Saturday 28 November 2015

Window Dressing A Dark Reality: Why I Won’t Be Signing On To “HeForShe” Anytime Soon.

Through A Glass Darkly: Emma Watson's passionate advocacy of Popular Feminism at the UN Women's launch of the "HeForShe" initiative in September 2014 broke with 40 years of feminist process by inviting men and boys to become part of the struggle to end gender inequality. Bitter experience had taught Second Wave feminists that this was a struggle best fought by women, for women, and on women's terms. In the immortal words of Frederick Douglass: "Power concedes nothing without a demand."
“I AM INVITING YOU to step forward, to be seen to speak up, to be the ‘he’ for ‘she’. And to ask yourself if not me, who? If not now, when?” That was the challenge thrown down to men and boys around the world by the British actor, Emma Watson, at the launch of the HeForShe movement in New York City last year. The brainchild of UN Women, the UN organisation dedicated to gender equality and the empowerment of women, HeForShe openly solicits the support of men in the struggle for gender equality – tacitly acknowledging the success of patriarchal resistance to the further extension of women’s rights internationally.
Watson spoke movingly of her own conversion to feminism and of the many “inadvertent feminists” who had made it seem natural for her to be treated as an equal. But she also made reference to the declining influence of feminism as a mobilising ideology.
“I was appointed six months ago and the more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women’s rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop.”
Watson’s speech thus resurrected the line of argument which some of the early advocates of what came to be known as “Second Wave Feminism” deployed in their quest for male allies.
“We don’t often talk about men being imprisoned by gender stereotypes but I can see that that they are and that when they are free, things will change for women as a natural consequence … Both men and women should feel free to be sensitive. Both men and women should feel free to be strong. It is time that we all perceive gender on a spectrum not as two opposing sets of ideals.”
Subsuming the struggle for women’s rights in a grander battle for the freedom of both sexes did not, however, strike many 1970s feminists as a particularly effective strategy for securing their own liberation. Their personal experiences as political activists told them that any movement for gender equality in which men participated as full and equal partners would inevitably end up being dominated by men, and reflect a masculine view of the world. Women found their own voices much more readily in groups with a “Women Only” membership rule.
This herstory is well known to the New Zealand spokeswoman for HeForShe, Sue Kedgely. As one of the Founding Mothers of Second Wave Feminism in New Zealand, she is well aware of the movement’s organisational evolution. All the more surprising, then, that she should be the one inviting all good Kiwi blokes to don their shining armour and ride to the rescue of the world’s damsels.
Never backward in coming forward, Kedgely kicked off the New Zealand HeForShe effort, launched in Wellington on Friday (27/11/15) afternoon, by signing up the realm’s leading knight – and Governor-General – Sir Jerry Mateparae. Other high-profile fellas signing on to this noble, global quest to secure gender equality by 2030 include broadcasters Wallace Chapman and Jack Tane; economist and philanthropist, Gareth Morgan; and comedians Te Radar and Jeremy Ellwood.
If you’re a bloke and also feel moved to support this new cause of “Popular Feminism”, then simply pay a visit to the website and sign on.
Just be aware, though, that not every feminist shares Emma Watson’s views. Responding to her New York speech, feminist columnist, Clementine Ford, wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald of 27 September 2014:
“It’s true that a person like Watson is very well placed to inspire people who may still be labouring under the weight of stereotypes regarding feminism, and that is undoubtedly cause for celebration. I applaud her for being brave enough to speak out when so many others haven’t. But feminists have been battling these stereotypes for decades and we will almost certainly be battling them for years to come because the unfortunate truth is that gender inequality is about power – who has it, and who wants to retain it. No amount of window dressing (for that is surely what the HeForShe campaign amounts to, given its entire breadth seems to be asking men to click a button and download a twibbon) is going to change the systemic global oppression that results in women’s degradation, subjugation and death in persistently high numbers. And it isn’t, as some have suggested, ‘tearing another woman down’ to want to discuss that reality.”
To which, as a “He”, I am happy to stand and say to that particular “She”:
“Right-on Sister!”
This essay was posted on The Daily Blog and Bowalley Road of Saturday, 28 November 2015.


Anonymous said...

If any women of any note in in any society wants to do anything to assist their sisters then tackle Muslim and Indian cultures. The female MPs of all political parties in NZ are quiet on the oppression of woman in those cultures. Where are the Jacinda Ardern's or Jan Logie's action protests or even debate in Parliament, Oh yes ponytail, I forgot, sorry Jacinda and Jan. Lipstick , powder-puff, twirls, womans-magazine's and high heels are their take.

greywarbler said...

This is a critical and objective view that will arouse anger in the soft and sensitive who have rubbed PC juice well in. It seems that today's feminism has morphed into something that resonates with the All-about-Me generation. That coupled with lesbians with a sometimes antipathetic view of men, which was a noticeably divisive feature in the ranks of the sisterhood in the 70's, leads to a less than rational approach to women's rights today.

Meanwhile their attention is drawn away from now pressing problems of this century, the loss of democracy for all but the wealthy, and the disastrous effects of climate change on vulnerable women, men and children and animals and indeed, all living things. But many of the most fervent come from either advantaged backgrounds or are quite disadvantaged, and both are obsessed with yesterday's aspirations to the extent that they have little time to face today's looming turmoil.

greywarbler said...

Anonymous 12.57
The comfortable sneer and fault-finding with the applicants for change.
They do have a point about improving things in NZ - taking on all the male malefactors in the world is a big ask don't you think - if you are able that is?

If you want to take feminists in NZ to task ask why they haven't done more for the poorly paid, needed workers who clean and do what are regarded as menial jobs. Decent wages and fair working and living conditions for women, who are often the most vulnerable, and should receive special concessions because they are caring for children, hasn't yet been achieved here in NZ.

Anonymous said...

greywarbler, I am simply stating a fact about our feminist politicians and without degrading the fight needed for the poorly paid, the fight against women and children slavery by male subjection in the Muslim world is cruelty for all to see. Why do our feminist MPs concentrate on the comparative banal. I believe I answered my own question.

Anonymous said...

It very rare that I disagree with Chris. However, this is one occasion when I do. Unless men stop their current unwillingness to talk about equality and change to actively talking about it, nothing will change! Emma Watson is right, the feminist movement causes too much negativity to the majority of both women and men. Most will ignore their words as they ignore the blatant mysogyny of some (most?) men. The reality is that men, who for whatever reason, hold power over women are the ones who must be targeted by other men. Campaigns such as this give a route for men to influence other men and at the same time show support to women who are promoting equality. The men and women who want superiority over the other sex are wrong. The women and men who want equality for both sexes are right.

Joan Blackburn said...

How I remember the strident divisiveness of the lesbian anti-men people in 1970s Dunedin meetings. And when men supporting us in the Society for Research on Women were often greeted with 'Aha! So you want research women, then.'

Fast forward. Yesterday we went to our most favourite spot, Trotters'Gorge, and back up the coast to Kakanui past the Bowalley Road turnoff. Mmm. Great day.

Patricia said...

I really think that we, the feminists of New rZealand, should be cleaning up our own backyard before having a go at the Muslim world. Anyway isn't such a view (to clean up the Muslim world) just another attempt at divide and rule? You have to be sure too that the women of the Muslim world want to be like us. Many in the Middle East think that Western women are oppressed and exploited. When I described my daughter's life (she has three children) to a young Saudi women, who would dress in the full catastrophe when she went out, she was visibly shocked and said "what a dreadful life"!!

greywarbler said...

Anonymous 18.34
You answered your own question. Perfect. An example of how closed minds operate. Can't learn, can't ponder, mind going round in the circle like the heading bar on my computer trying for a connection. Round and round and eventually if one waits, some message will come up such as 'site not found' perhaps. Memo to yourself - Never pose a question to which you have not a ready rebutting answer. I can see why you don't change pseudonym from Anonymous.

Teresa said...

Question: is this performance art? A man who thinks he is clear on the issues that affect women, finds a feminist to quote in order to support his own ideas, and then tells other women that they are doing feminism wrong? And the first responses to his blog are from someone who thinks that feminism is being pushed by lesbians and someone else who wants to minimise the issues in New Zealand because apparently women aren't allowed to fight for their own rights until every other woman in the world has theirs. Meanwhile men have no responsibility in any of this. We need to read this out loud in cafe, with Alanis Morrisette playing in the background.

Bushbaptist said...

Interesting comment Anon 18.34. Has it occurred to you that there are many Christian Sects that are similar? Or is it that we notice it more because of the wars that Christians have started in West Asia?

Like Christianity and Judaism, Islam covers a range of sects, some enlightened and others oppressive. In fact the world would be a better place if religion was completely abolished everywhere. Too many people die and have died in the name of a silly belief in the supernatural.

It's also interesting to note that almost every successful woman is regarded as a "Feminist" when many are not in fact. What our female Pollies want is equality for our womenfolk, is that too much to ask? We still have a hell of a long way to go!

peteswriteplace said...

There are other priorities I would suggest. Wage equality is one of them. Tackle human rights in other cultures present in NZ.

Chris Trotter said...

To: Teresa.

Ouch! I'm afraid I can only plead incurable historical awareness.

As a much younger man I fervently believed in everything Emma Watson stated in her speech.

In the 1970s and 80s, however, the feminists of my generation wanted none of it. Women needed men like a fish needs a bicycle back in those early days of Second Wave feminism.

That's why I had my own Alanis Morrisette sound track going-on in the background when I heard that Sue Kedgely was launching HeForShe in New Zealand.

If you (or others who share your views) can answer the objections raised by Clementine Ford (and I'm sure by many other feminists around the world since September 2014) Teresa, then fine, I'll click the icon and wear the badge.

Until then, though ...

(I will not, at any time, however, be censoring Bowalley Road's commentators.)

Anonymous said...

I feel sorry for a man who is wedded to a feminist, I also feel sorry for a office or work place that employees one.

Anonymous said...

The problem for feminism is that, unlike gay rights or black lives matter, etc. with respect to their constituencies, most women appear to see little value in contemporary feminism.

Anonymous said...

I'm a man, and I consider myself a feminist - which I define as the simple notion that men and women are equal. I prefer to judge people by the content of their character, not the content of their trousers.

Meanwhile, obsessing about quotas of women CEOs or politicians really achieves nothing. A world run by Sarah Palin, Margaret Thatcher, Ruth Richardson, Jenny Shipley, Judith Collins, and Paula Bennett (hey, look! Women in power!) would do little good for anyone.

Nick J said...

I really had to read the article a few times before I agreed with Chris. Power relations are where the issue starts and ends. The current window dressing of women in board rooms or as grey suit equivalents (like Paula Rebstock) changes zippo and if we ended up replacing all the men with women where would we be? Meet the new boss same as the old boss.

Im all for equality of gender but I am more for equality per se. When the whole facade of our current consumerist fantasy is stripped bare exploitation of all by all is revealed. Nobody can be free or equal unless all are regardless of gender.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

I presume Anonymous 17:14 that you work in an office or a workplace where spelling is not required? Otherwise I feel really sorry for your boss. Married to a feminist BTW :-).

David Stone said...

Hi Chris
@ G S Perhaps Anonymous at 17;14 doesn't have a girlfriend at all; else he would have someone to ask how to spell things all the time like I have to.
Cheers D J S

greywarbler said...

It is strange but true that women want to demand change from others but when there is some differing opinion about that, go all righteous and say
that nothing that anyone else thinks is right and valid and there can be no change in their firmly held opinions. Apart from their own fixed ideas in their groupthink, others are unlikely to think exactly the same, whatever their gender.

And many of all genders, if they were honest and not emasculated by PC, would say that present feminist demands are OTT, often centred on sexual relations which usually are very personal (and let's not go back to the 1960's where every inhibition was in question). Instead of exhorting society to be better, feminists would get improvement by holding more courses in communication and try to get more respect and understanding between genders, also between all people.

Anonymous said...

Lol, I did ask her and that's what she told me, apologies all round.

Robert said...

Emma Watson is of course another film star media hero. We have the psychiatrists daughter, Nicole Kidman marrrying the very ordinary, younger country music yokel, Keith Urban from the burbs of Whangarei. Or the even more doubtful relationship of the staggering Sienna Miller to the cro mag, secondary modern idiot Daniel Craig. It was of course Germaine Greer who suggested hot sex was for women to marry working class road repair workers. A bad idea. Abuse is mainly the result of women having relations with unintelligent and rural men. A bad idea. There is some truth in IQ bands

Robert said...

Sue Kedgely got heated recently, about people suggesting Julia Gillard was a sex criminal. Certainly the NZ feminist view that she was a lesbian and her husband a bead was nonsense. Prejudice against hairdressers, a doubtful theory, remember Warren Beatty in Shampoo, one of the great hetro goers. I think I did write one that Julia was a cougar and almost all Australian women politicians were likely to present themselves as very attractive and almost as courgars which to some extent from my information at the time Gillard and Roxon. Like most Australian women politicians and media women, Julia liked to party and if she at 40 had boyfriend half her age, it was compliment and a sensible choice, and I mean. Very admirable and sensible. Doubtless I have said some hard words about Julia on occasion when pissed, but I recently read a few biographies on her life, and she is a very intelligent lady ( any politician who makes it out of the Australian Government public school system is inclined to be very bright 130 +) and in some ways her, jest and part admiration relationship with Tony Abbot her oppostion leader opponent reflected a genuine respect. Julia took some hard line stands, it is she who declared Chrsitmas Island, outside Australian territory and constitution and when the expelles are moved there they therefore cease to be Australian. It is Julia against the views of ANU and Beazley who ordered the 40 super hornets and I actually wrote her a letter recommeding the step, doubtlessly unnoticed, because I believed the F-111s and legacy hornets worn out and unlikely to be able to deliver significa nt payload against the nation to the North of Australia, unless flying from Singapore and Malaysia, anyway.

Guerilla Surgeon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Guerilla Surgeon said...

Jesus Robert – get a fucking editor. I had to give up halfway through that. What the hell is a bead? Do you mean handbag? Is this something new I haven't come across yet? Christ having to cope with all the confusion in your sentences and new words at the same time is impossible :-).

Robert said...

During this century we have had a female PM and chief justice and female mayors and cabinet ministers are a dime a dozen. It dosen't seem to have done much to increase the average wage or salary to international levels with subsidy.
Germaine Greers book on female artists,seemed to prove the negative, in reality their aren't any immortal female painters.I remain unconvinced that women can lead a major military in war or even govern as effectively as an intelligent man. Thatcher is often cited as a noted bodicea and war leader, but in fact she just left the war in the hands of her generals and admirals. While the Falkland war did save the Tory government and a free liberal society in Britain,the significant ship losses and the high risk of war were not expected or understood by Thatcher and post war the Tory Politicians, lost most faith in the Royal Navy and came to overwhelmingly support the Army as the vehicle of Britain's foreign policy. The appointment of women officers to key ship commands in the RN and USN has had the expected result, it is only a matter of months before they are in bed with a male officer other than their husband ( this is the planned and fortunate result of putting women at sea in the Navy or in public schools but hardly the result planned by feminists) and in the USN, womens command of USN ships like a cruiser has resulted in terrible crew and officer relations, eg USS Cowpens.
We have more women scientists because the mathematical content and standards in maths,physics and chemistry have been lowered. Far fewer women than men have a verbal IQ of 140,the minimum for useful work in physics, ie 1 in 200, of the general population have an IQ of 140.

greywarbler said...

Looking at the type of man you appear to be, besotted with your own abilities and unerring opinions, I would opine that you would not be likely to lead a major military war better than other similar men. A critique of your results would indicate your weaknesses, and the more investigators, the more differing opinions. A woman who gets to a leadership position must be judged on her outcomes, as a man is, not expected to be superior to all men who had gone before her.

You throw around sexuality not able to be controlled, as a problem caused by every woman in authority. You give examples of some, no doubt they are exceptions, but that in heterosexual people will always be something to understood and controlled. But each leader has to cope with controlling their own predilections such as unreasonable expectations and anger, distaste for race etc. Just add heterosexual inclinations to the list that already exists - don't regard it as totally unique to an otherwise perfectly and smoothly running human organisation. For instance, Captain Bligh was famous for not being able to cope with his crew, and his and their attitudinal problems.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"I remain unconvinced that women can lead a major military in war "
Depending on what you mean by that statement you could look at Golda Meir. You could also acknowledge the fact that war is probably best left in the hands of generals and admirals. Churchill's adventures in World War I and World War II came close to killing off some of my relatives thank you very much. Man was a fuckwit militarily. As was Hitler, as was Stalin. Hitler in particular went against the advice of his generals, to the point where he lost the war.
It would also be nice if you provided a link to the information that ships' captains regularly fuck junior officers in any greater numbers than male or officers below the rank of captain. Jesus you pull this stuff out of your arse sometimes. I've never seen such complete bullshit.

Peggy Klimenko said...

Robert: "We have more women scientists because the mathematical content and standards in maths,physics and chemistry have been lowered."

You have a link to provide support for this assertion? No? Thought not.... I do believe that we currently have an issue with disproportionately fewer women in science at senior levels. And here's a link.

I suspect you're just trying out a bit of a wind-up.

"Far fewer women than men have a verbal IQ of 140,the minimum for useful work in physics, ie 1 in 200, of the general population have an IQ of 140."

Now I'm sure you're taking the piss: this cannot be right, and I'm certain you know it. But just in case you don't, it has to do with selection pressures on males and females. Go do some reading.

"The appointment of women officers to key ship commands in the RN and USN has had the expected result, it is only a matter of months before they are in bed with a male officer other than their husband..."

Well now, if that's so, I guess some may see that as preferable to the situation pertaining previously, when the commanding officer would have had rumpy-pumpy with a junior officer, or one of the crew. Or the cabin boy, back in the day.... Boys will be boys, eh?

"I remain unconvinced that women can lead a major military in war or even govern as effectively as an intelligent man."

Setting aside the fact that intelligence is neither a necessary nor a sufficient condition for either task, we've seen over and over that men can make a right pig's ear of both. Guerilla Surgeon has pointed out Churchill and Hitler as exemplars which come immediately to mind. Note that Hitler lost WW2, rather than the Allies having won it.

Anent governance: good grief, where do I start? Smart ones, dumb ones, handsome ones, ugly ones, arrogant ones, terminally-entitled ones, fat old ones, psychopathic ones ... too many to count, and all of them useless at governing. Yet - curiously - nobody adduces any of this as evidence of men's inability to govern.

However, it's worth pointing out that the three most effective monarchs in British history have been women.

Assuming you're serious in your assertions, and not just another adolescent male messing about instead of doing your math homework like you told your mother, you've fallen into the same trap that catches many males. You expect women to be better than men. But that's not what it's all about: women make up half the population, more or less, and it's not unreasonable to expect them to be occupying jobs and roles across the spectrum of society in proportion to their numbers. Women are people too.

A final point with regard to posts such as this one, where in the comment thread men like to give us all the benefit of their views on feminism - regardless, it seems,of whether they know anything about it - don't hide behind a nom de guerre. Have some courage and comment under your own name. Own your opinions. Such as they are....

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"I suspect you're just trying out a bit of a wind-up."

No, I think he believes it. I had to do some undergraduate research once and needed to use stuff produced by people like Robert. Usually a tad more coherent, but they are out there and they should scare the crap out of all of us. I got the impression – impression only not scientific – that many of them had come off badly in a divorce. They seem to have very traditional ideas about the place of women, and many seemed to be looking for a second, Asian wife – because they're more "traditional" i.e. passive. Some of them got a bit of a shock.

Peggy Klimenko said...

Guerilla Surgeon: "No, I think he believes it."

Crikey. You mention undergraduate research: surely he's not an academic? I know that there were quite a few unreconstructed fellows in the university system back when I was studying. Naive perhaps, but I'd hoped that they'd all died off, or at least retired. Which may be so, of course: the blogosphere is the last place left where they can post their views, maybe.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

No no, you misunderstood me. I was doing undergraduate research about something God I've forgotten what, but it involved so-called men's liberationists or something – whatever they call themselves. I had to use stuff they'd written. I suppose I could dig it out from somewhere, but to be honest I'm trying to forget, and I've already vomited once today :-). There was a guy who lived in Wainui I think, who ran some sort of men's organisation. I read his self published work. Self published obviously because no one would touch it with a barge pole. Just done a quick Google search and can't find the organisation at all. I'll see if I can dig something out and get back to you maybe. If you think it's worth it :-).

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Ah... This article seems to give a reasonable summary. Of course they're now all over 4Chan. They didn't have that outlet when I was writing :-).

The comments are quite interesting.

Peggy Klimenko said...

Guerilla Surgeon: Gawd, I see what you mean! Sorry, I just assumed research material = academic publications. I do recall seeing some of this sort of thing on some comment threads back in the early days of blogging. It tends to crop up nowadays when people blog about feminism and women's rights. As on this comment thread.

All a bit sad, really, and worse still when done under the cloak of anonymity.

Robert M said...

Peggy Klimenko, I have actually have a BA, BCom and two honours degrees in History and Political Science. In the 1980s I actually worked as an editorial writer and have written articles for many newspapers and magazines, nb the NBR in the 1983-97 period. Although technically a Political Scientist, I approach issues more from an engineering and economics point of view. In defence writing which is my main speciality, my work is bases first on the degree of angle and inflection, allowable and the degree of truth and honesty required and the people who have to be supported and kicked. Its a bit like setting up a 1960-1980 Grand Prix car or a strike fighter of the same era, the settings are a balance or compromises, with absolutes in a few areas and degrees, of truth, dishonesty and deception in the ECM and ESM settings. Thats exactly how I approach it from when I started writing on defence in 1983 to editing much of the RN/RNZN wiki for the cold war period over the last five years

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Interesting, I found it. Going through my old assignments, it was the very last one I found. I was looking at the economic situation of women generally with regards to equal pay. Or lack of. And of course of my three-page bibliography his book was the last one on it :-).
Zohrab, P., (2001). Sex Lies and Feminism. Backlash! Books: Wainuiomata.

He is also mentioned on Kiwi blog.

And I think he might be related to some high-powered lawyer – or maybe he's even a lawyer himself. I did do some research into his background at the time, but I've forgotten it. And if you Google Peter Z. He's all over the Internet.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Peggy – god this is funny - in parts.

Oh, and incidentally Robert – I really wouldn't have liked to have been your editor. If you're writing was anything like it is in these posts.

Peggy Klimenko said...

Guerilla Surgeon: oh yes, Peter Zohrab.It all comes back to me now! He got a good deal of publicity for himself around the late 90s - early noughties. I hadn't seen the Salient article, but it's of a piece with what he was making a noise about all those years ago.

He's still hitting the news, though not perhaps in the way that he'd prefer:

There is a Tony Zohrab who's a judge, but I have no idea whether they're related.

Robert M "I have actually have a BA, BCom and two honours degrees in History and Political Science."

Er... So? I criticised your arguments; I didn't question your qualifications. Did you read my comment at all? Nor did I take issue with the quality of your writing: I think that may have been Guerilla Surgeon. Though I'm inclined to agree.

" I approach issues more from an engineering and economics point of view."

So: no biology then. Thought as much from your arguments...

I return to the point I made earlier: don't hide behind a nom de guerre. Let's be having your name, eh?

Guerilla Surgeon said...

Yes, I saw that article. It fits in very well with what I remember of his book. That is a very, very angry man.