In Defence of Feminism…

I was born in the early 1960s, and spent my early life understanding that men traditionally had all the rights, all the power, all the say, and that women were considered to be second-class citizens, less important than, altogether less than their fellow men. The law, through inherently privileging men’s rights over women’s, implicitly indicated as much, therefore I knew it must be true. And as in those days, laws were pretty much made by men, for men, it was still relatively easy to maintain the status quo. It was a very different world from today, the last bastion of a thoroughly patriarchal hierarchical world that I was born into half a century ago.

Feminism tends to get a bad press these days from the younger generation, has been reduced in our 21st Century minds to little more than petty squabbles and smart-ass silliness over the etiquette of who opens doors for whom, who asks who out, who pays for the resulting dinner, and other such trivial inconsequentialities. But for me, feminism across the whole of the 20th Century from Women’s Suffrage to Women’s Liberation was always about women fighting against the unfair gender biases inherent in the male dominated establishment for the right to be considered legally equal to men in all things.

To have the right to vote, the right to maintain our own legal identity in marriage and not simply be subsumed under our husband’s patronage, the right to apply for divorce on the same grounds as men, the right to be granted custody of our children after divorce, the right to have access to the same educational and career opportunities as men, the right to be paid equally for doing the same work, the right to choose not to be restricted by our own biology. Everyday hard-won rights that today’s younger generations in western culture, both men and women, simply take for granted in their lifetime because they have never known anything different.

So it becomes all too easy these days to bicker about and belittle the real benefits of feminism, to pronounce the need for men’s rights, to deliberately court controversy. There is no need for anyone to behave rudely – after all, letting doors slam in anyone’s face, regardless of gender, is sheer bad manners whoever and wherever you are. And when it comes to continuing the old traditional wedding ceremony where the veiled, virginal bride is ‘given away’ by her father, and ‘handed over’ to her new husband – well, why not? Everyone knows it is nowadays an entirely symbolic gesture, no longer a business transaction between two men, an exchange of goods from one head of a household to another.

But the fact remains that during the last century feminists here in the UK fought hard for every woman’s right simply to make her own choices in life, in the same way as most men expect to be able to do straight out of the box, no more, no less. In so many ways we have legally achieved that goal, and that, to my liberated mind, is something to be celebrated, not to be casually dismissed…

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11 thoughts on “In Defence of Feminism…

  1. I completely agree with what the first wave of feminism was about, and im wondering what you meant when you said the right to choose not to be restricted by our own biology?

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    • Everyone takes access to contraception for granted these days – women now have the choice not to procreate but still enjoy a full sexual relationship – yet ‘family planning’ was not freely available here in the UK until relatively recently, and even then for the longest time was only available to married women…

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  2. Dear lord you have it painfully wrong.

    From the beginning of time till 1918 men and women had the same rights when it came to voting. Either the HOUSEHOLD had a vote or it did not. In many cases the husband couldn’t make it to the polls and the wife is the one that actually cast the vote. In 1918 both women and men got the vote, but due to the lower population of men, the voting age for men was lower. This was corrected just 7 years later.
    Men and women have always had the same recourse in divorce. Until the 70’s divorce was not granted without cause for men or women. The causes for divorce where the same for men and women. No-fault divorce is not a right that men had that women didn’t, never.
    Men did get custody of children prior to feminism. They also got all of the costs burdens obligations and responsibilities. Feminism did advocate for equality but that women should get custody while leaving as much of the costs burdens obligations and responsibilities as possible on men.
    Feminism did fight for women to have the same career opportunities as men. It has never argued that men should have the same career opportunities as women. This is not equality between the sexes, but benefits for women.
    Feminism does talk about the wage gap, but it doesn’t talk about the hours worked gap or the workplace death gap or the time away from home gap. Only the gap where women get less. This isn’t equality it’s female superiority.

    So yes men’s rights activism IS needed and young people should be disdainful of feminism.

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    • Thank you for your extensive comment, but we will have to agree to differ on this topic. Your apparent ignorance of the relevant historical UK laws under discussion speaks volumes, as does your extreme gender bias, despite your claim to the contrary. I had initially intended to write a reasoned response to your arrogant accusation that I ‘have it painfully wrong’, but having taken the time to read some of the extreme views you share on your own blog, I realise it’s simply not worth my time or effort.

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      • Yes I do have some rather extreme views. Views like Women are fully functional adult people capable of making meaningful rational choices. Something you clearly don’t believe. I hold extreme views that men are women are well and truly equal. This is very unlike your view that women are just lesser and need to be propped up to be considered equal.

        I know my views are “extreme” but for a long time I really did think that feminism argued “women are people”

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      • As you seem intent on deliberately misunderstanding and misrepresenting my post in order to bolster your own biased agenda, there really is nothing more to say here.

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