Sunday, May 24, 2009

Clive James on Feminism and Democracy

For BBC News:

Democracy is the best chance for women. Or if that sounds too naive, too pro-western perhaps, then let's put it this way. The absence of democracy is seldom good news for women. Or, to get down to bedrock, if women can't vote for women, then they haven't got many weapons to fight with when they seek justice.

My own view, which I'm ready to hear contested, is that this is the main reason why some feminists in the west have been so slow to get behind those women in the world's all too numerous tyrannies who have to risk their lives to say anything.

It's just too clear a proof that men have a natural advantage when it comes to the application of violence. When you say that women have little chance against men if it comes to a physical battle, you are conceding that there really might be an intractable difference between the genders after all.

Ideological feminists in the West were for a long time reluctant to concede this, because they preferred to believe that there was no real difference, and that all female handicaps were imposed by social stereotyping that could be reversed by argument. But this belief was really possible only in a society where the powers of argument had a preponderance over the powers of violence.

And since many western feminists are still convinced that the social stereotyping of the West is the product of fundamental flaws within liberal democracy itself, they have a tendency to believe that undemocratic societies are somehow valuable in the opposition they offer to the free countries which the feminists are so keen to characterise as not free enough.

I have to pick my words carefully here, because this is the touchiest theme I have ever tackled in these broadcasts, but I do think it's high time to say that if feminist ideologists find liberal democracy unfriendly, they might consider that the absence of liberal democracy is a lot less friendly still.

But isn't this the story of the Left generally? At its moment of triumph, Western Liberalism embraced an ideology of suicide: multiculturalism. Its victory over America hadn't come soon enough, it reasoned, so we lost the moral authority not only to speak against evil abroad -- indeed, only America itself is truly evil -- but even to defend ourselves against enemies far more socially "backward" than we ourselves had ever been.

Feminism, for its own tactical reasons, chose to join this coalition-of-the-damned. I predict that path will end badly for them.

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