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What went wrong with feminism?

Woman and men are in this life together and bound by the most powerful of bonds. By which I don't mean sex. Sexual partners (and not just heterosexual ones) often move seamlessly from love through hate to damnable indifference. But that rarely happens to the love of mothers and sons, sisters and brothers or fathers and daughters. If you believe in the conspiracy theory of "the Patriarchy" you have to believe that the men in all those relationships don't give a damn about them.

For most of modern history, most institutions, religious, philosophical or legal, were built to square a cruel biological circle. To transmit her genes successfully, a woman needs to nurture her helpless child until it can itself reproduce . A man however can take the route successfully followed by the Great Khan. Sixty percent of modern Asian males carry his DNA because he impregnated and ran. Many of his offspring died but he is as near to being the father of Mankind as any alpha male has come.

If you think the likes of Genghis are no more, consider the behaviour of the modern "Big Dog" male. His wealth is largely the means to access – more and for longer into his old age – the women drawn to the protection it offers their progeny. Hello Rupert Murdoch. Hello Donald Trump. Hello Bill Clinton. Yes, I am talking to you. 

Contrary to "gender studies" orthodoxy, historical religion, law and social mores were developed not to lock women into subjection but to contain the male beast so that civilisation could be built. 

Technological advances gradually enabled changes in the male/female relationship. The Married Womens' Property Act of the nineteenth century. Votes for Women in the early twentieth. In living memory, birth control provided the final key to a completely changed relationship. For the most part, I don't think men are much interested in resisting that change. They want improvements in the lives of their mothers, sisters, daughters, partners and female friends. Why wouldn't they?

I admit I still encounter occasional men who have chosen "little women" to look up to them (or pretend to). But even in the dark ages of the 1970s I actively sought an intellectual equal as my partner. I could not imagine living with a woman whose intelligence I didn't respect. As it turned out, in my teenage hubris, I may have overshot. The late Mrs P was intellectually formidable and no sufferer of fools. But though our relationship was not always smooth, I still don't think that was our problem. 

Before she died, in contemplating her daughters' future, Mrs P. became alarmed at the direction feminism was taking. She was all for the removal of legal, social, institutional or educational obstacles in her daughters' paths, but she feared the sexual revolution had removed more constraints on men than women. Woman had kept all their old responsibilities but were also under pressure to be "Superwomen" and "have it all".  If they failed the opprobrium from their "sisters" was vicious.

She worried that a pattern was emerging where young men paired up happily with female peers pursuing their "Superwoman" goals. By the time the women were finally ready to have children, their men – as often as not – skipped off to have them with a younger woman. It seemed to her that it was men who were "having it all".

Our daughters' response to her worries was interesting. They told her they we live in a transitional time. "The old ways have gone but new ones have not emerged yet." They assured her that they were alert to the risks and would do their best to build happy lives. She needed to hear that but I hope that's not the only reason they said it.

For what it's worth, I think their analysis is essentially correct. We can't turn the clock back, even if we wanted to. They (and I) certainly don't. My concern is that the current feminist movement is not even trying to build on its achievements but rather veering off into wild conspiracy theories and ever more ludicrous radicalism.

"Female Eunuch" author Germaine Greer is banned from most British campuses, for example, because she doesn't accept that gender is a social construct to be changed at will, with or without surgery. Asking her doctor to sew floppy ears on her, she observed, would "not make her a fucking spaniel". This earthily practical observation – with which no sane person can disagree – has made her an outcast.

 

I want my daughters – and all modern women – to have all choices open to them that their skills, inclinations and ambitions support. I want them – all other things being equal as economists say –  to earn the same for the same economic input. I want them to be able to choose paths traditionally reserved to men. But I am inclined to agree with Milo Yiannopolous that the "third wave" feminism now attacking the fabric of reality itself is a catastrophe.

Part of the problem is natural enough. Revolutionaries in politics (like entrepreneurs in business) have a different mindset to the rest of us. When the loathsome sadist Guevara achieved his revolution in Cuba, he was bored. When shooting people he deemed "enemies of the people" lost its novelty, he went off to fight another revolution and die. When Peter Tatchell won his campaign for "gay rights" he didn't settle down to enjoy his new sexual liberty with a partner. He has led a celibate life as a fanatic, constantly raising the victimhood stakes to perpetuate the "struggle" he craves.

In business we know that we need the mad, ballsy entrepreneurs to take the high risks involved in opening new businesses. But the businesses that work then need sane, risk-sensitive people to manage them. Similarly, when the revolution has been won, the revolutionaries need to move on so that sensible people can build a stable, productive and potentially happy new society. When, if ever, is that going to happen with feminism?

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