Time for next generation feminism?

Today (Sunday 25 November) is International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women. This was learnt via twitter from Caroline Lucas. I would not otherwise have known. The 25th November was designated by the UN  General Assembly and the date came from the brutal assassination in 1960 of the three Mirabal sisters, political activists in the Dominican Republic, on orders of Dominican dictator Rafael Trujillo (Wikipedia).

I was struck by the ‘coincidence’ of this with another chock of tweets which floated in on my list of eco-socialist guardian-reading allotment-gardening tweets on my smart phone. Domestic violence accounts for 10% of emergency calls, data shows http://gu.com/p/3c46f/tf. Where does this all start? It’s not a subject we’ve touched on at the Friday Room.

You will probably have noticed that the Church of England has demonstrated that patriarchy is alive and kicking. But several other items of news which put “women in their place” may have passed you by. Whilst politicians of all persuasions were lamenting the conservativeness of the Anglican laity, the House of Lords were listening to Mike Buchanon, intrepid anti-feminist blogger . Buchanon submitted a statement on the Lords ‘Women on Boards’ inquiry – oral and written evidence (sic):

…studies reported as showing positive links between more women in the boardroom and enhanced corporate performance are confusing correlation with causation. He says he has challenged you and representatives of many other organisations to provide evidence of the alleged positive causal link between ‘improved’ gender balance in the boardroom, and enhanced corporate performance. No such evidence has ever been forthcoming, he says, and he knows of only two studies showing a causal link. Both show a negative causal link. In layman’s terms, increasing the number of women on boards has been found to damage corporate performance.

Why do they even let him in, let alone listen to him! Meanwhile Compass chair Neil Lawson writes no less worryingly on how “sexual consumerism is a conspiracy against young women” Lawson writing in the New  Statesman:

…over 100 years ago Rosa Luxemburg the Marxist revolutionary wrote brilliantly about the ever-expanding nature of capital in her theory of empire. Capitalism would expand to new territories where natural resources were abundant and regulations were non-existent so that places and people could be exploited to the full, and profit maximized.  She called them virgin lands. Luxemburg could only see the geographical expansion of capital.  What we are experiencing today is the emotional and cultural expansion of capital into every aspect of lives and our society. And yes into ‘virgin’ lands in a way that is stomach-churning. The new abundance is us, the people, or our children if necessary.  And there are still no regulations to stop it happening. Today in Britain some children go hungry while others have plastic surgery performed on their genitals. It’s a sick world.

Thoroughly depressed, I turn to my music collection. Several old vinyl albums need to be off-loaded during a domestic declutter. I don’t listen to them anymore, the Clash, Haircut 100 (!), Everything But the Girl. Another tweet popped up. I was startled to read this by Joe Rivers, also in New Statesman:

Singer-songwriter and former Everything But The Girl frontwoman, Tracey Thorn, was recently asked in an interview whether her “not being an extremely hot girl” has held her back in her career. Long-running international music monthly Rolling Stone has just announced the winner of a contest called “Women Who Rock”. American lifestyle magazine, Complex, last month ran a feature on the ten “hottest women” at a New York music festival, fitting in nicely with other articles they’ve published this year, including “Ten Sexy Indie Artists You Should Know” and “The 15 Hottest Frontwomen In Rock History”.

Has feminism failed? Time for next generation feminism? Read on in Soundings.

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7 Responses to Time for next generation feminism?

  1. Thanks for this. You make a good point. Why did House of Commons and House of Lords inquiries listen to our facts? On our blogs we have links to five longitudinal studies which show that when more women are put on boards, corporate financial performance declines. Not one longitudinal study in the world shows performance improves or even remains unchanged. Let’s not have parliamentary inquiries learn this stuff – let’s keep driving poorly-qalified women onto corporate boards, regardless of the damage it’s doing. That makes sense.

    Have a nice day.

    Mike Buchanan

    JUSTICE FOR MEN AND BOYS (and the women who love them)



  2. Philip, Just a bit of a niggle. You mention Mike Bucanan and say “Why do they even let him in, let alone listen to him!”, are you saying that he should be censored?
    There are some complex issues here which we could well discuss: Can and should negative discrimination be overcome by positive discrimination? and: The nature of the power that men have and seek over women and women over men and the injustice that is caused.
    People like Mike may have some very valid points, but these get submerged and tainted in a polarised, mocking, Ya-boo, style of argument. Not what we want to see in the Friday Room.

  3. John, thanks for this. We’re very familiar with feminists not engaging with our evidence base, and trying to censor us. The truth is they have no evidence bases that are even remotely comparable. They’re forced onto the back foot, and adopt desperate tactics – in the area of driving more women onto boards, this is usually by presenting correlation as evidence of causation.

    Here’s our briefing paper concerning the decline in corporate financial performance which results from driving more women on boards:


    We believe the phenomenon of corporate financial decline after appointing more female directors is mainly an inexperience effect. If you were to put more poorly-qualified men onto boards (but why would you?) you’d presumably find the same result.

    But why is the pool of well-qualified women so much shallower than the pool of well-qualified men? For that we turn to the renowned sociologist Catherine Hakim. In 2000, when she was a Senior Research Fellow at LSE, she published her ‘Prefernce Theory’. Her research showed that while one in seven British women are ‘work-centred’, four in British men are. And that differential isn’t changing over time, despite ever more women going into paid employment. The theory is summarised here:


    Dr Hakim and I appeared on the same panel a few months ago, giving evidence to a House of Commons inquiry. The video is below, along with one of an appearance on a recent ‘Daily Politics’ show:


    Best wishes,

    Mike Buchanan

  4. John, allow me, please, a bit of rhetorical flexibility. I’m aware how one could construe a lust for censure, but my style was more that of a lament on the state of affairs with regard to the position of women in society and perhaps our lack of action in the Friday Room in Loughborough. Of course Buchanan should not be censured, but I do wonder why he personally should gain an audience in the second chamber of the land.

    Secondary evidence he cites is a valid contribution to the debate; and there is a valid one to be had, about positive discrimination and the meritocratic principle (oh would that it be just merit that makes the grade). However there intuitively appears something more sinister going on when somebody heads up an organisation called the Anti-Feminist league and founds a new political party called ‘Justice for Men and Boys’. Without feminism, and indeed militant (define?) feminism which seems to so upset Buchanan there would in all likelihood be many more deaths at the hands of violent partners to add to the two a week currently occurring, never mind a lack of political franchise and representation for women. There is so much injustice afflicting all sexes and ages but here his priorities are simply wrong. Unless his aim is to roll back everything that has been gained, just as the neo-liberals are attempting with social justice. And what message is he sending to the men of Afghanistan or India?

    To be fair to him he acknowledges my piece “makes a good point”; but, by attacking feminism in his antagonistic way he give succour to those forces which are causing those social ills about which I write and quote. More valid would be if he stuck with the ‘campaign for merit in business’ – this we can understand and disagree, or agree, with in an objective rational way, by looking at evidence.

    To start this debate, for me the indicators used in these studies are those same ones for which western capitalism has striven towards for decades. These have singularly failed to predict an economic crash, have lead us to the precipice of a planetary environmental disaster, and delivered numerous social problems. Perhaps this is a debate for the Friday Room – Mr Buchanan you’re welcome to attend.

  5. The issue of positive discrimination is a diversion from the topic of the original post which was Violence against women.
    There can be a distressing degree of injustice and cruelty in sexual and family affairs, but the body-count is predominantly female, Philip is justified to be angry about this.
    There seem to be some very ugly stuff going on with teenagers and the internet. Should adults intervene more forcefully? Can they? Is this a Friday Room topic? Could some of our younger members contribute to the discussion?
    For what it is worth, I have come to the view that positive discrimination is not a good thing. Along with many other parts of the world, we are undergoing a Demographic Transition. This involves some deep cultural changes. Positive discrimination may produce results but is probably counter productive for changing attitudes.

    • Thanks John. Contrary to popular opinion – and the rhetoric of the domestic violence industry, which largely funds the scourge of militant feminism in the UK and many other countries – female-on-male DV is at least as common as male-on-female DV. This has been known for many years and has been described as one of the most robust findings in the social sciences. State support for male victims of DV is all but non-existent compared with support for female victims. Erin Pizzey has been pointing out for 40+ years that DV is not a gendered phenomenon. One of her recent articles:


  6. That domestic violence goes both ways is not in dispute. This post opened with the report that domestic violence accounts for 10% of emergency calls and I assume the majority are from women who fear serious injury or for their lives. This is a dreadful statistic. If there were a similar number of men facing a similar threat, it would not make it any better.
    Rather we should ask why these men are not calling for help. This takes us into deep waters of male pride, self image, and aspirations.
    For those of us that seek a better society, these are very important issues. Your anti-feminist conspiracy theory is a diversion from serious discussion.

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