5 Mar 2016

'Suffragette.' A reactionary reaction.

We are all products of our genetic inheritance and our upbringing. Which has the greater influence will probably never be proved. Some throw in ‘past lives’ as an additional complication. Who knows? 

What brought on this self-introspective?

Yesterday I watched “Suffragette.”  I didn’t expect to like it and I didn’t. I have always been suspicious of feminism, and the militaristic fight those women indulged in doesn’t move me. Feminism as I met it in the 60‘s and 70’s had no appeal for me either. In part, the status quo suited me. I had never wanted a career, felt obliged to get one, hated it, and was happy with the husband-wife balance as it stood. Maybe I was lucky to have met only good men. I was also unlucky enough to have grown up with women I neither liked nor respected. I felt, and still feel, sorry for my mother, but that didn’t mean I liked her. She was clever enough to have had a good education and to have changed her life but she was weak. She was depressed and depressive. Cowed by her own mother, who was, I have to admit, a witch, but really wasn't able to do more than be sarcastic toward her daughter. My father, on the other hand, was cheery and insouciant in the face of a suffocating family situation. He was kind. When I got pregnant illegitimately and had to tell my parents, my mother wailed about ‘what the neighbours will think,’ and ‘sinning in the face of the Lord.’ I once broke into the wails and sobs with: ‘Oh, for god’s sake and she accused me of ‘taking the Lord’s name in vain.’ Not much use arguing with religion. I had half hoped that a more considered and kindly reaction - a more grown-up reaction one might say - would have meant I could keep the baby, but obviously this wasn’t going to happen. To keep her sane I had an abortion. When my father picked me up from the railway station after the operation he was on his own. He didn’t say much, but what he did say was kindly, understanding, and, above all, caring. He was thinking of me, not just of himself and his own reputation.  At home my mother didn’t look at me for days. In later years she apologised, but it was too late. I never really forgave her although I told her I had - again for her sanity and my peace of mind. 

This is probably the basis of my anti-feminist views. Rightly or wrongly I saw the movement as being aggressively anti men. Therefore I rejected it. Still do, (with careful reservations about radical Muslims and Sharia Law of course.). 

So. The film. It wasn’t inspirational, it was simply rather pathetic and sickening. It misrepresented the women’s movement, giving the impression that their ranks where swelled by working women, the wealthier women being shy to join in because of what they might lose. The truth is that the leading figures in the Suffragettes were from middle-to-upper-class families, educated women, many of whom achieved degrees. Despite the brutal tactics resorted to in the prisons most of them lived to a very healthy old age, one dying at 105. As far as I can find out, in no other country did women adopt violent, life endangering methods of civil disobedience. In several countries women got the vote much earlier after meetings, parades, lobbying. 

The film focuses on the hard life of two women working in a laundry with a lecherous, sleazy overseer. The husband of one woman beats her, but the husband of the other is a loving man. When his wife joins the ‘Votes for Women’ marches he is chiefly humiliated by taunts that he can’t keep his wife under control and afraid of neighbourhood ostracisation. He struggles to look after their son during her incarcerations but eventually lets him go for adoption as the best chance of a good life for his boy. It was, for me anyway, a heart-wrenching moment. I had more sympathy for the man than for his wife. He had to work a full hard day and there was no-one willing to look after the boy when school was over because the women who had helped in this way were against what the wife was doing. This was probably a realistic enough reflexion on the societal situation of men and women at the time. Cruelty and injustice were rife, brutality to women not confined to men (witness the appalling behaviour of nuns in the Catholic ‘homes’ for pregnant girls.) Changes were needed but, like every other change to the order of things, it would be slow coming. The minds, hearts and ethos of a society has to change through education and understanding first. This is never easy.  

Of course I'm glad that my children have been recognised as mine rather than my husband’s - that we had equal claim over them. For the rest, I’m not so sure that there has been positive progress. The mother working in the laundry had to leave her son from early in the morning till 6pm. What happens these days? Mothers are more or less forced to go back to work soon after the birth of their child (or perhaps they want to in order not to lose their career, which often seems to figure more highly in their idea of what is important than the well-being of their babies.) They therefore leave the child in a creche from early in the morning until 6pm. How is that better? The incidents of teenage misbehaviour and violence grows. In some kibbutzim children were taken from their parents and brought up in ‘children’s houses’ seeing their parents 2 -3 hours a day or less. As they grew up evidence of depression, disassociation and destructive social behaviour amongst them were noted. The experiment was discontinued. 

What else have we achieved? Women in Parliament are as bad or good as the men. Women in the work place are as bad, or as good, as the men. Young men have no point of reference, they're no longer required as the breadwinner, the defender, the strong presence in the household. Some are constantly demeaned by the women around them, including, perhaps unwittingly, by their mothers. who being feminists are more likely to encourage their daughters. There's no evidence that women have improved the lot of humanity beings from their positions of power. Young girls become ladettes, spew in the streets on Saturday night binges, wear clothes that are rightly condemned as provocative, and squeal loudly when men treat them with disrespect. 

Seems I am drifting into right wing middle age, Or - am I just seeing the cycles of reality? Here are some quotes to shore up my opinions:(The following are quotes from various places on the net.)

Not all men had the right to vote at the time the Votes for Women campaign started. Even before 1918....

“Only 58% of the adult male population was eligible to vote before 1918. An influential consideration, in addition to the suffrage movement and the growth of the Labour Party, was the fact that only men who had been resident in the country for 12 months prior to a general election were entitled to vote.
This effectively disenfranchised a large number of troops who had been serving overseas in the war. With a general election imminent, politicians were persuaded to extend the vote to all men and some women at long last.”

‘Men's right to vote isn't much older than women's. Feminists like to make it sound as if in the middle ages, the male peasants walked from their fields to the voting booths every four years to elect the new king.
Secondly, it was conditional. In order to be allowed to vote, men had to serve in the military. When women got the right to vote, it was simply handed to them. A gift to make up for the hardship of staying at home while their husbands, fathers and sons fought and died for their country.’

Some opinions of men on the position of men in the 21st century:
‘Just ask those "true feminists of true equality" about what feminism has done to benefit men.
Gender roles for men are still in place. Stay-at-home dads, weak men, emotional men, shy men are still not respected, neither by fellow men nor by women.’
‘No efforts are being made to bring men into female fields like education, HR and the like. Especially in education, men are actually heavily discouraged by the feminist fear-mongering about all men being dangerous.’ Possibly a slight exaggeration here but it has been true in the past.
Battered men, raped men, sexually abused and harassed men are still not taken seriously. Again, feminism actually works hand in hand with traditionalism on this one: male victims either do not exist or are responsible for the crimes committed against them themselves.’
‘Love and relationships: Feminists love to claim that the sexual liberation made male sex live richer, but is it really so different? Women still expect to be treated like princesses, while men must go to great lengths to become an adequate suitor. Virgin-shaming is actively perpetrated by feminists. Additionally, divorce rates are skyrocketing and single motherhood is pervasive.’ 
‘In education, boys are left behind while girls are still showered with special treatment. Common example: If yet another study shows girls are worse in maths than boys, people say it's an outrage which warrants immediate (and expensive) government action. If a study shows boys are worse in everything except math than girls, people conclude it's their own fault for being stupid and obnoxious instead of obedient.’

And so on..... 

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