Can we redirect the spotlight please?

I’ve been trying to write something for today, and I’m not getting anything. It’s a strange sort of irony that has made International Women’s Rights Day coincide with the international bleeding hearts for Meghan Markle day. The international outpouring of support for an extremely rich, extremely privileged woman who feels she’s been incredibly badly treated.

Feminist ideas used to be simple, basically that the only differences between men and women are physical—men are generally stronger. If the fridge needs moving, I admit, it’s beyond me, though I know women who can shift fridges and more power to them. The important things though, like teaching, leading a team, building bridges, designing buildings, inventing a can opener, piloting a space ship, running a country, understanding why people get sick or lonely or depressed, are all within a woman’s scope.

That is what feminism means to me. That you will assume that I can do, and I do know, rather than that I can’t and I don’t. Feminism used to be simply about women, all women, and our (equal) place in the world.

I don’t understand what it means anymore. Instead of equality and inclusion, it has developed a hierarchy of grievances and causes to defend. It has become exclusive, separatist and intolerant. It has its black list of ‘fascist’ ideas, people and groups, and has been side-tracked into the defence of ideas that have nothing to do with feminism. It can condone girls being denied the same education as their brothers in the name of cultural identity, but be outraged at a white-skinned woman wearing her hair in braids. It seems to have forgotten that the world of equality, economic independence and liberation from the different forms of patriarchal oppression has not been created, and at this rate, it won’t be.

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Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

39 thoughts on “Can we redirect the spotlight please?”

  1. You say what I have been thinking with your usual expressive force. Feminism has been subsumed under the overarching “victimism” ideology used by the powerful to hold on to their power and maintain the status quo, irony of ironies. Nothing improves for the powerless, not livelihoods, not culture, not freedoms. Instead, these are all degrading.

    1. The strength of feminism is being frittered away in combats that don’t help women at all. Often it does a disservice, making feminism look cranky and laughable. You’re right, nothing changes for the really powerless, the women right at the bottom of the heap of any colour. And I don’t see how it helps them by having their ‘culture’ the one that enslaves and degrades them in the first place, held up as something of value to be defended.

      1. 💯The ultimate sting is being devalued in the name of being valued as classism is on the rise but pointedly ignored. It’s monstrous.

      2. Yes, poverty and economic inequalities are the biggest obstacles for women to overcome. Why can’t they understand that if you’re rich and black you’re just as privileged and exploitative as your white counterpart. Do they think black wealth is generated differently? And since when has it had anything to do with feminism?

      3. This is how “victimism” (intersectionalism and critical race theory) demeans and exploits, and ultimately silences and controls. Technology & social media has made it all the more easy, not to mention the growing ignorance of history.

      4. Yes, the ignorance element helps so much. It’s easy to get indignant about selected highlights, taken out of context or even blatantly untrue. Once you start blaming people for what their ancestors did, and once people start to accept guilt for what their ancestors did, there’s no end to it. It also supposes so many untruths or inexactitudes, that all ‘groups’ have the same history. As an Irish woman, I thoroughly resent being told that I ought to feel guilty for my white colonial past. 1) The Irish don’t have a colonial past and 2) even if they did, I would not take the blame for someone I never knew, I’m not related to and who just happens to have had the same passport as I do.
        All this grouping people into types and races and communities is unscientific, unhelpful and discriminatory. Takes our attention away from the real issues though.

      5. Thoroughly unscientific and yet we’re told that science is the only arbiter. The problem of course is that science is practiced by people. Thus, after Mendel’s genetic discoveries, it didn’t take long before Darwin’s cousin coined the term eugenics while promoting it. And well accepted it was among the smart set, the wealthy, the powerful, with mandatory sterilization of those deemed deficient (see Oliver Wendell Holmes’ 1928 ? supreme court ruling for the majority). It was inhumane. And it was science. It was “good” for the “advancement” of the human race. Very progressive in fact. Ultimately, truth is beyond the scope of science and categories of any kind, and it is in the human heart where, as Solzhenitsyn said, lies the line between good and evil. I tried reading the Gulag again, btw, but it’s too disturbing , the political conditions too similar to our changing reality.

        Sorry, Jane, I’ve gone on too long. No more. I’m done.🙂

      6. Don’t apologise. It’s good to express what we feel without fear of a fatwa. I haven’t looked at Solzhenisyn since I was at school. He seemed to fall out of fashion when the Cold War ended. No time for those bogey men any more. We have new ones.

    1. There is. I’d have written more and given more examples of where I think feminism has lost the plot, but I don’t want to be targeted by those who see fascists in every statement they don’t like.

    1. I’m glad you agree. I hesitate about saying these things even though I feel strongly about them, because debate seems to have gone down the pan. We don’t discuss different opinions any more we shout ‘fascist’ and throw a petrol bomb.

  2. I spent the day speaking to a large grocery retail store about stocking a product whose supplier (a Christian Missionary) is under investigation for woman and child sexual abuse and money laundering. The franchise printed in the plastic bags their support for the eradication of gender based violence. Turns out some franchise owners owns stock in the company managed by the Christian Mission! Some of the stories from the victims happened decades ago, at a time when, especially women of the Christian faith 1) didn’t know they were being abused, 2) when they realised and told parents, teachers, supervisors, priests/pastors etc they were told 3) keep quiet 4) called whores for submitting to sexual misconduct whether by staff of the Mission or their own male family. Now that there’s so much more information and openess on the subject the truth is finally seeing the light of day. Feminism did that and I therefore still call myself one.

    That said, yes, some of the views expressed by feminists are downright embarrassing to a thinking person. The infighting if that’s the right term, is incredible, some claiming to be more feminist than anyone else and, and, and … Sigh! But patriarchy is still very much in the driver seat so the work of feminism must necessarily continue. There’s enough cohesion and indeed, coherence, left that this is possible.

    1. That’s exactly the kind of combat that feminists should be fighting. Here they have they got themselves entangled with defending Islam and a woman’s right to be oppressed. There are so many women suffering from abuse, why waste time with those who claim it’s their right to be oppressed if they want to be? I don’t see it as a feminist stance at all, but then I’d probably be called Islamophobic.

  3. Victimhood drives me crazy. And all the purity tests and who has the right ethnic credentials to speak out against oppression–or to oppress for that matter. If your family has been in the US for 2 generations, any idea of racial or ethnic purity is just baseless, and telling people they can’t speak out against injustice because they aren’t pure enough is silly. The poor are still poor and powerless and women and children are at the very bottom of the heap. Ethnicity has nothing to do with it. (K)

    1. Of course it doesn’t, complete red herring. It’s just more generalisations, more arbitrary boxes, more shouting about my rights over yours. It’s just different people doing the shouting. Meanwhile, back at home, the girls are still being abused, denied education, forced into marriage, dumped with kids, but that’s okay, it’s cultural.

  4. That is why many don’t like the term “feminism”. They forgot about what it actually meant which is having equal rights between men and women. The hardships women face in 3rd world countries are not even shown on television anymore we find them out on social media. The term went from serving and helping the poor to the rich unfortunately.

    1. I know, the real message just isn’t heard. The new bunch are too concerned with the minority interest issues that get the celebrities bandwagonning. Feminism has become a by-word for crank, if not fascist. It’s sad.

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