The war on terror is the real women's issue
Feminists whine about life in the West but they won't fight the bigger battle
MARK STEYN | Jan 09, 2006
What patriarchal dragons are left for feminists to slay? Well, according to Rachel Smolkin in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, "Women make up only 1.3 per cent of plumbers, pipe fitters and steamfitters . . ."
Golly. Maybe laying pipe is something that particularly appeals to boys, and maybe girls would rather be the hotshot lawyers who sue the contractor for not hiring enough female plumbers: in America, after all, 60 per cent of college graduates are now women. Both sets of statistics come from Kate O'Beirne's rollicking polemic Women Who Make the World Worse, and, whether or not you agree with the title, it's hard to argue that feminism hasn't won pretty much every battle in every sphere of modern Western life -- not least the academy. It's not just that 60 per cent of graduates are female but that the 40 per cent who aren't exist in a thoroughly feminized culture.
Thus, every December 6, our own unmanned Dominion lowers its flags to half-mast and tries to saddle Canadian manhood in general with the blame for the Montreal massacre -- the 14 women murdered by Marc Lepine, born Gamil Gharbi, the son of an Algerian Muslim wife-beater, though you wouldn't know that from the press coverage. Yet the defining image of contemporary Canadian maleness is not M Lepine/Gharbi but the professors and the men in that classroom, who, ordered to leave by the lone gunman, meekly did so, and abandoned their female classmates to their fate -- an act of abdication that would have been unthinkable in almost any other culture throughout human history. The "men" stood outside in the corridor and, even as they heard the first shots, they did nothing. And, when it was over and Gharbi walked out of the room and past them, they still did nothing. Whatever its other defects, Canadian manhood does not suffer from an excess of testosterone.
Your average Western feminist lobby group doesn't see it that way, naturally. "The feminism I think of is the one that embodies inclusivity, multiculturalism and the ability to change the world through the humanity that women do bring," says Stephanie Davis, executive director of Atlanta's Women's Foundation. "If there were women in power in representative numbers -- 52 per cent -- I think that the World Trade Center would still be standing."
That's a familiar line. If only your average Security Council meeting looked like a college graduating class, or that room at the École Polytechnique after the men had departed, there would be peace on earth. As an argument, it overlooks the fact that large parts of the world are already, in political terms, as thoroughly feminized as they can get. Robert Kagan's book, Of Paradise And Power, explicitly frames transatlantic relations as a gender relationship: "Americans are from Mars, Europeans are from Venus." And, though we live in the Martian part of town, Canada long ago had the hormone treatments and a couple of snips and crossed over to the Venusian side of the street.
Unfortunately, those societies that most enthusiastically aligned themselves with feminist priorities are also the ones that are -- what's the word? -- doomed. If abortion is, as Kate O'Beirne calls it, feminism's "holy grail," there are more than a few countries that must wish they'd never stumbled upon it. In the seventies, the average Russian woman apparently exercised her "right to choose" no less than seven times. Today, abortions outnumber live births. As a result, Russia is at the start of a demographic death spiral unprecedented in a relatively advanced society not at war. While its womenfolk have a life expectancy comparable to their Canadian counterparts, the sickly Russian male expires in his 50s. So far, in this first large-scale experiment on the dispensability of men, it appears that, in the broader societal sense, fish do indeed need bicycles.
That's a Gloria Steinem line, of course. These days Gloria is -- what? 83? 112? -- and still looks fabulously hot, but, like The Feminism of Doria Gray, it's her ideology that's gotten all wrinkled and saggy. In their peculiarly reductive definition of "women's issues," older Western feminists sound squaresville and younger ones sound kooky. Just before the 2004 U.S. elections, Cameron Diaz appeared on the Oprah Winfrey show to explain what was at stake:
"Women have so much to lose. I mean, we could lose the right to our bodies . . . If you think that rape should be legal, then don't vote. But if you think that you have a right to your body," she advised Oprah's viewers, "then you should vote."
The question is not whether Cameron's lost all rights to her body, but whether she's lost her mind. After presenting the 2004 Presidential election as a referendum on the right to rape, Miss Diaz might be interested to know that men enjoy that right under Islamic legal codes around the world -- and, given that more countries live under Sharia than did 50 years ago, that means more women have "lost the right to their bodies". Under the Taliban, women were prevented by law from ever feeling sunlight on their faces. Following the country's liberation by right-wing patriarchs like Bush and Blair, there are now, as Linda Frum noted here the other week, more females in electoral politics in Afghanistan than in Canada.
In other words, isn't the war on terror the real "women's issue"? As Ahmad al-Baqer, an MP from one of the more progressive Muslim nations(Kuwait), breezily put it, nixing a proposal to give broads the right to vote, "God said in the holy Koran that men are better than women. Why can't we settle for that?" Why indeed? From the Associated Press:
"Multan, Pakistan -- Nazir Ahmed appears calm and unrepentant as he recounts how he slit the throats of his three young daughters and their 25-year-old stepsister to salvage his family's 'honor' . . ."
Alas for Mr. Ahmed's daughters, that's all a long way away for Susan Sarandon, Gloria Steinem and the other sisters whose contribution to the liberation of Afghanistan was to oppose it. But the "honour killings" are getting closer. In London last summer, the police announced they were re-opening investigations into 120 deaths among British Muslim girls that they'd hitherto declined to look at too closely on grounds of "cultural sensitivity." There's a small flurry -- enough almost to form a new category for the Governor-General's Awards -- in books itemizing the violence to women, gay men and other approved groups in the new EUtopia: Claire Berlinski's Menace In Europe and Bruce Bawer's While Europe Slept are a staggering accumulation of riveting vignettes, like the non-Muslim girls in les banlieues of France opting to wear veils and other Islamic coverings to lessen the likelihood of being abused and assaulted in the streets.
Which issue will impact more women's lives? The lack of female pipefitters? Or the combination of factors at play in those French -- and Belgian, and Scandinavian, and maybe even Canadian -- suburbs? Yet Western feminists sing the ancient songs of long-won revolutions as relentlessly as drunks on St Patrick's Day: "Have fewer children, later in life," advises Joan Peters. That's the strategy that demographically's delivering western Europe into the hands of a culture far more patriarchal than a 1950s sitcom dad.
"Keep your Bush off my bush!" chanted the ladies on Washington's Mall a year ago at the Million-Abortionist March or whatever it was called. If any of those women still exercise their "reproductive rights", they might want to ponder the likelihood of any girl born today being able to prance around demonstrations in the Eurabian Paris or Brussels of 2030 or 2040 yelling "Hands off my bush!" C'mon, gals! Anyone can beat up post-feminist neutered Western males. Why not pick on a target worth the effort?
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