Giving Up On Western Women? Are They All Feminazis?
As a man of similar age to Old Bill in Cyprus, his contribution made an impact on me, not least because I have had similar experiences with Western women and I found myself wondering how many of us have experienced this particular kind of pathological behavior (essentially false accusations of sexual harassment). Speaking as somebody whose career has been in academia I would observe that he was dealing with a particularly awkward example of Western womanhood, the feminist academic, a subgenus of the female gender that is generally best avoided. However, when I compared Old Bill’s experience with my own it moved me to wonder just what has gone wrong that has led so many (though by no means all) men to the conclusion that Western women are best avoided as relationship material.
The obvious answer that comes to mind is that traditional bogey of disenfranchised masculinity, feminism. I think feminism does have a lot to do with the problem, but it is difficult to talk about it in a sensible way because if you talk to many male expats in Thailand you are likely to get a rant about feminazis, whilst those who consider themselves of a liberal disposition will just condemn any critique of feminism as the maunderings of a political Neanderthal. It is not politically correct for a man to criticize feminism. I think both positions are ill-considered and I want to try and argue a more thoughtful position here, if only to clarify my own ideas on the topic. Though if Stickman agrees that this is worth publishing I’d welcome comments, preferably constructive.
First off, I find myself convinced by elements of the feminist critique, most notably that many patriarchal societies have traditionally exploited women through placing them in roles where they do work within the family for no monetary compensation. Also they have often been excluded from the workplace, or restricted to low-paying work. That is just historically true.
So have I completely undercut any criticism of feminism I might wish to make by conceding that some of their main complaints have merit? I don’t think so. Making a just complaint is one thing; the way that you pursue that complaint is another. And I want to argue that many strands of feminism as practiced in society at large are not concerned with justice at all, but are about advantaging the groups of women that adhere to them. In elaborating this point I will identify what I think are recognizable trends in feminism, pointing out how they serve the purposes of small female interest groups as opposed to women as a whole. Obviously, this will involve broad brush-strokes and so there may well be an element of over-generalisation – but I think there is still some validity to the categories I will identify.
Probably the most obvious group to start with is the separatists who regard men as exploitative because that is just the way men are. Men are bad, violent and abusive and so women just have to liberate themselves from men. Typical examples of this tendency would include Valerie Solanas, author of the SCUM (Society for Cutting Up Men) Manifesto and Andrea Dworkin. Solanas came out of an abusive childhood and printed her manifesto arguing for the elimination of men. She is probably best known for her assassination attempt on Andy Warhol whom she suspected of stealing her work, an event that resulted in her being diagnosed with schizophrenia. Dworkin also came from a background of abuse at the hands of her husband and gained fame as a feminist campaigner who saw all pornography as violent. There is argument over whether she actually said ‘all men are rapists’, but she does seem to have had a ripe imagination, suggesting that ‘skull-fucking’ a dead woman’s head is a mainstream form of pornography. She cited no proof for the allegation. She and another radical feminist, Catherine MacKinnon apparently campaigned for the suppression not only of pornography, but also informational material about safe sex and motherhood. Why safe sex and motherhood? That seems suggestive of a blanket hostility to heterosexual activity.
Maybe this is an over-generalisation, but it seems to me that these women were damaged by a few men and have generalized from their particular situations to develop an ideology based on an almost universal hostility and dislike of men as a whole. I got mistreated by one man, so it follows that all men are violent. Clearly this is nonsense, but to the extent that their ideas have been popularized they add to an atmosphere of suspicion and condemnation of men and male sexuality.
If the latter tendency in feminism emanates from women who have been damaged, there is another manifestation that is much more clearly opportunistic. We have all heard the stories of Thai women asset stripping men and they are stories that many Western women are happy to cite – ‘they are only after your money’. I’d be interested to know how that differentiates them from Western women. I have known Western women who are just as if not more rapacious than any Thai bargirl. I know of women who have carefully calculated the time and conditions under which they should leave their husbands in order to maximize the take – and that after making his life a misery in many instances. All of this is backed up by Western judiciaries that discriminate against fathers. How are these tendencies connected with feminism? I contend that the feminist climate of ideas is underwriting a sense of female entitlement based on the fact that they are women – and that alone entitles them to asset strip men (‘you exploited us in the past and now we’re paying you back’). The same climate of ideas helps to ensure that they are backed by the law. The interesting thing is that most of the women who seem to be benefitting from these developments are largely from middle to upper class backgrounds. Entitlement does not seem to extend to the less fortunate. In actuality it isn’t enough just to be a woman. The feminist rhetoric is about justice for all women, but in reality they have to be from the right class too.
Not convinced? Well, what is the issue that has garnered most attention amongst the sisters of late. Is it female genital mutilation, the inhumane procedure practiced on millions of women across the world, often without anesthetic and in unsterilized if not dirty conditions? Is it the estimate that women constitute 70% of the world’s poor (the actual figure is disputed, but there is general agreement that women bear a disproportionate amount of world poverty)? Is it that two-thirds of illiterates are thought to be women? In fairness, there are women working on all of these issues, but if you want to find the cause that really got numbers of women out it is Slut Walk. Yes, the important issue is the right of mostly middle class, mostly white women to be able to wear what they want and go where they want without being molested. I’m not suggesting that the issue has no significance, but is it more important than FGM, female poverty and illiteracy? Clearly, in the minds of most of the sisterhood it is. The reason is not hard to trace. The feminist movement is largely dominated by middle and upper class Western women and it is their concerns and interests that dominate that movement, not the interests of the majority of poor and excluded women globally.
And Heaven forbid that any of this privileged minority should be subjected to what has become known as ‘the male possessive gaze’ – unless of course they actively want the gaze of that particular man. As Old Bill found, it does not even matter whether or not you had any sexual intent. If the woman thinks you have that is proof enough of your culpability for many of the sisterhood.
In short, I am arguing that while feminist thought has some valid points to make its overall effect has been to destabilize and sour relations between the sexes, to demean male sexuality and to render it difficult if not impossible for men to trust Western women. Moreover, the gains it has made have been overwhelmingly biased towards a narrow sub-section of women who were already privileged. Of course any sisters who might read this will likely dismiss it as the maunderings of an old chauvinist pig. Maybe it is. But I can’t help but wonder if some of them look at themselves and wonder what their movement stands for. Are men really innately wicked and violent? And why are so many of the sisters white and well off?
Seems like 1,500 odd very balanced words to me. I note that Korski and Old, Fat and Bald have both contributed some excellent articles on this same topic.
The one point I will offer is that while I don't doubt many Western men in Thailand have reason to feel ill towards Western women, Thai women are far from perfect. Many Thai women are lovely and have much going for them, but when a man gets involved in a serious relationship with a woman, your eyes should remain firmly wide open wherever she happens to come from.