…. argues Aidan Rankin
Four out of ten eligible women are celibate, according to the latest General Household Survey. This report, published in March, 1997, revealed that 40% of single women between the ages of 16 and 49 are not in long-standing relationships with men and have sex rarely, if at all. Most, it seems, either haven’t got time or can’t be bothered. Many stay celibate, said Glenda Cooper in The Independent, because “men simply aren’t up to scratch”. A sexist comment, some might say.
And while we’re on the subject of sexism, this March saw another blow (or more precisely twenty-nine blows) struck for sexual equality. Gangsta rap devotee Sharon Carr distinguished herself by becoming the youngest convicted murderess in Britain, after she confessed to stabbing eighteen year old Katie Rackliffe to death in a frenzied knife attack when she was only twelve years old.I am waiting to hear Sharon Carr acclaimed as a feminist icon. If you think that this is a sick joke from a disgruntled male, remember the widely-held liberal belief that Myra Hindley has been ‘demonised’ because she is a woman as well as an evil child-killer. Consider also that for the past two decades orthodox feminists have launched an all-out war to prove that women can lie, cheat, exploit, elbow people out of jobs, bed-hop (at least until recently) and generally be as unpleasant and selfish as men, or more so. Meanwhile, men are blamed for everything from crime to family breakdown to the ecological crisis.
Reading ‘ecofeminist’ tracts about ‘female nature’ ravished by male industrialism, a Martian might assume that women never drive cars or buy make-up tested on animals. The advertisers, who are very much of this world, know differently — most adverts for cars, cosmetics and the cult of shopping generally are now aimed at the woman with a liberated wallet. Socialist feminism has made way for Gold Blend feminism.Two ideas occur to me here. The first is that it is not the women, but the men, who are on sex strike. Why bother, after all, if you’re ‘not up to scratch’ and the root of the world’s problems anyway? The second is that in our relentless pursuit of parity, or sameness, between the sexes we are in danger of vanishing as a species — at least in the Western world, which is obsessed with every form of egalitarianism other than income distribution. By turning men and women into competitors in the market-place, we turn them into rivals and enemies, not people who co-operate to keep communities together and solve social problems.
Barely a month goes by without establishment politicians talking about ‘opportunities’ for (middle-class) women, ‘opportunities’ usually being a euphemism for quotas. It is significant that the orthodox feminists have consistently resorted to reverse discrimination and censorship to achieve their goals. So puritanical is the women’s movement, according to US cultural critic Camille Paglia, that she wishes she were not a woman at all but a gay man. At least they still know how to be outrageous and can admit to liking rough men with strong bodies and hairy chests!
As is often the case, we can draw useful lessons from indigenous societies not yet colonised by Coca-Cola culture. In Amazonia or the Kalahari, women have powers beyond the wildest dreams of Western career feminists. Those powers do not derive from the relentless pursuit of ‘sameness’, but from a celebration of difference, from male and female roles that complement, rather than compete with or undermine each other. It would not occur to Kung or Yanomami man that hunting and military skills made them superior to the women who ran the village, brought up their children and on whom their lives entirely depend. The women, in turn, have far too much practical sense to demand quotas of hunters and warriors.I am not suggesting that we directly apply the principles of hunter-gatherer direct democracy to our complex and increasingly fragmented Western world. Nor am I suggesting that women cannot be as good as, or better, than men at being soldiers or explorers, lawyers or academics. But the prevailing cult of sameness, and the frenzied competition between men and women for status and power is bad for both sexes and is blocking wider social change.
It is no coincidence that the Labour Party emphasises ‘gender issues’ more than ever before at just the time when it has stopped even pretending that it aims to end poverty. The labour movement itself would never have got off the ground if men and women had seen each other as competitors and adversaries. Without the extended family, based on male/female balance, there would have been no co-operatives, no workers’ education projects and (for that matter) no suffragette movement, only the nihilism and despair that are all too familiar today.
If our culture is to survive, we must urgently re-examine the structure of work and the way we organise our society. To do this, we need desperately to restore the balance of male and female principles. The ‘gender war’ serves only commercial interests, unscrupulous employers and ‘politically correct’ social engineers. They know that it is when we stop competing and start co-operating that their system is in danger.