Misogyny doesn't surprise me much anymore. Sadden and enrage, absolutely. But surprise? Not so much. Sadly, it's far too common. All you have to do is wake up in the morning and you'll find it. So when I read this recent opinion piece from the Sunday Telegraph, I laughed so hard with a kind of demented hysteria that I had to retrieve my eyebrows from up on the equator.
I can't help but wonder if this journalist was writing about an alternate reality. Or, perhaps she was making some kind of satirical, utopian aspiration.
Miranda Devine writes: "The hostility was symptomatic of a female entitlement mentality (FEM), which means always getting what you want, when you want it, even in defiance of reality and other people's wishes.I have highlighted those last few words, because I think they are particularly poignant in their inaccuracy, to say the least.
Increasingly in our narcissistic age we see this deluded self-belief and inflated sense of importance, from baby boomers to 13-year-old princesses.
FEM is the end product of a culture that places self-esteem and empowerment above fairness and common sense."
I'd love to live in a culture that placed the importance of self-esteem and empowerment so highly!
I could talk about the oppression, rape, assault, degradation, objectification and slaughter of women all over the world, happening right now as you read these words. I could talk about honour killings, about death by stoning, about female genital mutilation and infanticide of female babies.
I could mention the fact that, not even 100 years ago, women did not even have the right to vote, let alone sit for parliament.
I could say that our Prime Minister, Julia Gillard - the first women in the job after 27 male Prime Ministers – along with her roles of governing a country, must also face criticism about her clothing, her marital status, and the fact that she is childless, as though those things are relevant to women in power, but not men.
I could tell you that of the top 20 richest people in the world, only 3 of them are women.
That of the 20 most powerful people in the world, only 2 of them are women.
But let's consider some far more insidious examples of a worldwide lack of female power:
- When we marry, it is assumed that the woman will automatically take the man's name. This is a continuation of the practice of a girl child 'belonging' to her father, until she is married into her husbands home and thusly 'belongs' to him.
- Children are assumed to have their father's surname, regardless of the fact that their mother carried them in her womb, gestated and birthed them, and provides the majority of the biological nurturing.
- An uninhibited, sexually confident man is labelled a stud. An uninhibited, sexually confident women is labelled a slut.
- Outspoken men are generally successful in business, academia or government. Outspoken women are labelled as man-haters, assumed to be lesbians (as though that's an insult), or both.
- It is expected that women will shave/wax/pluck/dye all the hair on their bodies. That women will alter their appearance, skin colour, body shape and size, clothing, and even their smell in order to appear 'appealing'. Those who choose not to apply this cultural assumption are labelled man-haters, assumed to be lesbians, or both.
- Men embracing their bodily strength and power partake in sports of national following such as football, cricket and motorsports. The TV is covered with it, advertisers fight each other for naming rights, sponsors dish out millions of dollars to place their logos on the collars and helmets and t-shirts of these men. However, a woman embracing her bodily strength and power is labelled a man-hater, assumed to be a lesbian, or both.
- Advertisements for household cleaning products always feature tired, frumpy housewives who become suddenly orgasmic and completely fulfilled when their toilet is shinier.
- Being a mother is considered lowly, whereas paid career work is valuable.
- A woman who responds to her baby's needs for her is labelled 'weak', warned that she is neglecting her marriage or husband, and encouraged to ignore her instincts.
- Breastfeeding is viewed by many as offensive, obscene and something to be censored. Yet somehow, a model wearing a napkin is perfectly acceptable – even mundane.
- Women in the bible are categorised according to their sexual status: virgins or adulterous, sinning whores.
- Santa Clause has a first name: Santa. What is Mrs Clause's first name?
Miranda Devine writes: "Take the case of the woman suing Geelong Grammar because she did not get a high enough mark to get into the course of her choice. Most people might accept the disappointment as bad luck, a sign of their own limitations or a spur to work harder. But not Rose Ashton-Weir, 18. She felt entitled to a place at the University of Sydney law school."What has the fact that the student is a woman got to do with this story? If she were a man would she be publicly vilified by ignorant journalists as being "entitled"? I would like to suggest that, if she were a man, Rose Ashton-Weir would likely be heralded as a genius – what better way to attract the attention of a prospective law school than to sue your previous school!
Miranda Devine writes: "Or the case of the Australian woman who divorced her Italian husband and took their four Italian-born daughters back to Australia, where she now wants to live.Recently, a very close friend of mine fled her abusive marriage, taking her two very young children interstate with her to find solace with her family. Almost instantly, she was served with court action to retrieve the children - and force her to return to her husband – due to his claims that "he loved them." Almost $50,000 in court fees that she was forced to pay later, my friend, struggling on a single-parenting payment, is still unable parent her children free of fear of control, threats of court action and manipulation, bullying and lies from her ex-husband. All because he believes he is "entitled" to his children. Everywhere in the world – yes, even in Australia – there are women living in situations of horrendous, covert domestic violence. Too scared to speak out for fear of condemnation, disbelief and public scrutiny. I can only imagine the story of this Australian woman who fled Italy with her children.
She defied a Family Court order that the girls ... should return to Italy ...
The father says he loves his daughters and wants them home and the full bench of the court agrees. But the mother wants what she wants, so she's sent the children into hiding."
She writes: "Then there are those women who insist on having home births, even in high-risk pregnancies, ignoring medical advice that the baby could die."Ahh, that old chestnut! Approximately 300,000 babies are born in Australia each year. Of those, less than 1% are born at home. Right now in Australia, it is becoming increasingly difficult for a woman to exercise her basic human right to chose her caregiver and place of birth. A woman who choses to birth at home does so against immense cultural fear and pressure, ignorance, public shame and insult. She does so because it is the right choice for her.
If women are so arrogant and egotistical, waltzing around under their over-inflated heads, why are 1 in 7 women suffering postnatal depression? If women are choosing empowerment and self-esteem over common sense, why are 1 in 3 women experiencing birth trauma, with almost 1 in 20 women suffering post-traumatic stress disorder from their child's birth?
This study on the prevalence of post-childbirth PTSD shows:
"among the identified risk factors were a history of psychological problems, trait anxiety, obstetric procedures, negative aspects in staff–mother contact, feelings of loss of control over the situation, and lack of partner support.I'm not seeing the narcissism or entitlement there, are you?
All participants stated that during their labour they had experienced intense feelings of not being in control. The belief that the baby would be harmed, pain and ineffective pain relief, previous traumatic experiences, unsupportive staff and expectations towards childbirth that were not met were factors that were supposed to have contributed to feelings of lack of control."
Miranda Devine ends with: "Veteran match-maker Yvonne Allen, after connecting professional singles for 37 years, is at her wits' end finding partners for women with inflated self-esteem."I'm so concerned about what I see happening with relationships, men are feeling deballed," she said.In other words: Women should not consider themselves worthy of a telephone call – actually women shouldn't consider themselves worthy at all - because a woman who considers herself worthy is castrating men all over the country. Poor blokes!
One typical client, a businesswoman in her late 30s, complained about three men the agency had introduced her to.
"They weren't suitable in her mind because none of them called her back. It was our fault," she said."
Every single day, women are blasted with how they should look, act, dress, eat, exercise, work, bathe, clean, keep-house, cook... the list goes on. No matter what we do, we face criticism.
For thousands of years, women have been oppressed simply because we are born with a vagina. And it's still happening - right now. All over the world.
So even if it was happening – which it isn't – what would be so wrong with women embracing themselves for a change?
Imagine if we were brought up to be confident and comfortable within our female bodies. Imagine if the products of self-hatred such as eating disorders like bulimia or anorexia didn't exist. Imagine if women weren't killing themselves just for being women.
Imagine if a good female self-esteem and empowerment was valued and encouraged.
"Female Entitlement Mentality" in a patriarchy? We should be so lucky!