Friday, January 8, 2010

The Economist Invents Its Own Feminism

Who would go to The Economist to find out about the latest trends in feminism? Nobody in their right mind, of course. When this kind of magazine comes up with its own perspective on feminism, the result is hilarious.

The authors and the readers of The Economist are so terrified of feminism that they need to convince themselves that today's feminism has become the exact opposite of what it is. Feminism is not into defending gender equality any more, they claim. According to The Economist, today's feminists defend their reight to be "less aggressive" and "more nurtuting":
The new feminism contends that women are wired differently from men, and not just in trivial ways. They are less aggressive and more consensus-seeking, less competitive and more collaborative, less power-obsessed and more group-oriented. Judy Rosener, of the University of California, Irvine, argues that women excel at “transformational” and “interactive” management. Peninah Thomson and Jacey Graham, the authors of “A Woman’s Place is in the Boardroom”, assert that women are “better lateral thinkers than men” and “more idealistic” into the bargain. Feminist texts are suddenly full of references to tribes of monkeys, with their aggressive males and nurturing females.

I don' know who the illiterate authors of the above-quoted texts are. What they say is stupid and uninformed. There are anti-feminist ideologues who use this "women-don't-need-success-they-just-need-to-nurture-men-and-babies" swill to brainwash the younger generations into despising feminism. Calling them "new feminists" in order to make people think feminism is stupid is wrong and annoying.

The author of this weird article proceeds to berate these imaginary "new feminists" for pushing the agenda of "gender differences." This, of course, is one of the most common devices aimed at discrediting a person or a movement. You ascribe to them some really idiotic ideas that they never held in the first place and then chide them for holding such obviously wrong views. Of course, no feminist can support this gender-differences rubbish. Also, nobody who considers themselves a feminist would react with anything other than utter disgust to these ramblings about monkey-like nurturing and cooperative women.

And the only monkeys I have encountered recently in discussions about feminism are the ones who wrote and published this idiotic article.


Izgad said...

I would define feminism as the belief that woman should be free to make decisions and control their lives on par with men. In theory at least, this would leave the door open for women to believe that they should stay home and raise the kids. I believe in freedom. That includes the right to shoot heroine and blow your brains out. Not that I encourage either.
Being a man, I like to think of myself as a J. S. Mill style feminist. I believe in human progress through free government, education and rational thought. I am not about to leave fifty percent of human beings out. That being said I have no interest in a search and destroy mission against the patriarchal structures in our society.

Clarissa said...

Well, now you've gone and created your own definition of feminism as well. Sees like everyone needs one these days.

On a serious note, what you call feminism simply isn't. It is an attitude of condescension towards women. Because if BOTH men and women start exercising their right to stay home freely, who will work and make money to support all these happy stay-at-homers?

Izgad said...

If the man in a relationship wishes to stay home and raise the kids and the woman wants to go work then that is ok too. People (men and women) should be allowed to make their own choices (and live with the consequences of those choices).

Clarissa said...

But what is both people start exercising this right on a regular basis?

I'm not suggesting anybody introduce any laws preventing people from not working. I am suggesting we reexamine the entire set of beliefs and preconceived notions about gender that inform everything that gets said on the subject.

In reality, this so-called "right to stay home" is not as readily available to men as it is to women. According to all most recent research on the subject, male identity still hinges for the most part on the capacity to "be a good provider." Feminism that does not address this atrocity is no feminism, in my view. Feminism that "defends women's right to not work" is also not feminism simply because women have had this "right" for quite some time now. It hardly needs to be defended as opposed to my right to pay equity which I still do not have.

Izgad said...

"as opposed to my right to pay equity which I still do not have."

What right to pay equity?

I think it is important to distinguish between things we believe are moral and things we want the government to step in and give us. Rights means government. Do you also want to bring in the government to solve the problem of men seeing themselves as the ones who should work?

Clarissa said...

Izgad, you are using exactly the very same strategy I criticize in this post. :-) You impute some truly weird things that I never suggested to me in order to dilute the argument this way.

The discussion is not about morality or governmental intrusion. It's about feminism. The main goal of feminism is to achieve the reality where people will not be treated differently because of the form of their genitals. One of the results of such a reality will, of course, be pay equity.

What you define as feminism ("women should have a right to not work") isn't. It's patriarchy. In patriarchal societies women have this right. I don't see why feminism should defend the goals of patriarchy. It is doing pretty well on its own.

Anonymous said...

I think there is plenty for feminists to fight about in the US. Just take the US work culture. Why not to fight about real work/life balance for both men and women and for non-medieval childcare infrastructure? Then nobody will have to stay home and a lot less women will be forced to choose this stay-at-home option. I just do not understand why nobody is fighting for that in the US.

Izgad said...

I fail to see how we can have a meaningful discussion about feminism (or any social or political ideology for that matter) without talking about morality and government intervention. If you are talking about what women should receive then you have to bring in some assumptions about what might be right or wrong to do to women, hence morality. It is not enough to talk about what you support, but also what you are actually going to do to get it. I would even say that the latter is the more important. I like the sound of politicians telling me that they intend to beef up our armed forces until I make the connection to schools being run down because the money went to that patriotic sounding armed forces expense.
It is not enough to say that you want to make a society in which women are equal (a worthy goal). What are you going to do in order to bring that out? Since government force is the most obvious option, what kind of government intervention do you want to use? Women staying home and raising their kids is harmful to women trying to get jobs. It puts pressure on them, makes them look like “bad mothers” and gives companies an excuse to pay them less than men. As a libertarian I would be up for getting rid of child credits and other forms of government funding for families to get women to work. Other options might be to offer nationalized child care, which will force women to work in order to pay the extra taxes. Of course none of these options are the things that your politician will offer as a campaign slogan.

Clarissa said...

Goverment intervention is not what is needed to change ideology (unless we are talking about outright coercion.) You can introduce any kinds of laws, but unless people's mentality changes, these laws will remain at the level of useless half-measures.

I do not believe for a moment that any an all problems can be solved by government intervention.

Izgad said...

That would mean no laws mandating that businesses give maternity leave. You would also have to give up on equal pay laws, something that NOW as long advocated and Obama pledged himself to during the campaign. Sexual harassment arguably could become legal as long as there no physical assault.

What do you do with the concept that women have some specific right to control their bodies and have abortions as opposed to a male like me who is not allowed to sell a kidney.

Clarissa said...

Are women allowed to sell aborted fetuses??? Since when???

I don't think anybody prohibits you from cutting out any part of your body and throwing it away, do they?

Jessica said...

I wanted to mention that I am asolutely opposed to anything called "maternity leave." Only "parental leaves" should exist. This assumption that raising children is a female concern is profoundly sexist and wrong.

Izgad said...


Why does a right to privacy cover abortion and not the selling of organs? If the doctor is being paid for an abortion then it is a commercial transaction and subject to any power the government may have to regulate commerce. I admit that you raise an interesting point about selling fetuses. I would be interested to see how abortion rights activists would react if the government tried to stop a woman from selling her aborted fetus say to medical science. We do see mothers “selling” their fetuses when they agree to carry the fetus to term and give it up for adoption in return for financial compensation.

The other issue that needs to be raised is the government right to make certain drugs illegal or even regulate certain drugs through prescriptions. If I have a right to privacy then I should be able to smoke dope in my basement to my heart’s content.

I am a libertarian so I am not arguing against abortion here. I am arguing for the right use drugs and sell organs and that the proponents of a right to privacy are mostly hypocrites for limiting it simply to reproductive rights.

Clarissa said...

Actually, the equivalent of selling an aborted fetus (i.e. selling a non-vital renewable body part) is allowed. You can sell yur hair, for example.

I am also annoyed by the paternalistic attitudes of the government that wants to decide too many things for us. These persecutions of smokers are insane. My access to birth control pills is guarded as strictly as if it were heroin. People are persecuted for attemppting to take their own life. I mean, it's their life, why shouldn't they have a right to end it? Euthanasia is illegal, which is a barbarity.

So I absolutely do not believe we should limit the right to privacy just to abortion.

As a libertarian, how do you feel about the attempts to repair the ecnomy by bailouts and stimulus packages?