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:
The first is that of original sin, defined as the tendency towards evil in every human heart. Now this is applied robustly and rigorously to men. Speaking on behalf of my gender, we are routinely and regularly reminded that men are not trustworthy: we cannot appreciate female beauty without it being lecherous, cannot compliment a woman without it being a microaggression, cannot be left alone with anybody in case we rape them and cannot be trusted to accept a “no” without a consent class.
Fine, I get it, men are sinners and there are temptations that we are particularly prone to. Caution in many situations is to be advised. But if so, then women must also be included in the conception of original sin. Feminist utopian literature leads a lot to be desired of here. Novels where all men are dead tend to promote a view of the peaceful cohabitation of women that are at odds with the wiser story of “Mean Girls”. Were the evil of men and the evil of women to be weighed in the great balance of divine justice, I think there would be an equality. The sins of men may be more obvious (according to the crime statistics) but even so, virtue comes as unnaturally to women as it does to men.
The second issue is that of censorship, for, like most left wing identify politics, feminism has pursued the route of silencing and shaming those that dare to disagree with the prevailing ideology. Heresy against the Sisterhood is very much a sin of feminism, punishable by social ostracism.
This would never be reasonable for without free speech we do not have Western civilisation. But it is made worse by our narrative of the patriarchy - women have spent millennium being oppressed by being silenced and shamed for speaking out. Oh our hypocrisy, that the oppression should be returned so gleefully! As a man, it must be recognised that my opinion on abortion can be a better opinion than that of a woman. For my opinion is well thought out, based on rigorous ethical standards and consistent with my view on all human life. The fact that I am a man is secondary to the quality of my thinking and on those grounds I will stand head and shoulders above a lot of people (men and women alike).
Speaking of abortion, the third issue is the gaping and horrific inconsistency of feminism on the subject of gender selective abortion. The lack of protest about gender selective abortions should deeply trouble us. Surely, whatever weight is given to a woman's choice, if her choice is to kill a fetus because she is a girl, it should be considered a thrice damned choice. Once for its devaluing of life, once for its devaluing of women and once for its overvaluing of men.
My pro-life view is consistent with feminism – a female life in the womb is as precious as a male's. Pro-choice is so inconsistent with feminism – female life is as valued as male except when another female chooses otherwise.
The fourth inconsistency of feminism can be summed up in a simple question: is gender determined by social factors or biological factors? Feminism seems to default to the answer “all social” but I've yet to meet anyone who can live consistency with this viewpoint. To simplify right down to the bare essentials, women can get pregnant and men cannot. This biological fact alone must have an impact on our conception of gender, even if only for nine months at a time.
I have a few friends who recently got married and I think if ever there was a life event that proved the social theory of gender wrong, marriage is it. Their first few years can be summed up by saying that he struggled to understand how emotional she was and she struggled with how uncommunicative he was. As Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series so deftly shows us, “fool men” and “fool women” are always misunderstanding each other. A friend recently complained that her relationship problem contradicted her feminism but of course it did, men and women are biological creatures and this leads to typical behaviours and norms that are woven with social factors into a conception of gender that we cannot fully escape from or define ourselves out of.
To conclude, original sin gives us an inconsistency of application, censorship is an inconsistency of theory, gender selective abortion an inconsistency of ethics and gender theory an inconsistency of practise. These inconsistencies speak to a deeper problem with feminism, one it shares with a lot of modern thought, where the main truth value is derived from experience. In the case of feminism, a woman's experience seems to determine much of what is held onto as gospel. But no ideology can rest on such insecure foundations, it has to be falsifiable and have truth conditions that must be met or not met.
Or perhaps it goes the other way around. Because truth is determined by a woman's experience then original sin cannot be true because that would cast doubt on said experiences. Censorship has to be enforced to suppress experiences that are different. Moral inconsistencies can be lived with because a woman's experience is greater than a human being's divinely granted right to life and gender must be all social so that all of it can be relegated to the experiential.
If so, then it is not my feminism, founded on the objective truth of the word of God, that he made us male and female, in his image, of equal worth and different too. But then, my feminism is consistent, allowing for the evils of men and women, allowing all to speak freely, denying any form of abortion as being good and accepting that gender is primarily built into us, not forced upon us. It is, dare I say it, a better feminism and this is why I gladly accept the prize for Feminist of the Year 2016.