One of my readers demanded to know why I chose to remain silent on International Women’s Day (IWD). “At least, you could have expressed your respect for the cause”, she stated. Well, I did, my dear, by observing a day’s silence. For silence appears to be the only approach that’s not been taken in this regard during the past 100 years.
I am aware that some might be offended by the short answer (see title) to this not–so–casual question, but I was looking for a quick–and–dirty strategy to discourage trolls from opening this page. You know, those buggers who just have to prove their inanity whenever the opportunity occurs; I lack both time and patience for such nonsense.
The random reader may hate or adore me for coming out as a non–feminist — both reactions would be unjustified, and I don’t care either way, to be honest — but will find it difficult to reasonably debate this statement without having read and thoroughly considered all 3269 words.
The precious reader, on the other hand, I trust, will do so — and thus realise that (and why) I deliberately used the term “non–feminist” (as opposed to “anti–feminist”).
I do not mind (true) feminism at all, but I am highly suspicious of the intentions and true objectives of many of those who claim to be feminists. Why is it that so many historical icons of feminism persistently rejected this “label”, while so many women today appear to wear it like a badge of distinction? I’d rather stand clear of these, because they often confuse strategy and tactics, and so ridicule the entire movement.
Also, I don’t believe a man can be a feminist (in the traditional sense). Granted, some men “come out”, like the Canadian Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, did, claiming to be feminists, but that’s merely the easiest way to convey one’s sympathy for feminism, without having to offer long–winded explanations. It’s shorthand for “I agree with many objectives and most actions taken in this respect”.
The use of quantifiers like “many” and “most” would, of course, inevitably trigger a number of follow–up questions that would each lead to more explanations and require one to get into even greater detail. And before you know it, another half hour, filled with a lot of words but little action, has passed. In the end, no one is really happy or even convinced, but everyone can agree that it was “great (or not) that we talked about it”.
It’s similar to stating, “I’m a male lesbian”. That’s not making a lot of sense, either, but it is an effective (if somewhat immature) way of saying, “I don’t mind homosexuals, but I prefer women” (as if either were anyone’s business), without having to make (too) many words.
I’m Not Disappointed, I’m Frustrated
A while ago, my oldest friend’s wife asked me whether I am disappointed with women. I had made a casual remark, regarding a specific situation (to do with gender–related communication), that obviously didn’t sit well with her.
Disappointed with women, I am not. I would have to be a darn fool to be disappointed with anyone who is true to his or her biological code.
Rather, I’m frustrated, for every time I hear of a promising approach to equality, along comes someone who tries to nip all efforts in the bud — and more often than not, this someone happens to be a woman who seems bent on proving “the other camp” right. (Please note: “Fighting for equality” is no competition. As long as you have not internalised that, you will not get anywhere.)
To vent this frustration, I discussed equality (in great detail), a while ago. I used the women’s cause to illustrate my stance, simply because it is the most obvious and most likely the oldest issue of global proportions in this respect — I mentioned that, too.
Those who read “The Equality Trap”, the chapter dealing with this particular matter, with an open mind (i.e., deliberately suppressing one’s gender bias for a limited time), do know that every further word I could possibly utter in this respect would be redundant. Indeed, I do think I have said everything there is to say about this issue (from my point of view) already — or rather, I thought I did.
I was still pondering an unequivocal but polite reply to the precious reader’s request, when I realised that a simple two–liner would not do. So nothing like, “I am sorry to hurt your feelings, but I consider it inappropriate to wish you a happy day of commemoration”. For this is exactly how I understand the IWD: a memorial day, rather than a feast.
I was already set to postpone my response until I would come up with something potentially less offensive, when a number of women of influence and a self–proclaimed “radical feminist” startled my musings with word and deed — or, in some cases, a lack thereof.
Children for the Future vs. No Children for a Better Future: The Curious Case of Verena B. (38)
A middle–aged woman — a high school teacher, no less — busy to promote her book, titled Child–free Instead of Childless — A Manifesto (unauthorised translation of the title from the original German by this writer for accessibility’s sake only; for original title, hover pointing device over cursive text), in the media, is a fine way to shoot feminism in the foot. (To be fair, it may be an “inexplicable coincidence” that the book was released only two days before the IWD — but I honestly doubt it, because that’s usually not how publishers work.)
Let me say this (just to have it mentioned once in this context): Of course, it is — or, at any rate, should be — up to every individual to decide whether or not to have children. No one is to question this decision. To this extent, I do even agree with the radical feminist teacher.
I made this decision for myself a long time ago, and I, too, did (and still do) believe it was for all the right reasons. Yet why would I make the rationale behind it known to the public, write even a book about it, if it is not supposed to be anyone’s business to question my choice?
Oh, wait! According to her, I should not have a choice in the first place, as “men have to follow their wives’ lead”. Somehow, I doubt that she is talking about family planning only. So it is possible that I’m not even supposed to agree (or, dare I say it, disagree) with her. One heck of an egalitarian she is, that radical feminist. But I digress …
Apparently, her own decision against having children was informed by “the environmental impact they cause”. Excuse me? I refused to trust my eyes and went to get my glasses.
Unfortunately, a clearer view made matters only worse. She actually stated (in an interview with a local daily paper) that “decisive for me was the ecological footprint. A child is the worst thing that can be done to the environment. Every child not born into the world means CO2 savings of around 58.6 tons per year”.
At that point, my preparedness to give her the benefit of the doubt went out the window. This is not only one of the silliest statements I have heard to date (from either a woman, man, or child), it is outrageous.
Of course, she is wrong — factually, intellectually, and morally — but this did not stop her from getting the limelight she truly did not deserve. Her statement — copied (incorrectly) from an Environmental Research Letter, titled The Mitigation Gap, published almost two years ago — and the fact that she cloaked her personal “cause” as “women’s struggle against patriarchal oppression” had her front and centre across several media for days.
As she (inadvertently) revealed in interviews though, it was not every woman’s right to have a choice that drove her, or her concern for the environment (even though she describes herself as striving to reduce her own ecological footprint as best she can), but rather her desperate search (of several years) for a “plausible and awe–inspiring” response to requests as to when she planned to have kids of her own.
That’s feminist trolling at its finest. With “feminists” like her, women need no “male chauvinist pigs” to keep them from getting anywhere.
(For crying out loud, woman, would you eventually get out of your bubble and actually talk to a man. Do you really think men above a certain age are not quasi–permanently exposed to this kind of “inquisitiveness”? It may come across as “friendly banter”, “concerned request”, or “sceptical hinting” — depending on who’s asking. You pretend to be a “radical feminist”, but you don’t even know “the enemy” yet? At thirty–eight? Oh, don’t even try it, you are not enough of a woman …)
Yet what did women do (other than offering emotional comments along the lines of “you don’t know what you are missing, watching children grow is the best thing that can happen to a woman”)? Nothing.
They waited for “anonymous” male readers to give her some heat (with none of the female commenters contradicting them), and so allowed her to appear like a victim of patriarchy. “I cannot thank you enough for your refusal to contribute to the gene pool. I’d rather your mother had made this decision already”, was one of the more elegant male responses.
I was hoping — in vain — for days that she would be dressed down in the media by at least one of the more prominent German female activists.
Svenja Schulze (the incumbent German Federal Environment Minister), or Barbara Hendricks (her predecessor), or Franziska Giffey (the incumbent Minister for Family Affairs) did not intervene, either — at least not in public. Only goddess knows whether they all agree with this “logic of the absurd” or simply refuse to get involved and give her a steer.
I was expecting Anja Karliczek, the incumbent German Federal Minister of Education and Research, the “child–free” author’s ultimate boss, to immediately come to her rescue and deliver this poor woman from her misery of having to meet and teach classes of those “loud, annoying little environmental terrorists” each and every day. Yet for some reason, the minster doesn’t seem to care, either.
And I am still waiting for tens of thousands of German mothers to rally outside educational institutions across the country until this agent provocateur is fired and banned for life from teaching minors — or at least keep their offspring from attending class until this teacher is removed from the blackboard.
Only one mother who writes a “letter of parental consent” to the effect that mentioned child is free to leave the room during her lessons, is all it would take. That would trigger a chain reaction and eventually bring the house down. It would perhaps take a week or two, but then she could tell empty rooms how she dared using a report she obviously failed to fully read or comprehend — or purposefully misinterpreted — to make some profit at her charges’ expense. Show me the headmaster (or headmistress, for that matter) who is going to sit that out unabashed.
In case the message did not hit home with some who try to get by in the daily treadmill of being a working mother: You have been openly accused of deliberately destroying the environment merely to satisfy your “egoistic desire to have children” — or, more to the point, your “egoistic desire to make money (you don’t deserve), having children” — by a woman who pretends to fight for your “right to have a choice”.
I do appreciate that the majority of women “defended” by this modern “heroine of feminism” have rather pressing issues on their daily agenda, but would you take a second to at least enjoy the irony?
Isn’t it astonishing that, even though all relevant public offices (in this context) are headed by women — not to mention that Germany definitely has no shortage of (armchair or radical) feminists — not one could be bothered to show her colours?
“But, surely, there is an army of compassionate women out there who is not afraid to tell her off, in public”, you say? Well, I truly hope so, but to date I could find only one (read Julia Korbik’s article “Warum mich das Buch ‘Kinderfrei statt kinderlos’ richtig wütend macht”, published on 14 March 2019 in This is Jane Wayne, a partner of the German Vogue) who could be bothered to inform Miss B. what she thinks of her “efforts” in general and the book in particular.
Yet Jane Wayne is obviously not the German woman’s go–to blog, as Miss Korbik’s article only triggered 19 comments (at the time of writing these lines), while each of the other media dealing with this issue attracted a vast audience (and hundreds of comments each).
Friendly Fire and Unexpected Allies
See, that’s one of the tactical problems (of feminist activism): Wasting too much time talking about matters that should be self—evident, but neglecting matters that really count. Now I have made more than 2100 words already, without even scratching at the surface of the real issue, that one “feminist cause” that really should cost all of us a good night’s sleep — every night. So let’s go:
Let’s talk about a Swedish schoolgirl, the successful revival of protesting Gandhi style, the movement of global proportions she inspired (105 countries, I hear), her supporters, and all the naysayers.
According to their government’s website, Sweden has the “first feminist government in the world”, with 12 women out of 23 members of the government, including the Minister for Gender Equality, Environment and Climate, Social Security, Higher Education and Research, Rural Affairs, and Education, as well as the “Father of the House” (it’s a Swedish thing, you wouldn’t understand), Beatrice Ask. Five of all ministers are members of the Swedish Green Party (three women, two men).
Still, it appears as though the Norwegian Socialist MP Freddy André Øvstegård has nominated Greta for the Nobel Peace Prize. “We have proposed Greta Thunberg because if we do nothing to halt climate change it will be the cause of wars, conflict and refugees”, he is quoted by several news outlets.
If that’s the case — yet even if it’s not so, and the Norwegian Socialist Party as a body did actually nominate her — I have a genuine question for all politicians mentioned above (and I bet at least some of you identify as feminists): Did none of you realise what was going on at the doorstep of the Riksdagen (the Swedish parliament, for the reader’s benefit)?
Did you not see that Ms Thunberg was giving you months of lessons in environmental, equality, and last but not least, feminist activism — simply by exercising civil disobedience? All of you (and several more) are considered “qualified nominators”, but none of you acted. That’s a disgrace — for you as individuals, but also for Swedish environmental and feminist activism. You want to push open doors to more equality and an environmental change, but you failed to see the person who held the key to both under your nose.
It’s nice that one of the members of the Swedish Green Party is “very impressed by Greta’s courage and determination” and that you are aiming for your country to become carbon neutral by 2045, but, as Greta said, “this is too little too late”.
In 2045, Greta will turn 42 and may well be on the brink of becoming a grandmother. The really sad aspect of this thought may not be instantly obvious to everyone yet. Her own granddaughter might, once she is old enough (say, in the late 2060s), not even have the option to decide whether she wants to have children, because the level of testosterone in human males has, as a result of environmental pollution, been on the decline for at least half a century already. Who can say how many men will even be able to beget children (and how many of these will be willing to produce offspring).
We are humans, not spotted hyenas. That is to say, even though women are representing the majority of population (at least in the majority of developed countries), they will find it difficult to force men to reproduce. Men are (usually) not producing offspring for “bragging rights”, it will cost women privileges.
Another, quite “natural” (as in “anthropological”) factor to consider is that men die on average seven years earlier than women (faster metabolism, nothing you can do much about). This means, society will not only grow constantly older, but also more feminine, which will put even more pressure on women. Some seem to believe that such a society would be more peaceful (I do have my doubts, to be honest), but it would also be more desperate for life.
This is why having one child less (as proposed by the Environmental Research Letter mentioned above) does actually make sense (in a greater context) — and why deciding against children for society’s or the environment’s sake (or what “noble cause” ever) is “half–done baloney with craptatoes on the side”. (Sorry, Ms B., you really should have read all of the research letter and considered its conclusions thoroughly, before making a darn fool of yourself and ridiculing every feminist along the way.)
This translates to a very simple formula (so simple, in fact, that even the most radical of feminists should get it): Without remarkable gains on the environmental frontier, striving for equality in any other area is mere shadow fencing.
Meanwhile, 500 miles (800 kilometres) straight south, the claimant to the throne of the “Holy Roman Empress of the German Nations”, told the German “Friday for Future” kids (the national franchise of “Greta’s #schoolstrike”) off — for no better reason than marking her territory in the conservative sector of the political spectrum. “If these were my kids, I would not give them my consent”, she let everyone know. That’s one hell of an effective way to get in tomorrow’s voters’ good books and, at the same time, prove one’s political wisdom as regards one of the major political issues of the foreseeable future.
(For the unsuspecting reader’s benefit, it’s the same woman who, quite recently, told her audience — via national broadcast — that toilets for “the third sex” are for “men who don’t know yet whether they are still allowed to stand or already supposed to sit down to urinate”.)
Yet Austrian politicians seem to be just as resistant to experience. According to the Austrian Press Agency, students in four provinces are prohibited from participating in “Friday for Future”, because “it is against the law to skip school without (good) excuse”.
This is quite interesting, as not only the Federal Minister for Women, Family and Youth Affairs, the one for Sustainability and Tourism, and the Minister for Labour, Social Affairs, Health and Consumer Protection are women (and two of them are mothers), but also because in these four provinces the relevant councillors (heads of departments) are women. Excuse me, but has any woman (and mother) ever heard of a more reasonable excuse to “skip school”?
Still wondering why I insist on being not a feminist? Anyone? Then shoot … but not me.