Mr Trellis’s mother has just been on a women’s encounter group type thing in Liverpool. She said she attended a discussion where it was generally agreed (and you can imagine the sort of woman who attends this sort of event) that capitalism was no friend to feminism, and we could learn a lot from those primitive types, who are so much wiser than we.
When she pointed out that women tend to suffer *more* in non-capitalist societies (the regimes of tribalism, feudalism and theocracy spring to mind), and that female oppression wasn’t exactly unknown in medieval times, she was told something that made me gasp with astonishment. Any negative aspect of the treatment of women in a non-capitalist society is a precursor of capitalism and is therefore capitalist by association, and therefore Wrong.
This sort of sappy doublethink is unfortunately endemic in these circles. As Camille Paglia once pointed out in frustration at the conciliatory, non-confrontational nature of academic feminism, if this sort of woman ruled the world we’d still be sitting around arguing about what colour fire should be.
As any idiot with a basic background in history can see, capitalism with all its endemic and agreed faults, has done more to free women than any amount of encounter conferences and facilitated discussion sessions. The Industrial Revolution gave working-class women the ability to earn an independent living, marry whomever they wanted and (to a certain extent) control the number of children they had.
Once women were able to live in the manner of their own choosing, they had the luxury of leisure time – even perhaps employing another woman to take over the drudgery of housework. Men, who’ve always had someone else to cook and clean for them, have used the luxury of leisure time to engage in politics, science and philosophical thought. Finally, in the last 75 years or so, women have had that luxury too, and that free time has spawned modern feminist thought.
In turn this modern feminist thought has led to weekend encounter conferences in Liverpool, where women can sit in a circle and discuss how the system that caused them to be there in the first place is evil, wrong and should be replaced with… what? Presumably something involving concilation, non-judgmental discussion and hugging. Any dissent, as Mr Trellis’s mother soon discovered, is not tolerated.
Was this experience really typical of modern feminism? I hope not. Women weren’t freed through facilitated mediated moderated discussions in which nothing is ever resolved but plenty of flip charts, spider diagrams and mind maps are used. Women were freed mainly out of economic necessity (few societies – I can think of one in particular – can afford to lose half their human resource by banning women from working) and this necessity grew out of capitalism.
It is only through proper discussions, with a topic, agenda and agreed resolution for action at the end, that anything moves forward. Try running a business where nobody’s ever wrong, no firm decisions are made and nothing ever changes. The business would stagnate and collapse. I am concerned that the same thing is happening to feminism – it’s been adopted by the touchy-feely stopper brigade who twist everything to their own agenda and shout down anyone with an opposing view.