Friday, November 21, 2014

The Fault Of Our Feminism

The world is an unequal place. Males wield more power than females. And from this imbalance of power, males are far likelier to abuse, harass and humiliate women, than vice versa. Such is the undeniable truth about humanity.

Feminism is a movement that seeks to remedy the imbalance. In the last century or so, it has achieved wonders. Suffrage for women is now universal. Maternity benefits in the workplace have improved tremendously. Female leaders are emerging within the political and corporate sphere.

And yet, there are signs that modern feminism is losing its bite, focus, and perhaps even its head. Three recent unrelated examples reveal the precarious fault lines. First, Meghan Trainor's debut hit "All About The Base". Second, Lorde's "little penis" revenge tweet to Diplo for mocking bestie Taylor Swift's booty (or rather, lack of thereof). Third, Dr Matt Taylor's provocative shirt during the Rosetta comet landing.

1. Feminism Is Self-Defeating

Females often complain that men treat them as 'sex objects' - their value is measured by bust size, waist circumference, skin colour, and length of legs. And they are right. Most men allow their libido to cloud their judgment in many of their everyday decisions, say, employment hiring practices.

Women who do not feel 'sexy' (by men's standards) naturally feel aggrieved. And their typical response? Promote a different kind of 'sexy' standard, in the spirit of Meghan Trainor: "'Cause I got the boom boom that all the boys chase / And all the right junk in all the right places / Boys like a little more booty to hold at night".

The problem with such response is that it still objectifies women. What they're essentially saying is this: "Don't only treat stick-thin models as sex objects! Treat us bootilicious babes as well too!". And that's self-defeating. It means that one is not actually disagreeing in principle to the idea of men treating women as 'sex objects'; they are happy to agree, but are merely dissatisfied with the parameters men use to identify women as 'sex objects'.

If feminism's goal is merely to promote different types of physical beauty to men, then feminism can't complain if men turn around and say: "Sorry, no thanks, I still like my ladies slim". But if feminism's goal is to insist that physical beauty means nothing to a woman's worth, then feminism stands a fighting chance. Take CV submission as an example. Which is more effective in combating discrimination - a policy disallowing all CVs from displaying a candidate's photo, or a policy that requests for photos whilst circulating a memo to the assessors saying "Hey, don't discriminate against ugly people, okay?".

"We're sexy and we know it!"

The ideal response is to reduce sexuality, not diversify sexuality. Instead of pushing beauty pageants to accept contestants of all shapes and sizes, feminism should instead aim to abolish beauty pageants altogether. Instead of championing for more plus-size models to feature on fashion and retail ads, feminism should instead compel models to put more clothes on.

Sorry, Miss Trainor. It's not all about the base, booty, or junk. It's all about dignity.

2. Feminism Is Hypocritical

A Twitter war started when Diplo, a male music producer, tweeted that "Someone should make a kickstarter to get taylor swift a booty". Lorde came to her bestie's rescue with this tweet response: "should we do something about your tiny penis while we're at it hm".The social media and mainstream news exploded. Most applauded Lorde for "totally own(ing)" Diplo (Huffington Post) and "deliver(ing) the final smackdown" (CNN).

A victory of feminism? Not quite. Not only does the comeback sound juvenile, but reeks hypocrisy. A man flings mud at a woman, and the woman flings back mud at the man - is that how the war against sexism ought to be fought and celebrated?

Being ridiculed for having a 'tiny penis' is definitely a stab to any man's pride. That's because penis size is perceived by most men as a measure of self-worth. Women know this too, and that's why many are fond of taking a dig at men's penises. Somehow, it's fine for woman to do that, but wrong for a man to poke fun at a woman's sexual assets. Hypocritical much?

Truth is, women naturally gravitate to men with good physical attributes. Broad shoulders, tall, deep voice, fit but not fat - the list goes on. Is that wrong? To the average women - arguable. But to feminists - definitely not. You can't complain about men staring at your breasts when you stare at their abs. You can't have your cake, and eat it too, honey.

And that's how you fight back against bullies, kids!

Feminism should decry sexploitation against both men and women. If movies depicting skinny women in low-cut skirts and plunging necklines is stereotypical, so are movies depicting buff men running around topless waving swords and guns. If men watching porn is distasteful, so is women reading "Fifty Shades Of Grey".

Feminism is most genuine when it strives for equality. And equality is only achieved when the pot stops calling the kettle black, and when all forms of sexism is demonised.

(Oh, and by the way, Lorde and Diplo are actually friends. A few days later, they exchanged friendly tweets on attending a movie premiere. What was friendly banter to them, had snowballed into a gender battle royale to the rest of the world.)

3. Feminism Is Regressing

On 13 November 2014, history was made - a human space probe landed on a comet. Unfortunately for the Rosetta mission, much of the afterglow has been stolen by the public crucifixion of its team leader, Dr Matt Taylor, for wearing a shirt with garish pictures of skimpily-clad ladies when he proudly announced the milestone on live stream. A tearful apology and a handful of furious news articles later, what have we learned?

On Dr Taylor's wardrobe choice: Was it bad taste? Yes. Was it unprofessional? Yes. 

On the feminists' reaction: Was it necessary? No. Does it make a difference in the greater scheme of things? No (unless never ever seeing another scientist wear a provocative shirt on stage counts as a big deal).

"So which of you two bitches would like to ride my comet?"

The witch-hunt - or rather, wizard-hunt - of Dr Taylor follows the recent populist zeal in clamping down hard on suspected misogynists. Whilst the intention is noble, the strategy is suspect. Because of this, Julie Bindel laments that feminism is turning toxic. She sees the finger-pointing in Comet-Gate as misdirected ("Rather than spending so much energy pilling on a man for wearing a sexist shirt, is it not better to focus on the manufacturer?"). She worries that the heavy focus on vilifying individuals, instead of challenging institutions as feminists have done in the past, is a regressive step ("It is hugely important to hold abusive men to account, but we feminist campaigners have learned that the state allows men to perpetrate individual crimes, and have therefore tended to focus on making root and branch change.").

Feminists must be wiser in choosing their battles. Your time and energy are limited, and so are your audience's. Fight for causes that matter and make a difference (for instance, female genital mutilation in Africa, date rape culture in the West, and stoning of female adulterers in Islamic regimes). Right now, feminism needs more policies, less policing.

Whose Fault Is It Anyway?

The fault of modern feminism is not that it lacks moral courage (which it has abundance of), but that it is now struggling to align its moral compass in the right direction. This is a shame, because all the right intentions will come to naught if put in the wrong places and make the wrong moves.

In the old days, sailors frown upon having women on board ships, for it brings bad luck. No such nonsense today. Riding crest after crest, feminism is closing the gap on the horizon of equality. Still, its female captain and deckhands must guard against being too cocky, cavalier and careless. For until it reaches the thin blue line, feminism may yet strike an ice-berg and sink into a seabed of broken dreams.

1 comment :

  1. People are objects. What else would they be?
    Rights and all this other mystical bullshit is idiotic, crypto-Christian nonsense. God isn't real, and neither are good, evil, or 'human dignity'. People are pointless meatsacks, and what you do always ends in the heat death of the Universe. Fucking liberal cunts.