In its earliest and most benign form —the political campaign to achieve equality under the law and equality in economic opportunities— feminism was a necessary and welcome reform movement. No rational person could be less than delighted to see barriers to a full range of educational and career options for women fall by the wayside.
The feminism I take exception to today is not the blameless right of a woman to self-actualize that all women absorb by osmosis from the cultural air we breathe, but the radical ideology that has come to dominate the movement’s academic and institutional elites over the last 40 years.
This is an ideology that sees the relations between the sexes as a never-ending antagonistic power struggle, with women as eternal victims and men as eternal oppressors. It is an ideology that explains away the moral failings of women as the fault of a patriarchal “system”, but holds men responsible for their actions. And most important, it is an ideology that shortchanges children by privileging the rights and importance to children of mothers over fathers.
That kind of feminism is so deeply entrenched in our society’s cultural elites and the institutions they dominate—really it is the defining ideology of our era - that whether she wants to or not, no thinking woman can escape the necessity of negotiating some kind of relationship with its claims.
Everything in my experience with men points to the conclusion that different cultural values around relations between the sexes produce different outcomes. Normal, psychologically healthy men,raised in a society respectful of women, as Canada’s heritage culture is, are governed in their relations with women by the instinct to protect them, not to hurt them.
I am instinctively wary of any group—whether a race, an ethnic group, a religion or a sex - that plays a dualistic hand, scapegoating an entire group to explain the unachieved goals of its own members. For a scapegoating ideology always ends in grievance-collecting and a conspiracy theory of history.
The time and place in which I grew up was friendly to intellectual diversity, and becoming very friendly to women. The time and place I inhabit today is unfriendly to intellectual diversity, not so friendly to heterosexual men, but extraordinarily friendly to women. These are some of the themes I have lived, and now they are the themes I write about.
Misandry, which is the female equivalent of misogyny (misanthropy is a hatred of humankind), is now entrenched in our public discourse, our education system and social services. I will give you a few examples, but for a full discussion of the phenomenon, fully referenced, you need only apply to two comprehensive books on the subject by Katherine Young and Paul Nathanson, Spreading Misandry and Legalizing Misandry.
Misandry flies beneath most people’s radar, because we have become compliant in the acceptance of theories that have nothing to do with reality, and compliant in the speech codes that accompany that tendency.
Denigration of men in ways both casual and formal are commonplace in society. Last Christmas I saw an advertisement for a butcher block knife holder in the shape of a man. The slot for the largest knife was placed in his groin. Hilarious? Imagine a knifeholder in the shape of a woman and a knife slot at the vagina. Hilarious? Not so much. Once you become aware of the phenomenon, you will see it everywhere, trust me.
But misandry can also be implicit in what is not demonstrated in words or images. In March 2005, to give you a fleeting and seemingly trivial, but actually quite telling example, then PM-Paul Martin eulogized four RCMP officers who had been slain in the course of duty. He said, “No matter the era, it seems that children always want to grow up to be police officers…It reflects a young heart’s yearning to keep people safe and families whole.”
This is of course nonsense. I wrote in a subsequent column: “If he had chosen his words for truth rather than gender-equity piety, Mr. Martin would have said, "No matter the era, it seems that boys always want to grow up to be police officers".
Little girls dream of many careers today, particularly the physically safe and prestigious fields of medicine and law and academia, but rarely of policing, or of any of the other “death professions” like SWAT teams, fire fighting, military combat and construction. To "keep people safe and families whole" is a boy's life-risking ambition, and the tragic deaths of these four men cried out for acknowledgement of that noble male aspiration. But,to accommodate a politically correct falsehood, the PM simply airbrushed them out of their own narrative.
In fact there is only one day a year when men’s heroism, gallantry and protective instincts are actively acknowledged and that is Remembrance Day. Even then the ceremony’s wording is now gender-neutral, as if women and men made equal sacrifices on the battlefields of World War I and II, when in fact our female deaths in war under combat circumstances run in the single digits.
For overt misandry, one has only to survey the industry around domestic violence. You could be forgiven for thinking that domestic violence is a one-way street, for that is certainly the impression one has from the fact that there are innumerable tax-funded shelters for abused women, none for abused men, unlimited funds for campaigns to raise consciousness around abused women, none for abused men. There is not a single social services agency or charity in Canada advertising “family services” that offers counseling, shelter or legal services for men who have been physically abused by women.
And yet, as peer-reviewed community studies and Stats Canada attest, although under-reported, unprovoked violence by women against their domestic partners is equal to that of men in frequency and spontaneity, and almost equal in severity. Spousal homicides of either sex are so rare as to be statistically insignificant.
The tendency to violence in intimate relationships is bilateral and rooted in individual dysfunction. Men and women with personality disorders and/or family histories of violence are equally likely to be violent themselves, or seek violent partners.
But the academics who bring us these inconvenient truths are shunned. UBC psychology professor Don Dutton has written the definitive book on Intimate Partner Violence, Rethinking Domestic Violence, but after 25 years of impeccable scholarship, has yet to be invited to consult with any government agency or institution because influential feminist elites don’t like his message.
When angry feminists adduce their mantra that only men are inherently violent and that women use violence only in self-defence, I bring up a theme that is forbidden to discussion in women’s shelters: how is it then that partner violence amongst lesbians is significantly higher than amongst heterosexual partnerships?
How is it that children are far, far more likely to be physically abused by their mothers than their fathers? And when they are, how can we justify a woman’s right to take her children to a shelter to escape a violent husband when there is no shelter in the country that will accept a father with children fleeing an abusive mother?
I interviewed one woman with a degree in psychology who volunteered to help at a woman’s shelter. When she raised these very questions in her training program, she was told, “You are too educated to work here,” and she was thrown out of the program.
And thus, through institutionalized misandry and suppression of dissent,these questions are never addressed objectively or for that matter even raised in the media, and the truth remains hidden under a suffocating blanket of feminist correctness.
On the domestic violence front, nothing has provoked me to greater indignation than the exploitation by feminists of the 1989 Montreal Massacre of 14 women at the Polytechnic by sociopath Marc Lepine. In 2006 I wrote:
“In the massacre's wake, ideologues elevated Lepine's rampage from a random act by one disaffected individual into the gender equivalent of Kristallnacht or 9/11. A narrative evolved in which every woman became a potential victim of an organized, hate-driven enemy -- like the Nazis or al-Qaeda -- with the massacre as an ominous harbinger of more aggression to come.”
Both male and female feminists colluded in promoting the myth of lone killer Lepine as the symbol of all males' innate hostility to women, however dormant it might be. Amongst other unjust and gender-divisive consequences of the massacre, the "White Ribbon" educational movement, initiated in 1991 as a direct response to it, and now integrated into more than 100 schools across Canada, sponsors a biased, error-riddled curriculum on domestic violence (read "violence against women by men").
A freak tragedy has thus become the misandric lens through which many Canadian children are taught to perceive gender relations. But the complete reverse is the real truth. Officially and unofficially, virtually to a man and woman, Canadians schooled in our heritage culture utterly repudiate violence against women.
Ironically, the Montreal Massacre commemoration industry, whose emotive effect depends on scapegoating men, is having the opposite effect: For the sins of a few, the nature of half our polity is often falsely maligned, breeding suspicion and hostility in women, needless shame and guilt in all men, and mutual resentment and mistrust between the sexes.
This absurdity symbolizes the fecklessness of the entire enterprise. In 2000 the national spousal homicide total was 67! In a country of 34 million people, this figure is completely nugatory. Anti-male feminist bias is uncredentialed, guilty of selection bias, ideologically driven, patently skewed, and utterly unreliable.
And this mindset creates other prejudices. In June 2006 I wrote about the imbalance, in women’s favour, in the family law system: 90% of contested custody suits end in sole custody awarded to the mother. Such a skewed percentage is unthinkable in any other branch of law.
The family law system is now systemically colonized by radical feminists. Their goal is the incremental legal eclipse of men's influence over women's spheres of "identity" interests, which includes children. To that end the custody issue has become a front line in the gender wars, supported by all feminist academics and institutional elites, by supine cabinet ministers and by feminist judges.
To illustrate with just a few examples:
Supreme Court of Canada chief justice Beverley McLachlin: "We have to be pro-active in rearranging the Canadian family"
Former justice minister Martin Cauchon: "Men have no rights, only responsibilities"
Feminist psychologist Peter Jaffe, a social-context educator of family court judges: “[J]oint custody is an attempt of males to continue dominance over females"
And most egregiously this from the National Association of Women and the Law: "Courts may treat parents unequally and deny them basic civil liberties and rights, as long as their motives are good”.(reread)
Here we are truly in George Orwell country. In simple words this statement means “The end justifies the means” and there is not a totalitarian regime in the world that does not espouse that exact excuse for their denial of rights to their citizens. In our courts the “good” that motivates them is supposedly the child’s “best interests” but in fact it is virtually always the mother’s happiness. This is not justice.
Eminent lawyer and civil libertarian Eddie Greenspan notes: "Feminists have entrenched their ideology in the SCC and have put all contrary views beyond the pale;” Liberal MP Roger Galloway, who chaired the 1998 Report of the Special Joint Committee on Child Custody and Access, has commented that "Justice, if it occurs in a divorce court, is accidental."
Misandry in family law arises from an ideology that views children as the property of women, even though many peer-reviewed studies show children want and need both parents, and no studies show sole parenting by a mother serves children's best interests. This ideology is instilled in judges during training sessions featuring feminism-driven materials, and subsequently often plays out as unaccountable kangaroo courts.
The result is that an adversarial mother who initiates a divorce against the will of the father—however indifferent her parenting skills, however superb his—and even if the children spend their days with nannies or day care workers --pretty well has a lock on sole custody of the children.
If she makes a false allegation of abuse in order to have him barred from the house—this happens regularly; any unsubstantiated claim of abuse or even voicing her fear of abuse by a woman will be acted upon instantly by the police and the courts with no recourse for the man – or denies rightful access to the father, she will never be punished at all.
Conversely, if he withholds support money, even if he has lost his job and has no other means of paying, he will be criminalized: His picture as a "deadbeat dad" may appear on government-sanctioned Internet sites, and if he goes to jail, as is likely, he will serve a longer sentence than cocaine dealers.
But ideologues don’t care about realities, and they don’t pay attention to the United Nations Conventions on the Rights of Children, which states that every child has the right to know and love his biological father and mother. Ideologues care about theory, and according to the one they favour, women don’t need men, and children don’t need fathers.
There is a Yiddish expression my mother used to invoke with a philosophical sigh, “The reideledrehtsich”—the wheel turns. A hundred years ago, it was homosexual love that dared not speak its name. Today homosexual love roars, and it is manliness that whispers in the shadows.
Goethe said: “All theory is grey, but green springs the golden tree of life.” The time for zero-sum theories —if your sex wins, mine loses—is past. Men’s voices needn’t be silenced for women’s to be heard. We need more conversation, less monologue.