Something has happened to feminism in the wake of the Weinstein case, and in with the co-incidental growing obsession of political correctness. Before I continue, let me clear up any confusion by saying that my personal opinion is that Harvey Weinstein is every sort of misogynist, sleazy creep and worse. Sadly, I do believe his sort of behavior was prevalent in the film industry and in many other businesses as well. If the accusations of rape against him are upheld, he should go to jail for an extremely long time.
But while most of us expect them to be upheld, it is still an opinion. As yet, we have not heard it called in a court of law, where one is innocent before proven guilty. And elsewhere, we hear countless reports of instances where accusations alone are enough to bring men’s careers to an end. Small wonder Margaret Atwood liken this to the Salem witch trials. We have to tread carefully and ensure that feminism is never brought about at the expense of the free world’s rights to a fair trial.
The campaign for a gender neutral world is part of the rapidly changing world. For many older feminists, is a far cry from the original feminist concept, one where women did not aim to be the same as men, but did want equal opportunities and equal pay – and an end to being controlled, assaulted and raped.
Those original concepts of equality are now sometimes overshadowed in the obsession with political correctness. America’s universities and colleges yet again made headlines with in February. Purdue University, in Indiana, have an on line writing lab which produces a guide to update our vocabulary. The Washington Examiner described this as an authoritative and non-politicized source of information for writing.
The Purdue group behind the report say that all words which include syllables such as man or men, must be changed as they are found to “offend” what they admit is a “small” group of people. They argue that only by writing in a non-sexist way, can writing be ethically sound and effective. Poor old Dickens, Austin, Tolstoy who apparently failed to write to any effect at all.
According to Purdue, we can no longer mend our clothes, or talk to our mentors. Whatever we write, it can no longer be a manuscript, nor can we manufacture in Manchester. All these cause this group to be “offended” and need to be stopped. Words must be replaced, cities renamed.
Sadly, these minority voices of this ultra PC world often result in the core feminist aims being bundled in and duly ridiculed. And indeed, it was impossible not to laugh when a representative of Pardue was interviewed on the US Tucker Carlson Tonight show, about the issues with banning the syllable “man”. When asked what would happen to Goldman Sachs, this Person from Pardue’s response was that people should stop shopping there. Laughable indeed. But also frightening, because this is someone who has potential to influence how we all write and speak. And in the process, influences some people’s perception of feminism. That can do us no good at all
And however laughable this might be, the idea that a tiny group of people should now have power over the rest of us is to me terrifying. Their demands to change our language or the names of our cities, all counteract the basic rights in a free world, which I have always believed to include the right to freedom of speech. I respect their right not to use these words. But I do not believe the minority should dictate how the majority behave.
Perhaps what I find saddest of all is that these movements are now being heard louder, attracting more media attention, than the real issues that very much still exist. And many of the campaigns such as Pardue attract huge ridicule at the “snowflake” generation. All feminist campaigns are too often included in these in people’s minds.
As International Women’s Day approaches, I would instead like to give a very real shout for causes that the original Suffragettes, or indeed the feminists of the 60’s and 70s who fought so very hard for women’s rights, would actually still recognize.
We are still not even close to gender parity at senior levels. Some areas in particularly, including manufacturing, equity finance, and technology are especially poorly represented still. Equally, we see very small amounts of venture capital, or angel investment, still finding its way into female hands. You only have to look around the House of Commons or Lords to see that we are way off being equally represented in the corridors of power.
Women are still being controlled by violence and abuse in the home and funding is being cut towards women’s refuges, resulting in the loss of many vital beds and forcing vulnerable women back into the hands of their abusers. Because rape and assault are crimes of horror. We need to ensure everyone who has suffered such atrocities are protected and enabled, not just those with access to the media.
These are just some of the issues women should be marching for still.