karen straughan girl writes what 750

When female privilege backfires

Editorial note: The following is the basic transcript of Girl Writes What’s video When Female Privilege Backfires. As per usual sometimes she goes a little off-script in the video but this is what she had to say, for those of you who prefer to read rather than listen to videos. Still, here’s the video, with a couple of other links to items she references. Translations of this transcript are also available in Spanish and Swedish.–DE

The journalist, a woman named Mika Rekai, and I…we had an interesting discussion. She seemed quite pleasant, though that doesn’t mean she’s not planning on writing a hit piece. If she isn’t planning on writing a hit piece, it’s probably a toss-up as to whether her article will make it past the editor’s desk, something she admitted could well happen, but that’s a whole other story.

Anyway, we’ll see. But some of her questions got me thinking. At one point I told her that what was once radical feminist thought is now mainstream–not mainstream feminism but mainstream culture. That if, for instance, you walked up to anyone on the street and said, “Women were historically oppressed,” their answer would be “of course”. And I’ve even seen MRAs, and MRM-friendly people such as Christina Hoff Sommers, parrot this line of thinking–that women in the past were oppressed because they were women.

Ms. Rekai responded with something along the lines of, “Wait, so you don’t believe women were oppressed?”

I said no. I tried to explain myself, though I don’t know if my arguments were as cogent as they could have been. And I mentioned a conversation I’d recently had with my sister, who has some bit of knowledge of the Canadian military and its operations, about certain customs in Afghanistan. Specifically the local custom followed when people sought medical care at free clinics run by the military or NGOs. The tradition there is men first, children second, women last.

Now, I had asked my sister if she could figure out some reason other than “men are privileged” or “because penis” to explain that custom. She said, “Well, yeah, I suppose the reasoning for it is that if the man dies, the whole family is toast. That if the man gets too sick to work, the whole family suffers.” At the same time, she attributed that state of affairs to the fact that under Taliban rule, only men were allowed to work outside the home–that men were, in fact, the only ones allowed to even LEAVE the home unaccompanied.

Now, I mentioned to the journalist, Mika, that the Taliban had been very clever in how they forced both genders into very restricted and regimented sets of roles and duties. They restrict the freedoms of those who value safety over freedom (women), and they thereby impose the role of protector/provider–falsely naming it “freedom”–on those who value freedom over safety (men).

That is, if you have two people and one of them is ordered to stay home, and you tell the other he is free to go outside…well, what do you have? You’ve got two people stuck in their roles, not just one. Is the second person REALLY free to decide what he wants to do? There are only two of them, and one is confined to the home, not allowed to work. Someone has to go out and perform the tasks that require interaction with the world. Neither of these people are free. And one of them is at significantly greater day-to-day risk in a place like Afghanistan. Hint: it’s not the one who stays indoors.

It was not always this way in Afghanistan. Prior to the 30 years of proxy warfare that ravaged their country, Afghan society was quite progressive, relatively speaking. Most westerners would probably be surprised by the number of older women confined to their homes by the Taliban, and barred from paid work, who were educated professionals. But people who understand how societies operate understand that safety and prosperity go hand in hand with the relaxing of often stringent cultural and legal standards. When the Soviets invaded, all that progressiveness kind of went out the window. And after thirty years of other societies taking a wrecking ball to Afghanistan, they found themselves back in a Dark Ages of poverty, conflict, subsistence living, and regional warlords interested in grabbing land and power, crushing the poor and the hapless under their boot heels to do it.

The Taliban offered order. A top-down method of controlling the chaotic that was, at least nominally, based on a moral doctrine to which most Afghans already subscribed to one degree or another. It offered to slash back the power-grabbing of warlords, and replace it with a life-path for ordinary people that, while repressive and totalitarian, appeared on the surface to be a safe one, so long as you didn’t step off its tightrope breadth.

The Taliban offered a narrow fundamentalist interpretation of the social and moral structure that already existed within the culture. And it represented a codifying of what had previously been random–unlike under the warlord system of regional government, under the Taliban, you at least had some idea as to what behaviors would get you shot in the back of the head.

One thing the Taliban didn’t do was completely rewrite Islamic law pertaining to female privilege and male obligation.

And here is the root of things, they way I see it. Afghanistan became a society where leaving your house was taking your life in your hands, and where there were few opportunities to earn money or generate productivity, but where people still need to eat. And under Islamic law, women bear no economic responsibility to anyone. Not even themselves.

I watched a video not too long ago where a Muslim woman named Zara Faris spoke quite persuasively about how Muslim women do not need feminism.

One of her arguments was that Islamic law does not specifically prohibit women from working–on the contrary, Muslim women can not only work under Islamic law, but they need not share their earned income with their families. Basically, if a Muslim woman has a job, the money she earns is hers and hers alone, while her husband remains obligated to provide any and all economic support for the family, including the necessities his working wife requires for her own upkeep.

I work with a man from Lebanon who confirmed this tradition for me. He has a wife and five children, and works two jobs to support them. His wife stays at home, and that’s exactly where he wants her. Not because he’s being a dominating, repressive, misogynistic man, but because if she CHOSE to work outside the home, he and their children have no right to the smallest share of her income, and yet he is still required to provide for his wife’s basic needs. On the other hand, if she were working, daycare would become a “necessity”, and it would be my coworker who would be stuck with the bill. In other words, if his wife CHOSE to work outside the home, to pay for luxuries only she had any right to indulge in with that money, he would have to take a third job to make it possible for her to do so.

And this is…well, I suppose it’s great for a lot of Muslim women when times are easy. Not so great when things are harsh.

Because when you have a group of people who MUST use their productivity to support themselves and others, and another group who are entitled to be supported by the productivity of others, and no obligation to even be productive… well, when the shit hits the fan, which of these groups is going to be barred from taking the few available jobs? Will it be the group who must use their income to support themselves and other people, or the ones who don’t even have to support themselves?

Under Islamic law, a woman with a job can technically allow her own children to starve, even if she has the money to feed them. If those children DO starve, it is her husband who will be considered socially, morally and legally accountable for failing to provide the necessities of life to his children. And while I doubt there are many women who would actually do this, it’s how the law is written.

In Afghanistan today, a woman with a job (a job she doesn’t need because under Islamic law she has an entitlement to be supported by her husband, father or son) is not just taking that job from a man, she’s taking food out of the mouths of that man’s family. If she takes a safe, easy job (as women are wont to do), then the man she displaces will have to take a more dangerous one. If he’s killed, she’s taken the provider away from the woman and children who depended on him.

Likewise, if her daughter takes one of the few available desks in school, someone else’s son may be denied an education and the future job he will be obligated to take, to support both himself and the people who are entitled to his support, will be less well-paying, and the quality of life of multiple people will suffer.

And Islamic law and custom is so strict on this set of entitlements and obligations that in Afghanistan, you can find 13 year old boys selling themselves as sex slaves to provide for their mothers and sisters.

Echoes of this set of entitlements and obligations resounded in the western world after feminism had its way with the second half of the 19th century. Prior to that time, a woman’s income and property was subsumed by her husband, but depending on where you are, that all changed sometime between the mid 1800s and the turn of the century, at which point women’s income and property rights in the west actually became a carbon copy of what exists under Islam.

A story in the Milwaukee Journal from 1912 illustrates this quite well, in its examination of the tactics of British suffragettes who used a loophole in the law to turn their husbands into prison-cell activists by manipulating the exact same legal and cultural standards at play in Afghanistan. To elaborate, a married woman’s income and property had been emancipated, by feminist activism, from the institution of family for some time–not just from her husband’s influence, mind you, but from anyone’s benefit but her own. However, her husband’s patriarchal obligations to finance her “necessities” remained intact, and one of those necessities was the burden of taxation on her income. If she earned income, her husband and children had no right to it, but her husband, not herself, was the person obligated to pay tax on that income. If he had no means to pay–after paying for all the material necessities of the entire family, including his wife–it was he who would be imprisoned for tax evasion.

Editor’s note: See that 1912 story here. –DE

What I find amusing in all of this, since in the west these circumstances had only emerged due to feminist activism, is that Islamic law had enshrined these particular ideals of women’s liberation long before the Declaration of Sentiments was signed at Seneca Falls in 1848, or even Mary Wollstonecraft’s Vindication of the Rights of Women was penned in the late 1700s.

This is why the idea of male privilege is so fucking bogus. Privileges are entitlements. What men have had through history wasn’t entitlement, because it was a necessary element of their obligations–a tool handed to men because it was needed by men in order to fulfil their legally, economically and socially enforced obligations to women and children, not because penis.

There are duties and there are rights. To have a duty necessarily entails having a right. The rights granted generally facilitate one’s ability to perform one’s duties. If one has no such duties, the rights required to fulfil them are not only unnecessary, they may actually be detrimental to the ability of others to fulfil their duties to you.

If you have a duty to be productive economically and utilize that productivity to economically provide for yourself and others, you must have a right to engage in activities that result in economic productivity. If you have a duty to make sure you and others have the material necessities of life such as clothing, shelter, and food, then you must have the right to determine that the money is spent on clothing, shelter and food. If you have a duty to protect yourself and others, you must have a right to make decisions for yourself and those you protect, and a right to place yourself in danger.

If you don’t have those duties, you do not need the rights attached to them. In fact, you having those rights may actually interfere with the duties of others to provide the entitlements you enjoy through their obligation.

And when everyone’s living on the bottom tier of Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, you’re probably not going to be given those rights, because you having them would interfere with the ability of those who do to perform them, for you or for someone else who is entitled to them.

A husband cannot fulfil his duty provide for a wife if someone else’s wife displaces him from the workforce. A husband cannot fulfil his duty to ensure his family has the things they need if he doesn’t manage the family purse. A husband cannot fulfil his duty to protect a wife if she is not required to duck when he tells her to duck.

Historically, all of these things–provisioning, protection and support–were FEMALE entitlements. This is female privilege. And, though I hate to borrow a phrase from feminism, what happened in Afghanistan around barring women from work and girls from education, is essentially female privilege backfiring on women and girls. When jobs are scarce, you don’t give them to people who have an entitlement to benefit from the obligation of others to work. When education is scarce, you don’t give that to people who have an entitlement to benefit from the obligation of others that is facilitated by education. You give those things to the people who have a duty to share the benefits of them with others, not the people who are legally allowed to hog all those benefits for themselves.

Afghanistan is not a society that oppresses women. It’s a society where everyone’s stuck in the grip of cruel circumstances and Islamic laws that burden men with duties that require rights, and bestow entitlements on women that don’t, and coping the best way they can. And the only way you’re going to “improve” the situation for women and girls in Afghanistan, you know, get them access to jobs outside the home or to educations and not have a huge backlash, is to remove the entitlement women have to the material support and protection of men, and thereby remove men’s obligation to provide those things. Until you do those things, you’re just spinning your wheels, and harming the only people who have any obligation to anyone but themselves, while handing unfettered potential to earn money and power to people who don’t even have a duty to feed of their own children.

Another example of female privilege backfiring would be the continually skewing sex gap in births in China. Female fetuses are selected for abortion. Female babies are abandoned, drowned or smothered. And feminists would have you believe this is because men in China are privileged and arbitrarily over-valued, and women hated and arbitrarily undervalued.

But you can read any Chinese newspaper and come across stories about this elderly couple or that elderly couple, suing their sons for not taking proper care of them in their old age. You never see any of them suing their daughters, because their daughters have no obligation–legal or social–to take care of them. A girl’s parents actually still have an obligation to take care of her, if she doesn’t marry and can’t (or refuses to) support herself.

For all of Mao’s rhetoric about women holding up half the sky, he did nothing to ensure women did so when the sky was full of elderly people who needed economic support, did he? He liberated women by encouraging they exploit their own economic productivity without holding them responsible for even themselves, but oddly enough, kept men chained to their traditional, non-egalitarian obligations.

In China, you have no social safety net to speak of, nothing much in the way of social security or pensions, no one but your son to make sure you don’t starve when you’re too old to work…and you have a policy that allows you to have only one child.

What do you think is going to happen when you have that situation and couple it with a set of gendered duties and entitlements that mean a family who has a boy is potentially a two-child family (son and daughter in law), and one who has a girl is in the best case scenario a no-child family.

If feminists really cared about what’s going on in China, what they’d do is agitate to burden women with a duty of care for their parents, or emancipate men from said duty. That would solve the problem, eventually.

I know there are families in China who want girls, who even favor them, because even given this harsh economic incentive, many families still have girls, and because in rural areas where families can sometimes get away with having more than one child, they’ll often have a girl as well as a boy.

But you won’t stop people from preferring boys under a one-child policy until you obligate girls to be as useful and exploitable to their families as boys are. You just won’t. You especially won’t if men’s obligations make them useful to their parents while women’s entitlements make them a potential burden to those parents in old age.

You certainly won’t solve the problem by attributing it to “male privilege” and “lack of equal rights for women”. Because that’s not what’s causing it. What’s causing it is a lack of equal obligation for women. You can give women all the same rights as men, but if they don’t have the same obligations as men, they won’t be treated equally, and that inequality is going to emerge in extreme forms during extreme circumstances like Afghanistan after 30 years of decimation, and China when people are only allowed one child and circumstances are such that that one child will be either a crutch or a pair of cement shoes when you’re too old to work.

Societies don’t oppress women or privilege men. They do tend to treat men and women differently and exploit them in different ways. What feminism seems to be about is expanding women’s rights without applying obligations, and expanding women’s entitlements while freeing them from the restrictions that used to be necessary for men to fulfil them. They’re about giving women the advantages of being a man without any of the costs, and removing the costs of being a woman without giving up any of the advantages.

When men got the vote, (and for a long time prior to that) they were obligated to serve their countries if need be, and obligated to serve their communities through civil conscription–bucket brigades, assisting police officers, things like that. When women got the vote, they had no reciprocal obligation placed on them.

When men received automatic custody after divorce, it was because they were solely obligated to support the children. When early feminists pushed through the TYD, that obligation did not shift onto women–mothers got custody, but fathers were still required to provide material support. Incidentally, once this doctrine was in place, the divorce rate, which had been a constant for centuries, increased 15-fold in just 50 years. Huh.

And the bill that was recently vetoed in Florida, that might have ended lifetime alimony? One of the primary justifications for that bill was that more women were finding themselves paying lifetime alimony to former partners due to mass male unemployment during the recession, and those women had just never expected they’d have to and thought it was unfair. By more women, I’m thinking probably 3% of all lifetime alimony payers in Florida. What do you know? Being treated like a man in every way just ain’t that great, is it? And contrary to what feminists try to tell people, it never has been.

That bill was put forward because women don’t like to be obligated the way men are–to pay their whole lives for the upkeep of a former spouse–and even a tiny percentage of them being forced to do it will get people to rethink a law that has obligated men for decades or even centuries.

Hell, just dare to suggest that a woman who chooses to have a baby without the consent of the biological father should be solely financially responsible for that child, let alone that a woman who chose to leave her husband out of boredom and take the kids with her should finance her own decision, and you’ll face vicious opposition from most feminists. Even though that exact situation–getting the kids and the entire job of feeding them–is defined as “historical male privilege” and “patriarchal oppression of women” when it used to happen to men.

Frankly, if women today were forced to bear the burdens that were historically had imposed on men, for which their greater rights were little more than the tools required to do the job, I think 99% of women would consider it a raw deal, and 99% of feminists would call it “oppression of women”. The fact that they’d see it that way just shows how privileged in many ways women have always been, and how shallow feminists’ view of the world, past and present, really is.

So I have an idea. How about feminists perform a little experiment.

First go to China and try to sell the idea of obligating daughters economically to their parents the way sons are. See if any of these young women will jump at the opportunity to take care of shit like a man is expected to.

Next, go to Afghanistan and tell women they are allowed to do anything their husbands do–work, get an education, even have custody of their children. Hell, tell them they can have all the BEST jobs. All they have to do is give up any and all entitlements to provision and protection, any and all obligation on the part of the men in their lives–fathers, husbands, brothers, sons–to help or support them, and let them know they’ll have to single-handedly provide for the material needs of any children they have. You’re on your own, honey. Grrl power. Good luck.

How many Afghan women does anyone think would take them up on it? When even in a middle class neighborhood in London–where she enjoys a set of rights similar to men’s, and would actually be capable of real economic independence–a Muslim woman can argue against feminism on the basis that Muslim women might have to give up codified female entitlements provided through male obligation?

I hate to tell you this, Zara Faris, but you really don’t have to worry about any of that. Feminists aren’t going to take away your privileges or remove your husband’s obligations to you. They’re only interested in taking away his privileges and removing your obligations.


To rile you up and lighten your wallets: http://www.avoiceformen.com/a-voice-for-men/from-stu-to-you/

British suffragettes arrange to have their husbands jailed: http://news.google.com/newspapers?id=5JQWAAAAIBAJ&sjid=7CAEAAAAIBAJ&pg=6049,712919&dq

Zara Faris at the London debate on feminism and Islam: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zI7tZDW4zQM

About Karen Straughan (aka GirlWritesWhat)

AVfM Contributing Editor Karen Straughan "Girl Writes What" is a middle-aged divorced mother of three who enjoys talking about herself in the third person. Her writing and videography on gender issues features in classrooms in high schools and universities on three continents. But she still has time for the little people, like Paul, and those other guys.

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  • Jared Spencer

    This is very well written article and I thank you for an informative read. I have to agree that at the times that I lift my head up from my labours and glance about all I ever see are my obligations and I very rarely see anything I would personally identify as a privilege. It is an honor and a joy to care for my wife and share our combined trials and triumphs… as I am obligated to do. It is no less an honor to be father and mentor to my children… and no less an obligation. I could go on, of course, but whole heartedly agree with the author’s statement that many, if not all of the rights and abilities possessed by men – and arbitrarily named privilege by some – are tools helping me fulfill and satisfy my many, many obligations.

  • AutopsyOval Greg

    It has occurred to me that the female advertises victimhood better to the world, and as well to herself. To counter this I want women to imagine that they have to go through what men have to go through, but still as females, because I think that it would advertise the situations better. Men can in turn go see what it would be like if their gender was female while still being men.

    You, if you are a female, will have to support a family, work in the dangerous jobs and lower jobs as well as the highest jobs where you are CEO most of the time. If you get a divorce, you are more likely to lose custody of your children, as well as half of the cash that you earned. Of course, it could have been your fault that the divorce happened, but in court cases the judge is unfair to see whether you are worthy or not. You will be forced into the military while the other sex is told that it can’t be in the military. But lets be honest, in that situation, you’d probably consider the other sex as lucky. You would be considered as the one who is in the situation of domestic violence with the opposite sex, as the person who is at fault. The idea that your sex is going to be murdered four times as much won’t be considered as anything special, because usually it is your own sex that murders you. But then again, that would make you unlucky and more of a target. You will also get a harsher sentence compared to the opposite sex if he committed the same crime as you did. Your sex will most likely be on the street and homeless too.

    Now for the male. First of all, you are going to have to omit some statistics like the 1 in 4 male victims are victims of rape and the idea that the wage gap exists entirely out of discrimination. And you have to admit that even though it is possible that you won’t get to be in the senate or any seat of power because of discrimination, that a survey has proven that women are much less interested in politics. Now, you are to concede that 1 in 3 men are physically abused in domestic violence according to a WHO report. Of course, it mentions nothing about the other sex, and according to other reports the male sex does 40% of the initiating in domestic violence. Then again, the females do more harm to the male sex because of their superior strength, not saying that you didn’t deserve it. You are also to admit that your sex is more likely to be sexually harassed by the opposite sex. And that being promoted might not happen because your sex is a deterrent. Of course, you might be hired too because of affirmative action. Your sex is not going to be believed outright that you’ve been raped, even though 2% of rape allegations are false according to the FBI. Then again, to put it into perspective, there is the tentative claim that women are raped in prison more than men do in the outside world. You have to take care of the kids if you do have a family, though how much work is required depends on the age of the kids and the chores that you have to do. But to be fair, as I said before, your wife will provide you with the home and the money from his work. I’m sure though, that if your work is laborious enough then you should get paid for taking care of the kids as a Dad.

    There you have it. I’m sure that if you are a woman looking through the male perspective while still remaining as a female, that things don’t look as great as you thought the male side would be.

  • Meistergedanken

    Women, women, women. An article by a woman…being interviewed by another woman…about muslim[Afghan] women.

    I am just going to comment here so that the name of this site – “A Voice for Men” – is not shown to be entirely inaccurate.

    Thank you for your past [and more judiciously helpful] efforts.

    • https://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Voice-for-Men/102001393188684 Paul Elam

      One of the things I love most about these kinds of comments is that they almost all come from someone who is bothering to show up in the comments for the first time. And sad to say they almost always come from men who are whining about a female writing here but have not even bothered to show up in the comments to support or lend their voice to the predominately male podium.

      Sorta makes me inclined to say, thanks for sharing, stupid. Now, do you do any other tricks, or is the the extent of your talent limited to not knowing the difference between “A Voice for Men” vs “A Voice by Men”?

      Fucking duh.

    • http://www.deanesmay.com Dean Esmay

      You obviously did not get the memo. The site’s new name is “A woman’s voice for queers.” Elam’s already in the physical transitioning phase of his sex change. He’s going to make quite the Amazon.

      • http://www.facebook.com/alexander.hunt.10 Alexander Hunt

        You owe me mindbleach.

      • feeriker

        God, Dean, didja hafta? Now I can’t unsee that image!!!!

        • http://www.avoiceformen.com August Løvenskiolds

          Let’s hope Typhon is not inspired to draw such a thing.

      • Stu

        Actually Dean, Paul isn’t transitioning to a woman, he was a woman posing as a man all along. His real name is Pauline Elamef.

      • Kimski

        I think I could live with that, as long as he doesn’t claim he’s been oppressed by us for centuries.

    • feeriker

      Your comment IS made in jest, correct?

    • Robert St. Estephe

      Too many would-be men’s rights activists are still under the spell of the false narrative of the past (called “Herstory”).

      SEE: “A Woman’s Voice” on The Unknown History of MISANDRY

    • Grumpy Old Man

      Incredible, did you just fall out of the sky.

      • http://www.avoiceformen.com August Løvenskiolds

        We should probably welcome him to the planet, in case he is male.

  • http://gravatar.com/jjrockmale El Bastardo


    GWW, you are going to receive death threats soon. GOOD JOB!

    Handle your bidness girlllllll. Just kidding, but seriously, keep kicking their butt. I am content to know that I am not the only one seeing it this way.

  • crydiego

    Karen, you make it so easy for me to laugh whenever someone accuses me of not liking strong women.

  • ComradePrescott

    By avoiding women I get to be a lot more free than I would be otherwise, but for my freedom isn’t free. I’m weird and creepy and probably gay. WHAT A LOSER HE DOESN’T HAVE A GIRLFRIEND!

    Hah, anyway, very intelligently thought out and well said. I’m a big fan of GirlWritesWhat.

  • GQuan

    It always disturbs me just how readily the majority of people seem to ignore, or never even begin thinking about, all of this, these potential answers for why cultures work the way they do, and the true nature of obligations, rights and duties, and instead accept the idea that every non-First World culture is busy maliciously oppressing women while letting men live the good life, and “just because” on top of it. I wonder at times if it’s a form of racial or tribal bigotry. After all, the protection and provision of women is so fundamental to most cultures’ sense of ethics that they can easily paint other nations as uncivilized in the public’s eyes by accusing them of “not treating their women properly”, or singling out the people they should be protecting for abuse. See for example: any wartime propaganda, ever.

  • Bewildered

    You have destroyed so many pet myths in one fell swoop. Brilliant as usual !

    Karen, you make it so easy for me to laugh whenever someone accuses me of not liking strong women.

    Yep! she doesn’t need to blow her trumpet !

    • feeriker

      You have destroyed so many pet myths in one fell swoop.

      I can just imagine the flood of logic and raw fact causing many feminist brainstemmers to go into some sort of state of toxic shock. Imagine salt being poured onto a garden slug…

  • http://gravatar.com/tombombadil2011 Tom

    Outstanding work as usual, Karen.

  • AltoidMuncher

    This is simply the most succinct and thurough articulation of nash equilibrium as applied to gender roles that I have ever read.

  • http://www.facebook.com/alexander.hunt.10 Alexander Hunt

    “Societies don’t oppress women or privilege men. They do tend to treat men and women differently and exploit them in different ways.”

    ^This. So. Fucking. Much. This little soundbite is an empire-killer.

  • feeriker

    Karen, this has to be your best work yet (for the moment, that is – I know there will be even greater things to come from your pen and mouth)!

    This should be required reading for EVERYONE, man or woman, feminist or traditionalist. As others have already noted, there is yet to be published a more clear and concise explanation (and de-confliction) of the natural order. I would certainly hope that Mika Rekai, your interviewer, has an absolutely clear understanding of the points you’ve made. I don’t think it’s possible to make reality and clearer or simpler.

  • Kimski

    I think I’ve mentioned this before, but I once witnessed a couple of blonde, obviously western, women trying to persuade a couple of Saudi Arabian women, that they were being oppressed by their husbands.

    This happened back in the mid-eighties. Next time I saw them they were running down the street with a bunch of native women in close pursuit, swearing and cussing at them.

    Ahh, sweet memories…Their male escort were laughing just as much as I did.

  • Political Cynic

    Brilliant. Absolutely brilliant!

  • http://pazzword0@gmail.com pazzover

    hollywood needs an airdrop of this material.soon.

  • Deucalion

    I read the whole thing and my only complaint is the whiplash I got from nodding unceasingly.
    Your mind is beautiful, Karen!

  • http://judgybitch.wordpress.com judgybitch


    As a woman supported by a man, I can tell you who has the sweet deal here. That would be me. The idea that I am oppressed because I am a housewife is utterly laughable.


    Let’s see: my work consists of pretty much whatever I feel like, and I do it whenever I feel like, to the standards that happen to appeal to me that day.

    Bills due? What are those?

    It is absurd that the law gives me the power to take all this from my husband on a whim. He could spend his entire working life paying for me to make cookies and mop the floor and crochet cute hats for the kids, and then I could just take it all.

    Who is oppressed again? Who is taking the risk here? Who is putting his entire safety and security into the hands of another?

    It’s not me.

    I have all the privilege. All of it.

    And while I’m grateful, I’m also deeply angry that the odds of my children being able to have this life are growing vanishingly small because how the hell does a man take a risk like this?

    Something has to give. And destroying the fallacy that it is MEN who have privileges while women do not is an excellent way to start.

    Well done, Karen. Well done indeed.

    • Shrek6

      Well said JB!
      Although men are progressively opting out of the situation your husband is in, the fact is, women like you make taking that risk worth while.

      Unfortunately, women like you are as scarce as Hen’s Teeth. Well over 95% of the female population DO NOT think like you, I’m afraid to say.
      So that makes your family situation and level of commitment plus happiness on the part of both husband and wife, very much unique!

      The time has come to strip the vast majority of women in society of this privilege, because they no longer deserve it.

      It’s time to force women into empty homes that they have to maintain themselves, so that both loneliness and their biological clocks, will go somewhere to forcing them to actually see feminism and all their genital benefits, are coated in poison.
      Then, maybe then they will start to speak out against their privilege and demand the dismantling of the feminist society they live in and start to treat all men with the respect they are due.

      Maybe then, the men ‘MIGHT’ decide to commit to a relationship where children can be born into a more stable family. MAYBE!!

    • http://www.avoiceformen.com August Løvenskiolds

      Grateful women like you, JB, are the rarest of treasures.

      There’s a new show on the Discovery Channel called “Naked and Afraid”. Two strangers, one man/one woman, are dropped naked into the wilderness and have to survive on their own for 3 weeks.

      In the pilot episode, the couple goes a week or so without food before the man finds and kills a poisonous, deadly snake. The woman, who had been hiding in their crude shelter, preps and eats the best parts for herself, never thanks the man for the food, and then complains that the snake was too small.

      Typical. Oddly, the man seems to have caught no more food for the duration of their ordeal.

    • Stu

      He could also spend his entire life working to pay you to sit on a meter wide arse with cellulite dimples deep enough to lube up and use for extra…..well….while watching soaps and Oprah, Dr Phil, and being indoctrinated into man hating, keeping the house looking like a cross between a rubbish tip and a trash and treasure market and bitching and whining about how a woman’s work is never done while he only works 14 hours per day.

      You don’t have to mop the floor and bake cookies, you know. What’s he gonna do about it if you don’t mop the floor and bake cookies……divorce you lol…..yeah right. Expecting you to do housework sounds like DV to me. :) Lets face it JB, you’re oppressed.

  • http://gravatar.com/fathers4fairness fathers4fairness


  • http://menaregood.com Tom Golden

    Fantastic articulation of the complicated interplay of rigid roles and behaviors when seen through the idiocy of a feminist lens. OPPRESSION!

    Thank you Karen for a powerful piece that should be read by all. I will never forget telling a politician in 2007 that I didn’t think women were oppressed. He looked at me with an open mouth incredulous stare that I will never forget. He was bright enough to get a sense that maybe he had been duped. Most people are simply not that smart and will simply get furious that you are stupid enough to think the world is round!

    Here’s a much less articulate youtube that discusses the idiocy of labeling women’s history as being oppression:


    Men Are Good!

  • Grumpy Old Man

    Incredible a Muslim woman tells the MRM perspective as if spoken from the pages of AVfM. I have gained an unexpected respect. GWW pulls this all together in her own special way and I’m humbled, feeling joy and tears of sadness at the same time in the wonder that these women get it. Islam gets the major points but missed a few fundamentals such as a shared perspective in men and women supporting the family while providing mutual support to each based on their abilities in the broader world. Maybe as a natural consequence of shared love this happens, but society in its perpetual need to forge people’s lives it intervenes. I think this is a consequence of bad actors. The best we can do is level the playing field.

  • http://none universe

    Very good exposition by GWW.

    I would dare say that what was written above closely reflects what really has occurred in many cultures operating in what Warren Farrell once described as being in survivalist mode. Western society has long since passed through this phase of development but unreasonable strains upon the men-folk and an unchallenged feminism may eventually lead us back to, if not a feral society, but an impoverished one.

    Collected evidence and transposed into working summaries mounts continually with each passing day showing the shallowness that feminist doctrine truly is. Many people are due for a good stern talking to. Maybe some behind the wood shed. Growth can sometimes be embarrassingly painful. Nothing like the vociferously applied hickory switch of reason as a means.

    The unyielding ‘gender’ ideologue you’re familiar with today will become a quivering mess of supplication tomorrow. Then men and women can tend to what matters most in their adult lives – healthy families and communities.
    (Yet, sadly, there are other pressing matters to contend with as well).

  • http://gravatar.com/johntate1 MGTOW-man

    Karen, you are so right. But you, we, no one can talk this truth to most women; they simply will not get it because their feelings (emotions + wishes) will interfere, skewing their perceptions of reality and obscuring the way things really should be overall for our greater success as a species. This is why they charge us with “hatred”. It is their feelings taking over their otherwise rational selves.

    Feminism is the manifestation of their feelings (wishes) which is why they staunchly defend their feelings…all …ALL of them are valid, according to them.

    It is for these reasons I do not think true equality is attainable, naturally or synthetically. Our task is to get men to be honest with women about all this truth. You DO speak the truth. …and the feminists despise it. …and most of today’s men are cowards now…so frustrating.

    Thank you for your ever-confirming wit.

    “In Afghanistan today, a woman with a job (a job she doesn’t need because under Islamic law she has an entitlement to be supported by her husband, father or son) is not just taking that job from a man, she’s taking food out of the mouths of that man’s family. If she takes a safe, easy job (as women are wont to do), then the man she displaces will have to take a more dangerous one. If he’s killed, she’s taken the provider away from the woman and children who depended on him.”
    —It doesn’t matter to those kinds of women whom they displace and hurt. Feminism, in reality, is selfishness in any society. It will corrupt women, hurting all, including themselves. It is as if feminism is a disease.

    Karen, you are brilliant! You are witty, articulate, and HONEST. You could really take this movement a lot of places. I am curious as to how duped people (both feminists AND cowardly men) take you when they find out how right you are, how solid you are, how “undupable” you are?

    You speak the truth so well that feminists must be squirming. No wonder they try to censor you (and us).

    “The fact that they’d see it that way just shows how privileged in many ways women have always been, and how shallow feminists’ view of the world, past and present, really is.”
    —said another way… their feelings are skewing their perceptions of reality. I say that all the time. It is not meanness or hatred; it is TRUE!

    To a corrupted woman’s mind, whatever doesn’t make them feel good, is “oppressive”.



  • http://gravatar.com/johntate1 MGTOW-man

    Another suggestion: can we make sure every member of both sides of congress, and all other governmental entities on the globe get a copy of this article? In fact, perhaps a program can be implemented so that each participant can “sponsor” the process, one legislative person at a time? I’ll sponsor a copy sent to my lawmakers. How about others? This is the sort of activism I have been doing for quite some time.

    Is this a bad idea? I can’t help but think that the wit of this incredible woman will cause some duped people to be truly enlightened.

    It is uncanny and rare to find such plain ole truth said so clearly!

  • paul parmenter

    A while back, I saw some TV pictures of people lining up to vote in the Afghanistan elections. Yes, Afghanistan is a democracy. And all the people lining up to vote were female. Yes, females have the vote in Afghanistan. At that moment, I knew for sure that all the talk about “oppressed” women was hogwash.

    Women in Afghanistan live longer than men; women everywhere live longer than men. And it is overwhelmingly men who have been killed in the wars, because it is always overwhelmingly men who get killed in wars. Hence there are more female than male voters in Afghanistan; as there are more female than male voters in every democracy. So it is the women who get the government they want. And if you get the government you want, then you cannot possibly be oppressed.

    • feeriker

      I can’t think of a better living illustration of the fact that dumbocracy (a.k.a. “mob rule” or “dictatorship of the proletariat”) is a toxin that destroys society wherever it takes root.

  • Keano Reeves

    Here is a bit of info from Africa –

    In parts of Africa, due to peculiar historical reasons, all bottling and distribution of soft drinks (yes, including Pepsi and Coke) are held by women. They own and operate mid sized companies, are its President not just in name, but in actuality. They want to be sure that they are not cheated, so usually they appoint their husbands as financial controllers. Usually, they choose a husband who is a CPA, or marry their own CPA. The husband has to knock the door of his wife before entering her cabin, to ensure discipline in workplace and unity of authority.

    Te woman earns far far more than the husband. Yet, as per African law, a man’s income is that of family, while a woman’s income belongs only to her and her children. In afew cases (not many though), the woman actually enforces the rights and thus makes the man a penniless slave.

    My 2 cents

  • tallwheel

    This is one of the best GWW videos of all time in my opinion – and that is definitely saying a lot. From now on I will be directing anyone who believes adamantly that women were unilaterally historically oppressed to this one. This might even be one of those videos that could work as an introduction for blue pill folks.

  • Diana Davison

    As always with Karen, the poignant question asked is “why?”

    Feminists have created a narrative to answer that question that doesn’t stand up to facts. GWW breaks through the brainwash with her dependable clarity and offers the reasonable alternative answer. It’s not because men don’t wish women to reach self-fulfilment, it’s because they’ve been too busy taking care of survival to think about the luxuries that feminism concerns itself with.

    Why do men seem to have ruled the world? Either because they were happy being placed in the responsibility role or because they were forced/taught that it was their duty. The obvious answer follows. Anyone who resents the “power” of men to die in protection of those they’ve accepted responsibility for has Antoinette syndrome and should watch their necks. There is no cake.

    While I appreciate that some women are admitting their privileges I also think we need to specifically stop asking men to be so self sacrificing. Not only is feminism a selfish, misguided, narcissistic movement it shows a distinct lack of compassion. I’m not satisfied by ceasing and desisting the feminist narrative, I want to see men given the right to value their own lives and productivity for their own benefit. Men don’t need to return to “life before feminism” they need to be emancipated from their slavery to women as providers of comfort.

    Women can’t have it all because no one has it all. Feminism was just stupid enough to admit that’s their agenda.

  • Naydia Farris

    As an Arab woman, I agree that Muslim and Middle Eastern women do not need Western feminism. It is very upsetting to be told that your religion and society is oppressing you when it is not.

    However, this article is woefully inaccurate in describing Islamic Law (Sharia). First of all, Afghanistan is a poor example when describing Sharia because that Taliban is actually a Pashto tribal organization and based more on ethnic politics disguised as religion. Many of the practices in Afghanistan, such as men going first at clinics, comes from Pashto law not from actual Sharia. The Qur’an states that the weakest should receive help first, so that would be the very sick, very old, and very young no matter their sex.

    As for women being able to keep the money they earn, this is true in one sura, however, many others would challenge that if a family’s needs were dire. A good Muslim woman could never let anyone starve if she had the means to feed them (especially not her own children!) as this would be murder. Also, Muslims are obligated to help the hungry. This is why we feed our neighbors and umma during Rammadan. We are also supposed to look to the first Muslims and emulate their behavior. The first wife of the Prophet (pbuh), Khadija, was a very wealthy merchant with her own caravan. She supported the Prophet (pbuh) financially when he was first teaching his revelations. Not following her example and supporting a husband in his hour of need would be greatly frowned upon.

    Also, we live by more laws than simply Sharia. A woman has the moral and social obligation to be a good mother. If she was earning money–and she cannot in Afghanistan under Taliban rule (another Pashto law)–and let her children starve, she would be a social pariah…and also charged for murder. There are child endangerment and neglect laws in the Muslim countries. Even in tribal places like Afghanistan where there are not formal courts in the western sense, there are local elders and councils that would punish a woman for letting her children starve.

    This articles’ out-of-context discussion of one part of one sura is very insulting to both Muslim women and Islam. My religion is one of compassion and providing for the weak. Saying that an Muslim mother would let her children starve to further an argument against something we have no need for (Western feminism) is just exploitation.

    • http://owningyourshit.blogspot.com girlwriteswhat

      If I recall, the only aspect of the cultural situation in Afghanistan I directly attributed to Islamic law was that 1) women are not specifically barred from working under Sharia, and 2) their income is their own if they wish, while their husband’s income belongs to the family.

      I made clear that the Taliban is “nominally based” on religious and moral structures that felt familiar to the people in Afghanistan. I nowhere said it employed a carbon copy of Sharia.

      In fact, Afghan cultural norms are what they are, such as the confining of women to the home–which would seem, at least to me, to run directly counter to Islamic law’s stance on women not being barred from working.

      Men going first at clinics is something I also attributed to *current* local custom, not to Sharia.

      I also said I was pretty sure not many mothers would let their children starve if they had the means to feed them (although a small few do in all cultures).

  • GQuan

    ^ “Men don’t need to return to “life before feminism” they need to be emancipated from their slavery to women as providers of comfort”.

    Indeed. And this can only realistically happen in a prosperous society where issues of basic survival have been overcome, and women can realistically provide for themselves. Which is a situation the Western world achieved. Unfortunately, feminists take that prosperity for a given, and act as if it’s their natural right to bleed society dry while doing nothing themselves to maintain or contribute to that prosperity and stability; indeed, relentlessly attacking the very things that brought these things about in the first place even as they drain them.

    One of the annoying assumptions some people make when they learn I’m anti-feminist is the idea that I want traditional and rigid gender roles to be enforced, when nothing is further from the truth. The point is, though, that I understand that freedom from gender roles is a luxury of a technologically and economically advanced society blessed with stability and prosperity. This can never be taken for granted. And feminists and their ilk are tearing it all apart.

    Feminism is an unholy mix of progressive and conservative impulses that ultimately proves destructive both to social progress (which is largely dependent on economic and scientific progress) and to traditional ways of doing things. In clinging to the bits of both which they think serve them best, and rejecting the bits they don’t want, feminists have jeopardized both. The world of freedom from gender roles which I support will collapse, and the traditional ways will be too damaged and unpalatable for anyone to return to.

  • http://gravatar.com/getironic Rad

    When “west” us a proper noun, as in “the West”, it needs to be capitalized.

  • http://gravatar.com/getironic Rad

    This is all symbolized by the burqa or hijab:

    Why are women to cover themselves? Is it because they are not important? No. It is because of the belief that men are beasts who cannot help themselves if exposed to the beauty of a woman. So, the women are covered to temper men’s passions. This covering is not a statement about the nature and value of women, it is a statement of a belief in the inherent primitivism and irrationality of men.

    In a twisted way, the covering of women is a symbol of their inherent value. That men are not covered is a symbol of their metaphysical subservience to women.

    This belief about the baseness of men, although not identical, is congruent with modern feminism.

  • Andy Bob

    “My religion is one of compassion and providing for the weak.”

    …and hanging gay men and teenaged boys by their necks from cranes. I don’t think I’ll be interested in hearing an advocate of Islam pontificating about ‘compassion’ any time soon, thank you very much.

    As an ideologue, Ms Farris has a zealous desire to be misunderstood and perpetually offended. Corrections which are correct are always useful and welcome. However, this is a woman feeling ‘very’ insulted that someone dared to heathen-splain aspects of her ideology, thus undermining her contention that Not All Muslims Are Like That.

    It is all so achingly familiar – especially when it becomes clear that Ms Farris is criticizing Ms Straughn on points which our author didn’t actually make. She even concludes with an accusation of being exploited.

    Oi vay.

    • Stu

      And what might be the reason that they have the death penalty for gay sex between men, and only lashes, fully clothed, for lesbian sex between women? Could it be that a gay man will not be of service to women, and therefore the harshest punishment must be evoked to discourage men from such activity?

      The funny thing is, I have been told by a gay Saudi Arabian guy that there is heaps of gay sex between men in Saudi Arabia. So much so, that it could be considered a gay paradise lol. I’m not sure if he was exaggerating or not, but it is not hard to believe when you consider how hard it is for a man to even be in the company of women over there. It is actually far easier, and safer to engage in gay sex, then it is to engage in hetero sex. I would say that most of the men engaging in gay sex over there, are not actually gay, but are merely settling for what is available in the same way that men in prison for a long time might engage in sex with other men, as a substitute.

      I would also suggest that as our society becomes more and more down on male sexuality, and it becomes more and more risky for men to engage in sexual activity with women, there will be more and more men experimenting on that side of the fence.

      • Andy Bob

        As a well-travelled gay man, I can confidently say that sex is easy to come by in all corners of the globe. Not even the most conservative societies can control it, which is why it makes them so mad.

        My belief, based on the best available evidence, is that most people are completely straight with a small percentage being completely gay (less than 4%). Only bisexuals (percentages vary, but tend to be small) can switch between men and women. Those who engage in prison sex are either raped, or had bisexual tendencies to begin with. Of course, Mad Dog would never own up something like that, even if his life depended on it – which it probably would.

        Queer theorists believe that all people have a little bit of gay in them. This is utter rubbish. I have never met any completely straight man who would engage in sex with another man for any reason. In the same way, I couldn’t be compelled to have sex with a woman even if she were the only other living person in the world. I don’t care if she were an East European shot putter with an uncanny resemblance to Channing Tatum, Bugger the human race. Ludmilla would just have to make do with her ten-speed.

        Straight men won’t suddenly turn gay, or even bisexual, for the simple reason that they can’t. Experimentation will be rare, short-lived and inevitably disastrous. Your Saudi friend is probably right. But, then, every place is a gay paradise compared to what is available to straight men – and always has been.

      • Kimski

        “The funny thing is, I have been told by a gay Saudi Arabian guy that there is heaps of gay sex between men in Saudi Arabia. So much so, that it could be considered a gay paradise lol.”

        Absolutely correct. You wouldn’t believe the extend of it, and the denial it comes with.
        -But the same thing can be said about alcohol down there. It’s the age old truth all over again, that the more restrictions you put on something, the more it flourishes.

  • http://eyeofwoden.wordpress.com Adam McPhee

    The link to the 1912 story is broken :(

  • http://gravatar.com/greatmegamind Never Blue Again

    A bit OT ..
    But this is worth watching …. 😀

    • Kimski

      Where can I get the kind of mindbleach, that can eradicate all the memories that vid brought up???

      Please, I’m desperate here..?

      • Never Blue Again

        Bleach might not work …. But a Nail might…….. :mrgreen:

  • http://gravatar.com/sexismbusters sexismbusters

    Gallop did a pan Arab nation poll in 2007, finding that around 80 to 90% of Muslim women want to keep the law which says what wives earn they can keep whilst what their husbands earn must be shared – and depressingly, that 70 to 80% of Muslim men also want to keep that law.

    I believe the surveys may have been done face to face – so men may have felt obliged to give those answers (and women) – I search for the survey today, and all I can find is this edited overview with no reference, but from the same study


    I did read some female economic activity statistics a couple of years ago that showed Afghani female economic activity was arounf 34% – higher than average female economic activity in Muslim countries, and amazingly high for a war zone – % women working – Libya and Palestine have only 10% women working or less – so I don’t think Taliban men have much to do with it as much as women’s work ethic.

    Afghanistan has the highest percentage of missing females of any large country (small Arab oil protectorates aside) so women are rare there and should command an extremely high economically inactive housewhore price there if they wanted to – but clearly do have some work ethic.

    I’ve done research, in London, relating to my upcoming documentary called Laughing with Women – which found a reasonable percentage of women think men should pay for women, but an enormous percentage of men think men should pay for women.

    Marc Rudov was right when he said men are idiots about this stuff.

  • Krish

    What Karen says is true, but she forgets to display to us the logical conclusion of feminism. I saw a great video on YouTube recently, that clearly shows it:


    Someone please email the link to Karen.

  • Astrokid

    GWW, you know your arguments have been thoroughly and utterly demolished by this woman right?
    Feminism – Response to Girlwriteswhat ‘s “Feminism and the Disposable Male” video – Part I
    VERALAND Bucharest

    How dare you take the side of the man? Are they poor chickens? Do they have periods? You sit on your ass and make money off YT while poor wimminz are woken up at 5:00AM and made to go to work.

    • http://hyperskeptical.wordpress.com robertcrayle

      This comment is a joke? I can never tell when the “critics” are being serious.

      • http://gravatar.com/andromedagalaxym31 Astrokid MHRA

        I am joking of course, but the woman in the vid seems to be pretty serious about her defense.

    • Never Blue Again

      At 9:35 She admits that MEN are Superior ……. :mrgreen:

      Forward her to feminist ……. !!
      They will take care of her ……… 😀

  • Shrek6

    GWW you dirty dog. According to this dumb Sheila, you are in an incestuous relationship with your son. Now, I wouldn’t have a clue if you even have a son to start with, but I think she is referring to you when she compared you to another woman she knew who was having sex with her boy. check out 19.16 on the vid. Hehehe.

    Gww, you gotta get off your backside, stop worrying about your period and start behaving like a real woman.

    For crying out loud woman, have you been listening!

    Oh my head hurts after listening to this cretin! Where’s the Aspirin!

  • Chiv

    I’m actually in Afghanistan now with the armed forces and I was noticing that I only saw the local men working in our chow halls, rec centers, etc around base. No women. Which led me to search online and come across this article.
    Very well put together. I agree that women’s ‘privileges’ have worked against them. There is progression happen within societies on a global scale. Gay rights, racial equality, etc. Most social issues that placed one group substantially above another are being revised and adjusted to promote some sort of evenness. With that said, women’s rights are no different. Women should have the same right to jobs and education as long as they have the same obligations as men. Completely agree also that many women will think twice about having to meet those obligations.
    But the issue today is not that women want jobs but don’t want the obligations that come with them, it’s that women who attempt to be progressive are not given the opportunity at all. Who’s to say that a women who has had no responsibility to provide for a family will shy away from the duties if forced to perform them? I compare it to a child growing up in the ‘typical’ American household. From birth to teenage years, the parents usually provide for the child without the child needing to work. I understand some teens have jobs, but not all necessarily need jobs to survive, their parents provide their essentials. However; whether it be post high school or college, the once ‘cared for’ child is obligated to provide for themselves. Obligations they may have never had for the first 20 years of their lives are now necessary for survival. If women who have never been responsible to provide for themselves suddenly HAD TO, then I’m sure they will be able to.
    But with all that being said, the root of it all, in my eyes, is the violence women face when trying to be progressive. A woman who WANTS to provide for herself should be viewed as a positive thing. However; not just in the Middle East, but globally, women face tremendous violence against them for attempting to be ‘progressive’. Everything from acid attacks to murder. This is the real issue.
    There will never be an equality of gender rights without the promotion of women’s safety in these regions. If you were targeted by radicals for going to school, you’d accept whatever roles you were told to fit into as well….

  • Astrokid

    When stories of Western women converting to Islam such as this one Bye Feminism, Hello Islam reach Richard Dawkins, he is flummoxed.
    He cant understand that traditional roles had a side to it that served plenty of women well. Or that men also suffer in that role.
    On his site, he promoted the story of Lisa Bauer.. a western woman who converted to Islam, and after a few years dropped out and became an atheist. And she has a story of exploitation.. an Imam “used” her repeatedly for sex.. and of course the poor thing had no agency to resist. And in the end, woman good (only naive), man (and his religion) bad.

  • Caprizchka

    What exactly is so great about having a job outside of the home? Lots if you’re a post-nuclear household in the 50’s and you’re Betty Friedan, bored with television, children, and appliances. If you are a woman of the modern world, however, whether you are in the U.S. or Afghanistan, there’s plenty to do: teach your children useful skills, cook traditional foods from scratch, make clothing for the family or learn how to on the internet, decorate the home with your own creations, chew the fat (literally), make soap, clean, sing, read, start a home-based business and then give it to your husband to run thereby giving him more time to spend with his children besides rather than working for someone else in some mind-numbing “job”. What’s so great about working for someone else–some huge multinational corporation? What’s so great about having lots of stuff to impress your mother with? This is a wonderful article that I’m going to have to save. The Dalai Lama was wrong, Western Woman will not “save” the world.

    • OneHundredPercentCotton

      I’m coming in late on this conversation, but there is an old saying “He who holds the purse holds the whip”.

      I really had to buck they system and pay my dues to be “allowed” to do those scorned “womanly” things you listed. I have served in the military when it WAS strictly a “man’s world” and I was highly grateful to be allowed to be a woman, BUT that being said…

      …even most men I know whose wives can afford for them to stay home with the kids will STILL seek work outside the home for that very reason…

      No matter how cool a supporting spouse may be with your unemployed status…you ALWAYS know who is holding the whip when you aren’t the one holding the purse.

  • perpetuallyblue

    I’m very late to the conversation, but firstly thank you, Karen, for writing this intelligent piece that provides insight to the context and reasoning behind criticism of feminism.

    That said, I find your definition of “female privilege” to be mildly misleading especially since I feel you’re implying that there isn’t male privilege. My impression is that you’re implying that it is better or at least equally beneficial to be a woman who has limited freedoms; is ultimately highly discouraged from working and gaining property because she “is not just taking that job from a man, she’s taking food out of the mouths of that man’s family. If she takes a safe, easy job (as women are wont to do), then the man she displaces will have to take a more dangerous one. If he’s killed, she’s taken the provider away from the woman and children who depended on him” so she isn’t really free to work if the times are bad; since various forces conspire to make it difficult for her have resources of her own, she is fully dependent on her husband which gives him more power in the household (and it seems like this might be the sort of place where she promises to obey her husband and put his and her children’s needs above her own, but maybe not and they’re encourage to be independent and concerned with finding themselves, neither of which preclude her family responsibilities, and it sounds like those things would be hard to accomplish here anyway); and she is presumably responsible for performing unpaid household labor and taking care of her husband and children, but is guaranteed security from her partner in marriage. As opposed to being a man who has freedom of movement and the accompanying dangers, is seen as capable and competent enough to be in charge of his family, is therefore responsible for providing for his family and having the most power in the relationship since he is the one who earns the income, while men control the government and military powers. And the man who works two jobs apparently considers his wife untrustworthy of sharing her income so he prefers to work two jobs instead of sharing the paid workload with her. The fact that the man is legally obligated to take care of his family only serves to make it more important for him to work and gain resources and power while it encourages the woman to remain completely dependent on the man. If he weren’t legally obligated he and his wife could choose how they wanted to work and, being a team and family, could presumably be trusted to take care of each other.

    Elsewhere you say that in today’s society we treat men like assholes and women like children. The missing component of that is that assholes have power, otherwise they wouldn’t get away with being assholes, and are seen as competent; whereas children are not considered competent and therefore don’t have power and are dependent. Also men have traditionally controlled the government, so if they’re obligated to be providers, they’re the ones who burdened themselves with that obligation. Feminism isn’t about giving women rights while men take care of them, it’s about about giving women rights so they are no longer dependent on and therefore controlled by men. Perhaps in Afghanistan it is better to not have power, to have limited freedom, obligations inside the home that are unpaid, but be safe and provided for, than to have power, the responsibilities that come with it, and relatively more freedom and its accompanying dangers; but that seems more philosophical and subjective than clear cut privilege for the former. Patriarchy refers to who holds the power, not who is safest.

    At any rate, mens obligation is not really relevant in modern US society. Men and women who choose to marry generally have shared resources under the law. Due to the wage gap, on average, men make more money than women making them less likely for men to marry out of economic necessity (e.g. men have more options). In the event of a divorce, custody is determined by whoever is deemed more fit. If men have to pay childcare or alimony, it’s generally because the woman has less economic resources of her own since she’s been responsible for running the household and taking care of the children, therefore losing potential outside resources. Plus if she gains custody then she needs to support herself and the children, so it’s only logical for her to receive supplementary funds. Unless her husband is unusually wealthy, she will still need to work and will likely receive a lower wage than her former husband who’s obligated to give them money. Women cannot be drafted into the military to die for their country; I admit that’s a benefit, but its based on the premise that women are not competent enough to fight and it’s unlikely there will be another draft. Also women have been traditionally denied from the military and denied the honor of serving and possibly dying for their country. When women could join, until recently, they weren’t allowed in combat positions, they could still be in combat zones, they just couldn’t be promoted to higher combat positions. That seems like more of a limitation than privilege. Also feminists or liberals who hold feminist views are the ones who pushed for allowing women in combat.

  • schrodinger

    If historically both men and women were ‘forced’ into certain obligations, isn’t that kind of oppressive? And if both genders were equally oppressed, why do I find more women wanting to be like men than men wanting to be like women???
    In both Afghanistan and China, I would still rather be the man (perhaps that is my style of working) and I am sure many others would too. I think everybody has his/her unique style of working, and should be free to embrace it – be it man or woman. I strongly agree that rights and obligations should always go hand-in-hand but I want to be free to choose my role and a partner who agrees on the break-up of duties decided mutually. I think this should be the goal of any progressive society. And I think this is what feminism is all about.
    I am a feminist. I don’t know what kind of feminist would want just privileges without duties, that is so stupid. It may be used as an accelerator for women participation, but should be dropped once it’s goal is more or less attained. If indeed feminists are confused, jumbling traditions and modernity, that is a sad state of affairs. I guess feminist movements can be very different from each other!

    • http://www.deanesmay.com Dean Esmay

      You clearly don’t know much about what men are put through in Afghanistan. Believe me if I were in Afghanistan I would much rather be a woman. China? It all depends on where you are. You’ve probably been fed a lot of bunk about both cultures though.

      As for why you find more women wanting to “be like men” than vice-versa: I’m not sure you actually do find that. Men who state they want it different are frequently ridiculed, especially by women and frequently by feminist women. In any case, a realistic look at history shows that societies have always prioritized the protection and provision of women first–which was a pretty damned good deal. To most of us who know our history (which makes us unlike most feminists, who know almost nothing of history and what they do “know” is frequently wrong) we know the vast majority of men had much harder lives than is generally believed, and that most “feminist” complaints were really complaints of spoiled rich girls.

      You may think you don’t want rights with responsibilities, but it’s very clear that most of your feminist sisters do want that. Indeed, I suspect you want that too, and just aren’t entirely aware of all the areas where you sort of take it as a given that you have rights without responsibilities.

      • schrodinger

        I do know what’s going on in Afghanistan and China, and there is no justification why you should know more about these places than me. Of course, it’s your choice if you would rather be a woman.
        I disagree that feminists ridicule men who would rather be women. I think it is the whole society which has stereotyped men and women, who ridicule these men.

        I also disagree that protection of women has been a priority of the society, or a ‘privilege’ for women. Yes, women had a better physical protection and hence longer life-spans – but that was not done out of compassion or anything. It was a part of the selfish human civilisation expanding as much as it could. Both men and women were responsible for creating those conditions. I hope we all do agree that women are physically weaker than men in general, biology made us that way. So during the times when it was physical power that mattered, men were obviously doing much better and they HAD TO care about their women if they were to procreate, instead of leaving them to die. Similarly, women also facilitated this out of their own selfish motives.

        However, our technology EVOLVED. With it, came other skills that mattered more and women were in a position to compete with men. It is obvious for social evolution to follow technological evolution. “Feminist” complaints were not complaints of spoiled rich girls (although I am sure spoiled rich girls must have had their complaints), they were a reaction to (and a part of) a change in power dynamics that was taking place all over the world, for example, a shift from monarchy/theocracy to democracy/communism.

        The sad story is that we haven’t reached that equality yet, at least not in many societies. Therefore, governments try to make up for it by sometimes passing laws that favour women. From my experience, I’ll tell you that these laws are very much required in certain societies (for the time being) but I agree that sadly they are being abused as well, or being taken advantage of by women who don’t need those laws. I hope we soon develop better technology which won’t leave much scope for abusing laws, and that we develop better laws that don’t generalise everything but look at cases individually.

        After all, rights and responsibilities go together. A person can’t have responsibilities unless you give the rights.

        • AlexB

          I’ve so many things here I can disagree with, but I’ll just focus on three of them, first, you do realize that you just made a bunch of vague statements about things and expected everyone to take you at your word?

          Second, you can’t define feminism in anyway you like, it’s an already established political ideology and it’s being judged here for it’s ACTIONS and stances, rather than whatever feminists say about it, and it doesn’t look good on them.

          Third, who decided the current trend of equality was the way forward?Was it voted for or supported by majority of the population?Feminism certainly doesn’t have even the support of majority of the female population(nor the male population), so what justifies the actions of governments to force equality onto their people against their will?Especially legislature that’s harmful to men, sounds to me like a minority of elitist at the top forcing what they think is best onto the people.
          If you think sacrificing the basic human rights,well-being and lives of men for the sake of equality is ‘required’, because is equality such a noble cause, then I don’t see any difference between you and religious extremists who sacrifice people for causes they believe to be in best interests of everyone.

          • schrodinger

            You are being a little vague about what you found vague.
            Anyway, ‘feminism’ is not an established political ideology or a religion. It is just an idea which many people identify with in their own special ways. Feminism is not blind, although feminists can be blind at times. A constructive check on feminists is therefore well appreciated.
            However, the concept of ‘equality’ seems to be where we disagree. I think no amount of arguing can settle that!

          • AlexB

            You can’t decide what feminism is and tell me it’s about whatever you say it is, that’s like me saying I support white supremacy and white supremacy is about equality, it makes zero sense.
            And personally I think, not just feminism but the whole equality thing has become like a religion, notice how you refused to argue about the concept of equality, can’t commit heresy like that can we?’After all, equality is good for everyone, people would have it so much easier if society was just more egalitarian, of course it requires some sacrifices but in the end it helps everyone’, how is this any different from any other religious nut?Replace God with equality and it’s pretty much the same.

  • http://caprizchka.wordpress.com Caprizchka

    The Zara Faris video link is obsolete. Perhaps this is the video? http://youtu.be/HI2ZYWZWlYo