• On losing respect for Feminism

    by  • January 2, 2012 • Everything Else • 4 Comments

    I’ve lost respect for western models of feminism after one stupid argument too many.

    I have not lost respect for women, any more than losing respect for Marxism means you no longer respect Russians.

    The issues women face are real. However, political mistakes made in the early stages of women’s struggle in the West are causing huge problems. The strategies conceived in the fifties and sixties and seventies have resulted in yet more problems. The common feminist tactics that I encounter now, raising political issues focus on the gender issues in the world to the near-exclusion of all other forms of analysis and discourse. Political mistakes and strategic blunders have led to tactical ineffectiveness.

    In short, in my experience, feminism has forgotten how to play nice with others.

    I’m therefore disengaging from feminist discourse for the time being. There’s no way, in reasonable time, to engage in useful debate with people who’re at the tail end of fifty or sixty years of flawed thinking – in fact, it’s often like arguing with fundamentalist christians, who are at the end of a much longer flawed chain.

    My rough order of concerns, right now, are nuclear/biotech/nanotech apocalypse, destruction of climate, destruction of nature by other means, fascism, poverty, race and colonialism. I understand that the rights of women influence many of these areas, of course. But feminism is, right now, seventh or eighth in my list of concerns globally, and I am unwilling to sacrifice my effectiveness in addressing higher priorities to feminist concerns. I’ve been asked to do that several times in different ways recently, and I will not do it.

    Nor, bluntly, should you want me to. I’m worrying about the US declaring itself fascist: you should be too.

    That does not mean that I’m going to personally oppress women to get ahead. Jesus christ, who or what do you think I am? What it does mean, however, is that I’m going to insist that people who want to engage me in feminist discourse accept “no, thank you” for an answer in most cases. I have other things to worry about, I probably disagree with you on some very fundamental distinctions about sex, gender, social roles, personal responsibility, obligation and interdependence. But I don’t have time, right now, to fight with feminists at the level required to get real insight on these issues, so for the moment, I’m disengaging.

    Partly, feminism seems (to me) to often be astonishingly unconsciously culturally imperialist, paving over traditional social models which have served men and women alike for centuries with undisturbed aplomb. My culture has always said women and men are equals, it’s uncontroversial and completely integrated into our way of life. Perhaps there are things here worth learning about.

    Partly, I think women globally need to up their game. Power is hard: men having access to power historically suffered for it, and it destroyed most of them that held it. If women want to hold power and fight alongside their brothers for what is right for everybody, they’re going to have to learn how to suffer and die when dealing with power as men always have. The game does not get easier just because women have decided to participate. I think much of the complaining about the way men are using power right now is women discovering just how hard and nasty dealing with power is, and how much men have suffered for it. As a friend once said to me, while waxing philosophical on the nature of war, the women came here to die, the same as the men.

    For the record, then, here is my stance: men and women are equal.

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    Vinay Gupta is a consultant on disaster relief and risk management.


    4 Responses to On losing respect for Feminism

    1. Rachel
      January 2, 2012 at 5:56 pm

      Fair enough, but I think you should understand that many of the arguments you have had recently (i’ve read a couple of exchanges on twitter) are with people who are just argumentative and for me personally they, nor their arguments represent any type of feminism I recognise. I would disagree that men and women are exactly equal- its basic biology men don’t carry children and unless that difference is acknowledged and respected the human race is lost anyway. Survival at the most basic level depends on this, much so called feminism may choose to deny it, but it is a basic truth. Women do hold power, just not in the same way as men. The feminism you talk about is to my mind a very masculine thing.

    2. January 2, 2012 at 8:02 pm

      “My culture has always said women and men are equals, it’s uncontroversial and completely integrated into our way of life.”

      What culture would that be, then?

    3. January 2, 2012 at 8:39 pm

      Tantric Hindu. It’s pretty common for the tantrics, and one of our areas of conflict with other cultures.

    4. January 2, 2012 at 8:42 pm

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