Feminism began as a challenge to male domination and female subordination. It could have become a champion of equality and the dignity of individuals. Unfortunately, contemporary feminism is not a liberation from sexism.
It’s true that feminism rejects anti-female sexism. But in place of anti-female sexism, it doesn’t advocate gender-blind standards; it doesn’t advocate treating individuals as complex beings; it doesn’t reject reducing people to their gender.
On the contrary, feminism sees people as defined by their gender and lobbies for the interests of females. It advocates anti-male sexism.
By framing females as oppressed by males, feminism frames men as arrogant and insensitive, oppressive and brutal. The systematic vilification and demonization of males is part of the feminist strategy of raising women by lowering men, by convincing people that women are good and men are bad.
This is simply a reversal of anti-female sexism into anti-male sexism. All males are reduced to a common set of evil characteristics, while all females are celebrated.
Female victimhood is described in many feminist works.
Acclaimed Canadian fiction writer Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale offers a dire dystopian picture that is about as far from modern western society as one could imagine. It’s an attempt to think how women could survive and adjust to an extreme situation. But is it saying that men can never be trusted and women, for their own self defence, should take control of society and keep men well away from power? If so, is that an appropriate message for 20th and 21st century Canada and America?
The feminist tactic appears to be, once again, scaring women and demonizing men.
Hillary Clinton, during her campaign for the U.S. presidency, tweeted “Every survivor of sexual assault deserves to be heard, believed and supported.” Prime Minister Justin Trudeau asserts that we should “believe all allegations.”
American universities and colleges responded to then-president Barack Obama’s directive to prosecute sexual assault cases vigorously by jettisoning due process and the presumption of innocence.
At McGill University, any female who makes an allegation of sexual assault is officially labelled a “survivor.” There’s apparently a presumption of truth in any allegation and the presumption of innocence of the accused is disregarded.
If feminists thought of humans as individuals, rather than as members of a good or bad category, they might realize that many people lie. Any allegation must be tested rigorously if we’re concerned about justice and avoiding punishing innocent individuals.
Long-standing policy in Canada and the U.S. favours mothers for custody and fathers for child support payments, although more recent discussion has focused on joint custody and its advantages. Most scientific studies show that the best interests of children are served by joint custody.
But whenever legislation supporting joint custody is considered, feminist groups lobby against it. In Canada, feminist lawyers have argued against joint custody. In Canada and the U.S., feminists, disregarding the best interest of children, have energetically opposed joint custody as the default arrangement for children in broken marriages.
Feminists prefer to support the best interests of mothers rather than those of children. For feminists, once again, gender trumps all other values, even the well-being of children.
Feminists are never shy of demanding that gender representation in any organization or activity reflect the demography of the general population. The prime minister proudly celebrates his cabinet having an equal number of females and males.
But the pressure to favour females doesn’t end with equal gender representation. In Canadian universities, 60 per cent of the graduates are female.
At McGill University, a fall 2017 senior seminar I taught had 18 registrants, all female. The entire faculty of Arts is demographically dominated by females, just as feminist ideology dominates in that faculty, as well as in Education, Social Work and Law. There’s also a major McGill campaign, complete with banners all around campus, to celebrate female scientists and direct female studies into STEM fields.
Female demographic domination of universities doesn’t end with student numbers. The female principal of McGill recently bragged that “Currently, 50 per cent of McGill’s deans are female. As of July 1, when two new appointments take effect, that number will increase to 58 per cent.” Apparently gender imbalance is not a bad thing when it favours females.
It’s difficult to know how many individuals who self-identify as feminist hope only to be treated fairly as individuals and how many take a female supremacist view.
Certainly, feminist organizations act as if they take a supremacist approach. The net effect of toxic feminism is to reduce complex individuals to simplistic gender categories, to dismiss all values but the partisan interests of females and to endorse anti-male sexism.
Philip Carl Salzman is professor of Anthropology at McGill University, senior fellow at the Frontier Centre for Public Policy, and fellow of the Middle East Forum.