Aftershocks are still being felt around the world since the USA election. The result heralds the death of dreams, struggles, aspirations and ideals. Civil rights, social justice, economic equity and fairness have been vanquished by reactionaries of all shades. Liberals are nonplussed, desolate and lost. They ask themselves why so many Hispanics, African Americans and even Muslims voted for an iniquitous Republican leader who demonised and threatened Hispanics, African Americans and Muslims. We feminists are also distressed and confused. Trump openly disrespected and scorned females, their bodies and minds; he was accused by credible women of groping them; he promised to take away their reproductive rights. And yet, and yet, 53% of white female voters chose him over Hilary Clinton. Without them Trump would not have won. What were they thinking? What do we now think of such women, the enemies within?
Their perfidy seems boundless. On Monday, a West Virginia country worker Pamela Ramsey Taylor was sacked from her job after she wrote these celebratory words on Facebook: ‘It will be refreshing to have a classy, beautiful, dignified First Lady in the White House. I am tired of seeing a Ape (sic) in heels’. That bad, real bad post, got a response from Beverly Whaling, the mayor of some small town called Clay. ‘Just Made my day Pam’, wrote Ms Whaling, under Taylor’s horrible post. These two are not exceptions. Over the past many months we have seen too many feral, antifeminist US females. Some of them made Trump sound relatively sane and civil.
We have them here too, women who seem to despise other women. Some of them are the most powerful females in the land. Theresa May is rolling out policies from various departments that are having a punitive effect on vulnerable women. The new tranche of benefit ‘reforms’ will deprive lone mums of essential cash. We are told these will encourage them to go look for jobs. But how? Childcare is prohibitively expensive. Families can help, but they too are under severe pressure. Margaret Thatcher was just as indifferent to powerless, voiceless women. Amber Rudd, the Home Secretary, is another one of those women who wants to prove she can be harder than any man. I blasphemously find myself looking back wistfully at that nice John Major, sincere Gordon Brown and the most egalitarian Home Secretary we have ever had, Roy Jenkins who got sex and race equality laws through parliament.
Throughout history, female advancement has been opposed by misguided, stubborn or traditional females. In the early decades of the 20th Century, when indomitable suffragettes fought tenaciously and bravely to get votes for women, they were resolutely opposed by the Anti-women’s Suffragette League. The novelist Mrs Humphrey Ward ( 1850-1921), for example, was convinced that ‘ …the emancipation process has now reached the limits fixed by the physical constitution of women’. Today, as more women get into top jobs, more of them tyrannize females underlings. A Canadian research study found that female workers suffered from more emotional and physical problems under female supervisors than male supervisors. The American Management Association reported that in another study, 95% of women felt undermined by other women (www.forbes.com/…/management-issues-workplace-forbes-woman-views-worst-bosses…)
Some such put upon workers have gone to Industrial tribunal courts. A few won their cases and huge compensations. In 2006, for example, Helen Green of Deutsche Bank was awarded £800,000 after proving that four female colleagues had bullied her depleted her confidence. In too many girl’s schools, female heads create a cutthroat culture. Some girls break down and never recover.
So tell me sisters, was it all for this? Or has feminism lost its way and purpose?
These uncomfortable questions are mostly avoided by today’s most active feminists. They prefer to blame everything on men, or find spurious excuses for oppressive women or glorify femaleness as divine and flawless. These comforting myths cannot sustain us any longer. We did not walk the long, tiring road just to get the right to behave even worse than men. Or to become inside agents for sexists and misogynists.
Trump’s babes and post Brexit female political leaders have shaken up everything. Feminism needs to get tough, self critical and truthful if it to survive this turbulent, regressive new age.
Edited Version I newspaper 17/11/16