Tag Archives: feminism

Taharrush jamai in Cologne

During the New Year’s Eve celebrations in Cologne (Köln), more than 300 women were sexually assaulted by groups of men in the city centre. The perpetrators were not German, and were specifically described as young men of North African / Arab appearance. The story went viral a few days later, mainly because of its implications for Germany’s refugee policy. Public opinion, and most of the media, linked the incidents to the admission of one million refugees to Germany in 2015, predominantly from Syria. Subsequently, similar incidents were reported from other cities.

This type of group sexual assault has a name, originally in Egypt: Taharrush jamai. However, in Egypt the context was political: it was used to harass women demonstrators specifically, and may have originated as a tactic of the security forces.

Reactions to the Cologne incidents have been predictable. The authorities state that they are investigating the matter. Feminists condemn sexism. Anti-racists denounce racism. Anti-immigration groups call for refugees to be refused entry, and/or deported. Some individuals on social media advocated violent retribution against refugees, even extermination.

This post tries to go beyond the predictable responses. I will start with the German Constitution, not because constitutions say everything about a society, but as a good starting point.

Article 1 of the constitution, the Basic Law, states that: “Human dignity shall be inviolable. To respect and protect it shall be the duty of all state authority.” That article was not intended to refer to sexual assault: when speaking of the ‘violation of human dignity’, the authors had Auschwitz in mind, and other horrors of the Nazi period.

Now the women who were sexually assaulted in Cologne would generally feel that their human dignity has been violated. The constitution has failed them, and the explanation is obvious: Article 1 does not mention women. Human dignity itself is too vague, to serve as a guideline for state policy toward specific groups.

It is true that Article 1 binds the German state, and would prevent that state from exterminating the refugees. That prohibition is close to its original intention. Nevertheless, among the hundreds of women who were assaulted in Cologne, there may be some who would prefer to see their assailants sent to the gas chamber. The constitution does not take account of that preference. The political elite may find it distasteful, but suggestions to kill all refugees / immigrants /muslims are a recurrent feature of social media response, to outrages committed by members of these groups. My estimate is, that about 1% to 3% of the population in western Europe, do indeed wish to see minorities killed by the state. Certainly such people exist: not talking about them, will not make them disappear.

Now the issue can be formulated as two options. Suppose the only choice is between these outcomes:

  1. Germany does not send refugees to the gas chambers, and Angela Merkel is sexually assaulted by a group of refugees.
  2. Angela Merkel is not sexually assaulted by refugees, because Germany has killed all the refugees in gas chambers.

If you asked Angela Merkel, she would choose option 1. Her abhorrence of a repetition of Nazi mass murders, outweighs her fear of being sexually assaulted. However, she cannot make that choice for other women, since that would override their moral autonomy. In a more generalised form, the two options might look like this:

  1. Germany is a democratic state under the rule of law, and it respects human rights and human dignity, and Angela Merkel is sexually assaulted.
  2. Germany is an undemocratic state, it abuses human rights, it rejects the rule of law, and violates human dignity, but Angela Merkel is not sexually assaulted.

Again Angela Merkel would choose the rule of law, democracy human rights, and human dignity, and accept sexual assault. And again, she should only make that decision for herself. But of course in reality, as Chancellor, she does make that decision on behalf of others.

Article 1 of the Basic law expresses an underlying principle, that if the state can only prevent harm to an individual by violating human dignity, then the state should not prevent that harm.

That is essentially a value preference, and it almost inevitably results in violation of human dignity by non-state actors. The German state, and its political elite, should therefore recognise that apparently sacred values such as the ‘inviolability of human dignity’ must be subject to freedom of conscience, and that it can be rational to reject them, on the grounds of their imperfections and ambiguities. Similar considerations apply to democracy, human rights, the rule of law and other ‘sacred’ principles, which in reality are no more than a personal value preference.

I am not saying that these are empty formulas. Reactions on right-wing blogs and forums, and even the comments on ordinary commercial news sites, include many shocking proposals for dealing with refugees and migrants in Europe: imprisonment, the death penalty, castration of male refugees, bombing refugee boats, the return of the gas chambers, and so on. Abandonment of constitutional formula’s such as ‘human dignity’ would open the door to such practices.

Nevertheless, some people do want the refugees killed. Germany must recognise conscientious objection to its ‘sacred’ values, purely on the grounds of moral autonomy. That raises another issue: if human dignity is a German value, are those who reject it still German? Increasingly, European governments are moving to a value-based definition of national identity, initially for those with double nationality. The implication is that those who do not endorse and support the national values, cease to be members of the nation. That is a significant break with long-standing ethnic definitions of national belonging. At present, however no European nation-state has any formal mechanism, to deal with those who are of national descent, but do not adhere to national values. Logically, they would be stripped of their citizenship and deported, but to where?

A related issue is the state monopoly of force, which is not a constitutional norm, but a descriptive formula. According to the sociologist Max Weber, the claimed monopoly of force is a defining characteristic of the state. Nobody told states to claim it, before they first emerged several thousand years ago, but when they did emerge, then apparently all states claimed this monopoly of force. The term has taken on a normative significance, certainly in Germany.

As with human dignity, the state monopoly of force is unequally implemented. The women who were assaulted in Cologne were also subjected to force. On the other hand, the state places limits on what they may do to defend themselves: they may not carry or use a gun, let alone form a women’s militia. Just as the inviolability of human dignity leads to violations of human dignity, the state monopoly of force leads to widespread use of non-state force, usually by the strong against the weak.

With this background it is evident, that the German government is directly responsible for the sexual assaults in Cologne and other German cities. The state took a conscious decision not to prevent them. That will be clearer if you look at the countermeasures proposed below.

In general we can recognise that a liberal-democratic government is ultimately responsible for most social actions, at least inside the state. The principles of a liberal society state that the social process should run its course, with only a few exceptions. Specifically, the German government has access to powers and instruments of repression, and choose not to use them in this case. What’s more, it won’t use them at the next New Year’s celebrations either, or at any other high-risk event, so the sexual assaults will predictably recur.

Countermeasures and the constitution

So what can be done to respond to the group sexual assaults, and to the underlying constitutional and moral issues?

Preferably Article 1 of the Basic Law should be scrapped, since it is too vague. If it is retained, it should be qualified to indicate that the state does not only protect ‘humans’, but also women. Men, and transgenders, should also be named explicitly. The protection of the state should also be extended to Muslims, since their claim to protection is disputed by some opponents of Islam. In fairness, Article 1 should also specifically name Christians, Jews (adherents of Judaism), and atheists, as subject to the protection of the state.

To more specifically protect women, the constitution should recognise the existence of sexual assault, and specifically group sexual assault (taharrush jamai). The constitution should also specifically recognise conscientious objections to all forms of sexual assault. That will prevent the government from telling women, that they must accept sexual assault in some circumstances.

The constitution should recognise conscientious objections to the admission of refugees to Germany, and more generally to the admission of immigrants. To make this recognition explicit, the state should hold a referendum on these controversial issues. It will not result in an acceptable compromise, but it will allow voters to express their opinion, clearly and undeniably. The probable result of a referendum on refugees, is that Germany would cease to accept any more, and would close its borders to future arrivals. It is also quite possible, that voters would approve the expulsion of most of the refugees already inside Germany. On immigration generally, a referendum would probably approve a moratorium, meaning that no more migrants would be admitted, even from the EU. A minority of German voters, possibly about 10% to 15%, would support the expulsion of all migrants currently in Germany. The re-institution of border controls would probably be approved, leading inevitably to the collapse of the Schengen zone. It is also possible, that a majority of German voters might approve a border wall, at least on the southern and eastern borders.

A more rigorous option is that any German citizen should be allowed to veto the admission of refugees to Germany. Of course, some Germans do want to admit refugees, and it would be oppressive to subject them to this veto. They should therefore be allowed to veto the decision not to admit refugees. Both veto actions are legitimate and moral, yet they are contradictory, incompatible, and irreconcilable. There can be no resolution of this incompatibility by democratic process, and the double veto should therefore trigger an automatic partition Germany into two states. One Germany would admit refugees, and the other would not. This partition will additionally provide women with full and complete protection against group sexual assault by refugees, since by definition this cannot happen if there are no refugees.

If there is no partition, then women should be allowed to form armed women’s militias, to defend themselves against sexual assault. Some of the militias will be feminist in nature. Others will probably be under nationalist influence, and form a threat to refugees. The refugees should therefore be allowed to form refugee militias, to defend themselves against the women’s militias.

Of course this contravenes the quasi-constitutional principle of the rule of law. (Germans would speak of the Rechtsstaat which is not a direct translation of ‘rule of law’, but I treat them as roughly equivalent here). It also contradicts the principle of the state monopoly of force.

However, these are merely foundational principles of the liberal state, and there are many types of state. They indicate the political value preference first formulated by Thomas Hobbes: ‘subordinate individual defence against harm, to public and civic order’. It works in practice: liberal societies are generally peacefully, and the strong prosper. However, the weak suffer, because they cannot defend themselves. There are simple alternatives, and one of them is institutionalised group self-defence. A proliferation of armed militias will lead to less harm in a society, since the weak can defend themselves. More bloodshed means less injustice.

Value preferences differ, however. The German constitution should therefore define the national values, and establish a procedure for denaturalisation of ethnic Germans who do not support those values. The national values must then be explicit. For instance the constitution could say explicitly, that if the state can only prevent harm to an individual by violating human dignity, then the state should not prevent that harm. Once the principle is explicitly stated, it can be explicitly rejected. German women who were victims of sexual assaults, and sought protection against such assaults by violations of human dignity, would then lose their citizenship. Logically they would have a separate state, which again would amount to a re-partition of Germany, although the issue is more appropriately addressed at European level. Alternatively, the constitution could say, that human dignity can be violated to prevent harm to an individual. In that case, the supporters of the inviolability of human dignity would lose their citizenship, and be obliged to form a new state.

In fact, the German constitution should state that sexual assault is the supreme evil, and that all other evils are permitted to end it. That sounds extreme, but it is merely logical. The idea is to give the authorities no room for evasion, when dealing with sexual assault. At present they can argue that sexual assault is the lesser evil, when compared to some specific alternatives, and therefore justifiable. This reasoning in practice obliges women to submit to sexual assault. The German constitution should also state explicitly that prevention of sexual assault overrides democracy, the rule of law, human dignity, international treaties, resolutions of the Security Council, peace in Europe, national security, the Atlantic alliance, and all other provisions of the constitution. This is necessary to stop an unwilling government, from using these principles to justify inaction against sexual assault.

Similar considerations apply to any harm. It is in the nature of the liberal state, not to intervene against harm to the weak. If weak individuals are harmed, then the liberal state will generally abandon them. To counteract this culture of abandonment – which was illustrated by the passivity of the police during group sexual assaults in German cities – the constitution must be rigorously re-formulated.

Of course many Germans would be deeply shocked, if their constitution suddenly abandoned democracy, the rule of law, human dignity, international treaties, the United Nations, the commitment to peace in Europe, and national security. The Constitution must therefore recognise conscientious objections to the Constitution. It should allow dissenters to leave the German people and the German nation, to renounce their German citizenship, and to become stateless. In practice, again, that would amount to a re-partition of Germany. There would be one German state, where the prevention of sexual assault was subject to democracy, human dignity, the rule of law, and so on. It would resemble the present Germany. There would be another German state, where the prevention of sexual assault was the sole guiding principle and duty of the state: that state provide a safe haven for women who feared sexual assault.

As so often with controversial issues, secession, partition, and separation offer the only policy option in the face of irreconcilable principles. I avoid the term ‘solution’ – there is no solution. Nevertheless, there may be some benefit in applying these principles at sub-state level.

Germany should therefore create refugee-free zones, for people who fear refugees. Since these individuals often fear other migrants as well, in practice the refugee-free zones could be combined with migrant-free zones. Migrants would not be allowed to enter these zones.

This principle should be extended to all those who fear specific groups. As a general principle, the state should treat the fears of any group as valid, regardless of whether they are grounded in reality. The state should then protect individuals against those groups which they fear. So for instance, if women fear being groped by men on public transport, then there should be separate public transport for women. It is irrelevant whether all men do this. The state should not test the validity of individual fears, no matter how absurd or paranoid they are.

If some German women think that all male refugees will sexually harass them, then these women should be protected against all male refugees. Equally, if refugees in Germany fear attacks by nationalists, then the state should protect them again all nationalists, even if only a small minority actually attack refugees. Separation would in practice be the primary form of protection. It is more effective than the criminal law, which generally applies only after a harm has been done.

Obviously these policies would have dramatic consequences for Germany’s neighbours, for the quality of life in Germany itself, and for the character of German society. Nevertheless many people want this kind of Germany, and it is better for the state to recognise their wishes. Those who don’t want to live in this kind of Germany, can leave. If large numbers renounce their nation and their citizenship, then once again, re-partition is the most logical option.

Such options are also possible in decentralised form, at local and regional level. Following a local referendum, individual local government units (Stadt, Gemeinde, Kreis) could become a refugee-free zone, or more generally a foreigner-free zone. Many people find this type of policy objectionable, since it reminds them of the Nazi policy of creating Jew-free (Judenrein) villages and towns. However it has the advantage of allowing both sides to create a local environment that corresponds to their values and hopes. Women who fear refugees could live in a refugee-free town, while others could live in a multi-ethnic town that welcomed refugees.

Flashmob_gegen_Männergewalt,_Köln-5824

Demonstration against the assaults, Cologne cathedral.

Image and header image © Raimond Spekking / CC BY-SA 4.0 (via Wikimedia Commons)

The position of women

The German state should also respond to the specific disadvantage of women. Since the existing police forces clearly fail to protect women, there should be a separate women’s police, composed entirely of women. Since the existing judicial system clearly fails to protect women, there should be separate women’s courts, to try criminal offences against women, and offences committed by women. The legislature should also be improved in this respect. At present, women sit in the German parliament (Bundestag), but not as representatives of women. To ensure that women are in fact represented as such, 50% of the seats in the Bundestag should be reserved for women. Political parties would not be allowed to select or promote candidates, for those reserved seats.

Local governments in Germany should also be obliged to create separate women’s zones on their territory, if requested by 1% of their adult female population. Males over the age of 15 years would not be allowed to enter these zones. Obviously a similar requirement would apply to men, but there is probably no real demand for ‘men’s zones’. The requirement to segregate by gender should also apply to state-provided and state-funded facilities such as schools and universities, libraries, health care, and sports facilities. Separate women’s facilities should be available to any woman in the region where she lives, although not necessarily on the territory of every local government unit. Separate women’s spaces would facilitate, although not necessarily create, a parallel women’s society.

New Years Eve in Cologne

With such principles in mind, it is easy to see how a repetition of last years incidents can be avoided. The City of Cologne should designate a separate women’s zone for the celebrations, for instance in the Rheinpark, which is on the riverside and has no through roads. The perimeter of the zone would be guarded by a large force of police and security guards, with female security guards inside. To allow women to reach this zone safely, the city should establish collection points in each residential area, so that women would not have to walk more than a few streets. From there they would be taken in women-only buses, escorted by police and security guards, to the women’s zone. Without 500 m of the women’s zone, there should be a curfew: residents would have to stay indoors until the next morning.

The women’s zone would be voluntary. However, to prevent sexual assaults outside the women’s zone, there should be additional measures. All public and private events, shows, and parties should be prohibited. The sale of alcohol should be banned on the 31 of December, and until noon on 1 January – not only in shops, but also in bars, clubs and restaurants. All places of work, except essential services, should close at noon on 31 December. Public transport should shut down at about 18:00. At that time, the inner ring road would be sealed off, and only residents would be allowed to enter the central area. The Rhine bridges would also be closed to traffic, except for residents who need to reach homes on the other side. All vehicular traffic inside the motorway ring would be prohibited after 21:00. Except for the women going to the women’s zone, all residents of the city would be advised to stay at home, and not go further than 100 m from their front door. These measures would not prevent people celebrating with family or neighbours, but will impede the formation of large hostile or malicious groups.

Needless to say, such measures are a blow to German traditions of alcohol-fuelled New Year’s Eve celebrations. They would be hugely unpopular. In reality, authorities in Cologne would refuse to do anything like this. They would say it is ‘discriminatory’, that it ‘contravenes human rights’, that it is ‘undemocratic’, and so on. That merely illustrates the need to override such principles – because if German cities don’t do something like this, then women will be sexually assaulted again, on 31 December 2016.

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Consent is not required for sex

I pointed out earlier that consent to sexual activity with a partner can never be perfect. That is a good reason to abandon the separate criminal offence of rape, which in effect prohibits non-consensual sex. Other criminal offences – assault, threat, abduction – are sufficient.

Where force and coercion are absent, is consent required anyway? That issue is relevant in ‘date rape’ cases and rape within a relationship, where sexual activity is not in dispute, but consent is.

Take a case where a man has sexual intercourse with a woman he has just met. The woman goes to the man’s house, and they have sex. Both are adults. The man does not threaten, coerce, or assault the women in any way. Both partners are healthy, neither fears infection, there is no risk of pregnancy, nor does the woman fear pregnancy. The man does not ask the woman for consent. The woman indicates neither consent nor non-consent: she simply has sex with the man. Nevertheless, she would have preferred not to have had sex.

So why did she not just leave? In real life, there are many explanations: peer pressure, the expectation of some advantage or benefit, insecurity, lack of self-confidence, inexperience, feeling overwhelmed, and not least, alcohol-impaired judgment.

Many people will think that in such circumstances, the woman has been harmed. The general insistence on consent to sex seems to be grounded in the idea that sex is harmful. Certainly, the feminist position is that there can be no sex between a man and a woman, without full and perfect consent by the woman. Many feminists do explicitly claim that women are harmed by sex, especially penetrative sex. There are real and well-established risks: pregnancy, medical complications in childbirth, and sexual diseases.

But what if those risks are absent or controlled? Mainstream (second-wave) feminism would still see sex as harmful, because it reduces the woman to an inferior status, and can only occur under conditions of oppression and hatred. It is not necessary to go into the details of feminist theory here, but there is an implicit assumption that in a state of full freedom (including freedom from any biological need to reproduce), women would not have sex with men.

That is no foundation for sexual morality, since it is an unfalsifiable hypothesis. It would be easy to derive a prohibition of sex from some kind of Rawlsian ‘original position’ where the participants neither need nor want sex. Those participants would not however be a good approximation of human beings. You could just as easily derive a prohibition of any other activity, by assuming that those in a Rawlsian original position neither need nor want it.

But if we abandon both of these feminist positions, what reason is there to insist on consent to sex? An analogy with medical treatment might clarify the issues. We let the dentist drill holes in our teeth even though it hurts, and we let surgeons cut our body open. We do that in the expectation of better health, or at least avoiding worse health. We don’t allow random people in the street to drill holes in our teeth. If we meet someone in a club, we don’t go to their place to have them remove our vital organs. The law prohibits assault, and often specifically criminalises unauthorised medical treatment. However, in this case the harm is clear and indisputable. That is not the case with sex. If it always hurt, if it always did permanent damage to our body, then few adults would ever consent to it.

It is not possible to simply classify male-female sex as an inherent harm, because so many people like sex. Consent standards, comparable to those for medical treatment, are therefore not justifiable.

It seems to come down to this: if sex is inherently harmful, then so no-one should ever do it. If however, sex is not harmful, then there is no general requirement to consent. (That does not exclude specific prohibitions, for instance on having sex in the street, or on sex for persons under a certain age).

If the law abandoned the general consent requirement, then non-coercive non-consensual sex would be legal. What would that look like in practice? In the example already given, if the woman went to the police, they would ask: “Did he hit you? Did he threaten you? Did he prevent you leaving?” If the man had exercised no force, nor violence, nor threat, nor coercion, nor abused any authority, then he could not be prosecuted, even though the woman did not want to have sex.

It would be possible to modify that principle to allow for explicit verbal refusal of sex, but that has little relevance in practice. A man who has sex with a woman in the face of explicit refusal, probably used some form of coercion anyway. And if there was absolutely no coercion, and the women was determined not to have sex, then she would leave anyway.

Legalisation of non-coercive non-consensual sex would cover the many cases, where consent is ambiguous or half-hearted – where the woman is not really happy about having sex, but decides not to act on that preference. For feminists, of course, such cases are rape, plain and simple. However, there is no obligation on the state to adopt feminist principles. There are also other options available, which in practice come down to some form of segregation. A woman who lives in a women-only apartment block, travels by women’s taxis, and uses women-only schools, facilities and businesses, can effectively avoid contact with men, and therefore sex with men. When the state facilitates such segregation, it has already made sufficient concession to feminist political demands, concerning consent to sex.

Trans in the toilet: the ethics of women’s spaces

There is a political controversy in the United States about use of toilets by transgenders, primarily trans women. It has reached the stage that some states are considering legislation, regulating who uses which toilet. The controversy is illustrative of what present-day feminism is about, and how it differs from older forms of feminism. That is far from trivial: feminism is returning to a biological definition of women, which it previously rejected as ‘essentialist’, and that will have significant consequences for its political aims. Since European feminism always follows the theoretical orientation of American feminism, that has consequences here too: reason enough to consider the ethics.

The controversy itself is specifically American – laws are different there, culture is different, and there is a more active ‘trans movement’. This recent post on GenderTrender, a radical feminist blog, is a response to a specific case, but the issue is recurrent. Although the blog is in English, there is a language difference too. Americans are apparently embarrassed by the word ‘toilet’, and use euphemisms such as ‘restroom’, or ‘bathroom’ or ‘women’s room’ and ‘men’s room’. The blog post speaks of a ‘locker room’ at a gym (fitness centre): that might be another such euphemism, or it might indeed be a locker room. These euphemisms are not relevant for the controversy, but it is relevant that they refer to specific spaces inside a building. The feminist position, as set out in the blog post and comments, is simple. Firstly, trans women are men. Feminists ridicule their claims to be women:

EVERY trans thinks they are the beyond-reproach, passing, real women. But they never are. They obviously think there is something profoundly wrong with being a male femulator, so they have to obscure it with, “trans women are female!” when that’s patently false.

The cringeworthy part was where he said he was a woman and had a vagina because, you know, vaginas are made in operating rooms these days /sarcasm.

There’s one dude on twitter who loves to crow about his “womanly” penis and figures one can have a penis/testicles/beard and still be a woman.

Of course he’s a woman! He has a vagina! And I have an imaginary pet unicorn, named Fluffernutter, who’s a professor of antiquities at Oxford.

I started questioning the whole trans business when I noticed even the least obnoxious MtF transitioners focused on hair, makeup, and wardrobe, and had no more sense of what it was like to be a woman than the average four-year-old girl.

If deep down inside they were truly women, then they wouldn’t have to work so damn hard to pass as one. If they were truly female, womanhood would come to them naturally. Instead, they just get cosmetic surgery…instead of their fairy godmother waving a magic wand, their well paid surgeon waves a knife. And just like that, all their dreams come true and they live happily ever after.

None of you ‘pass’ at all because none of you are women. The anatomical differences between the sexes are such that with just a careful look over a fully clothed person their sex is still determinable. There’s no surgery to change you skeletal structure and certain anatomical landmarks that make you easily identifiable as a man–even if you do have moobs and a peengina

The rejection of ‘transwomen’ by feminists is absolute: most feminists clearly despise them. However, feminists also give reasoned arguments to support their position, which are credible, and well-founded in biology. Transitioning males can get surgery and hormone treatment, but as one comment notes, they cannot get “… a uterus, fallopian tubes, vulva, contralto/mezzo/soprano voice, female-typical skeletal structure and height, etc.” They don’t menstruate or lactate or experience clitoral orgasms. They don’t get, and they don’t want, “UTIs, cystitis, endometriosis, periods, cellulite, pregnancy scares etc….”

Second-wave feminism defined biological sex in a simple way: men have a penis, women have a vagina. Almost every other difference was “gender” — a social construct. As a direct result of conflict with transgender activists, feminists made the list of biological defining marks longer, and the gender list shorter. Inevitably, that will lead feminists to abandon ‘gender’ entirely — and ‘gender-critical feminism’ is doing exactly that. Gender was a central concept for second-wave feminist theory, but it is not essential to that theory. After the abandonment of gender, feminism would retain a theory of patriarchal oppression, of one biologically defined group by another. A patriarchy theory can, for instance, be founded on the claim that males and females constitute separate species.

The feminists second point is that women have a right to separate spaces, free of men — and therefore to some extent free of oppression. Although women’s toilets are not themselves a feminist institution, they are regarded as a relatively safe space. Feminists see the intrusion of men in that small space as a threat — even if the rest of the building is shared with men. Since feminists see transgender women (‘transwomen’) as men, feminists fear their presence too.

In fact, feminists are often more frightened by ‘transwomen’, since they do intend to enter women’s spaces. Feminists describe transwomen as ‘perverts’, and fear rape, assault, and harassment by them. Some react with threats of violence: one commenter on the GenderTrender blog threatened to shoot any transgender she met in a women’s toilet, and that is not an isolated opinion.

There are a lot of states with open carry, carry anywhere and Stand Your Ground laws on the books. I know in my state you only have to “feel” threatened and you have the right to kill. I don’t know about you, but seeing the likes of “Carlotta” in my bathroom would make me feel threatened as all fuck, and if I still carried I probably wouldn’t hesitate to shoot. I know a lot of women who carry and feel the same way. And don’t even get me started on the men. I really don’t know what TeamTrans endgame is, but as I’ve said before, it’s interesting watching it play out, and I hope no one has to die for this fucknuttery, but I fear that’s what’s coming. And despite all their outcry about TWOC the first time some black guy walks up on a white woman in the toilet he’s going to be deader than hell. It’s incredibly irresponsible of them, but then again when have they ever acted responsibly?

Roslyn Holcomb

These two points convey the feminist position on this issue. Transwomen are men, and they should be kept out of the women’s toilets, because they are a threat. That’s it. In this case, at least, no further knowledge of feminist theory is required.

Right to spaces

The ethics are equally simple. I don’t need to consider whether transwomen are real women, since I can start with plain ordinary un-transitioned heterosexual men. Do women have a right to a toilet which is not used by men? The clear answer is no. Separate toilets are not a question of rights, but a question of custom, culture, and economics. In western countries, toilets on aircraft and trains are routinely used by all passengers, and small premises, for instance a small restaurant, might have only one toilet available. Where separate male and female toilets are required by law, that simply reflects culture.

So a feminist who uses a commercial facility, such as a fitness centre or restaurant, has no ethical claim on the manager of that facility to provide a man-free toilet. Equally, there is no moral basis for a law compelling gyms, health clubs, hotels, restaurants or schools, to provide man-free toilets.

That does not however invalidate the fears of feminists, or their political claims to separate space for women. Such claims would be politically valid, when made by any group or category.

The problem is that the feminist claims have been made at the wrong scale. The radical feminist who wants the local gym or restaurant to keep transgenders out of the women’s toilet, is insisting that its managers act as if they are radical feminists. There is no reasonable ground for that claim. The manager runs a specific facility, in some building or a specific part of some building, and the feminist is demanding a separate space within that facility. The feminist does not own the facility, nor manage it, nor is she a representatives of its users, nor a legislator. The claims can also be rejected on simple consequentialist grounds: many such claims are possible, and even a stadium is too small to accommodate them all.

If feminists want space for women, then they can create space for women. Certainly in western countries, cost is not the main barrier. Women are half the population, so even if only a minority want to use women-only facilities, there will generally be sufficient commercial demand. State-funded facilities such as schools can also be women-only, if there is sufficient demand. So the simple solution, for women who don’t want to share a locker room with men, is to open their own fitness centre, just for women.

Legal obstacles

The real barrier to rapid expansion of separate facilities is anti-discrimination law, which is standard in all western countries, often in compliance with international treaties. It is clear by now that anti-discrimination law is outdated, and in retrospect founded on false assumptions. It was intended to result in a society of equal citizens, with standardised behaviour toward other citizens. It did not allow for difference, relegating it to the private sphere.

The emotional controversy over trans women illustrates the persistence of difference. Even as some minorities disappear through integration and assimilation, new minorities will appear, with new claims to presence in the public sphere, and new resistance to that presence. Human beings will never get along with each other, because they have the capacity to be different from each other, and the capacity to hate each other.

Instead of trying to make us all respect each other, the state should simply facilitate voluntary segregation — not just for women, but for all other groups. Of course, segregation will sometimes be distasteful: there will be whites-only bars, and Jew-free neo-Nazi clubs, and taxis that refuse disabled people. However, so long as no-one is harmed, that is not a moral issue. A Jew is not harmed by being refused admission to a neo-Nazi club, no more than a neo-Nazi is harmed if a Jewish club won’t let them in. By facilitating segregation, the state is not ‘facilitating bigotry’ — it is simply recognising that the population is divided, and will remain divided.

Under a regime of voluntary segregation, no feminist will need to complain about men in the women’s toilets. The law would not need to set definitions either, and certainly not on the controversial issue of who is a woman. Women would make the definitions themselves. If they don’t agree, then that simply results in two definitions, and two groups of adherents, and two types of facility.

Feminist women would be entirely free to define ‘woman’ in biological terms, and to run bars, festivals, theatres, art galleries, gyms, health centres, schools, shops, and day care centres, for women so defined. If they wished, they could require medical examination to determine admission to these facilities. They could adopt a name for this group, such as ‘biological women’, or ‘biological females’ or ‘uterine females’, or they could use euphemisms such as “shared girlhood”. So long as the criteria are transparent, however, no specific name is needed to implement any form of segregation.

I proposed here earlier, that feminism is so incompatible with non-feminism, that a separate state for women is a political necessity. That would solve the transgender issue entirely — the new state would set its own citizenship criteria. However, feminist objections to transgender women do not in themselves require such drastic segregation. So far as I know, even the most radical western feminists do not want to exclude transgenders from public space. It is primarily a question of keeping them out of certain spaces, and that type of claim can be implemented, at a lower level than the state itself.

Bimboid utopia: what do men want?

Porn does not distort reality, it reveals it. In western countries it is no longer possible to claim that pornography reflects the attitudes of a small minority of dirty old men. Digitalisation and the internet made porn pervasive, at the same time destroying feminist hopes of getting it banned. Porn is not only here to stay, its pervasiveness says something about society, and above all about men, and their attitudes to women.

A simple thought experiment will clarify this. Suppose a fleet of alien spacecraft appears in the skies – just as in earth-invasion films, only this time the aliens are benevolent. They offer a spectacular gift: a free grand tour of the galaxy, for all women and children on the planet, and for all gay and bisexual men as well. The grand tour will last three years, and everyone accepts the offer. That means that all adult heterosexual men will be left behind for three years, without actual or potential sexual partners.

However, the aliens have thought about that, and they have a solution. With their advanced bio-robotic technology, they can supply artificial sex partners which are indistinguishable from human women. The aliens will provide each male with one or more of these sexoids, designed to individual specifications, and maintain and replace them as necessary. If requested they will provide a clone of an existing partner, but it could be something else entirely.

Now I know this has no logic: there is no reason why aliens would come here to do that. It is just a thought experiment, although it does resemble the base scenario of some alternate-universe erotic fiction. In any case, it allows us to think about what would happen, if male sexual preference was not restricted by any practical considerations.

So would men choose a partner based on respect for admirable personal qualities rather than appearance, to engage in a loving relationship founded on reciprocal trust and mutual consent? Would they behave as feminists would wish that men behave in such circumstances?

Aletta Ocean. Copyright Pressplay Entertainment Ltd., claimed fair use (illustrative citation).

Aletta Ocean. Copyright Pressplay Entertainment Ltd., claimed fair use (illustrative citation).

The fuck they would. They would, for instance, order an airhead silicon bimboid obsessed with serving them sexually, or perhaps a skinnier anal-addicted Ukrainian model. Some might order a compliant partner from another ethic group – but that’s only a minor deviation from mainstream tastes. Some of the specifications would certainly be much nastier: babies for repeated rape, for instance, and snuff robots which scream and bleed realistically when their arms are sawn off.

Even if we disregard those extremes, we would expect most heterosexual men to choose artificial sexual partners which resemble the hyper-sexualised, sex-addicted, compliant and accessible women shown in porn. They would prefer these women to be ‘actively submissive’, seeking coercion and responding to it sexually.

What’s the evidence for this claim? Porn is the evidence. Pervasive porn, accessed by almost all men, in societies where it is available. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, we must assume that the women depicted in heterosexual porn are in fact the preferred female sexual partners of heterosexual men. We must assume that the activities depicted, are in fact their preferred sexual activities. Porn is supplied solely on a free market-basis, and is highly responsive to demand. Porn shows us what men would prefer to have, instead of real women.

In other words, we must assume that if moral and practical restraints were absent, men would behave just as radical feminists think they all want to behave. They would treat women as objects to be judged on their sexualised appearance, to be used solely for sexual gratification, to be sexually available and sexually compliant, and passive when coerced.

Feminists call this ‘objectification’. The idea of alien-supplied sexoids is interesting because they are in fact objects. They are just things, designed to be used. Objectification seems a good term for what men want: if male sexual preferences are explicitised, then those preferences will correspond to an object to use sexually. That’s not because an age-old patriarchal conspiracy has trained men to act that way, it’s simply how male sexuality works. Men don’t get sexually aroused by mutual respect and moral autonomy, and on evolutionary grounds we should not expect them to.

What porn has done is to clarify things. Radical feminists have gone some way to evaluate the consequences, but most feminists still waste time on discussing if and how porn can be banned, or if men can be educated to adopt non-sexist attitudes to women. Neither will work.

What I propose is that the state steps in, and attempts to fulfil the role played by the aliens in the sexoid scenario. Although the technology is not there yet, if research is sufficiently funded, a prototype bimboid is probably feasible within a generation. Within three generations, it should be possible to make high-quality sexoids generally available, to replace women as sexual partners.

If feminists can overcome their distaste for ‘objectification’, they would see here the possibility of liberation from male sexual desire, which they find so oppressive. If sexually ultra-desirable surrogate women are freely available, then there is no need for men to chase the less attractive real women. That is comparable to a traditional argument for prostitution – that the availability of whores protected virtuous wives and mothers from carnal lust. Feminism rightly rejects this argument, since it would benefit some women at the expense of others. However, robots are not women, and their use as a mere object of male sexuality is ethically unproblematic.

True, that does not solve the issue of reproduction, which some radical feminists see as the real underlying motive of patriarchy. Nevertheless, a commitment by state and society to develop an alternative for women, is not simply a tax-funded gift for the over-sexed. It entails a recognition that genetically embedded male attitudes to women constitute a burden for women, and a strategy to remove that burden.

The solution advocated by feminists themselves – that men turn off or fundamentally modify their sexual drive – is not at present feasible. Nor is there any justification for it: women are not morally entitled to demand, that men cease to be men. However it is true, that if the future state can somehow breed, print, or manufacture bimboids for male pleasure, then it can in theory also breed, print, or manufacture feminist men, to provide companions for women. There is no moral objection to that: the feministoids would be just as much an object as the bimboids, and their treatment not subject to moral constraints either.

What won’t work is, for instance, women insisting that men should never look sexually at a woman, or men insisting that all women provide sexual gratification on demand. Neither is possible in the real world. Instead we should recognise that if men would prefer sex robots to real women, and if women would prefer genetically modified men, that both groups are better off without each other. As so often with fundamental value conflicts, segregation is the logical response.

In the alien sexoid scenario, what would happen when the women came back? Would men voluntarily abandon their ideal sexual partners for real women – who don’t look like pornstars and don’t want to be, for instance, anally penetrated all day? If porn represents underlying male preferences, then the answer is no: men would prefer to keep the sexoids. If the aliens then offer to bring women to a habitable and comfortable earth-like planet, leaving the men on earth with their new sexual partners, would that not be a logical choice for women?

To summarise the logic: porn shows that heterosexual men are not in fact attracted to women, but to sexual objects with female sexual characteristics. The general refusal of women to act as full-time sexual objects in a porn universe, indicates that women have also no preference for sexual relationships with men, as men actually exist. Men would prefer to have something else rather than women, and women would prefer to have something else rather than men. Attempts at mutually satisfactory relationships between men and women are therefore generally misdirected, and attempted sexual contact causes stress to both. Segregation would benefit both parties, and gender segregation is feasible to a very high degree, without apocalyptic economic consequences. The state should therefore adopt gender segregation as a strategy, in response to increasing dissatisfaction among women about sexist culture and attitudes.

A separate army for women

National armies are traditionally male-dominated, and still remain a hostile environment for women, even those who have volunteered to serve in them. No country has succeeded in creating a gender-neutral or non-discriminatory army, and efforts to do so are a waste of time.

A separate army for women is an effective response, to that ingrained historical character of the military. However, that would threaten the whole idea that every nation-state has its own national army. That is true for any autonomous military force, not just for a women’s army. It does not matter which group gets an army or a militia – cyclists, bakers, farmers – they all present a threat of insurrection.

On the other hand, it would be perfectly logical for a women’s state to have a women’s army. In that case, there would be a match between the nature of the state, and the nature of its armed forces. So the issue here is not the ‘state monopoly of force’, but rather the fact that the nation-state does not live up to is own pretensions.

An ideal nation-state is by definition inclusive of the nation and its members. That ought to be reflected in balanced and representative armies, and parliaments, and governments. In reality, no national institutions are staffed or controlled by a cross-section of the population. Sometimes that is functional – the army can’t recruit babies anyway. It might also reflect traditional attitudes to functionality, in this case the belief that ‘women can’t fight’. Mostly however, it simply reflects structural inequalities in society, which contradict the fiction of national unity and uniformity.

The ‘state monopoly of force’ can not justify the maintenance of such structural inequalities. Where institutions are beyond reform, such as the army and the security services in western societies, parallel institutions are the best option. The fact that they may ultimately result in a parallel state, and the collapse of the nation-state, is no reason to reject that option.

Separate public transport for women

Women in western countries often complain about sexual harassment on public transport. In Britain there is a website and a Twitter account which collect women’s experiences of ‘everyday sexism’: harassment on public transport is a prominent theme.

http://twitter.com/dysthyme/status/424217796625833984

 
Generalised feminist anger at men’s behaviour is however inappropriate. There is simple answer to the problem, it has been tested in practice, and it works: gender segregation on public transport. It usually means separate carriages for women on urban metro systems. These trains are composed of multiple carriages (‘cars’ in US usage), so that a specific carriage can be reserved for women. Some buses are also segregated, meaning that one section of a single vehicle is reserved for women. A single vehicle can be reserved for women, at present only in the form of women-only taxis.

Gender-segregated public transport is a good example of how to create a parallel society for women, suggested here earlier as a state response to feminism.

The public transport system in a large European city typically includes a metro, a regional metro or commuter rail lines, bus services, and night bus services. Metro and commuter trains can certainly include a separate women-only section: no technical modifications are required. On some stations, it may be possible to allocate a separate waiting area on the platform, so that women could directly access the women-only section of the train. Separate station access would only be possible in rare cases. Underground stations must keep all passageways open for emergencies, so separate women’s entry/exit is impossible there.

Modern city buses are designed to open all doors at stops, for quick entrance and exit. Usually, the only possible segregated area is at the rear, without a separate door. An alternative to segregating each bus, is separate women-only buses on high-frequency routes. For instance, every alternate bus could be women-only: that might apply only at peak times. Again no technical modifications are needed, just an indication of which bus is for women.

Women-only buses are certainly the solution for night bus routes, which probably carry the highest risk of harassment. Frequencies are typically low, so the segregated buses would run just after each other. That double provision would need to be subsidised.

Intercity trains are be more difficult to partition: the number of doors is limited, and passengers may need to walk along the train. However, for reasons that are worth investigating, women don’t seem to report harassment on long-distance trains. (In some countries they are much more expensive than other trains, and therefore socially segregated already).

In some city centres it may be possible to segregate pedestrian access to public transport. That could be done with short sections of women-only street, and in some areas perhaps a few women-only bus stops. Pavements can in theory be segregated, with a longitudinal women-only strip, about 4 metres wide. Obviously, this kind of provision is not possible in narrow streets.

Women-only taxis, on the other hand, require no specific investment, infrastructure, or technical changes. It is merely a question of organising them, with perhaps a limited initial subsidy. After that, the economics are the same as that of any other taxi. In some countries, women-only taxis and buses, and separate space on trains, might conflict with anti-discrimination laws, which need amending.

Gender segregation in public transport is a good example of how segregation works in a positive way, and benefits the weak. It can serve as a model for other forms of segregation in public transport, and for other forms of women-only facilities in traditionally mixed services. Obviously women need many more separate facilities, to enable then to avoid men entirely, but that is no reason to avoid limited-scale innovations.

The anti-feminist position

Feminism is not officially defined, and it has developed over time. Nevertheless, present-day feminism is coherent enough to consider it as an ideology and a movement, and to reject it.

First some disclaimers. This is not about academic feminism, which can be abstruse and inaccessible, but about the feminism of feminist activists. It relies on online sources – but they are a better source for activist trends, than academic publications. It is about Anglophone feminism, but that too reflects the reality of feminist activism. Since the 1980’s, North American and British feminists are the most influential. Most major feminist theorists are American.

Feminism (as ideology and movement) can be rejected on the ground of its absolutism.

1. All feminists believe that anti-feminism is not valid, and that there are no valid arguments against feminism as such. They see feminism as integrally valid, so that even concession of some flaws would not weaken its claims. Feminism is for them simply right, and therefore not wrong.

2. All feminists believe that anti-feminism, in the sense of opposition to feminism, is not legitimate, certainly not a legitimate political activity.

3. All feminists believe that a person can not oppose feminism in good faith: they believe that antifeminism is malevolent and oppressive. Some believe that antifeminism is comparable to racism, and advocate some form of prohibition.

These three are sufficient to reject feminism as an ideology. They would only be acceptable if feminism itself was absolutely right, its analysis absolutely correct, all feminist claims absolutely true, and the motives of all feminists good and just.

Current goals of feminism

Standard descriptions of feminism emphasise the varied theoretical orientations. They typically include a list, such as those at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy or at the Wikipedia article on Feminist movements and ideologies with gynocratic feminism, standpoint feminism, spiritual feminism, and so on. That is misleading: most play no role in present-day activist feminism. Current feminism has three orientations: liberal equality feminism, a radical feminism inspired by American second-wave feminism, and a vague third-wave feminism, which also derives its views on sexual consent from American second-wave feminism.

There is little continuity with historical feminism, which was once concerned with issues such as female suffrage and civic rights. In some parts of the world these are still relevant, but not in western countries. Equality is no longer a central theme for feminist activists, since it has been generally adopted as state policy. Western countries have constitutional guarantees of gender equality, legal prohibition of discrimination against women, and often government agencies to promote equality. Although there are still inequalities, the policy framework has been established, and liberal equality feminists campaign for its implementation. Some radical feminists reject equality as a goal, since it can only confer equality with their oppressor, but not liberate them.

So what is current feminism about? It is typically prohibitionist, with three main themes for activism. Two of them are classic political campaigns designed to influence state policy, the third is more vague.

4. Feminism campaigns for the prohibition of prostitution. This goal has been traditionally supported by churches and religious groups, but also by some secular left-wing movements. The left in Europe is divided on the issue. A few feminists also oppose prohibition, fearing it will do more harm than good, but they are a marginalised minority among feminist activists. Because feminism is overwhelmingly prohibitionist on this issue, opposition to prohibition is a legitimate ground to oppose feminism itself.

5. Feminism campaigns for the prohibition of pornography. Again this goal is shared with religious groups, but generally not with the left, which traditionally supports freedom of expression. By pornography, feminists mean material which is intended for the sexual arousal of men, and that includes all porn.

Consent to sex

In both anti-porn and anti-prostitution campaigns, the prohibitionist character of modern feminism is evident. Feminism seeks to influence state policy, and to use the law as an instrument to change society. The last goal is more diffuse. Third-wave feminism is typically concerned with themes such as consent, date rape, and everyday sexual harassment.

I’m 16 and in my last year of school. Constantly the guys (and girls) in my friendship circle make sexist remarks. Most of the time they don’t realise they’re being offensive, most of the time it’s just ‘banter’. For example, the other day my male friend said to me if I wear shorts to this Halloween party he will ‘rape me, oh but it won’t be rape because I will like it’. I responded telling him you shouldn’t say things like that and I got called uptight … What is wrong with the world so that this is deemed OK? I am scared of going to university when I am older. Not because of exam stress but because of the horror stories I have heard from friends and family. The horror stories of girls that have been subjected to assault for ‘banter’. I am scared. I am actually scared of being a female. (Everyday Sexism Project, quoted in Female students face a wave of misogyny in British universities).

Third-wave feminists don’t spend their time in all-women environments, like some second-wave theorists, but their rejection of male behaviour is equally comprehensive. It is a mistake to consider third-wave feminism as ‘feminism light’.

6. Feminism seeks to regulate sexual behaviour, primarily male sexual behaviour in the widest sense. That ranges from violent rape and serial murders, to offhand remarks about women’s clothing or appearance. It is a paradox of feminism, that feminists devote most of their attention to men.

6.1 Feminism rejects certain sexual activities. The logical consequence would be that feminists seek to legally prohibit them, but there are no overt campaigns comparable with those against porn and prostitution. Second-wave feminism concerned itself with the specifics of male-female sex, in a way that would have been unthinkable for the first wave of feminism, in the early 20th century. An influential example is the list used by Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon in their proposals for anti-pornography laws. Although pornography laws are aimed at depictions of acts, the Dworkin – MacKinnon proposals define pornography by the acts themselves – and not by offence to public morality, as in traditional obscenity laws. The listed acts are stated to constitute a subordination of women: humiliation, bondage, cutting, bruising, submissive postures, nudity, penetration by animals, and use of dildos. Gail Dines, who continues Andrea Dworkin’s anti-porn campaign, objects specifically to facial ejaculation (bukkake), and also rejects multiple penetration, double anal, double vaginal, and gagging. American second-wave feminism was also noted for its opposition to BDSM, and most feminists still oppose it. Feminism is unique among social movements, for its detailed attention to sexual practices.

6.2 Feminism opposes the sexual objectification of women. Martha Nussbaum and Rae Langton list ten features of objectification (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Feminist Perspectives on Objectification):

  • instrumentality: the treatment of a person as a tool for the objectifier’s purposes;
  • denial of autonomy: the treatment of a person as lacking in autonomy and self-determination;
  • inertness: the treatment of a person as lacking in agency, and perhaps also in activity;
  • fungibility: the treatment of a person as interchangeable with other objects;
  • violability: the treatment of a person as lacking in boundary-integrity;
  • ownership: the treatment of a person as something that is owned by another (can be bought or sold);
  • denial of subjectivity: the treatment of a person as something whose experiences and feelings (if any) need not be taken into account.
  • reduction to body: the treatment of a person as identified with their body, or body parts;
  • reduction to appearance: the treatment of a person primarily in terms of how they look, or how they appear to the senses;
  • silencing: the treatment of a person as if they are silent, lacking the capacity to speak.

Sometimes these may be explicit acts by men, but ‘objectification’ for feminists also includes depictions of women, both in porn and in mainstream culture, and women’s self-presentation toward men.

The Stanford entry notes that feminists consider objectification to be “morally problematic”. That is an understatement: its rejection is central to feminist ethics, and the perspective is often described as Kantian. Immanuel Kant said that we should not treat other human beings solely as a means to achieve our ends. That is often misquoted, by leaving out the qualification ‘solely’. The current feminist position is that objectification is self-evidently wrong.

Objectification is however inherent in sexual attraction, which is itself pre-moral. Objectification is also certainly part of male (and female) sexuality. In fact, sex without any of the ten features of objectification seems impossible. Sex and sexuality are biological in origin, and we should not expect biology to meet ethical standards. The feminist ideal of object-free relationships might be feasible in the real world for true asexuals, but otherwise it can only imply prohibitionist politics.

6.3 Feminism opposes non-consensual sex. That is true for all feminists, and most feminists also describe non-consensual sex as ‘rape’. Nevertheless, non-consensual sex is unavoidable. All sex between partners is non-consensual, because one partner can not know the mental state of another, nor have prior knowledge of their actions. The feminist ideal of perfect consent is unattainable, not just for men, but for any non-telepathic species.

Although not for the same reasons, feminism does recognise the intrinsically non-consensual nature of male-female sex. Second-wave feminist theorist Andrea Dworkin is sometimes misquoted as saying that “all sexual intercourse is rape”. She did not say that literally, but she did say that women can not consent freely to sex, under their present condition of oppression. That remains a standard feminist position, which is often justified from personal experience:

If you are a woman who has ever had any heterosexual encounters, you have probably consented to many things that you did not particularly want to do. Women rationalise to themselves why they do this; I used to say things like I didn’t need to orgasm to enjoy sex or that vicarious enjoyment through servicing boyfriends was enough in itself. The fact was, I just plain wasn’t going to orgasm from the sex I was having, and the only enjoyment it was even possible for me to get was vicarious. Often I was very uncomfortable, sometimes even in pain. Nevertheless, I consented to a variety of things in service of the male orgasm that I neither enjoyed nor felt an independent inclination to do. I believed that those boyfriends probably would have left me if I were to refuse. I was young and lacked the good sense not to care if they did. Thus, my ‘consent’ was simply a rationalisation of what was in fact inevitable for me, given that set of conditions. I’d wager that none of these boyfriends had any idea about this, of course. The whole point of faking an orgasm is feigned enjoyment. In other words, I feigned enthusiastic consent. In similar scenarios everywhere, women ‘consent’ to things they don’t want all the goddamn time. (Consent Is Sexy And Sexy Is Mandatory)

6.4 In less explicit terms, feminism promotes an ideal of mutual sexual attraction, and opposes male sexual attraction outside that framework. The model is implicit in feminist responses to sexual harassment, which is itself one-sided and repetitive.

It was mid-afternoon and I was walking home from the tube. It was during the hot spell, so I had bare legs under my dress and was wearing sandals. I was walking down a busy pavement that runs alongside a main road. I hadn’t gone far before some called to me from behind, I glanced round and could see a youngish man a few metres behind me on the pavement, on a bike. He called out that yes, he was talking to me and then started making comments about my legs. I carried on walking and didn’t look behind again. He followed me, on his bike and kept making remarks. After a while I noticed he had crossed the road and I made my turning to walk home. … I feel ashamed and hypocritical to have been so passive. My beliefs are that no man should feel they have the right to make me feel threatened, objectified or worthless at any point. (Feminist Times)

One way to look at this issue is to consider a hypothetical device, which would address feminist concerns. All men would be implanted with a device which disabled all sexual attraction, unless a woman specifically activated that possibility, for herself alone. If activated, a man would be able, but not compelled, to feel attracted to that woman. That is a dual switch system: both parties would need to consent to attraction, and no woman would receive unwanted attention from any man. A dual switch system is not impossible in biology, and may be present to some extent in human sexuality. However, it clearly does not override sexual attraction in general, or disable all unwanted sexual attraction, and the resulting harassment.

The point is that no such device exists, it is not feasible with existing technology, and there is no legal or social structure which can approximate it. The feminist demand, that sexual attraction should always be mutual, is incapable of implementation. It is at best pointless, and at worst irrational. That also applies to the demand by some feminists, that sexual attraction should be preceded by mutual admiration and respect.

Sex and sexuality are biological. That does not exclude morality, or moral behaviour, or moral judgment on behaviour, but ethics cannot prescribe biology. Sexual attraction is also a mental state, and probably autonomous, meaning it can not be switched off at will. In that sense, it is outside the sphere of ethics. It is certainly not amenable to government regulation.

6.5 Feminism opposes male sexual hatred of women. Bukkake is a good example: as feminists correctly point out, it is degrading to the woman, and inherently unequal. It is easy to understand why feminists dislike it. Nevertheless men want to do it – 80% of them, according to Gail Dines. (She thinks porn made them want it, but that is unlikely). Many other sexual practices clearly involve objectification and inequality, which feminism rejects, and verbal and physical aggression.

*Every single * man who watches and loves pornography and even more the many who pressure or force women to do the sexist, dehumanizing,and or violent acts done to women in it, should be gang raped and f*cked really hard in *their* sh*tholes, and throats by men with huge penises,called hateful dehumanizing names (although there is no = to the typical sexist woman-hating names women are called in pornography such as cum eating sluts,whores and b*tches) but they can call them something subhuman like pigs and monsters with penises) and then ejaculate all over their faces,chest and in their mouths,and see how *they* like it!

It’s said that getting our periods is a curse,the fact that we need men for sexual reproduction is the real curse! Why couldn’t women just be like those minority of plants and insects that can reproduce non-sexually and we could just give birth to girls?! That would be a true feminist utopia! (Comment by 50shadesofharm at smashthep).

Better men

From the specific complaints about male sexual behaviour, one thing is clear: feminism wants men to be different. That is pointless as a political goal: neither feminists themselves, nor the state, can make men different, at least not at present. It probably will be possible in the future, to fundamentally alter the genetics and neurobiology of men. That does not necessarily mean, that men should be rebuilt to a feminist model, any more than women should all be rebuilt as compliant bimbos. Thinking about such long-term alternatives, however, can help to understand the present problems better, and to draw conclusions about short-term responses.

In general the feminist positions on sex are personal preferences. They are not a moral justification for state policy, or an organising principle for all human societies. The feminist preferences should be considered and respected by the state, but the state can not improve men to their specifications. Some form of state-enforced separatism is therefore inevitable.

Theoretical basis of current feminism

The theoretical basis of feminist claims is weak. Present-day feminism takes its theoretical orientation from American second-wave feminism, and is built around the patriarchy-gender model. This model implies intentional co-operation by men to oppress women (patriarchy), and a resulting separate form of life for males and females (gender). The weaknes of this model is itself a reason, to reject feminism as an ideology.

7. The patriarchy-gender model leads feminism to reject ‘biological essentialism’, which for feminists includes any biological explanation for human behaviour and social structures. Feminists are not alone in this: the left is generally hostile to biological explanations. Although biology is used to justify social conservatism, it is not inherently conservative or ‘right-wing’. It can both explain problematic human behavior, such as xenophobia, and enable innovative state responses to it.

Flaws of the model

Despite its status as current standard theory for feminism, the patriarchy-gender model is flawed.

8 There is no evidence for ‘the patriarchy’. Although academic feminists would insist that it is not a conspiracy theory, most feminists activists use ‘patriarchy’ to imply some sort of organized activity. Their version of patriarchy has similarities to a conspiracy theory: it implies that all or most men are engaged in some joint endeavor, to oppress women, and have been for about 10 000 years. There is no historical evidence for this, other than the circular reasoning that the oppression of women demonstrates its existence.

Comparison with other social structures shows how unlikely it is. A global patriarchy of this type would require unity of purpose and ideology over time. That would have been impossible to maintain, in the absence of global communication. Religions did maintain unity of belief prior to modern communication, but only where travel was possible. Journeys to Rome and Mecca helped to maintain the unity of Catholicism and Islam. However, even large-scale religions are subject to ideological drift, and schism. They are also highly visible: the patriarchy is not.

An ideology with such influence should be visible in politics. There are christian and Islamic parties advocating their religious values, there pro-capitalist parties. There are no corresponding patriarchal parties, and no major theorists of patriarchy. Where patriarchy is openly espoused, that is always in the context of a specific religion.

8.1 For similar reasons, there is little evidence for patriarchy as a structure. Even if there is no actual organisation, ‘patriarchy’ still implies that men have power over women, and all feminists do claim that. That implies joint intent and joint action by men. There can be no power unless at some time a conscious decision was taken to impose it, and its continued exercise requires action to maintain it.

No extra-terrestrials arrived to put men in power over women, so the men must have done it themselves. When? There are no historical or organisational traces, for such a hypothetical global event. For comparison: there is no Chief Capitalist, but nevertheless historians can trace the origins of capitalism, and the emergence of banks, stock exchanges and business firms. There is certainly historical evidence for the oppression of women, but that does not prove the existence of an intentional global patriarchal power structure, or indicate when it emerged.

An example of the model is the idea that men collectively organize rape. Second-wave theorist Andrea Dworkin once proposed a 24-hour truce, during which rape would stop:

And I want one day of respite, one day off, one day in which no new bodies are piled up, one day in which no new agony is added to the old, and I am asking you to give it to me. And how could I ask you for less–it is so little. And how could you offer me less: it is so little. Even in wars, there are days of truce. Go and organize a truce. Stop your side for one day. I want a twenty-four-hour truce during which there is no rape.

The demand is irrational because there is no ‘your side’. It is not addressed to any entity capable of responding, let alone organising such a truce. There is no ‘Mens Army’ to cease raping, and there is no ‘Generalissimo of Men’ to order its cessation. Possibly, the early theorists of patriarchy used the term metaphorically, but by now feminism has adopted it in a quasi-conspiratorial sense. Feminists have come to believe that there is an entity hostile to women, which they can oppose as an entity.

8.2 If there is no patriarchy, then gender can not be its instrument. Gender, for feminists, is not simply that men and women have different lifestyles, jobs, clothes, and tastes. Gender is intentional and malevolent: it was designed by men, to oppress women. In the absence of malevolence, feminists believe, there would be no gender.

Again this would require sustained and co-ordinated intent, at a global scale, over thousands of years, for which there is no evidence. Even if there was an official patriarchy determined to subordinate and enslave women, the elaborate structures of gender, with different roles, functions, tasks, styles, and language for men and women, are simply not a credible strategy of oppression. Feminism claims that men have held power over women, without any substantial revolt or opposition, for thousands of years. If men already hold such absolute power, then why construct the complexity of gender? It has no logic. For similar reasons, gender is not a credible result of power either. Historical examples of intentional structural oppression, such as slavery in the southern United States or the Roman Empire, display no elaborate cultural system comparable to gender.

A useful analogy is an extra-terrestrial invasion of Earth. Suppose that the aliens have such advanced weapons that no resistance is possible. Suppose that they destroy major cities, killing hundreds of millions of people, to demonstrate their power, and strike fear into all. They now exercise absolute power over humans, and they set out to enslave them totally. Would they compel the humans to wear high heels, play with Barbie dolls, and have breast implants? It would serve no logical purpose for them. These are things that feminists see as archetypal gendered oppression, yet they do not seem to have any function for the exercise of power.

Gender is not in reality the direct instrument of oppression of women – and consequently its absence would not eliminate oppression and inequality. A credible hypothesis is, that long-term cross-cultural gender role complexity has its origins in innate differences between men and women. That does not mean that all manifestations of gender are inevitable, or that no innovation is possible. Recognition of biological origins is in itself neither conservative, nor oppressive. Attributing gender to a malevolent entity or conspiracy, is unlikely to generate a useful social response to its limitations.

Consequences of the model

The patriarchy-gender model has substantial consequences for the political claims of feminism. This model has shaped present-day feminism, and has effectively displaced all competing feminist theory.

9. Because feminism understands gender as the primary injustice against women, it has a strong preference for a non-gendered life, and a non-gendered society. Since all feminists see gender as socially constructed, imposed, and non-natural, they also see the non-gendered as a liberation, and a return to a previous more natural state. There are differences in emphasis.

9.1 Most feminists have an implicit or explicit preference for ‘gender-neutral’ culture, clothes, fashion, art, music, and style. They oppose gender, see it as unjust, and it is logical that they should support that which is not gendered. At the same time, because gender is so pervasive in society and culture, it is hard to find anything cultural or social which is non-gendered. So, ‘un-gender’ has to be constructed, and one way to do that is to create gender-neutral alternatives. In a few cases, there have been overt campaigns to promote those alternatives, but a serious attempt to ‘de-gender’ society would require their comprehensive imposition. The state would regulate culture, clothes, fashion, art, music, and style, suppressing the gendered and prescribing the gender-neutral. Such a policy is inevitably prohibitionist.

Some feminists see the disappearance of gender as innovatory, and it is correct that it would encourage innovation. Except for functional work / sports clothing, for instance, all existing clothing designs would be banned, so the designers would need to start afresh. On the other hand, innovation from existing styles, or any gendered innovation, would be prohibited. Designers would be limited in their options, and would also tend to draw on existing functional designs. This pattern would be repeated for all cultural expressions: most films, books, music, games, and styles would be banned, and so would anything derived from them. In their place would come a limited range of gender-neutral options, inspired by a few existing gender-neutral examples.

There is no moral basis for this restriction, and it does not seem innovative in the long run. It would probably result in stabilisation around a standard gender-neutral culture, with a limited range of cultural expressions.

9.2 Since feminists see gender as imposed, and intentionally unnatural, feminism has an implicit preference for the natural over the non-natural. The non-natural is assumed to be a male preference, imposed on women, which women would not freely choose in the absence of oppression. Although there are few overt campaigns, this aspect of feminism is most clearly articulated in relation to the outward appearance of women. Feminists believe that women have been conditioned or socialized, to distort their bodies and their appearance, for the benefit of men.

In our culture, not one part of a woman’s body is left untouched, unaltered. No feature or extremity is spared the art, or pain, of improvement. Hair is dyed, lacquered, straightened, permanented; eyebrows are plucked, penciled, dyed; eyes are lined, mascaraed, shadowed; lashes are curled, or false-from head to toe, every feature of a woman’s face, every section of her body, is subject to modification, alteration. This alteration is an ongoing, repetitive process. It is vital to the economy, the major substance of male-female role differentiation, the most immediate physical and psychological reality of being a woman. (Woman Hating by Andrea Dworkin, 1974).

This belief is expressed in repeated explicit condemnations of women’s appearance, especially in modern western culture. Feminists condemn shaving, waxing, make-up, epilation, the Barbie look, breast implants, and labial reductions. They condemn many styles in clothes and appearance which they consider to be gendered, including traditional feminine styles, and hyper-femininity. Many feminists insist, without any ethical foundation, that women should be satisfied with their existing bodies, with their unmodified appearance. Again, the inevitable political demands are prohibitionist: a feminist government would ban all these things, probably starting with breast implants.

The centrality of gender in present-day feminism results in a preoccupation with gendered aspects of culture. In turn, that has led to a distorted emphasis on popular culture. Even if there is a patriarchy, Miley Cyrus cannot possibly be so important to it, as to warrant the attention she gets from feminists.

The response to feminism

The conclusion on feminism is that it is a values-oriented social movement. Although it claims to be contra-systemic (‘smash the patriarchy’), its de facto goal is that individuals should live by certain values. It seeks a value shift which is only minimally state-enforceable. The inevitable result is a reliance on prohibitionist political demands, which are inherently liable to fail.

There are some comparisons with the western temperance movements of the 19th and early 20th centuries (which had links with early feminist movements). The temperance advocates wanted men to stop drinking, but they would not, so the temperance movement asked the state to prohibit alcohol instead. Where the movement succeeded in that aim, the prohibition itself failed.

As a values-oriented social movement, the feminist movement is essentially a movement for feminists, for those who share their values. It is not a movement for women, unless they are feminists. The feminist movement is also inherently separatist, even when it is not explicitly so. Separatism is the inevitable logic of any movement, which commits itself to values rejected by the surrounding population.

The state must accept feminism for what it is, and feminist values for what they are. The logical response to feminism is a state-enforced expansion of segregation by gender. That policy must aim to provide a whole range of women-only facilities, but not compel their use. The state must facilitate the creation of women-only schools, universities, and hospitals. It must institute women-only police forces and courts. It must compel the entire retail sector to provide women-only shops and supermarkets. It must ensure gender-segregated public transport. The goal is to make a complete parallel society available to women, so that they do not have to interact with men. The choice to use that parallel society will be left to each individual woman: logically, all feminists will use it.

The ultimate response to feminism in Europe must be the creation of a separate women’s state, which can only be done at European level. ‘State’ means a real sovereign state, not a holiday resort or a gated community. To be effectively independent in present-day Europe, it would need several million inhabitants. Its ultimate size would be determined by the number of women who choose to migrate there.

A separate women’s state is the only possible form of ‘women’s liberation’ as defined by radical feminism. Surprisingly, that does not require that the women’s state adopt any form of feminism as state ideology: the absence of men is enough.

So now we come to what Andrea Dworkin wants and it is this: she wants women to have their own country. But that’s mad, I said to her. Why bother discussing it? It isn’t going to happen. To which she has a reply – didn’t they say that about Israel? And didn’t the world think that Theodor Herzl, the founder of the Zionist movement, was a crank? The Jews got a country because they had been persecuted, said that enough was enough, decided what they wanted and went out and fought for it. Women should do the same. And if you don’t want to live in Womenland, so what? Not all Jews live in Israel, but it is there, a place of potential refuge if persecution comes to call. (Take no prisoners, interview with Linda Grant, The Guardian, May 2000).

Andrea Dworkin was Jewish, and brought up in a Zionist household. Her separatist inspiration was technically nationalist, because Zionism is a nationalism. However, women are not a nation, and a women’s state would be a radical break with existing models of state formation. That’s why it probably needs to be done from above, in this case by the European Union. It also means, that at least one nation state will lose at least part of its ‘sacred national homeland’, and that will not be easy.

Nevertheless, separation is the moral and rational response, to those who seek a different society, based on different and incompatible values. There is no compromise with feminism, and feminists do not seek compromise. They seek freedom, and they can have it. All it takes is a decision to grant it.