The 'F' Word
Is "feminism" the only F word women are not prepared to use? Why do only 9% of British women call themselves feminists? Is it time for extreme feminists to drop their sexual hangups and their political correctness?
I am a feminist. If I - as a man - am prepared to say that, why is it only 9% of British women are prepared to use the F word to describe themselves?
Hi. I’m Leon Hawthorne. We’re talking about feminism, the belief that women are equal to men; and due the same economic, political and social rights.
When I say the word “feminist”, what do you think of?
The suffragettes who won women the right to vote a hundred years ago?
A successful professional woman who’s made it to the top of a male dominated industry?
Or a man-hating lesbian with a bad hair cut, wearing a donkey jacket?
Well, for most of you, it’s the latter. Feminists today are seen as angry left-wing protestors, blaming everything on men.
It’s unfortunate. A very small group of hardline radicals have hijacked feminism and turned it into something from which most young women are completely detached.
The Fawcett Society found just 9% of British women would describe themselves as feminists.
But the same poll found 86% of men supported the idea of equality between the sexes.
So I would say: we are all feminists now… or 86% of us. The problem is THAT WORD and its association with absurd, politically correct thinking. But on the substance, there’s little disagreement that men and women are entitled to the same rights.
However, whilst there is something approaching equality of opportunity between the sexes, there is not equality of outcome.
Women make up: - 29% of all Members of Parliament. - 35% of the Cabinet. - 30% of judges in England and Wales. - and only 9.7% of the executive directors of FTSE100 companies.
But girls are now doing better than boys at GCSE, at A level and at university. It’s clear the new generation of adults coming through are closing the gender gap. For millennials, aged in their 20s, men earn just 5% more than women. And that’s down from 9% for the previous generation.
The real gender pay gap opens up after women have children. This is because women still take primary responsibility for taking care of the children… and leave the job market for several years.
So, whilst we can have better nursery provision and flexible working conditions, it’s still the case you have to put in long hours if you want to get ahead in most jobs. So, unless more couples agree it’s the man who should be the primary care-giver, there’s not much likelihood the parenting pay gap will close much further.
Is that the goal of feminism that in 50% of cases, the woman rushes back to work a month or two after having a baby and it’s the man who stops working to take care of the kids? Does feminism recognise there is any difference in mindset or attributes of men and women that would lead to differences in the tasks we choose to do?
Those are the tricky questions, where extremist feminists tend to part company with ordinary women and men.
Feminism is about equal rights, not equal outcomes. It’s about giving men and women the same choices. How they respond is up to them.
Two quick points about sex and money.
If a factory employs 100 men and 100 women; both doing exactly the same job. But the women get paid 20% less than the men, what would be a feminist solution to this problem?
a. Increase the women’s salary by 20% to match that of the men? b. Cut the salary of the men by 20% to match that of the women?
Well, both options are equally valid from a feminist perspective. The goal of feminism is EQUAL treatment of men and women, not BETTER treatment for women. That would be a socialist objective.
Radical feminists have a problem with sex. They campaign against pornography, nudity, even actresses flashing their boobs in fashion magazines.
They can’t accept some women willingly choose to become call girls, lap dancers or porn stars.
Basically, these feministas decry anything meant to arouse the sexual passions of men. In their quest for political empowerment, they deny sexuality is a part of being human. A man checking out a beautiful woman on the street is not a misogynist. He’s a normal straight guy who’s biologically programmed to do that.
Many of these radical feminists are upper middle class prudes, ironically with a paternalistic conservative approach to sex and relationships.
If we remove the sexual hangups, the political correctness and the socialism from feminism, then we’re left with an F word more men and women would be willing to use.
I’m Leon Hawthorne. Thanks for watching.