This has been an incredibly odd week. The kind of week you re-evaluate what you believe in both morally and politically. A period in time that has consisted of numerous running battles with radical feminists, whilst finding myself at times uncomfortably agreeing with the so called alt-right guru Milo Yiannopoulos. Admittedly he’s big on rhetoric, but there is more than an element of truth when he voices severe reservations about Social Justice Warriors and in particular radical feminists. Where we agree, is I believe all voices should be heard and you test your theories against opposing ideas to see how they stack up. Preventing certain speakers or comedians to attend university because a specific section of the campus doesn’t agree, curbing words, actions (such as clapping), banning particular books or even topics of conversation is authoritarian and veering ever closer to fascism.
As a libertarian socialist, I find this sort of social control puritanical. Unfortunately it has a large number of subscribers, who spend copious amounts of time in echo chambers generally found in ‘so called’ liberal colleges working on for example a ‘gender studies’ degree, without any discernible experience in life. I fear that Social Justice Warriors, the illiberal left or the alt-left as they could be called, are the biggest threat to a unified left that we seriously need, to challenge neoliberalism. I strongly suspect it is one of the major reasons the Labour Party lost swathes of working class voters in the 90’s and 2000’s, as the ‘pretend’ left under Blair and Clinton in the US, moved away from fighting the rich and became part of the establishment. These so called leaders of the free world suddenly readjusted their focus and embarked on a social justice war, using identity politics as their main weapon against the scourge of free thought. Race, gender and sexuality were suddenly the topics of this culture war as politicians gave up fighting for economic equality. As if by magic the scope of acceptable debate was diminished and the use of a set of authorised words to describe someone became more important than the homeless, unjust wars and the environment. All the while during these periods of distraction the rich rejoiced at the prospect of victory on the war of economic theory, as the left pitifully moved full circle in a social sense and landed on the authoritarian right.
I need to take deep breaths, as I’m a little triggered, although I’m pleased to report I don’t require a safe space as yet. So what sparked my rant you may ask. In a nutshell, men’s health, more specifically the funding for the research of men’s health. It was in an article that came out of New Zealand suggesting that men receive a tiny amount of gender specific health funding when compared to women. To put this in perspective, according to the article for every dollar 6 cents goes to male medical research and funding. It concluded by stating the Professor bringing this to light was also keen on establishing a centre for men’s health at the University of Otago. This post was published innocently on Wake up NZ’s Facebook page only to spark a mini internet earthquake. This outburst was initiated by women who were incensed that we would even have the audacity to suggest that men should have funding for medical research too. What was more disconcerting was the mental gymnastics these activists were performing to justify keeping their 94 cents out of the dollar. In fact one of the aggrieved even suggested they were entitled to more funding as men’s health issues were their own doing. The lack of facts to support their rage were clearly apparent, instead we were treated to a smorgasbord of anecdotal ‘evidence’, coupled with accusations of misogyny and ever more anger. This avalanche of abuse was despite the fact I kindly supplied article upon article in support of my position. Silly me, what was I thinking, I should know it’s not the value of what you say, but who’s saying it. Welcome to the crazy world of identity politics. Stupidly, I thought I was helping out, but this injection of facts just added more fuel to the fire. For a group who are blisteringly quick to reprimand anybody who supposedly ‘victim blames’, a few of these women even had the gall to reprimand men for their predicament. Insinuating that men somehow didn’t deserve the funding as they seldom go to the GP when they should. Even for radical feminists this felt like it was scraping the barrel and suspiciously Orwellian in nature. This relentless radical offensive was performed without any obvious knowledge of health or research, just driven by pure emotion and blind ideology.
With all this vitriol being spewed out by a group of angry young women, it’s worth considering a few facts about men’s health. Firstly, New Zealand has one of the worst suicide epidemics in the world, with the ratio being 3 men to 1 woman. Furthermore, between the ages of 50 and 75 the number of deaths are 30% higher for men than for women. This disparity of funding isn’t peculiar just to New Zealand either, in Australia men are 60% more likely to die of cancer than women, however, since 2003 men have received 4 times less funding for health research. Inexplicably breast cancer received $60 million more than prostate cancer, while ovarian cancer attracted $64 million more than testicular cancer. This despite men living on average 4 1/2 years less than women. Although nobody in the right mind is suggesting that they are against women’s health being adequately funded, equally, I would challenge anyone to suggest that the current status quo makes any sense. Even the World Health Organisation stated that the recognition of the men’s health gap must be included in the global health equity agenda. The article highlighted that out of 67 identified risk factors, 60 were responsible for more male than female deaths and the top 10 risk factors were all more common in men. With the mounting evidence you would of thought the radical feminists may have re-evaluated their stance or offer a little compassion. Sadly statistics, facts and a solid case did not seem to interfere at all with their entrenched ideology. In fact if anything they appeared more inclined to dig their heels in further. This was generally displayed in a myriad of accusations equating to misogyny, mansplaining their oppression and something to do with smashing the patriarchy. The response was visceral and reactionary, as if reciting a mantra from some spiritual book. Which made me think, what do 3rd wave/radical feminists really want?
The premise that modern feminists seek equality is laughable. This current incarnation is driven by a belief system that doesn’t stand up to scrutiny and displays many traits of a cult. The doctrine generally answers nuanced and at times complex issues with blanket explanations. Firstly, the gender wage gap, this is a misnomer, it is poorly calculated by taking the mean or median of each gender’s wage and then divide one by the other. A gender wage gap in my view is comparing like for like jobs while taking into account the experience levels plus a multitude of other factors. Once you do this, the gap shrinks from the much publicised Obama endorsed 79cent on the dollar to a more modest 1.6cents.
I am not in any way suggesting there are no issues regarding women in the workplace, on the contrary men tend to occupy the top spots, but it is thought unlikely that this has to do with any form of systemic oppression. Hours worked, career paths and starting a family can all contribute to a differing take home pay or career success.
Secondly, the patriarchy, this is defined as a society where men hold power and women do not, it’s the bedrock that holds modern day, radical feminism together. Well, currently in New Zealand the Prime Minister is a woman and 7 out of the 20 inner cabinet members are indeed women. In the UK my place of birth the Prime Minister is indeed a women, contrary to popular belief. There are also many women in the upper echelons of academia and in business, admittedly these ratios could be higher. However, the reasons for this are considered to be a multi-dimensional conundrum, quite similar to the ‘gender pay gap’ and not necessarily down to a convenient single entity such as the patriarchy.
Indeed crusty, old, white, rich, men are inclined to dominate at the elite end of society, but their determination to hold on to power isn’t just about discriminating against women, it’s about excluding anybody who is not like them. From gender to race all the way through to class and academic upbringing, they will rule you out purely because you are not in the club and it’s well documented likes attract likes. With respect to the patriarchy, if men were at the top of the tree so to speak, why do we send them to die on the battlefield through the draft system? If they are so superior why do we reduce their numbers through indiscriminate murder? It doesn’t seem like the most intelligent strategy I’ve ever encountered. Although, what we do know is many of the future ruling elite don’t go to war, while the poor kids tend to fill up the infantry front line and are used as canon fodder. You only have to look at George W Bush, Bill Clinton and Dick Cheney as examples, who were all more than happy to send others to die, but they were quick to make a run for it when they got their papers a few decades earlier. So back to patriarchy, tell me, why do we make sure women and children get off a sinking boat or out of a burning building first if men are the masters of the universe? The idea of an all pervasive patriarchy sounds way too simplistic for me, in a world that is infinitely complicated. Most contests of power are quite often in line with class, not a gender struggle, but, dividing us by race, gender or religion keeps us fractured and the rich in charge.
Another myth we have doing the rounds currently is ‘rape culture’. This is not to devalue the fact that rape is horrific, obviously all efforts should be done to prevent this type of crime and sexual abuse at all costs. I’ll make it very clear, rape is not accepted and it certainly isn’t the norm anywhere I have ever been to. We do not celebrate this as something that’s part of our culture and we rightly lock these people away. But the figures need to be explored, in the US, figures of 1 in 4 or 1 in 5 tend to be used as the ratio of woman who suffer from sexual abuse or sexual assault on college campuses. These statistics are then used to strengthen the case of a ‘rape culture’. Again this bold claim does nothing to adequately tackle the serious crimes of rape and sexual abuse. Critique’s of these papers suggest that the above figures tend to result from poorly thought out studies, such as self-selecting survey’s. It’s not surprising that people who have been on the receiving end of such dreadful abuse are more likely to respond to these surveys, while others may well decline to take part. In one particular study, survey’s were sent to nearly 800,000 people and only 19% replied, this poor response rate and methodology instantly doesn’t help the credibility of the data collected. Furthermore, the terms of sexual assault have been broadened, to include such incidents as, “rubbing up against another person in a sexual way at a party”. Contrary to the stats above the Bureau of Justice Statistics in the US reported that 1 in 53 women will be raped or sexually assaulted while at college. This is not in any way a foolish attempt to belittle the victims of such a despicable crime, as this has no place in our society, but the question is, why the disparity? Nobody is suggesting the BJS stats are perfect, that’s just not possible with these types of issues, however, 25% in one survey and 1.89% in a federal study is a serious indicator that something just doesn’t add up. Tellingly America’s largest and most influential anti-sexual-violence organization RAINN (Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network) disagrees with the term ‘rape culture’ concluding that rape is a conscious decision made by an individual to commit a violent crime and that these people are a small minority within a community. Unsurprisingly these suggestions by professionals from this field appear a more sane and thought-out summary when making sense of this heinous crime.
So why do we have these if not bogus then highly suspicious stories projected by radical feminists that simplify certain issues and constantly encourage women who are primarily college age, relatively affluent and supposedly intelligent to be permanent victims. These ‘activist’ feminists seem to want to be life-time participants in the oppression Olympics, when many of these adherents to the ’cause’ are some of the most protected and ‘privileged’ women in the world. With all the travesties throughout the globe their targets of rage are rather lukewarm to say the least, highlighting issues of mansplaining, manspreading and microaggression, while their ‘sisters’ in places like Saudi Arabia have to fight tooth and nail for every basic right, such as driving. It’s no secret that Muslim women face potential traumas such as genital mutilation, forced marriage and honour violence, however, many western feminists are conspicuous by their absence when it comes to supporting these issues. Alas it appears this is not about equality and is much more likely to be about control. They behave like spoilt teenage girls who want their own way, putting their collective hands over their ears so they don’t have to hear any contradictory voices for fear of invalidating their experiences. Feminism in this form should be redundant, as it’s built on the assumption that women are systemically worse off than men. Life is often not fair or simple for that matter, whether people like this or not, we are unique and we want different things. Some aspects of life men undoubtedly have the upper hand, although on other issues mainly health and education outcomes women have it better. For instance women tend to live longer than men, young boys are more fragile physically and psychologically than girls, therefore, males are more susceptible to diseases, these are just a couple of examples to suggest that it’s not all one way. Unfortunately to many of the ‘radicals’ including the ones online it seems they espouse the view that if it’s against women it’s oppression, but if it’s against men it’s just life. Finally all this fighting for equality has actually seen a decline in happiness and life satisfaction. As gender equality has gradually levelled, so has the disparity between the two sexes happiness scores, woman are now as equally miserable as men, but I’m sure it has all been worth it.
So how do SJW’s affect the left or more to the point socialism? One of the problems is in the US, Social Justice Warriors get termed annoyingly as leftist. I suspect this is primarily due to an absence of a strong left that focuses on economic factors, in addition to over 20 years of the so-called left fighting in the arena of identity politics. Although thankfully in recent times Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn have successfully managed to push the topic of economic inequality back into the public sphere. The one area the US right have been successful with is coining the mystical term ‘Cultural Marxist’ for these activists. The tale regarding ‘Cultural Marxism’ is that their plan is to slowly, but stealthily dilute and subvert Christian, white western culture, this apparently would open sovereign nations to be ruled by a one world corporate body. I would strongly argue that a globalized business model and multiple trade agreements advocated by the right have beaten them to it. Anyway, this bizarre theory goes back to a fringe idea by Jewish German academics and is widely known as the Frankfurt School of Critical Theory, from the early 20th century. This moniker is something that has been used by anyone from anti-feminists to the Daily Mail and also the man I mentioned earlier Milo, all to discredit the left. This is where life is nuanced, I think radical feminism and SJW’s are exceptionally destructive for the left, however, I find the idea of Cultural Marxism totally ludicrous. The reason the attachment of this label is to the detriment of the left is the clever use of the name Marx with a group that appears intolerant, easily offended, against free speech and authoritarian. This plays straight into the hands of the right; when working class people see privileged young activists behaving like entitled 14 year olds, while much of the western world is struggling with homelessness, economic inequality and disappearing incomes, they’ll think “the left sucks”. We on the contrary should endeavour to be the ultimate form of democracy, listening to varying points of view, with representation at every level of society, including the workplace and the commons. In recent times there now seems to be an emergence of some form of cultural libertarianism, which encourages critical thinking, rigorous research and lively debate coming from across the political spectrum. This is in response to radical feminism and SJW’s who endeavour to shut down debate, polarise opinion, while setting the terms and conditions of any prospective dialogue. The Factual Feminist Professor Christina Hoff Sommers states that she is an equity feminist which aims for the moral, legal, and social equality of the sexes. Surely that should be the goal for all us, or is it just about winning at all costs? I am constantly frustrated as we are continuously pushed into resolving our social ills within a narrow corridor of acceptable discourse, primarily created by sheltered SJW’s. So I shall excuse myself from this authoritative table of Social Justice Warriors, as this lefty vehemently refuses to play your juvenile game.