So this is International Women’s Day 2020. And what have you done?
#BalanceforBetter is over. #EachForEqual’s just begun. But what on earth do they mean and what exactly have they got to do with women? The answer is not much, but they have plenty to do with feminism.
It’s not a universally acknowledged truth, but the words “feminist” and “woman” are not synonyms. So how is it that every year, international women’s day becomes international feminism day? Year after year studies show most people, men and women, do not identify as feminist. This phenomena first came to my attention in the early n00ughties, when I was writing my final undergraduate dissertation hoping to bring about a consilience between feminism and evolutionary theory. Like most people in the West, I believed in equality of opportunity for men and women - that people ought not be denied any role or vocation if they were talented and passionate enough to contribute. I still believe this. But this is not feminism. It is egalitarianism and feminism has a nasty habit of hiding under its skirts.
When questioned about what feminism actually is, feminists are apt to equivocate. The common fall back position is to say that feminism has many schools of thought and cannot be tied down to any one position, ignoring the fact that there are libraries stuffed full of feminist literature which do just that. Looking at that vast literature it’s very easy to find the one thing that all creeds of feminisms agree on, even when they agree on little else and that is patriarchy.
Intersectional and radical feminists may be currently engaged in a war of attrition for dominance of the feminist brand, but all hold the belief that the primary goal of feminism is not actually to enable women to choose their own path to self actualisation but is to liberate women from the oppressive shackles of this thing called “patriarchy”, whether they like it or not.
So, what is it? Basically, it’s anything that might possibly hold you back and can be attributable to men, which is everything and anything. Once you grasp this little nugget of circular reasoning, the world is your protandric, transsexual oyster.
Have you ever suffered from low confidence? That’s not a normal feeling when you take on a new task or stretch yourself. No. That’s the patriarchy bringing you down via the conscious, structurally oppressive mechanisms of sexual objectification, the male gaze and stereotype threat. Do you work part time for a better work/life balance? That’s not because humans are a sexually dimorphic, sexually reproducing species who give birth to altricial young and it is a “fundamental premise in mammalian socioecology that females are burdened with disproportionately high obligate costs of reproduction in comparison with males.”? No! That is the socially constructed pregnancy and motherhood penalty created by the patriarchy which forces a majority of unwilling women to give birth, invest more in their offspring and do more childcare which excludes women from working for the aforementioned capitalist patriarchy.
Have you pursued a kick ass career only to find you’re childless at 35 and can’t find a good man to start a family with? That’s because the patriarchy imposes ridiculous standards on women to look young and healthy in order for men to want to commit and start a family and not just hook up with a MILF on Tinder. This notwithstanding the fact that being called MILF on Tinder just adds injury to insult because you are not even a mother. You are just an ILF! It doesn’t matter that you are a financially independent super woman who paid for her own boob job and can afford to pay for her own IVF. Men don’t seem interested in that.
Do you get chatted up in bars by men you don’t find attractive and never chatted up by the ones who you do? That’s patriarchy. Everything you do do is because you go girl! and everything you cannot do is because of PATRIARCHY! All feminist roads lead to it. All feminists pray at it’s altar. All bow before it.
And this is the big tell every international women’s day. Follow the hashtags on social media and you will see that feminist agenda very clearly. It’s an agenda that has no time or patience with women who do not ascribe to it. For those women - a majority of women - feminism only has contempt.
So happy international women’s day to all women out there who do not believe they are oppressed by the giant flying patriarchal spaghetti monster. And remember, feminists are defined by their politics not their sex - unlike women. And most women aren't feminists.