“Royalism” as an Allegory for Feminism
Royalist Liz is allegorical rather than perfectly analagous. Once you include politics in the mix (or indeed wealth) the Royals versus Commoners becomes a false equivalence, but the allegory still holds, so now might be a good time to talk about why I chose “royalty as oppressed demographic” as my allegorical version of “women as oppressed demographic”. Partly it was to do with the implicit snobbery of making “peasants” your oppressor class. The idea that men were less dignified, dirtier and more beastly than women means that feminist rhetoric can sometimes come across as pure snobbery. It is also a perception of men, as compared with women, that pre-dated feminism. It was rooted in the cult of the Virgin Mary. We can see it in the rhyme about “what little boys are made of”. So if we look at how the disadvantages of gender work they tie in pretty closely to the disadvantages of royalty versus peasantry.
Women traditionally experienced disadvantages (or societal discomforts or disempowerments) either as a result of or in order to achieve their condition of being over-protected, over-visible, over-noticed; they have a high status innately but by the same token they do not acwure status from achieving; they are seen as more civilized, gentler and of purer intent (until they fall from their pedestals – the higher the pedestal the deeper the gutter). Men on the other hand, traditionally are judged by achievement but by that token they are more prone to failure. They are under-protected, under-visible and are more prone to neglect – both self-neglect and the neglect of others.
One of the recurrent false equivalences that feminism has used to present their oppression narrative is to draw a parallel between the disadvantages faced by women to the disadvantages faced by blacks, hence the notion of white male privilege, but this equivalence doesn’t stand up to analysis. A demonstration I discovered quite early on in deconstructing this notion was to ask my opponent in debate to do a thought experiment. They are told to imagine they have three cards – one which says white male, one white female and one black male and to rank them in order depending on a series of scenarioes – most likely to be used as cannon fodder in wartime, most likely to wind up homeless, likelihood to be stopped and searched, likelihood to be a victim of violent crime, life expectancy, length of prison sentence for the same crime et cetera et cetera. In all these examples the black male winds up worst of all, but the next, of the three, will be the white male. This I would say, demonstrates that there certainly is white privilege, but it is totally unlike male privilege. If white privilege is like anything it is like female privilege.
However, I acknowledged that there may well be disadvantages associated with being female, but what would they be? Lack of independence might be one. Tighter curfews could be another. Feminists perceive “cat calling” to be a sign of oppression – men experiencing the same hardly bat an eyelid or even like it. Why the difference? Because to a man it is a novelty. We’re used to not being noticed, not being acknowledged – being ignored. When somebody notices me enough to remark that I’m looking good it’s such a novelty it makes my day – it’s never been a regular enough occurrence to become tedious. In more traditional cultures female disadvantages might include things like not being able to drive or not being permitted to go out without an escort. What it boiled down to was that male disadvantages were to do with disposibility, invisibility and demonisation and female disadvantages to do with preciousness, visibility and pedastalisation.
Black males were clearly treated as more disposable, more invisible and more demonised than white males, so black disadvantage was like male disadvantage squared. “What section of society could be said to have female disadvantage squared?” I wondered, and then whilst I was reading a post by some tumblir feminist it hit me: Royalty.
The post said something like “I know I’m living in a patriarchy when I see men walking home alone and know I could never do that” – well of course she could, I thought, and in fact statistically if she did she’d be less likely to experience violence as a result, but people might be more appalled that she took the risk. People might be less inclined to let her take that risk. In much the same way as we wouldn’t let royalty go out in public without a bodyguard, not because they would be more in danger but because they are too precious to risk.
Royalty in comparisson to commoners suffer from a greater level of being over-protected, over-visible and over-pedestalised in the same way as women do compared to men. (Celebrities versus non-entities could have worked as well, but royals seemed to have more comic potential). That made the concept of Royalism – an equality movement with the intention of making royals equal with peasants the perfect parody of feminism. Of course equality between royalty and ordinary people could benefit both parties, but if royalty was to frame their striving for equality in terms of an oppression narrative it could only make things worse for the ordinary people,.
If we look at some of the double-standards that women legitimately complain of we can still see that the royalty/commoner dichotomy often fits perculiarly well – “why is it” a young feminist may complain, “that if I sleep with a man I’m considered a whore but if a man sleeps with me he’s a hero?” but let’s put this through the lens of royalty and commoners. Royalty did (and do) sleep with commoners all the time, and have a long history of it. Kings with numerous mistresses, Princesses with gangsters or rugby players, Charles II and Nell Gwyn, Edward and Mrs Simpson. Especially since it’s known that royals marry for politics rather than love it’s expected that they will have affairs. However, in each of these arrangements who is a scandal and who is revered? Well obviously the royal is scandalised for stooping to the commoner, the commoner on the other hand has the achievement of having had a royal. Nell Gwyn does not gain a worse reputation for being the king’s mistress – she gains status by the affair. The king on the other hand “should have been more discrete”. The Royal/Commoner model holds in this particular inequality.
In cultures in which women are far more restricted than we’d be comfortable with women are not permitted to drive, but a recent controversy regarding such restrictions being enforced at a London Jewish Orthodox school proved rather revealing in that support for the discrimination came from the women in the community. A spokeswomen for their women’s organization said they felt “extremely privileged and valued to be part of a community where the highest standards of refinement, morality and dignity are respected”.
“We believe that driving a vehicle is a high pressured activity where our values may be compromised by exposure to selfishness, road-rage, bad language and other inappropriate behaviour.”
That’s a terrible cost that your dignity and refinement should be of so high a value to you that you would willingly sacrifice your independence for it, but similarly the Queen will only drive on private property and is chauffeured in public.
Suitably it ties in nicely with the girls having princesses as role models, boys having heroes as role models. And that’s why as I said with the first strip; I don’t think Liz is entirely wrong; only her entire approach and conceptualization of the problem is wrong.
To see how gender inequalities actually work, look at The Good Life (I believe known as The Good Neighbours in the States). The egalitarian relationship is the Goods, Tom and Barbara; the inegalitarian/traditionalist relationship is the Leadbetters. In the chauvinistic relationship Margo it could be said that Margo is the more regal whereas Jerry is the more serf-like.
Another analogy to traditonalism that holds pretty well is the woman as child, man as parent analogy that is made very well by the Equality Agnostic site.
So where am I going with this? Personally I am all for gender equality. Clearly Tom and Barbara are a happier couple than Margo and Jerry. The problem with feminism is it concentrates on the disadvantages experienced by the more regal half whilst blaming and demonizing the more serf-like half. How could that come across as anything other than snobbery and hatred?
In this instalment
When I started writing “PM Tea” Britain was on a verge of an election and it seemed topical. The new PM in this strip is called simply “Jim Politician”. He bears a visual resemblance to both Miliband and Blair and he is supposed to be a Labour politician. This is quite fitting given the extent to which the British left were co-opted by the feminist movement to a greater extent than the British right, despite, or perhaps in part because of, the fact that initially women were more likely to vote Conservative (partly because they were less likely to be union members and partly because Conservative men wore nicer suits and had neater haircuts). Chiefly, of course, the reason I have a socialist prime minister as my foil to the Queen is a left wing politician is more likely to have aspirations to disband the monarchy. Many rank and file members of the Labour Party would like to see the monarchy disbanded, but the further up the party you go the less likely you are to find the view replicated. It just isn’t a politically expedient view to have because the average Joe Public are generally view the monarchy as a national asset. This is almost a mirror image of the Conservatives views on the NHS; backbenchers and party members in the Conservative party would probably like to be rid of the NHS, but the nearer to the top they are the least likely they are to express it because to Joe Public the NHS is a national treasure and something to be proud of.
So the idea here is that a new PM with secret anti-monarchist views, that he’s probably been secretive about for reasons of political expediency, is faced with a monarch who at first sight appears to hold exactly the same views, and he thinks this is marvellous and is certainly something they can work together on.
However, over the course of their meeting (this and the next two strips) he learns that she is only interested in being freed from the obligations of royalty and gaining the freedoms, rights, power and privileges of being a commoner, but is not interested in giving up any of her own rights, power and privilege nor in freeing peasants from their obligations. That is why I say this sequence is more allegorical than analagous.
Here’s another reason why the left were more easily suckered by the feminists than the right were: the feminists used the rhetoric of equality and came to the left with an oppression narrative. The left is naturally the champion of the underdog. You could almost say that the left is the party for losers and the right is the party for winners. The fact that “loser” is fashionably a perjorative term is indicative that we are in a right-leaning society. Broadly speaking, the right believe society is fine as it is and for the most part people get what they deserve; the winners are winners because they earned it; the losers are losers because they lost fair and square. “Consevative” is hence an appropriate name for the right. The left believe the game is rigged; the winners are winners because they were unfairly advantaged; the losers and losers because they were unfairly disadvantaged. Neither of these views are entirely true, of course. If there was no sense that the degree to which you fare well was based on what you do you would not endeavour – that is the problem with a totally leftist view. If, on the other hand, there was no help available for the disadvantaged then they might as well give up and crash and burn. That is the problem with a totally rightist point of view.
A Temprorary Fugue in my Flow of Consciousness – Where are MRAs on the Political Spectrum?
The MRM has no natural political home. When Angry Aussie dismisses the MRAs as a bunch of losers he is not off-track; in some sense the MRM is full of people who have to some degree or other lost out in some way. The fact that he uses the term as a scathing attack says more about him than the people he’s attacking. No progressive would, or should, be using “loser” as a perjorative term.
There are a number who think the natural place for the MRM is on the right, citing that the welfare system itself is gynocentric; men pay the majoirty of taxes whilst women receive the majority of welfare. The former bit is absurd. It relies on the same fallacy as the gender wage gap. if the gender wage gap is caused by women choosing to be reliant on their husbands for support then the money being taxed is coming from the husbands who they rely on for support, in which case they get less support – we are all being taxed equally.
If the welfare system and child maintenance system are rigged in such a way that a woman is actually financially better off divorced than with her husband that is clearly a problem with the welfare system, that is not pro-families. Just as with the last blog, identifying a double standard is not the same as identifying what the universal standard should be. There is a welfare spending gap, but does it represent too much money spent on women or not enough money spent on men? I’ve seen posts about housing the homeless, which is definitely a men’s issue problem, devolve into bickering in the comments because spending money on the homeless offends the libertarian views of the new right. We can leave our politics at the door when we talk about problems but as soon as we suggest solutions our party colours show and we become divided.
So the left is unappetizing to the MRM because, to the left, men are the oppressor class but at the same time the MRM is an advocacy movement pushing for change to help people who are suffering under the present system, and changing things and caring about people who are losing out is not what the political right do. Hence politically we are nomads under the current system. We have no natural home.
What we need is governments who do not care more about mothers than they do about fathers, and do not care more about women than they do about men. But there will not be political parties that represent those views until there is an electorate that cares for fathers as much as for mothers, and cares about men as much as for women. A political party to whom men’s issues are worthy of consideration does not exist yet because an electorate that thinks that men’s issues are worthy of consideration either doesn’t exist yet or is not visible or audible yet.
Why Identity Politics Does The Left No Favours
So back to where I was before the fugue: it was easy for the left to get more suckered in by feminism because they favour the underdogs – those who lose out in society, because the rhetoric of “equality” was their own and because feminism came with an oppression narrative, but I will argue that this was a co-opting of the left and contrary to their roots. The left’s original goal was to deal with economic disadvantages and disadvantages associated with class. By allowing feminism to control their narrative, and indeed by letting all subsidary identity political movements to control their narrative they allowed themselves to be embourgoised. If the glass ceiling is higher on your list of priorities than the glass cellar you are catering to the most privileged in society – I am not referring to women, I am referring to high earners. No low earner, male or female is advantaged or disadvantaged by the glass ceiling; low earners of both genders are equally disadvantaged by the poverty gap, minimum wage and the right to be a member of a trade union. If it is of a higher concern for women to be equally represented in parliament than it is for people of working class backgrounds to be equally represented in parliament this means that working class people of both genders are disenfranchised whilst we argue over whether Mr Luxury-Yacht or Mrs Luxury-Yacht should be in charge of deciding what is to be done about the NHS or the education system. Old guard socialists have always been against racism not because it is about whites having power over blacks but because it is divisive between working class people of all colours that should share common goals.
As left-wing economics fell out of vogue with the rise of Reaganomics and Thatcherism, identity politics became the way the left could distinguish themselves as the champions of the underdog whilst ignoring the problems of poverty which in urban areas is largley people of colour, but in more provincial areas is people who are not identified by any other demographic than their weekly wage. Identity politics is a distraction from the left doing what they should be doing, and it is no wonder that seemingly right wing parties like UKIP are picking up disenfranchised Labour voters who feel the left no longer represent working class issues, but merely socially conscious hipster issues. UKIP is a tiny monster bred by the Blairite sleep of reason. To more conservative MRAs alienated by my blatant display of leftist political colours, let’s be frank – on men’s issues neither of our houses are in order. We Brocialists (as the feminists have taken to calling the left-wing MRAs) will work on putting our house in order, and you Chapitalists (which would be the suitable corollary to Brocialist I’d have thought) can work on putting yours in order. The difference between us is not on our identification of problems but our interpretation of what is to be done.
Well that was a big tangent, but finally “Ethics”!
All of which has very little to do with this strip. The PM here needn’t be a politician at all; as a “peasant” who equally wants equality with “royals” he represents perhaps the disillusionment with feminism experienced by any male who takes their claim of wanting equality at face value and finds their oppression narrative leaves them beyond reasoning with. There is of course an alternative egalitarian way of looking at equality of the sexes and it was expressed by both Warren Farrell and Karen De Crow – that all inequalities are double sided – what may prove an advantage in one sphere proves a disadvantage in another. To gain advantage in one sphere you have to give up a certain amount of advantage in the other. For one party to want to increase their power in the sense in which they are disadvantaged but not being willing to give up power in senses which they are advantaged is not a move for equality but a move for supremacy. Some second-wave feminists understood this. When in the Seventies a judge moved for a lenient sentence for a woman who commited murder whilst suffering PMT feminists quite rightly identified the judgement as chauvinistic. How could women be taken seriously as doctors, lawyers or politicians if some judge is prepared to rule that women are not responsible for their actions every fourth week of the year? By the Eighties feminists were agitating for exactly that sort of leniency. This move to begin advocating for male chauvinism rather than against it was the inevitable upshot of a feminist system of ethics as expressed by Alison Jaggar, “Women should not focus on making the world a better place for everyone in general; rather, their primary aim should be to make the world a better place for women in particular” (not a direct quote from Jaggar but a quote from this article on feminist ethics). Since the “benevolent sexisms” (as feminists call them – we could equally call them anti-male sexisms) of chauvinism do, on the face of it at least, make the world a better place for women it is no wonder that by the third wave, with “making the world a better place for women” as their only goal, feminists would begin demanding the traditionalist advantages of chauvinism back again. The very notion that feminists should need their own system of ethics is disquieting in itself. It’s also a far cry from Mary Wollstencraft who felt that women should be held to the same ethical standards as men. If being viewed as helpless and less culpable makes “the world a better place for women” then why strive for an equality that will force women to adhere to the same moral responsibilities as men? A genuine equality movement would not place making the world a better place for one gender above making the world a better place for the other. A grievance movement with an oppression narrative would, because that oppression narrative would make them assume that the “oppressor” in their narrative was already living in the best of all possible worlds. I think Wollstencraft, who sought to treat her fellow women as “rational creatures” would be ashamed of the movement that claims her as a pioneer and yet asks for particular protections, rejects the scientific method as being “phallocentric” and forms it’s own system of ethics where all human beings are not treated with equal consideration.