(Last Sunday, TCW writer Belinda Brown braved the The Big Debate: Women and Politics in the 21st Century, taking on the arch feminists Bonnie Greer, Dr Leslie Orr and Heather Wakefield. This is the third in a series of posts in which she sets out her argument as to why their feminist demand for equal political representation is so deeply flawed.)
Many detractors rightly see links between feminism and Marxism. However, because feminists attach such importance to the workplace, feminism has actually become the handmaiden of capitalism in its rawest form. As feminists have prioritised participation in the workplace over family and the community their ideology has been easily co-opted into the government’s economic concerns.
As feminism has become ever more deeply embedded in government so it has provided our ministers with the rationale and justification for getting ever increasing numbers of women out to work. Over the past few decades women moved from being housewives with a peripheral economic role, to the majority being in employment, and while this was initially part-time there are now ever increasing numbers of women in full-time work. The housewife is almost extinct.
The main thrust of our Government’s policy in relation to women has been to provide more and more childcare; this also dominated the Labour party manifesto. Furthermore, the tax and benefits system is structured in a way that prevents a main breadwinner from being able significantly to increase his income; financial thumbscrews are in place that force women out to work.
Yet in 1998 the government conducted a postcard campaign to find out what women’s concerns were. They received 30 000 responses which showed that work-life balance was women’s primary concern. There have been numerous surveys, all of which have shown that women would prefer to spend less rather than more time at work. However government policies steered successfully by feminist pressure groups have ensured that women spend less time at home with their families and ever increasing amounts of time out at work.
As there are fewer and fewer people at home to protect our young and old and families, this provides justification for government bureaucrats to meddle and pry ever more deeply into our private lives. So for example we now have domestic violence laws which take into account emotional and psychological abuse, new rape laws which will influence how we conduct our sex lives or in Scotland the Named Persons Scheme, which heavily undermines the parent’s role.
Instead of shoring up and supporting what remains of the family a feminised government ever more deeply intervenes. They focus on surrogacy, donor conception, transgenderism – these are all extremely minority concerns, the outcomes of which risk damaging our children and further destabilising family life.
A top heavy political system
The result is that the mechanisms required to watch over the diets of our children, educate them about the ever increasing complexities around sex and gender, monitor the social care of our elderly, provide wraparound childcare for our children, follow our Twitter accounts – all of these require bureaucratically heavy top-down mechanisms. This makes it increasingly difficult for processes of political representation to work bottom-up. This is before we factor in that the organs in place to encourage 50:50 representation will inhibit the organic processes through which selection occurs.
The utter corrosion of bottom up mechanisms
However, all political change of any value starts from the desire to look after and protect our homes, our families and our communities. It starts from bottom up. It is not self-interest in female representation that motivates activity but declining schools standards, the waiting lists in our local hospitals or neighbourhood deterioration, which provide a catalyst for women’s concerns.
It was ever thus. The most effective social reformers, social movements, and even revolutions start with anxieties about feeding our children, the health and wellbeing of the workers who do this, and other concerns around health and home. For example, Mother Jones, “the most dangerous woman in America” helped establish the United Mine Workers Union so that men would “get a wage which would allow women to stay at home and care for their kids”.
We have much to worry us in contemporary society. However, the increasing employment of women, which is a product of feminism, means that the State is increasingly becoming the appointed guardian of the family. When it comes to identifying, defending and protecting the interests of our men, our elderly our children – there is nobody, except the conservative woman, at home.
Feminism has also resulted in women becoming increasingly alienated from the political process as a whole. Research conducted by Geoff Dench into British Social Attitudes has revealed that since BSA first started in 1986 there is an increasing proportion of the population who don’t support any political party. This has doubled among working women, trebled among housewives and quadrupled among single mothers. The women who feel that no political party represents their interests have significantly stronger pro-domestic values – across a whole range of variables – than any other group.
This is devastating for grassroots political activity, for bottom up participatory mechanisms, for processes of interest representation.
In my next blog I will look at what we should be doing about this.