A response to Pamela Simpson; the feminist in pink heels!

Posted: February 2, 2014 in Uncategorized

Once again, I must start with an apology. This blog was supposed to be written on Friday night (with the previous entry) and go out yesterday (Saturday) night. I made comment in my last blog that I had a lot of stuff I wanted to write about and was planning on using the weekend to do it. Well, that plan fell to shit. It was 1am on Saturday morning before I’d published the last entry and I was far too tired to start writing again. Yesterday turned out to be a lot busier than I’d anticipated with the 6 Nations starting in the afternoon and my band having a gig in the evening. So, it looks like I won’t be getting all 5 topics covered this weekend, which is a shame. I will get them out, I’ll just have to do it across the next few days.

The reason I wanted to post this blog so close to the last entry is because they both relate to the same topic – the confusing nature of feminism. 

This blog entry, as I mentioned previously, was supposed to be my Two Towers moment, written at the same time as the first but published later. Seeing as that all fell to shit I’ll just get on with it.

 My initial assertion about these being somewhat connected is probably going to be false come the third paragraph, but the intention is to try and stick to the idea of how confusing feminism as an ideology actually is. I do try and keep these blogs as close to the original idea as possible, but sometimes, once I start writing, things seem to change and it all goes a bit Pete Tong.

Anyway, in the last blog, and numerous other blogs, I mentioned, quite vehemently, how feminism doesn’t even know what feminism stands for any more. This entry does follow on quite nicely from that, in as much as I found an article, shared on my ‘real’ Facebook profile the other day, from a self identified feminist who herself finds the movement confusing.

This isn’t me being a hypocrite, I am in no way trying to tell her what she should or shouldn’t define herself as, particularly after what I said in my last entry, rather this is me questioning how a feminist can identify with a movement that she herself can’t explain. In no way will I end by saying “she obviously isn’t a feminist”, but rather “if this is what feminism does to feminists, why do they still follow it?”

I should probably clarify why I put real in inverted commas. It’s quite simple really, John Salmon is a pseudonym, but it is no less real than my real identity. Everything I say here I truly believe, I’m not a troll, nor do I say these things to curry favour with any particular movement, I say them because I truly believe them. I use a pseudonym because I don’t want my personal information plastered all over the internet by some disgruntled, vindictive feminist victim. As highly unlikely as that seems, I’ve seen it happen. I use the word ‘real’ simply to show that my other account deals with my full identity and the people I encounter everyday, John Salmon is simply a way of expressing my views without fear of being deliberately misrepresented.

Anyway, on to the article:

http://www.women24.com/ChatAndWin/Columnists/A-feminist-in-pink-heels-20140129

First of all, I’m not even going to begin by telling her she’s wrong. She can believe in whatever she wants to believe, but if she’s going to be open about those beliefs then it’s to be expected that criticism will be coming her way. Feminism is in no way exempt from criticism. Well, not yet anyway.

Pamela Simpson, the author of this article, is a complete unknown to me. I’d never heard of her before, I still have no idea who she is, beyond what she divulges here, but this article appeared after a friend commented on it.

I admire Pamela Simpson for writing it. In the same way I write this blog, she writes about things she feels strongly about. I think if I was to take every little sentence and comment on it, it would make this blog very long, so I’ll just focus on the bits I find most revealing and important.

Interestingly, her opening provides me with my first question, one that I sometimes struggle to answer myself. She states:

“I have a hard time convincing people that I am a feminist.”

I have a hard time convincing people I’m not an MRA. Apparently, fighting for mens rights leads to the assumption, usually from feminists, that I am an MRA. In the past I’ve spent quite a lot of energy trying to explain why I’m not. After a while, I came up with a very simple answer – why the fuck am I bothering?

My point is, why is Pamela so desperate to ‘convince’ people she’s a feminist? What is about labelling herself that seems so appealing? I’m not criticising, it’s a genuine question. If she’s for equal rights, and she claims she is, then why can she not just do it? What is it about aligning herself with a political, ideological movement that leads her to try so hard to let other people know she is one? Is it because of the political power? Is it because she thinks no-one will listen unless she belongs to this particular group?

On the flip side, why do people have such a hard time believing she is a feminist? Is it perhaps because, as she says in her own words:

“I generally don’t bludgeon people with my feminist manifesto over my morning coffee.”

Possibly. One recurring theme I’ve seen across the internet and real life is the amount of times a woman can twist any type of conversation to be about feminism and her beliefs. It’s hard to believe that some women are feminists because they seem to eschew the absolute hysteria and victim culture that pervades mainstream feminism. Feminism in Britain has now almost become synonymous with victimhood, to the point that every time one of them gets on their soapbox to preach, people wilfully abuse them simply because they’re bored of hearing the same old shit over and over. It’s actually quite ironic that a feminist will often talk about sexism, whilst causing sexism by constantly talking about sexism. It’s a self-fulfilling prophecy:

“Sexism is everywhere, all day, every day, all the time, 24/7.”

“Oh, shut up you whiny cunt!”

“See, telling a woman to shut up by using cunt, a gendered word, is sexism!”

Yeah that may be a little bit embellished but it’s not too far from the truth.

Back to the point, fair play to Pamela for not bludgeoning us with her beliefs, but I’m still a little unsure as to why she feels the need to ‘convince’ people she’s a feminist. Maybe it was just poor ward choice. Maybe she feels like, despite the fact she doesn’t bludgeon everyone with her views, she still sees feminism as the only way to fight for equality. Perhaps without realising or being aware of some of the guff that the feminist movement comes out with and how, in reality, it often does more to harm gender relations than promote them, she still feels it’s a worthy cause

I do often find that the ‘nice’ feminists, the ones that preach the ‘you don’t know what feminism is about’ line when criticisms are levelled at them, still hold on to the theory of what feminism is about, not the reality.

Unfortunately, Pamela does still, for me, hold true to some of the more annoying generalisations of anti-feminist talk:

“And as we all know, feminists are hard-core man haters who don’t shave their legs in defiance against men who would otherwise possibly find them attractive.”

The thing is, there are feminists out there who believe exactly what she is describing. Some of the most mainstream feminists, the ones with the bigger appeal to the masses, have spouted some of the most blatant anti-male, misandric shit to come out of the movement. Think people like Andre Dworkin, Susan Brownmiller and Valeris Solernas, amongst others. We’ve even had people like Hilary Clinton, possible future president, stating that women were the primary casualties of war, somehow elevating the victimhood of women above that of the men who died out in foreign fields. This idea that feminism is a group of man-haters is often used as a shaming tactic to try and discredit an argument. Sometimes, the argument is entirely valid.

The ‘nice’ feminists, despite saying they don’t hate men, or are for equal rights, or are for the rights of men as well, seem to do very little to correct any of the feminist myths out there. I very rarely see ‘nice’ feminists acknowledge the DV stats as being distorted, accept the rape statistics as being distorted, accept male circumcision as an issue, for example. Some of them, including Pamela here, unfortunately, still believe in the gender wage gap.

I’m sorry ‘nice’ feminists, but until those issues are acknowledged and dealt with, your cries of NAFALT are really quite false.

For the most part, Pamela’s article does express exactly what I believe – that men and women, while deserving equality of opportunity and equality of choice, are never going to be truly equal. For example, if a woman can’t pass a fitness test for the police or the army then, quite rightly, she won’t be allowed in. I have no problem with that. If it’s the only career that a particular woman has ever wanted to do, trains hard for it, and still doesn’t get in, well I’m afraid that sometimes life just isn’t fair. When I was younger I wanted to be a professional rugby player but, at 5’8, I’m really too short to survive in the modern game. I played at University and some of the shortest people I came up against were at least 6 foot. Looking at the professional game today, some of the smallest players are 5’10/11, still taller than me. It’s tough, but life’s a bitch and, without surgery, I’m never going to be taller, so I have to learn to live with it.

Being truly equal doesn’t mean 50/50. It means everyone has the choice to do what they want, without fear of ridicule. If that choice leads to a mismatch in gender participation then that’s just how it is. There are laws in place to stop discrimination, if there are problems then that is the avenue to go down, not using some government promoted gender quota to give you a step up that you don’t deserve.

But then we get to where our opinions differ, and this is where, unfortunately, Pamela starts to morph in to a typical feminist, one that, despite the cries of NAFALT, is precisely the reason I don’t like feminism:

‘But besides the very obvious physical differences, there are still societal differences that prevent women from making as much money as men while doing the very same job. Yet we pay the same tax on our milk and bread and real-estate transfers.’

Ah, the gender wage gap. The idea that women earn less simply for being women is far too simple of an explanation. There are a myriad of reasons as to why they earn less. In my blog on Thomas the Tank engine I linked to an article that showed that the average wage for women has actually increased more than the average wage for men. Christina Hoff-Summers recently wrote an article about the wage gap. It may be an American article, but it pretty much explains it for this country as well:

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/02/01/no-women-don-t-make-less-money-than-men.html

 It’s not as simple as saying ‘women earn less due to institutionalised misogyny’. Without factoring in job type, working hours, seniority, education, experience, loyalty and negotiating skills you can’t compare the wages. You can’t simply take up every woman’s wage and every man’s wage and find the average, it doesn’t account for any aforementioned factors. And even if you are left with a wage gap, even economists are unsure what causes that! To see that argument regurgitated here is a little disappointing. Yes, on average women do earn less than men, but it’s for more than just discrimination.

Men also pay more tax, on account of the fact they generally earn more. Something like 72% of income tax in the UK is provided by men, so women paying the same amount on their milk and bread despite paying less tax is actually in their favour.

Then we come to the idea of gender-specific toys:

‘There is still so much traditional conditioning where little girls are encouraged to be princesses and play with tea sets while boys are given toys that resemble the building blocks of engineering, the sciences, and even war, another form of power accumulation humans hold dear.

Little girls are encouraged to read and study, but only for the sake of their own minds, not for the sake of the future of our planet’

This is something that’s cropping up more and more in the news with the campaigns, mainly by feminist groups, to move towards more gender-neutral toys in order to stop the idea that gender is socially constructed and we guide children towards the toys we expect them to play with.

The problem I have with this is that, in essence, it again tries to shame those who actually choose to play with the stereotyped toys. We are almost telling little girls that they are a disappointment to their mothers, to their own gender, if they choose to play with dolls and other gender-stereotyped toys.

http://www.buzzfeed.com/tabathaleggett/lego-just-got-told-off-by-a-7-year-old-girl

We can all throw our arms up in victory at the little girl in the articles letter, but at what cost? It’s one person, one customer for Lego. I’m not saying that the issue shouldn’t be addressed, but how may countless thousands, millions even, do you think Lego spend on research and development before producing new toys? The idea that Lego is actively involved in gender discrimination because they make toys for the customer base that is likely to buy them is over-simplified.

Women’s Rights News, that Facebook bastion of moral fortitude, posted something similar about gender-neutral toys and, as like the article above, it got a mixed response, from both men and women. A common consensus was that girls love playing with Lego, and many anecdotal stories in both comments sections attest to that. Funnily enough, I can remember absolute no girls loving Lego when I was growing up. Me and my best mates would build together, play together, tear apart together and then re-build together. We’d build according to the instructions, then tear it down and just build something else with the parts. All of us have sisters; what was their reaction? Yep, they laughed at us, thought we were stupid, dweeby little boys for playing with our toys. Point is, some simple anecdotal cry of ‘well, I used to play with Lego and I’m a girl’ isn’t enough to change the way a multi-million pound corporation goes about its business.

Complaints abound that there are Lego sets based on Indiana Jones, Star Wars and Spider-man, all featuring male characters and no female characters. That’s a problem we can solve, but I don’t feel like the entire structure or marketing of Lego needs to change to address what is probably a very small section of their customer base.

I’ve seen countless parents in Toys R Us say to their female children “go and pick a Barbie” and to their son “go and pick a Power Ranger” and the kid obliges. I’ve also seen countless parents say to their kids, both boys and girls, “go and pick a toy” and the kids have gone straight to the gender stereotypes.

I’m a kinaesthetic person, I like to build things, I like to have something in my hand when I’m relaxing (no, not my penis you foul people!), I always have to have something in my hands, usually a whiteboard pen, when I’m teaching. My sister, on the other hand, couldn’t build a basic towel rail that came in five parts, I had to build it. A few years ago I built a greenhouse for my Granddad. The point is, some people fit very well within the gender stereotypes. On Plenty of Fish (the popular dating website) a lot of women have their personality type set as ‘princess’, and these are women in their mid twenties and up. I posted a screencap of someone on my Facebook page, a feminist, stating that she was tired and needed to ‘find a rich man’, underneath which came a very enthusiastic message of approval from another woman.

What gender neutrality does is further the idea that you shouldn’t like what is traditionally geared towards you. If you’re a girl and you love pink you’re made to feel like you shouldn’t, made to feel like you’re just choosing the route of oppression. If you’re a boy and you don’t want to wear a pink frilly dress you’re told that you automatically think less of women. I don’t want to wear a dress, not because I’m a misogynist, but because I’d look fucking stupid in a dress. I look stupid in shorts.

Gender neutrality leads to this kind of thing:

http://www.salon.com/2014/02/02/my_problem_with_pink/

If your own parent is so desperate to guide you away from what they consider to be stereotyped, despite the fact it is what you choose to buy then what are we telling our kids? The woman in the article has no problem letting her kids dress up in clothes that resemble clowns attire, or would have no problem with a son wearing a dress, yet actively denies her child something she has expressly asked for because it doesn’t fit her ideals? What is that teaching little girls? Far from teaching them to be and do anything they want, it’s telling them, from a young age, that by simply liking something traditionally associated with being feminine you are somehow buying into patriarchal oppression.

Do I have the answer? No, not at all. I don’t think there is one ‘answer’; I don’t think gender neutral toys are the only way of fixing something. I think the role parents play is essential. It’s important that parents don’t pigeonhole their kid’s lives, but it’s also important that they don’t let their own agendas cloud their kid’s development.

There’s nothing wrong with encouraging women to go into typically masculine fields, and there’s nothing wrong with men wanting to cook or be a house-husband, but to completely neutralise all toys is, I feel, a massive over-reaction.

I’m sorry I’ve rambled on for pages, but I think Pamela makes some really good points, there is scope out there for change, but I think the measures proposed are extremely drastic and come from an over-inflated perspective of victimisation. Rather than neutralising everything, give Lego the chance to introduce some female minifigs into their sets. If they sell well, excellent we can move on, if they don’t, well, I guess the problem solves itself.

Pamela goes on to state:

‘Do I cry that life is not fair, or carve out my corner of the century while trying to avoid the unfairness? Is it really as black and white as surrender or fight?

I have no idea. For now I know that I will just keep believing in feminism whether I look like one or not. I will keep believing in the equality, but not the sameness, and keep asking questions, listening to people’s reasoning, and decide for myself where I stand on that particular isolated issue.‘

Again, I don’t want to tell her what to believe, or take away a label she puts on herself, but it seems, to me, that her faith in feminism is blind loyalty. She puts her faith in a movement that she hopes will find the solution, rather than one she knows is doing the right thing. Is feminism the only movement out there fighting for equal rights? No, it’s not, but it’s perhaps the most vocal and the most promoted, I’m not surprised she identifies as a feminist, it seems like the ideal movement. If you go by what everyone claims feminism is about then you have to wonder why people, such as me, can find anything wrong with it. But, there are things wrong with it.

All credit to Pamela, she’s smart enough to know that men and women are different, even in their quest to be equal. She knows that she doesn’t have all the answers, I don’t think anyone can claim that, I certainly don’t. However, I do find that, despite her claims to be a feminist, the last sentence above flies in the face of every feminist I’ve encountered. I can’t reconcile the profile of Pamela I’m getting from her article with the feminism I see on a daily basis. Maybe it does exist and I’m just blind to it, but I often find feminists completely unwilling to listen, completely unwilling to ask questions, so blinded by their faith in the movement they crave that it’s impossible to have anything resembling a coherent debate without being referred to as a misogynist simply for disagreeing.

For me, Pamela Simpson embodies everything I’ve encountered in female anti-feminists. While I wouldn’t try and question one person’s own beliefs, I would simply point out that, despite the mass attention feminism gets, it’s perhaps not the best movement to follow if you truly are for equality as is real. The feminist ideal of equality is quite different from the reality Pamela, and I and many others, strive for.

She finishes with this:

‘And when I do have children one day, if I have a little girl, I guarantee you that she can have the dragon story-books she wants and the junior science kit in any colour she so desires while wearing a princess dress and doc-martins if that’s what she chooses after she completes her chores of mowing the lawn with mommy.

Her equality will begin at home so that when she’s out there, she won’t have to surrender to anyone other than herself.’

I cannot argue with that. That is exactly the philosophy I adhere to. It’s not a particularly revolutionary one, it’s not one that’s going to end world hunger or world poverty, it’s just a simple way of life that is individualistic and allows natural growth and progression without the constant interference of a movement that claims they are helping.

And before you call me a coward for writing this about someone who can’t defend themselves, I’m fully intending on sending this blog to Pamela in the hopes she will read it and engage in some kind of discussion about the topic.

Pamela, if you’ve made it this far (maybe I do ramble on a bit too much) then my Facebook and E-mail are listed below. I look forward to hearing from you. J

johnsalmonworld@hotmail.co.uk

https://www.facebook.com/john.salmon.7906

A feminist who’s willing to talk, well, you don’t see that everyday!

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