In Saturday’s blog I explained how a feminist politics was undermining women’s and families’ interests, contributing to a top heavy political system and eroding participatory mechanisms. Today I will explore what we should do about this.
First, politicians should be held more accountable to us, becoming less loose cannons ever ready to inflict their latest policy whims on us, and more like cogs in our political machine. We need to focus on the processes by which our needs are identified and transmitted. There is a massive technical capacity for collecting and crunching data about the conditions which maximise health and wellbeing. There is also a fantastic capacity for communication through social media. All these technical facilities should be harnessed to maximise the efficiency of the political system so we are less reliant on individuals, whatever their sex.
We also need to dismantle ideologies that might have an undue influence on those individuals. And feminism should be the first to go. We need to make feminism history, a thing of the past, which we can dispassionately talk about and analyse, without gainsaying positive changes that it may have achieved.
Feminism is responsible for the damaging belief that anything less than a numerically equal representation of women in all areas is a result of discrimination. It is not. It is a product of the different choices that men and women make as a result of their different reproductive roles.
The assumption that we should achieve numerical equality, not only fuels feminism but provides the ideological justification for the economic policies driving women into work. Without this ideological legitimacy the greed behind the policies would be laid bare.
We need en masse to get our priorities right and recognise that the private realm of family, friends, home and community is central, and that the economy along with other areas of public endeavour such as politics, science and art are there to serve and protect and enrich the lives of our families. And it won’t matter if men are more influential in public life because this is the secondary sphere.
It is the wellbeing of our families and communities that should be the arbiter and yardstick of social policy. Instead our families are in the service of the economy, producers of GDP.
But perhaps the most insidious and lethal aspect of feminism is the way it persistently, invidiously, poisons women’s understanding of, and attitude towards, men. While the whole machinery of ‘rape culture’ or the Everyday Sexism Project are perhaps the starkest examples of this, we are continuously ‘reminded’ that we need protecting from men in a drip, drip, drip which damages relations with our nearest and dearest and harms the quality of our everyday lives.
This is the context that takes for granted that a quarter of mothers of dependent children are on their own. As men are regarded as redundant, unreliable and feckless, it is never necessary to ask why single parenthood occurs.
Single parenthood has very concrete causes. It can be traced back to boys left behind in education, men lacking of qualifications, and lack of decently paid working class jobs. It can be traced back to male unemployment which we have persistently, since deindustrialisation under Thatcher in the 1980s, turned a blind eye to because we can score political points by giving employment to women rather than men. It can be traced back to the lack of roles we have for men in society, leaving them at the whim of whatever women need them to do. It can be traced back to a culture that tells men they are unimportant and unnecessary, a drag on the efficient functioning of society as a whole.
Yet we all know the grim statistics about single parenthood. What we may not know and what Dench’s analysis of British Social Attitudes shows us is that single mothers, whether working, inactive or housewives are unhappier than mothers with partners.
Yet it is middle class women with all the benefits of a helpmate, who in their supine acceptance of feminism, help to keep the institution of single parenthood in its place.
Finally, as women we need to take responsibility for the damage that feminism has wrought on society and help create something better in its place. We need to welcome interdependence in place of independence. We need to replace self-interest with altruism and self-fulfilment with self-sacrifice. Once we start doing these things we won’t need safe spaces or self-esteem classes. We won’t be fragile flowers ready to collapse at an insult to our egos. We will be strong because we will know our worth.