For obvious reasons, I’m not reading a lot of feminist commentary these days. Still, this piece by Canadian feminist Meghan Murphy has a familiar ring. It’s sort of like checking in on a soap opera after an absence of several years and feeling like you haven’t missed a thing:
According to a poll commissioned by Ms. Magazine, the Communications Consortium Media Center, and the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF), 55 percent of female voters in the US identify as feminist. For a movement that challenges the ruling party, those numbers aren’t half bad.
Huh? Feminists “challenge” the Democratic Party? No idea what she’s talking about there.
There is a reason that feminists are labeled as ugly, extremist, man-haters, and that reason is sexism. Feminism isn’t palatable and that is the point. Women shouldn’t have to love sex with men, shave their legs, be beautiful, or be quiet and polite in order to be respected. In fact, even if women do all that they’re supposed to and even if they play the role of “woman” perfectly, they are still not respected. Women lose either way.
Blah, blah, blah. The column could have been written by a robot, like one of those computer-generated Tom Friedman columns that are indistinguishable from the real thing. At times, though, Ms. Murphy seems remarkably obtuse:
And it isn’t only men who might react negatively to the argument that perhaps there is something troubling about the fact that, while Robin Thicke was permitted to keep his pants on during this year’s VMA’s, Miley Cyrus was not offered the same privilege, and that that “something” is inequality.
Yes: some guy forced Miss Cyrus to take her pants off. Right.
The following paragraphs strike an odd note. The author is trying to make a point, but what is it, exactly?
Today, women – particularly women in the West – are told they exist in a postfeminist society and are free to do what they wish. This often translates into the idea that choosing to wear stilettos, taking up burlesque as a hobby, or using Instagram to show off one’s bikini body are feminist acts because the women making these choices are doing so out of free-will. Because we are no longer faced with the same barriers to education, jobs, and financial independence we once were, many young women are led to believe feminism is no longer needed.
So choice, apparently, isn’t all it was cracked up to be. Choice enjoyed by women in the West, that is.
Not only are women everywhere still facing oppression, but feminism isn’t only about making choices.
There is that theme again! Just because women don’t have any choices doesn’t mean they aren’t living in a feminist paradise. Or something like that. And women everywhere are oppressed, so one place–i.e., the West–is no better than another.
Feminism is also about ending violence against women, which remains prevalent everywhere, it is about creating a world where single mothers are able to survive and thrive, and it is about addressing gendered racism, for example, the fact that aboriginal women are the fastest growing population of prisoners in Canada. Rape isn’t something that only happens in other places; neither does prostitution or domestic abuse.
Hard to say what that means. It seems vaguely multicultural, but what exactly is the point?
There is more, mostly generic feminist prattle. Here is the conclusion:
Feminists will continue to be called man-haters so long as they threaten to undo patriarchy, a decidedly unfashionable pastime. Part of joining a movement that goes against the grain is that you risk being unpopular with those who are invested in maintaining the very power and privilege that is being challenged.
What is striking about this otherwise-forgettable feminist yawner is that it was written for Al Jazeera. Which puts the anti-choice, multiculturalist slant in a rather sinister light. Is this really what modern feminism has come to? Do contemporary feminists see no material difference between 1) the freedom to photograph oneself in a bikini and 2) the lack of freedom to wear anything but a burqa? Or between 1) the freedom to pursue higher education, which more women than men do in the United States, and 2) the lack of freedom to drive a car? Are all of these alternatives undifferentiated manifestations of “patriarchy?”
It isn’t only the feminists, of course. Many, most notably David Horowitz, have written about the seemingly-weird alliance between the Western Left and radical Islam. Two factions that would seem to be diametrical opposites are, in fact, united by the only thing they really care about–a common hatred for liberal Western values.
The only other explanation I can think of is that Al Jazeera pays really, really well.