Feuilleton

Feminism’s Dependency Trap

›We have power over men‹

(Marilyn Simon, Quillette)

»Reading the news stories about #MeToo and sexual harassment, and the barrage of social media posts that accompanied these headlines, I became saddened but also increasingly frustrated. It wasn’t the reports of men behaving badly that angered me, but the despair that seemed to be the expected response to these stories, and the helplessness that my female friends appeared to attach to femininity itself that I found troubling.

The unintended and painful irony of recent feminism’s preoccupation with overcoming male oppression has been to place men at the centre of female identity. This makes the feminine experience something like an echo; women’s voices seem to be little more than a response, or a rebuttal, to men’s voices, which are taken to be primarily an instrument of patriarchal oppression. But, in my own experience, men aren’t interested in maintaining power and control over women—they simply don’t see women as a group that they are oppressing, or that they would like to oppress.

We hear a lot about ›male privilege‹ but historically it has been the ›privilege‹ of men to make their way in the hard world in order to first win a woman’s affections, and then support the family structure financially. We might call this ›patriarchy‹, but this term isn’t the synonym for misogyny that contemporary progressive political culture seems to think it is. (One has to appreciate the misplaced sincerity of many of my university students who roundly condemn The Patriarchy, while driving their father’s Toyota to campus every day, and using his savings to pay for their tuition. Not infrequently it occurs to me that the people who are most vocal against The Patriarchy are those who have benefited from it the most.)«

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