I think I might have been lying for 50 years. I’ve always considered myself a “feminist”: as in a firm believer in and fighter for gender equality. After the last 48 or so hours, I’ve changed my mind. Either that or my IQ must have recently dropped about 60 points or so.
Subsequent to a round robin of articles relating to feminist ideologies (you can get all the links from The battle of feminist ideologies), I had a discussion with an academic who was busy throwing names of experts around. The chosen writers of feminist bibles, I gathered.
Now, I’ve had a busy 50 years. I did IT and business degrees, not the humanities. I accept I am at an academic disadvantage here. Even so, for some weird and wonderful reason I tend to see the question of gender equality in VERY SIMPLE TERMS (not exclusive list):
- Equal pay for equal work
- Equal educational opportunities
- Equal employment opportunities
- Equal access to medical treatment
- Equal respect for the person (the gang rapes in India, the rape and murder of Jill Meagher, the “decal” in some idiot’s ute)
- Equality under the law, e.g. the right to drive, equal divorce rights, no need for two male witnesses
I am fucked if I know what the hell cyborg women have to do with stopping gang rapes in India or freeing the women of Saudi Arabia or stopping idiots having demeaning and rape-inciting decals painted in their bloody utes.
Clicking on the pic below will take you to Destroying the Joint’s Facebook page, from whence I stole the pic.
I suggest women like Donna Haraway have received all the equality necessary in order to be in a position to write epistles and essays in the first place, but for the majority of women for whom feminism is desperately needed, her writing means little and achieves less. I’m not saying there is not a place for the Haraways of this world. There is. However people sitting in academic glass houses discussing the development of the various types of feminism doesn’t get much done at the grass-roots level on a daily basis.
I don’t give a rat’s arse whether feminism is socialist, marxist or capitalist. I care that a woman in India gets gang raped and another in Saudi Arabia gets stoned to death because someone raped her. I care that a child gets shot in the head in Pakistan for wanting an education. I care that some idiot thinks it is OK to paint his truck like the above picture, sending a message to small children that this is OK, unless he plans on keeping his truck in his fucking garage for life.
So while I appreciate the essay’s philosophic merits, I’ll be damned if I can correlate the content to saving women NOW, TODAY! I don’t need to analyse the history of the rise of feminism to push countries to pass laws to prevent the subjugation of women. I don’t need to consider “The cyborg is a creature in a post-gender world; it has no truck with bisexuality, pre-oedipal symbiosis, unalienated labour, or other seductions to organic wholeness through a final appropriation of all the powers of the parts into a higher unity.” What I need is to see that fucking decal gone from that ute so small children aren’t seduced to organic unwholesomeness.
What all women need is a few simple laws and an education system that teaches equality from kindergarten. I would say from the cradle, but I know the reality is, in some homes that is not going to happen yet. Philosophy is important. Students still read the ancient Greek philosophers today, their thoughts are still relevent. I am not against the work of the academics. However, we need grass-roots solutions NOW. Sitting in lectures is not getting that action happening.
The other twaddle I can’t handle is the argument I hear in some quarters that men can’t be feminists. What a load of bullshit. As soon as a father supports his daughter through university, he is a feminist. As soon as a boss fires a male employee for sexually harrassing a female staff member, he is a feminist. Saying a man can’t be a feminist is like saying a white person can’t fight for the civil rights of black people. To achieve change we need as many foot soldiers as we can get. I don’t give a fuck what colour their skin is or what does or does not dangle between their legs. If their mind is on the right track, they are part of the ideological army. To that extent, Haraway is 100% correct - to achieve that post-gender (and “race”) world, we really must stop caring about those physical differences when chosing our fellow foot soldiers.
Edited to clarify, as I’ve now had the discussion with a couple of people. When I was looking at education, I was thinking of fathers from countries where that is not the norm, where there is a commitment of years of expense and possibly social disapproval. Similarly with a safe work environment – even in Australia many managers tend to prefer to sweep such things under the carpet. To stand up and be counted takes commitment – commitment not just to observe the law, but to the welfare of women.
Edit December 24, 2013: Eleanor Robertson has written an article well worth reading, In defence of intersectionality – one of feminism’s most important tools which I highly recommend.