Among the earliest buyers of my latest book Feminism: the ugly truth have been a number of ladies who’ve kindly taken the trouble to email me with their thoughts, and we’ve had some interesting exchanges. I’m pleased to say they’ve all enjoyed the book, and I’ve been struck by some common themes emerging. One theme is that while many women are secretly critical of militant feminists, they feel nervous about ‘coming out’ as critics, because when they do so they’re variously accused of being anti-women, of being men’s rights activists, of being misogynists etc. In short, the militant feminists use similar shaming tactics against these women as they routinely use against men. One woman wrote of being cowed by exchanges on Mumsnet, and of how when women make mild complaints about their husbands on the website there’s a seemingly concerted campaign to convince them they’re in abusive relationships.
One of the problems is, I think, the term ‘feminism’. It has so many meanings now that it arguably has none. But we’re very clear about who our enemies are – the militant feminists seeking perennial special treatment for women in general, and for their own band of influential men-hating and family-hating women in particular. In my view well under 10% of women share the militant feminists’ ideology – it may even be under 5% – but they’re intimidating the vast majority of women (90-95%) into silence. How can that even be possible?
One of our challenges is to raise public awareness of how distinct these militant feminists (or ‘gender’ feminists, to use Christina Hoff Sommers’s term from Who Stole Feminism? ) are from the feminists (‘equity’ feminists) who sought (and won) equality of opportunity. It’s the perennial search for equality of outcome which is so damaging, partly because it ignores the differences in the natures of gender-typical men and women.
But there are women prepared to stand up and be counted in the battle against feminism, and their number is on the rise. Some of them bring to mind one of the true heroines of post-war Britain, Margaret Thatcher. Among my favourites is Charlotte Vere, founder of Women On… http://womenon.org. I mention this now because I recently spotted an excellent new blog post on their website:
You’ll find more common sense and nuanced arguments in that one blog post than you’ll find in the sum total of what The Fawcett Society publishes in a decade. Now I don’t agree with all the positions of Women On…, nor even all of the content of the blog post in question, but it seems to me that Women On… are undoubtedly ‘thought leaders’ in Britain on gender matters from a female non-feminist standpoint, and I wish them every success.
I also wish more female Conservative MPs would ‘come out’ as anti-feminists. Their efforts to re-define feminism in Tory terms are surely futile. They would as usefully seek to re-define socialism in Tory terms.
I leave you with the opening lines of the first chapter of Feminism: the ugly truth :
On the evening of 15 September 2011 two women were being interviewed by Gavin Esler on the BBC’s flagship television news programme Newsnight. One was the dour feminist Labour politician Angela Eagle (née Eaglet). She’d obviously chewed on a thick slice of lemon before the interview, to set her customary expression. The other was Charlotte Vere, a businesswoman and former prospective Parliamentary candidate for the Conservative party for Brighton Pavilion at the 2010 general election. The seat was unfortunately won by a green MP, Caroline Lucas, presumably green for the reason outlined in a chapter of this book, ‘Why are fat women fat?’
I cheered Ms Vere upon hearing her state the following in a piece recorded to camera before the interview:
‘I think feminism is a toxic, battle-hardened and arrogant philosophy which has been manipulated by those at the extremes of politics. Feminism has had its day. We need women to stand up and shout, ‘Feminism? Not in my name!’ ’
At last, I thought, at long last… people are starting to get it!