A familiar name from the comment section, Australian club member Kate Smyth joins us above the jump with this SteynOnline guest column.
I'm scared. I'm scared for women...
These were the opening words of a viral tweet on May 18th, after the result of the Australian federal election was announced. What did the tweeter - a prominent young professional - and her supporters have to fear?
The reinstalled (conservative-ish) prime minister, Scott Morrison, had not proposed oppressive "male guardianship" gender apartheid laws like those in Saudi Arabia. Not yet, at least. But on International Women's Day some months earlier he'd had the audacity to say: "We want to see women rise. But we don't want to see women rise only on the basis of others doing worse... you don't push some people down to lift some people up. And that is true about gender equality too."
Shocking stuff, right?
Needless to say, ScoMo's #ToxicMasculinity received widespread national and even international condemnation. His macro-aggression had been to point to the elephant in the room: the prevailing impression that "unconscious bias" (against women and girls) was being supplanted by conscious bias (against men and boys).
Morrison had a point, unpopular as it was with feminists: a growing sense that some genders are more equal than others. What's striking is that this iteration of the movement gained pace and became more bureaucratised at a time when the biggest barriers to equality of the sexes - as far as apples and oranges are "equal" - had been overcome.
In a recent piece on this theme in The Spectator, Ms Lionel Shriver gave post-feminism both barrels:
For women to obtain political and professional parity was bound to take more than one generation.
It's not as if the balance of power between the sexes is all perfect, but the scales are roughly evening out, and sometimes they're tilting unfairly in our direction.
These many 'waves' of feminism roil across an ever more level playing field.
Meanwhile, a liberation movement in its senescence - sensibly on the way to the trash heap, having largely achieved its purpose - becomes neurotic, and pathologically petty.
The more equitable a society grows, the touchier and more prosecutorial the cultural climate...
You go, girl! As one example of this last point, some of the Twitter scolding about non-compliant "manels" looks like an increasingly desperate exercise in seeking relevance and influence. And isn't it the case that women in charge are just as capable of bias and discrimination against members of the opposite sex as members of the so-called "patriarchy"? Aren't those calling for an "Old Girls' Club" to replace the "Old Boys' Club" (true story) ushering in the same unjust, entrenched hegemony they'd resolved to end? (Complicit men are not off the hook here, either: there's a certain type who taps into the gender zeitgeist as a career move, but is easily identifiable for the fake-feminist that he is. Exhibit A: Justin Trudeau.)
In a must-hear interview on fellow (is that sexist?) SteynOnline contributor Laura Rosen Cohen's podcast, Barbara Kay discussed the shift from a legitimate women's reform movement committed to securing key rights, to a feminist revolutionary movement concerned with advancing its own power - in spite of (and because of) having achieved its original objectives. Like all utopian ideological causes, it is self-perpetuating and strives to "inflate the threat of the enemy" to justify its continued existence: New pseudo-injustices must be found and new micro-obstacles generated as the movement morphs into an industry. The narrative is constantly reinvented in a process without end.
In turn, the revolution devours its own. It's always risky for an insider to question the victim-oppressor orthodoxy, as Meryl Streep recently found out. The ubiquitous "Toxic Masculinity" label, she suggested, was a very reductive and damaging characterisation which pits all (vile) men against all (virtuous) women, when "women can be pretty f***ing toxic. It's toxic people." And the subsequent tirade of online abuse she received - from women - certainly confirmed that.
Even the feminists' hard-fought "women's right to choose" is being challenged in rather unexpected ways - not so much the part about rights and choices (a seemingly perpetual debate, including proposals to legalise fourth trimester abortion), but the part about women. It was Mark Steyn who recently prophesied, on air, that the year 2020 (possibly sooner) would mark the end of feminism as we know it because men have the right to choose too. And to compound their problems, feminists (in their myopic and evidently discriminatory view of pregnancy and abortion) are not only excluding men of child-bearing age, they're excluding women who produce sperm, as Alyssa Milano recently discovered when she urged women to refrain from having sex to protest abortion laws. The #SexStrike and its focus on gestation "erased queer women", cautioned a popular fellow feminist whose Twitter profile explained that she was "misdiagnosed as male at birth".
Germaine Greer, who wrote "The Female Eunuch" in 1970, never envisaged she'd be "a woman without a penis" nearly 50 years on (misogyny, in her view). Martina Navratilova, a sportswoman of impeccable LGBTQ credentials, never anticipated a time when women-formerly-known-as-men would dominate the track, court and arena. Alyssa Milano wants to abolish sex (indefinitely), but the wider "gender equality" movement wants to abolish the sexes: Gender is the new leveller. But in the increasingly heated intersectional climate, more and more old-style, radical feminists are learning the hard way that some genders are more equal than others.
Kate was one of several Club members from the land of Oz who joined our inaugural Mark Steyn Cruise last year. The cruise is a great way to put faces to the names of those with whom you converse in the comment section. Our Alaska cruise coming up in September is sold out, but our 2020 voyage is taking cabin bookings. Get all the information you need here, and do give our cruise coordinator Cindy a call at +1 (770) 952-8300 (or toll free in North America at 1-800-326-4971) if you have any questions.