Saturday, September 04, 2010

The Myth of the Backlash

Despite the propaganda disseminated by people like Susan Faludi, claiming that there has been a concerted backlash against feminism, the opposite is the case. Feminism has progressed steadily for four decades and more with hardly a squeak of opposition from anyone. Not only has there never been anything like a ‘backlash’, indeed any resistance to speak of, organised or not, but on the contrary, male judges and politicians have acceded time and time again to the most outrageous feminist demands. The vicious anti-male legislation we see being enacted across the English-speaking world has largely been enacted by men. Feminist causes receive billions of dollars of taxpayer's money. Far from facing a backlash, feminism has enjoyed the unmitigated support of political elites for decades.

Feminism is the Western world’s last surviving bastion of Socialism. During the 1980s when the Thatcher-Reagan axis was waging the Cold War both at home and abroad, Feminism was ignored by these powerful anti-Communist forces, and in fact prospered. At the end of the Cold War when Communism collapsed and seemed to be politically discredited once and for all, Feminism survived with its reputation intact. Why? The irony is that feminism has been left alone largely because of sexism!

It is easy to identify several cultural and political factors which discourage dissent against feminism. There are two separate issues here. Firstly, the general lack of popular opposition to feminism, which is a remarkable phenomenon in itself. Secondly, an enquiry into why the political elite in particular has never acted against feminism, given feminism’s self-professed radicalism and Marxist roots. I will examine each of these in turn.

The Absence of Popular Dissent
There is a long-standing popular myth that women are essentially good, noble and pure, or at least, incapable of doing harm. If women are good, noble and pure, then anything that women say must also be good, noble and pure simply because women are saying it. This collocates with the belief that women are not acceptable targets for attack, and so therefore the women’s movement is not an acceptable target either. The myth of innocence places women above suspicion and allows them to pass unchallenged. Any demands women make for social reform must be good, or at least harmless, simply because women are making them; any movement of women must be good, or at least harmless. Thus, there is simply no reason to attack feminism, because it is harmless. Feminists actively promote these outdated sexist beliefs for the simple reason that they benefit from them.

Why have men as a group not stood up and defended themselves against the onslaught of feminism? For the same reasons ‘the patriarchy’ could never have got started in early history. Males have to compete with each other for sexual access to females, and this tends to militate against the kind of cooperation that would be required to form a mass men’s movement to take any effective stand. Many women, particularly among the middle-classes, will tend to select against those men who speak out against feminism, and this may include severe immediate personal consequences such as social exclusion, damage to career and reputation, false accusations, even a beating from some na├»ve man who thinks he might improve his own sexual chances by administering it.

Men don’t want to be seen to feel threatened by women, or to enter into open conflict with them. This is perfectly rational given the circumstances. It is to a significant extent, a no-win situation for a man. If he wins, he is seen as a sexist bully who picks on people weaker than himself, and if he loses, he is seen as a weak, pathetic loser who can’t defend himself against someone obviously weaker than himself. If a man enters into conflict with a woman, it is very likely that most of the community will automatically rush to the woman’s assistance, assuming her to be the wronged party, regardless of the actual circumstances. This is a sexist situation which feminists actively encourage. This identifies a form of political power which women have always possessed, but which feminists have never acknowledged the existence of.

Feminism has convinced us of its moral justness – who in their right mind could possibly oppose the cause of women’s rights?

The lack of Political Suppression by the Elite.
Why has the ruling elite never attacked feminism? It is important to remember that the men and women of the elite are no more immune to prevailing cultural attitudes than the rest of us, so everything I said above also applies to them. Both male and female members of the elite will be psychologically disinclined to attack feminism for the same reasons as lesser mortals. However, in addition, they can be characterised as seeking to maintain their elite powerful position. Why, then, have they not identified feminism as a threat to the established political order, and attacked it?

Even though they can hardly be described as oppressed or underprivileged, the women of the elite are also attracted by feminism. It brings them many of the same psychological benefits that it brings to less privileged women. In addition, though, feminism allows privileged women to let themselves off the hook. It enables them to persuade themselves that they are not in fact privileged at all. It allows them to regard themselves as victims. It allows them, if they so choose, to blame their male relatives for accruing all the wealth and power, while they themselves enjoy its benefits and excuse themselves of any complicity. Thus, they will be unwilling to challenge feminism, and, as it gives them the same kind of psychological leverage over their male peers as it gives to their less privileged sisters, they will discourage these male peers from challenging it either.

By identifying political power with the entire male population (or something called ‘the Patriarchy’), feminism misidentifies who the powerful are. This serves to confuse and misdirect the forces of social reform. In this way, feminism actually serves the interests of the powerful, so they are disinclined to attack it.

Feminism has a tendency to split, divide and fragment other dissident movements that it infiltrates, thus undermining them. I know from my own experience that radical feminism divided the 1980s anti-nuclear movement along sexual lines. Feminism turns male and female dissidents against each other. In this way, it actually serves the interests of the powerful, so again, they are disinclined to attack it.

Feminists’ volatile tendency to launch into self-righteous outrage and moral panic at the drop of a hat is useful to the ruling social elite to distract attention away from itself. In this way, feminism actually serves the interests of the powerful, so they are disinclined to attack it.

The powers that be have never lifted a hand against feminism because it is useful to them. Look at our current economic ills. Pensions have become a giant Ponzi scheme with future commitments that they cannot possibly honour. Millions are facing having to work until the age of 70. Why has no-one protested? One reason is that those in power use the popular media to distract our attention onto spurious problems, by shouting things like “Hey, everybody! Look over there! It’s a paedophile!” Feminists can always be relied upon to start the screaming.

Feminists are always on the look-out for a stick to beat men with, and the powers that be are only too willing to hand them one. Their tendency to stir up moral panic plays into the hands of corporate and political vested interests.

Feminism’s Immune System
Feminism has not been slow to defend itself when challenged. Canadian feminists have suggested charging anyone who criticises feminism with hate crime. This is pure Stalinism. Anyone who disagrees with the Party line has to be ruthlessly excoriated, criminalized, medicalized, purged from the ranks of human society. The Canadian feminists are unwittingly showing their Marxist totalitarian roots here. This is the feminist movement in its true colours; tyranny with a pretty face is still tyranny nonetheless.

This is just one example of the viciously repressive measures taken against dissidents, which feminists seem to think are just a part of their entitlement. The main tactic is usually destroying people’s reputations through ad hominen attacks, although feminists have never been above issuing death threats and engaging in small scale acts of terrorism.

Just like any other National Socialist cult, the feminist movement behaves in viciously aggressive ways towards those who disagree with it. This obviously works on some of the people some of the time; those who consider raising objections might be intimidated into silence, at least for a while.

Conclusion
Far from there being a concerted anti-feminist backlash as Faludi claims, the opposite is the case; there has been precisely no backlash. The myth of the backlash is a useful tool for rallying the troops and keeping them faithful. If some feminists are starting to relax and convince themselves that the battle is won, Faludi wants to persuade them that, on the contrary, they must re-double their efforts against the enemy. The myth of the backlash is a device for keeping the movement alive, keeping the social group together; and therefore keeping its leaders in power.

Feminism has been so successful because it has effectively bypassed our psychological immune systems. Even those who feel that there is something not quite right about it find it very difficult to articulate exactly what the problem is, especially in a way that sounds acceptable, and doubly so if they are male. Far from challenging the established political and social order, feminism is, in many ways, a deeply conservative movement which serves the interests of the establishment.

The idea that feminists are doing their best to improve things doesn’t entitle them to the level of immunity from scrutiny or criticism that they demand, and that many are prepared to grant. We know from countless examples elsewhere that lack of scrutiny is a recipe for corruption, and indeed, this is what has happened.

We have plenty of lessons to draw on from Twentieth Century history. You can cling on to power for a generation or two by means of cronyism, youth indoctrination, inspiring popular fear, the relentless purging of dissidents and endless propaganda (known euphemistically as ‘spin‘ or ‘news management’) but sooner or later the truth will out. Berlin Walls have a habit of coming down eventually. Lace curtains are no different.