I am deeply humbled by winning the prestigious award for Feminist of the Year 2016, while not as respectable as Bono winning Woman of the Year 2016, nevertheless this prize will sit with pride on my mantelpiece and in my heart. My fellow two contenders also deserve a mention – Hilary Clinton and Emma Watson, I could not have won without their truly pathetic attempts to further the cause of the Sisterhood. Hilary's “all women should vote for me because I'm a woman” was insulting beyond words, silencing rather than empowering women in the political sphere. And Emma's attempts to spread feminism by leaving the odd book on the London underground is bordering on the absurd. I'm sure the three people impacted by her sterling efforts will go on to change the world.
But I'm not here to deride those who have lost any further. Feminism in 2016 and moving into 2017 faces challenges unlike any other time. These challenges can be summed up in one word and that word is not “Trump”. He is a sideshow, a distraction from the obvious challenge we must all face up to - the battleground for feminism in 2017 is that of consistency.
I am not talking about consistency of action. Whatever the issue, our response in creating internet petitions, calling for resignations and generally heaping scorn on “opponents” seems aligned across all branches of feminism. My concern is with the intellectually consistency of feminism, that is, how well it holds up against its own standards. Consistency is a fundamental part of believability. Human beings, as a general rule, do not hold two mutually inconsistent views. For feminism to survive for more than a few generations it needs to find an intellectual consistency it currently lacks. Consider the following four issues:
Not content with dealing with one controversial topic, this blog post addresses two with the side effect of doubling my capacity to offend. As always, I am more than happy to offend on an intellectual level for: "words ought to be a little wild for they are the assault of thought on the unthinking" (prize if you know who wrote this). I do not intend to offend on a personal level but given that I'm dealing with two identity issues perhaps some form of offence is unavoidable. Either way, I am asking you to accept on trust that these are not the angry typings of an armchair bigot but reflective musings on an extremely difficult topic.
At some point soon, as the transgender movement gathers momentum, men are going to realise that they make better women than women and feminism is going to die. To rephrase with a great deal more nuance: given the male centric value system of society today, masculine behaviours in a "woman's" body are valued more highly than feminine behaviours thus giving men a home field advantage when it comes to being women.
This truth is crudely and cruelly parodied in the IT Crowd, where a transgendered woman drinks, burps and watches sport like a man and is therefore the best woman Douglas has ever met. The suggestion being that all men want is a woman's body to have sex with and a man's mind that can be easily understood. This reduces the complexity, awkwardness and mystery of heterosexual romance to nothing more than a farce. Women and men are meant to find each other difficult to understand because we are meant to be different, in how we think and feel.
Let's start with a relatively uncontroversial example of how the transgender movement will effect women. The sports which are valued the most today are the ones which men are biologically best at. The sports where the genders do compete against each other are not the popular ones. So, in four years time, at the next women's world cup, it is easy to imagine the scenario where one country from the West fields a team of transgender women. If this happens, they win as their players will be faster, stronger and have more stamina because they remain biologically men even if they identify as women. So every other team would have to follow suit to compete. And then women's football is dead and buried, with women being driven out the market by transgendered women. Ironically, women's football would only exist in the countries that were "backwards" enough not to accept the transgendered movement.