Why are women so horrible to each other?
Some time back in the '70s I read a newspaper article that was extraordinarily scathing in its comments about Margaret Thatcher. It was so extraordinarily negative -- criticizing her for everything from her shoes to her hair -- that I remarked about it to my wife at the time. She said: "I'll bet it was written by another woman". I looked at the byline and she was right. So it seems to me that female solidarity has always been just another feminist myth. The article below certainly confirms that impression. The author below does not provide an answer to the question in her title but I very wickedly suspect that it is in the nature of women -- perhaps to do with competition for the most desirable men
What's happened to female solidarity? Today, every newspaper, magazine and website is full of women criticising other women for their weight, their shoes, their handbags, their wrinkles - or lack of them. Anna Wintour, the editor of American Vogue revealed recently that she told Oprah Winfrey to lose weight before appearing on the cover of her magazine because she would feel 'more comfortable'. Amazingly, Oprah, who is one of the richest women in America and is on the cover of her own magazine 'O' every month, apparently went along with this and lost the weight.
As Oprah's struggle with her weight has been going on most of her life, it shows that Anna Wintour must really be as scary as the character she inspired, played by Meryl Streep in The Devil Wears Prada.
But the area where women really line up against each other is motherhood and childcare. Anyone who has ever logged on to Mumsnet.com, or sites of that kind, will know how furious its participants become with anyone who dares question their views on breastfeeding, bonding, controlled crying, co-sleeping and the like.
I wrote an article recently for this newspaper where I suggested that while breastfeeding was the best way of feeding your baby in the early weeks, it was not always easy and sometimes the best thing to do was give the baby a bottle. I said no one should be made to feel guilty for doing so. Within minutes I became public enemy number one on Mumsnet, the subject of some pretty colourful cyber abuse by mothers who are clearly adept at fulfiling their children's every need while sat at a computer keyboard.
Of course, anyone who writes for a national newspaper can expect to be disagreed with. What I find depressing is the lack of tolerance that the people on these websites show to any women who don't do things their way. It's hard enough being a mother of small children without other women criticising your every move. Surely if you choose to give your child a dummy, introduce solid foods before six months or give it a bottle in the middle of the night, that is nobody's business but your own?
With a few horrible exceptions, all mothers want the best for their children. What gives the fundamentalists of Mumsnet the right to criticise other mothers, simply because they have chosen to do things differently? There is no one right way to bring up your children, only guidelines, and the best person to make choices for a child is the person closest to it - its mother.
Perhaps one of the reasons why women are so critical of each other is that we have already won so many battles. A hundred years ago, women could not vote and could not even sue for divorce on the grounds of adultery alone, unless their husband had also shown unusual cruelty, or had engaged in an unnatural act such as bestiality. Only 50 years ago it was standard practice for women to have to choose between a career and motherhood. Even 30 years ago your chances of having a healthy baby were a great deal less than they are now. And just ten years ago, the idea of men doing their share of the housework was a pipe dream, now it is fast becoming a reality.
Despite all of the whingeing they do, today's young women really do have a better chance of achieving their dreams than any generation before them. So why do we spend our time attacking other women for their cellulite, their hairstyles, childcare arrangements or recycling habits? Is there any more terrifying feeling than walking into a room full of strange women and knowing that each one will be assessing you, not on your lifetime achievements but on your shoes?
Now that WAGs [wives and girlfriends of prominent sportsmen] are wearing Seventies maxi-dresses and platforms again, perhaps it's time that we revived female solidarity, too. Who cares if Demi Moore has cellulite or that Posh's shoes are too high or that Madonna doesn't look like your average 50-year-old? Are we really so envious of successful women that we have to snipe about every aspect of their appearance? It's time we all grew up, and if that means a bit of old-fashioned consciousness-raising, then bring it on.
One of these days, women really ought to make up their minds about what it is exactly they want. Then they could do us all a big favour by stating, unequivocally, what they have decided it is they want. And then they could cover themselves with glory by sticking to what they say. In other words, it's about time women - especially their self-appointed mouthpieces - started behaving like fully grown-up adults and citizens. Or is that asking too much? Apparently, it is.
A survey published this week tells us that women today are far from happy with their lot and wish they could live more like their mothers and grandmothers - not having to work so much and free to spend more time with their children. The survey, The Paradox Of Declining Female Happiness, reports that women of all ages and income are less happy than women of 40 years ago and less happy than today's men.
Despite sexual and marital liberation, massively increased career opportunities and earning power, educational privileges and the wholesale demolition of the inhibiting conventions that restricted the lives of women in the past, today's women report themselves as feeling a low sense 'of life satisfaction and well-being'.
Well, men might be entitled to retort, welcome to the real world, sweethearts. What you are complaining about is the very same life that you promoted and celebrated when you were swanking around chanting 'sisters are doing it for themselves'. One woman commentator perfectly expressed the problem illustrated by this report, explaining: 'It's almost as if, in some ways, we got it all and then found out it wasn't quite exactly what we wanted.'
This is exactly what I have been predicting - against a torrent of vilification and derision from feminists - for more than 20 years. My book, No More Sex War: The Failures Of Feminism, was not only the first radical, egalitarian, progressive critique of the ideology of feminism (the last and most durable of the 20th century's false secular faiths, like the Marxism from which it drew its cardinal tenets).
The book also analysed in detail the intolerable consequences that were bound to result for women if they were expected both to contribute substantial earnings to family life and, at the same time, be solely or even chiefly responsible for child-care. It has been obvious to me for some 25 years that social and political equality for women (which I wholeheartedly and unreservedly welcome) could not work unless men became equal as parents at home.
The selfish, conceited, man-despising yet predatory 'have-it-all' feminism of the Cosmopolitans was always a recipe for insupportable burdens for women, for intolerable stress, for a self-rebuking, guilt-laden failure to cope and, in the end, for being downright miserable about it all. The fact is, lady, if you do succeed in having it all, the effort and the burden will probably break your back.
Before we sympathise with this sad plight, however, perhaps we should remind ourselves of the multitude of unprecedented benefits, blessings and advantages that have been showered upon the modern women who are now whingeing about the poverty of their 'life satisfaction'.
They have become the most privileged, the most cosseted and indulged women in the history of humanity. They are the first to live their whole lives without threat of war or plague. They are the first women ever born who could control and regulate their fertility with complete reliability, and they are the first to have the means and the right to choose an abortion if they slipped up or changed their minds about being pregnant. They are the first to be free of any constraints in dress or manners, and the first for whom no limit exists to the heights to which they can aspire in any pursuit - be it politics, public service, commerce, the professions, the arts and sport.
You would never think it if you listened to feminists, but the truth is that every one of those benefits has been advanced and secured for women by men.
Motivated by conscience and a desire for justice and equality, it was primarily men who revolutionised the position of women. I can see your jaw dropping at this peculiar idea, but if you don't believe it, ask yourself these questions: how many women MPs were sitting on the benches of the House Of Commons when, by a majority of two-to-one, Parliament passed the Bill in 1918 which extended the franchise to women? Answer: not one. Who was responsible for the Abortion Act of 1967 and the Divorce Reform Act of 1969? Men. Who brought into law the Equal Opportunities Act and the Sex Discrimination Act? Men.
Yet women of our time have lived all their lives with an unquestioning belief that they are members of an oppressed class of victims who have had to struggle heroically for liberation against a society cruelly organised by men for the benefit of men ('Women are the n*****s of the world,' as that irredeemable twit Yoko One once declared).
This is the unpardonable fault of feminism. Of all the disservices to our age fostered by that pernicious and poisonous ideology, none has been more ruinous than this preposterous lie - that men keep women down in order to preserve their own powers. The manifest truth of the past 200 years is that men wanted change for women as much as they wanted it for themselves.
It is because we all go along with that feminist fiction that we cannot even begin to recognise the inequalities and the disadvantages of men in family life. It simply doesn't register on our barometer of injustice that unmarried men still have no automatic rights in law as parents. Similarly, because we suppose that all gender injustice and inequality is to be found in the position of women, we don't take any notice of the inequalities of men in divorce.
In survey after survey, men report that they resent the demands of work and that they wish they could have more time with their growing children. Yet the law continues to discriminate against fathers in the provision of time away from work to care for children.
We don't even count it as an intolerable injustice and inequality that men are still required to work five years longer than women before they become eligible for a state pension (it is entirely typical of feminists' capacity to pervert the truth that Germaine Greer once described that inequality as an advantage for men).
Men don't go on about it, but the truth is that things aren't entirely wonderful for us, either. The difference is that we don't suppose we've got a God-given right to blame women for it.
'Power' move by male students ruffles U. of C.
A group of University of Chicago students think it's time the campus focused more on its men. A third-year student from Lake Bluff has formed Men in Power, a student organization that promises to help men get ahead professionally. But the group's emergence has been controversial, with some critics charging that its premise is misogynistic.
Others say it's about time men are championed, noting that recent job losses hit men harder and that women earn far more bachelor's and master's degrees than do men. "It's an enormous disparity now," said Warren Farrell, author of "The Myth of Male Power" and former board member of the New York chapter of the National Organization for Women. He noted, among other things, an imbalance in government and private initiatives that advance the interests of women and girls.
Further, Farrell said, just because some men are doing well is hardly a reason not to applaud efforts to boost the careers of other men. "It's like saying 'is it OK for the Yankees to keep recruiting new players because the Chicago Cubs have not won as often?' "
Steve Saltarelli, the president of Men in Power, wrote a satirical column in March in which he suggested forming such a group. "Anyone with an interest in both studying and learning from men in powerful positions, as well as issues involved with reverse sexism, may become a member of MiP," he wrote. Shortly after the column ran, Saltarelli started getting e-mail messages from men eager to join. "Mainly people are just excited about the idea that men can have a group as well," Saltarelli explained.
Sharlene Holly, associate dean of students and the director of student activities, said the University of Chicago has approximately nine women's advocacy groups on campus; this group would be the first male advocacy group.
Saltarelli said some 125 students -- including a few women -- have joined the group via its Facebook page. He said the group would host pre-professional groups in law, medicine and business, foster ties with alumni, bring in speakers to discuss masculinity and mentor local middle school students as part of its "Little Men in Power" program.
Holly said she expected to approve the organization's application this week. As a registered student organization, Men in Power could then apply for event funding. The group plans to hold its first event, a student panel discussion titled "Gender and Media: Trespassing the Taboo," on June 2.
Saltarelli, who plans to attend law school, said the emergence of Men in Power has angered some students, especially "people very set in their ways." To be sure, its title attracts attention. "The name implies some things that I don't love," said Liz Scoggin, a third-year student who joined the group a couple of weeks ago and now heads its outreach efforts. "I feel like it implies there aren't enough men in power or that kind of thing." But Scoggin, who is close friends with Saltarelli, said she joined after learning more about the group's aims and after she felt assured that the organization would not pursue a sexist agenda.
Jessica Pan, president of Women in Business and a fourth-year student, questioned whether Men in Power's goals were being met by existing student groups. "I'm not sure we really need another student organization that focuses on pre-professional development for men," Pan said, noting that, in just the area of business, there were five or six students groups that were gender-neutral.
Similarly, Ali Feenstra, a third-year student and a member of the Feminist Majority, questioned Men in Power's utility. "It's like starting 'white men in business' -- there's not really any purpose," she said.
Fred Hayward, founder of Men's Rights Inc., would disagree. Hayward, who is based in Sacramento, Calif., started his men's group in 1977. Then and now, he said, women have not paid enough attention to what it means to be a man in modern society. Hayward said one of the biggest myths borne of the women's movement was that men like to help each other out. "We are competing directly for access to women and jobs," he said.
The group's birth comes at a time when the recessionary ax has fallen especially hard on men. In April, the national unemployment rate for men was 10 percent compared with 7.6 percent for women, said Mark Perry, an economist at the University of Michigan in Flint. That gap is an "all-time historical high," said Perry, who attributed it in part to a loss of jobs in male-dominated fields such as manufacturing and construction. At the same time, he noted, women today hold about three out of the four jobs in education and health care -- both stable or expanding job fields.
Future employment is also an issue, some experts say. Since 1981, women have collected 135 for every 100 bachelor's degrees awarded to men, according to Perry. The gap is even wider at the master's level, with women trumping men 150 to 100, he said.
Saltarelli hopes Men in Power will help more men get ahead while raising awareness of the male experience. "If we have good men in our society, everyone benefits," he said.
Don't call me Schweinhund! Man faces charge for insulting his German neighbour in her own language
Under British law, this would seem clearly to be a "racially aggravated" offence. I doubt that it is more offensive than some English expressions, however.
A man brought his German-born neighbour close to tears by twice calling her a schweinhund, a court heard yesterday. Clive Robinson is accused of racial harassment for deliberately using the insult, which translates as pig dog, against Christine Hurst because of her nationality. Mrs Hurst, a magistrate who moved to the UK as a student more than 20 years ago, said the word was 'extremely offensive' to a German and had left her so upset that her English husband had to call the police. She told a jury that the insult was connected to her nationality because 'otherwise he would have sworn at me in English'.
Robinson, 45, later admitted to police that he had made the remark - which was once commonly used in war films and comics - but claimed he was referring to one of his Great Danes.
The Hursts and the Robinsons live on neighbouring smallholdings in Weston Hills near Spalding, Lincolnshire, but relations between them broke down four years ago after Robinson was served with a noise abatement order, the jury was told. It followed complaints from Mrs Hurst and her husband Peter after Robinson's son and his friends staged banger races in old cars on nearby land.
Giving evidence, Mrs Hurst said that in the past Robinson had delivered an obscene one-fingered salute while walking by her home. He had also once mounted a novelty plastic hand, similar to the type sometimes worn by fans at sports events, on the roof of his home with the middle finger pointing up in the air. Bavarian-born Mrs Hurst, who married in 1986 after her move to the UK, told the jury the gesture was Robinson's 'trademark'.
Lincoln Crown Court heard that relations between the Hursts and Robinson and his wife Marlah had 'broken down completely' over the incidents. Mrs Hurst admitted: 'We are not on speaking terms. I have written to Mrs Robinson to try to sort it out, but I have never got a reply.'
In January last year she said she had gone into her garden to bring in her washing when she encountered Robinson. 'I saw his car parked on our verge. When he saw us he reversed into his property. He got out and basically shouted at us,' she said. 'He looked at me and shouted "schweinhund!". Then a couple of seconds later he said it even louder. 'Schweinhund is a German word. It means pig dog. For a German it is extremely offensive. My husband phoned the police straight away, because I was close to tears.'
Mrs Hurst, who has been a magistrate in Spalding for four years, denied she was oversensitive, insisting: 'It was so offensive. I could not believe he had said that. I was so upset. It's the way I feel - I'm a German and I'm being sworn at with a German swear word.'
Defence barrister Michael Rudd suggested to Mrs Hurst that schweinhund was in common usage in the UK in the 1950s, 60s and 70s. He added: 'People of a certain age in the UK might be familiar with that word from war movies and from comics and magazines.' Mrs Hurst replied: 'It's an extremely offensive word.'
Earlier Catherine Chasemore, prosecuting, told how relations between the families fell apart after the noise abatement order was served in 2005. She told the jury: 'Those of us who get on with our neighbours are lucky. You are going to hear from Mrs Hurst that unfortunately she did not. 'This defendant was well aware of her German heritage. He did not say what he said in English. He said it in German. Mrs Hurst was quite shocked. Schweinhund is an insult in German.'
Robinson denies a charge of racially-aggravated intentional harassment, alarm or distress on January 24 last year. He also denies an alternative offence of using threatening words or behaviour likely to cause harassment, alarm or distress.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
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