebecca Traister’s Good and Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger was released last October to gushing praise by the usual suspects: “timely and absorbing” by Booklist, “a hopeful, maddening compendium of righteous feminist anger” by Vanity Fair, “urgent and enlightening” by Washington Post. And the New York Times’ interview lets Traister gush, “What they all (Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Gloria Steinem among other feminist icons) have in common is that at some point they found they could no longer tolerate the conditions under which they lived. In other words, they got mad.” But I would counter that they didn’t reduce their language usage to trash talk laced with expletives; rather they developed cogent arguments that convinced the powerful—only men in the beginning, then mostly men and a few women, now men and women of almost equal measure—that their demands were reasonable and just.
As Heather Wilhelm writes in the National Review (October 29, 2018, Rage Is the Machine), “’All white-hot rage, all the time’ might as well be the official credo of today’s feminist movement. And, of course, the ugliest example of this was the screaming of profanity, tearing of hair and gnashing of teeth on public display during the confirmation hearings for Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court of the US. And feminists have jumped on the bandwagon to publish whining book after whining book that hit the bestseller list and make these angry women boatloads of money. No wonder this voracious reader avoids bestsellers as the trash most of them are.
The saddest—and enraging—part of this whole faux outrage is that these women are the most privileged in the history of our human race, living in Western liberal democracies where their rights are on par with men. They never once turn their energy and anger to combat the horrors that many women in the unenlightened part of the world are subjected to. In fact, they often champion the very religion that defines women as subservient to men—Islam—and denigrate the religion that underlies our way of life—Christianity and its predecessor, Judaism.
And now we have #MeToo and #BelieveSurvivors
With rage trumping reason, a movement that started out with a worthy aim—to gain justice for women who have been sexually assaulted by males of every description—quickly degenerated into a witch hunt. The foundation of our justice system—the principle of all people treated equally the presumption of their innocence until proven guilty—was decried by feminists and their leftie tribe with demands that women must be specially and believed with or without evidence. The sheer horror of no due process, with visions of the Salem witch trials dancing in the heads of reasonable people, made no purchase with the #MeToo and #BelieveSurvivors groups. Not surprising, I would opine, because the majority of these groups’ adherents know little history, so they cannot see themselves in the Salem-witch-trials mirror.
Outrageous example #1– Emma Sulkowski
Emma Sulkowski, Columbia University’s infamous mattress girl, who had an on-again, off-again relationship with another student, Paul Nungesser, filed a campus-rape charge against him when he declined to see her again. Her texts gave the lie to her accusation, but she was lionized by the lefties nevertheless. She was even invited to President Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address to further “amplify her voice”—the usual hypocrisy from that crowd.
Outrageous example #2 – NYU professor
And then there was this highly respected lesbian comp-lit professor at NYU who had a gay male graduate student that she is accused of sexually harassing. He filed a complaint and the university decided in his favour. All hell broke loose with her admiring colleagues writing a letter protesting the decision, calling the accuser ‘malicious’. Then the professor tried to wiggle out of the whole debacle by claiming it was an innocent flirtation. Tell that to the judge in a ‘female accuses male’ scenario.
Instead of burnishing freedom and justice, everything radical feminists and their leftie tribe touch tarnishes and turns toxic in their crucible of crudity and anger.
Obfuscating women’s equality in the world of work
The knee-jerk mantra that women are paid less than men for the same work is based more on feelings than evidence. (Right up there as chief cheerleader for this claim is our very own prime minister, not surprising because Justin Trudeau bases most of his policies on feelings, not facts.)
As evidence, I give you the following from Rod Liddle’s column, The Spectator, September 22, 2018:
Commenting on a new study out of Sweden, Charlotte Gill of the Times wrote, “Some feminists resemble those people who used to think the Earth was flat. Show them any evidence otherwise and there is nothing, just silence. Feminist obliviousness is now clear because scientists and writers are having to constantly repeat their findings.” The study showed that the greater the equality of opportunity in society between men and women, the greater the differentiation in what men and women choose to do. For instance, in Britain’s National Health Service, 96% of speech therapists are female while 81% of surgeons are male. Another example, with a great deal of time and money devoted to encouraging girls to take physics over the past 30+ years, the proportion of females taking physics has plateaued at about 20%, falling to about 15% at a Masters level. And the killing example is computer science, a subject born in the age of anti-sexism, with the traditional split of about 20% female/80% male.
My experience living and working for some 50 years in Calgary underlines this conclusion. It’s been heartening to see the proportion of female engineers in the oil & gas industry increase over the years—but increase to 20-25%, not to 50%. And when children arrive, many women step back—and want to step back—to less-demanding corporate positions or even to part-time. My personal example was the choice to not live-work-breathe the business when I started Editor’s Ink; instead, I chose to pursue work that allowed me to shut down and travel to see my sons and their families at least a couple times a year. But the research shows that to grow a business, the founder must devote all her energy and time to the enterprise, at least for the first few years. Like all things human, one can’t have it all. So my choice of personal satisfaction over corporate success resulted in an earlier retirement than I would have wished. Regrets, I’ve had a few, but never enough to wish I had done otherwise.
Old-fashioned advice from an old woman
Life is always full of challenges, but for women in the Western world, a cornucopia of choice is our challenge. And crudity and anger seem a shoddy way to go about making them. Advice is a dime a dozen, but this passage resonated with me, so perhaps it will resonate with all the young women wondering what choice to make.
“In a rather dreamy voice, Mrs Palfrey went on, ‘Sometimes, when I was a young, married woman, I longed to be freed—free of nursery chores and social obligations, one’s duty, d’you know? And free of worries, too, about one’s loved ones—childish ailments and ageing parents, money troubles, everyone at times feels the longing—to run away from it all. But it’s really not to be desired—and I realize that that’s the only way of being free—to be needed.’ He seemed as if he were going to interrupt her, but she went smoothly on, turning the rings on her fingers, looking across at the fire. ‘My daughter no longer needs me—indeed, her dread is that it might one day be the other way about. You’ve seen how much Desmond needs me. And there’s no one I know who could ever be a burden to me now.’”
Mrs Palfrey at the Claremont by Elizabeth Taylor, 1971
A real emotion, beautifully written.