Posts Tagged ‘Belinda Brooks-Gordon’

[this is the third part from series of posts on feminism:
feminism as philosophical theory (part 1); feminism as political ideology (part 2); feminism as a marketing campaign (part 3)].

finally i would move on to consider feminism as successful marketing campaign run by strictly commercial feminist organisations. short explanation of this view would have to start with consideration of mechanisms and techniques used by pressure groups and various activists to raise awareness among the public about their “causes” and by doing so apply pressure on bureaucratic apparatus of modern welfare-states. which subsequently translates to inflow of large governmental grants, facilitating further promotion of the “cause” and allowing to maintain achieved status. and all this in the name of equality and war on unjust treatment of victimised groups in society. quite clearly there is hardly anything unusual in such relationship between pressure groups and governmental agencies. however what makes feminist activism so successful is the fact that unlike other social movements it does not advocate for the rights of minority groups but on the contrary has an direct appeal to the majority of the population. which makes politicians particularly susceptible to propagated by feminist groups ideas and their agendas.

it is important to note that such activism should not be necessarily a bad thing; and history of women liberation movement shows how this can be truly aimed at eradicating gender inequalities within legal system. however, after securing its main victories during the second wave the largest feminist organisations resembled powerful and well organised multinational corporations which could not simply disband and disappear. their enormous influence enabled them to pursue other social agendas not necessarily concerned with equality which is hardly a well defined concept. in such an environment emergence of high flying activists/entrepreneurs was just a matter of time.

in favourable environment, reinforced by existing organisational structures and encouraged by politicians from all sides who were keen to jump on the bandwagon of equality , these feminist activist/entrepreneurs were highly effective in securing grants handed out by governments of most powerful states. in addition the absence of any kind of competition meant that these organisations gained monopoly in number of areas now considered as women issues.

finally, in order to maintain their superior positions these organisations flooded the media with their research reports based on questionable “evidence”, dubious “facts” and misconstrued accounts official statistical data. unsurprisingly, in such ferocious medial storm over certain social issues and faced with unscrupulous propaganda techniques, the underfunded academic research tended to pass unnoticed by general public and effectively could be ignored by governmental officials and policy makers.

in interesting comment to the guardian, Belinda Brooks-Gordon gives an account of such mechanism in relation to sex work and trafficking (Vested interests have inflated the numbers of trafficked women).

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there is abundance of various materials in relation to feminist propaganda aimed at achieving certain ideological gains in many other areas and i touched on these issues in my earlier posts (“when ignorance reigns, life is lost”, fact is a feminist issue and on julie bindel’s unhealthy and disturbing fantasies) but since this entry (and previous two) turned out to be solely based on my misguided rumblings and is so obnoxiously free from any kind of references i feel compelled to invite those interested in the subject to consider how effective these “feminist techniques” proved to be by looking at some of the issues deterring researchers concerned with intimate partner violence for the last few decades and which were brilliantly summarised by prominent academics from the University of British Columbia, Donald G. Dutton and Tonia L. Nicholl in their article “The gender paradigm in domestic violence research and theory: Part 1-The conflict of theory and data.”. [Dutton, D.G., Nicholls, T.L. (2005), The Gender Paradigm in Domestic Violence Research and Theory: Part 1 – The Conflict of Theory and Data, Aggression and Violent Behavior, 10, pp. 680-714].

also i would like to take the opportunity and strongly recommend further reading of academic articles treating on the same subject in context of domestic violence :

Dutton, D. G., Corvo, K. N., & Hamel, J. (2009). The gender paradigm in domestic violence research and practice part II: The information website of the American Bar Association. Aggression and Violent Behavior, 14, 30-38. (link)

Gelles, R. J. (2007). The politics of research: The use, abuse, and misuse of social science data – the case of intimate partner violence. Family Court Review, 45, 42-51. (link)

Kelly, L. (2003). Disabusing the definition of domestic abuse: how women batter men and the role of the feminist state. Florida State Law Review, 30, 791-855. (link)

summing up, the presented above general overview of feminist theoretical underpinnings and its political activism, as i understand them show how this once credible and powerful social movement was subsequently reduced over the past decades to lacking legitimacy cultist following built around particularly hateful dogma which subsidises large number of horrendous, money making enterprises. and having very little concern about equality and women issues. having said that I am glad to announce that I am officially through with feminism in all its shapes and forms because in my humble and misguided opinion, modern feminism (with exception of egalitarian strain) at best should be seen as some prejudicial and vicious money making scheme which has very little to offer for modern societies (western) which regard equal, fair and just treatment of all individuals as the highest priority.

which does not mean that reports on curious feminist stunts will disappear from this space.
it’s just too much fun.

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[this is the second part from series of posts on feminism:
feminism as philosophical theory (part 1)feminism as political ideology (part 2)feminism as a marketing campaign (part 3)].


analysis from this viewpoint allows to tolerate certain theoretical inconsistencies and gives greater flexibility by significantly lowering the standards. moreover, such approach might seem the most appropriate since the feminist movement initially was geared towards political changes and remains closely tied with political activism.

i would begin by restating the undoubtedly most emphatic and crucial feminist claim that gender equality is the main objective of its political activities. this assertion is crucial to the feminist political movement for it grants legitimacy to its agenda. however it is fairly obvious that majority of feminists would insist on the notion that gender equality should not be confused with equal treatment in law and gender neutral legislation. i have very little interest in elaborating on what could feminist idea of gender equality entail. thus i would simply narrow down my analysis and consider only those aspects that would necessarily apply in every circumstances regardless of the feminist definition of gender equality.

at first i would point to patently obvious fact (which in this context i find quite amusing) that “equality” is a mathematical concept and as such does not exist in natural world. which means that the best we could hope for is certain “degree of equality”. having said that one might note that methods capable of measuring this “degree” at any certain point in time might present quite a challenge. furthermore, once desired levels are attained there would be similarly difficult task to fulfil in respect of means to monitor such a “heavenly equilibrium”.

however tough these problems might seem (or not) to anyone they are unfortunately just a warm up, because next we would have to account for practicalities of political processes applicable in all complex societies. in doing so we would have to make significant allowance for constantly changing circumstances and complexities of social interactions across different societies which are typical to our times.
it is not difficult to imagine what would happen to feminist (or for that matter, any other) definition of gender equality once it is put through such a grinder as presented above. but it would be a safe bet to say that once it is exposed to realities of politics the initially egalitarian agenda might turn into something quite nasty and be easily hijacked and further derailed by some radical and highly vocal political players. obviously such players would at all time insist and pledge their allegiance to the idea of equality while proclaiming their holy war on injustice in modern societies.

at this point it might seem plausible to take a closer look at initial feminist claims in relation to equality. it is patently obvious that essentially feminism is built upon the notion of social conflict. unsurprisingly the struggle for power between conflicting sides forms the main theme in feminist political activism; without conflict there would be no need for feminism. i do not see how political ideology that insist on existence of social conflict could strive for power in order to allegedly end the conflict. or maybe it doesn’t. one might only wonder what are the real motives behind feminist political activities.

on the other hand however, it could be argued that conflict is inseparable quality behind every political activity. however, what this claim encapsulates is a conflict as a difference of opinions or difference in preferred approach to certain issues held by conflicting sides. in such a conflict individuals are free to chose their sides or opt out from the argument; they are free to switch sides as many times as they see fit; they are even allowed to agree with one another ending the conflict all together! the conflict presented by feminist ideology is markedly different in that respect and it goes far beyond difference of opinion or disagreement between conflicting sides, for it insist and depends on differentiating between individuals on the basis of their sex!!!

this notion of conflict inherent in feminist ideology should make most of us feel a bit uncomfortable. however, we might still reasonably agree that many actions taken by feminist organisations are intended to eradicate inequalities in modern societies. in this case we might even decide to ignore alienating ideas and divisive character of their inconsistent theoretical framework as long as it does not have influence on their activities. this however cannot be said about radical strain of the feminist movement which due to its vociferous activism and reckless campaigning managed to gain ground, captivating public attention and contaminating public debate. their openly hostile discourse would have to be described as dangerous and hateful rhetoric based on supremacist ideology which vindicates one particular group of individuals above the other. these groups together with their alienating doctrines should not be ignored as most of us would not ignore angry, racist comment made in our presence.  and this is where i would gladly end my evaluation of feminism as political ideology and would move on to consider feminism as a marketing campaign.

this is the first instalment from a series of posts treating about, yes, feminism at which i intend to look from three different angles. the first two posts will consider feminism as philosophical theory and political ideology, respectively and then, finally, i would consider feminism as particularly lucrative business model bringing significant financial gains to certain feminist groups and organisations which turns women liberation movement into strictly commercial enterprises; in short, nothing new and nothing serious.

it must be noted at the beginning that i am fully aware of simplicity of the following analysis, but i believe that despite the high level of abstraction, my approach could provide feasible framework for more detailed examinations. what’s more, it seems to me that furnishing such a framework with necessary details could be done with reasonable ease and in fact such work has already been done to certain extent. so, let’s begin.

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looking at feminism from strictly theoretical point of view it is quite impossible not to realise that the philosophy behind the feminist movement presents something of an intellectual backwater. this lamentable state of feminist theory is largely result of its heavy reliance on psychoanalysis and ideas which for short i would describe as postmodern relativism, as tools of its philosophical analysis. i am not going to elaborate on circumstances surrounding this curious “choice” of tools but i will mention that it might have something to do with intellectual fashions but also it is not inconceivable that it stems from patently obvious nature of some of the feminist claims. for example, feminist insistence on lack of agency on the part of women in creating rules of social interactions could be seen as one of such claims and at best it is … well … unjustified if not rather naive.

in a very similar manner, i intend to brush off any detailed examination of the exciting relationship between feminist theory and psychoanalysis or relativism. and in respect of psychoanalysis i would merely point out that even though psychoanalysis might seem as useful tool in the field of literary criticism it cannot be reasonably regarded as reliable means of serious enquiry (“most stupendous intellectual confidence trick of the twentieth century”). this particular feature of psychoanalysis becomes almost self-evident once we consider that it tends to produce number of contradictory explanations of the same phenomena, which justifies the claim that this explanations give more reliable information about those who conduct the study rather than about the phenomena being studied.
moving on to curious world of relativism i must admit that i have no inclination whatsoever to drown myself in futile epistemological deliberations which comprise the only serious relativist argument. so in relation to feminist arguments invoking any notion of relativism i would simply note that these arguments by definition would validate multiple conclusions being drawn from the same premises. which would mean that feminist narratives and its reliance on women experiences of “otherness” are merely one of many equally valid narratives and being “other” is normal human condition applicable to all individuals regardless of their sex (or gender, ha!). i cannot imagine how this could be incorporated into feminist theories.

furthermore, even though feminism fails miserably to present independent and consistent philosophical argument it could incorporate theoretical framework developed by other schools of philosophical thought. however, this would make the very notion of feminism quite unnecessary and the very term “feminism” would only make artificial distinctions where they clearly don’t exist. as a good illustration of this principle one might look at egalitarianism and particular strains of modern feminism which are “feminist” only due to their insistence on using that term.

given that ideas forming the basis of feminist theory could not sustain serious (as opposed to confused) philosophical inquiry i am rather sceptical whether feminist narratives could endure serious scientific scrutiny. for this reason i am more than happy to avoid areas where serious empirical arguments are being presented to less than serious disputants and would happily move on to consider feminism as strictly political ideology.

since this post turned out to be particularly long one I’ve decided to cut it into three separate pieces: feminism as philosophical theory (part 1); feminism as political ideology (part 2); feminism as a marketing campaign (part 3).

enjoy