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The policing of women’s bodies

Written By: - Date published: 10:00 am, June 6th, 2013 - 116 comments
Categories: act, activism, capitalism, child abuse, class war, democratic participation, education, feminism, greens, internet, john banks, Metiria Turei, spin, the praiseworthy and the pitiful, workers' rights - Tags: , ,

John Key’s government hasn’t been kind to large numbers of women, especially those on benefits, and those working in relatively powerless  low paid jobs. For them the top jobs mostly go to men, with women largely fronting on lower status and less powerful portfolios/positions.  Jan Logie’s speech yesterday in response to the government’s budget, laid out many of the inequalities gender inequalities that the government has failed to address, include the gender pay gap and paid parental leave. A couple of days ago in the NZ House, members of the “old boys’ club” provide a demonstration of one of the ways threats to masculine crony capitalist are countered by policing of women’s bodies. Given similar situations in many countries, it’s not surprising that feminism seems to be on the rise internationally.

In the final reading of the Charter School’s legislation this week, Metiria Turei drew parallel’s between the enabling of unscrutinised private enterprise to profiteer from Charter Schools, and John Banks attempts to hide his (allegedly) dodgy funding from SkyCity and Kim Dotcom.

John Banks, supported by another member of the “old boys’ club” Speaker Eric Roy, immediate response was to attempt to undermine Turei by policing her body.  With Turei in his sights, Banks said that critics of his Charter schools legislation:

… get dressed up with their lipstick and make-up on t.v. ..

In response to points of order, Speaker Eric Roy allowed Banks’ sexist comment, claiming it was on the “same plane” as Turei’s attack on Banks.  Towards the end of Banks speech, he repeats his offensive sexist comment.  In the mode of making-it-up-as-they-go-along, and in contradiction of his earlier ruling, Roy ordered Banks to withdraw the statement. Banks’ withdrawal of the statement was halfhearted and insincere. The repetition of the offensive line came when Banks was attacking opponents of the Charter Schools legislation. He said,

They can wear the lipstick and look good on TV and make a big impression and don’t like it.

Implicit is the suggestion that Turei usually looks unattractive without make-up, presenting a false image on TV. This strategy of countering threats to masculine power and status through the policing of their bodies within “late capitalism”, is explained extremely well by some recent feminist writings.

A recent Guardian article argues that feminism is a rising and significant presence in the digital age, which includes a reference to “socialist” Laura Penny. The introduction to her 2011 book, Meat Market: Female Flesh Under Capitalism, promises a new socialist direction for feminism in the 21st century.

During the late 20th century there was a strong backlash against the significant gains made by the largely left wing second wave women’s movement. Socialist feminism had extended a materialist class analysis to incorporate the role of women as a reserve army of labour, and unpaid domestic workers, necessary to the maintenance of capitalism.   The rise of technologies of reproduction in the last few decades has resulted in a society saturated with images: images that had a profound impact on our society and politics. The sexualised commercialisation of (potentially) powerful women serves to limit the extent of that power.

“Neoliberal” propaganda fractured socialist feminism, narrowing feminism’s range, commodifying it and reducing it to the (often dismissive) label of “identity politics”.   Laura Penny provides a new direction whereby the legacy of a materialist Marxist analysis is re-connected with feminist analysis of cultural activities in the digital age. The introduction of Penny’s book contemplates the way, since the 70s, feminists critiques of body policing have been undermined, resulting in an intensification of that policing through all the realms of women’s lives.  Penny characterises our society as one where now:

Whatever our age, race, physiotype and social status, women’s bodies are punished and policed.

She then goes on to provide an argument as to why this is happening:

Modern economics rely for their very survival on women’s paid and unpaid labour, purchasing power and reproductive capacity. That women should have this much power cannot be borne; the treat of revolt is too great.

In contrast with the late 70s, more women are engaged in or looking for paid work, while many also making significant contributions to society through unpaid work. In NZ, a collaborator presented as an archetypal “Westie” leads the attack on beneficiaries, with single mothers being a major target.

A review in the Independent, outlines the significance of Penny’s book, and the range of its analysis of the ways female potential is denied:

Penny discusses women’s sexualisation, eating disorders, gender stereotyping and the labour market, covering prostitution, housework, the marketisation of domesticity as a kitsch hobby, the prevalence of class delineation as a form of control and the positioning of the Playboy Bunny as an emblem of manufactured desirability. …

Penny’s critique helps explain Banks’ response to Turei’s critique of him and his dodgy crony capitalism: an attempt to undermine her threat by an attempt to police her body.While some may see Banks and Roy as fading relics of a bygone era, Penny shows that the underlying strategy is still strong, although it may have become more subtle and slickly marketed.

A revived socialist feminism can also be applied to the way Sue Bradford critiques the failure of Owen Glenn’s inquiry into domestic violence and child abuse in her post yesterday, ‘Glenn Inquiry Implodes: highlights deepening colonisation and corporatisation of community sector’.  Bradford speculates that the failure probably is a consequence of,

…  the fundamental contradiction between people who are used to working in a highly values-driven part of the community sector and a corporate power holder used to operating bluntly and decisively in the business world.

Bradford further surmises that Sir Owen is not approaching his inquiry from a feminist perspective, but is more like a traditional Patriarchal capitalist in contemporary corporate clothing: one focused on

…   ‘helping those poor deserving victims’ rather than being driven by a community development approach of involving, empowering and conscientising those most affected.

I welcome the apparent revival of socialist feminism that also incorporates an increasing feminist presence online, of which NZ websites like the HandMirror are part.  A recent post there by LudditeJourno, reports on a recent and significant  feminist event in Wellington .    It provides an insight into the range of issues that are the focus of investigation and activism within NZ.


116 comments on “The policing of women’s bodies”

  1. Ennui 1

    Saw the Owen Glenn “task force” headlines in the paper, appear to be loosing “top end” women…hand over mitten.

    I don’t have a feminist perspective on this, or even a socialist one. My problem is who the hell Glenn thinks he is to put his cash up to drive social policy? Citizen Kane, too bloody self important. Democracy Glenn…whats that?

    • farmboy 1.1

      Just throwing it out there, metiria turei looks unattractive with makeup on as well, just to clear that up.That julie ann genter could go along way though.

      • karol 1.1.1

        Ah. I see the body police have arrived already.

        • farmboy

          Dont be so precious that is the reallity of being a human.We all get judged on appearance,just like you wouldnt role up to the black power at 12 at night to have a chat would you.Do you disagree about julie.Are you saying we dont pick our partners on appearance when your a guy you always go for 1 of the hottest woman in the bar,thats the way it has always been and always will be.

          • karol

            We are not in the business of auditioning MPs as potential partners.A person should be judged in their jobs on performance. Did you read the post? If you did, did you understand it? Do you not see why your body-policing approach is part of a wider practice of keeping women in line?

            The black power reference is obtuse.

            • farmboy

              Put it this way if you had Julie ann genter out front with norman that would do wonders for there image,that is the power of attractive people,and she could say the excact same thing as turei.Do you agree

              • karol

                Turei is excellent as a leader. She is sharp smart and draws on her Parliamentary experience to have Key and co squirming. She articulates well on TV, and is always well-presented. A high performer.

                Julie Ann Genter is also a very able politician. She’s made an excellent entry into politics in her spokesperson area. I have not evidence as yet as to whether she is leadership material.

                • tracey

                  please don’t buy into his comparrison argument.

                • Jimmie

                  Tony Ryall wasn’t exactly squirming when she was questioning him with all the fury of a wet paper bag about nurses in schools

                  • karol

                    Tuei does often have government MPs squirming.

                    But Green MPs tend not to use the aggressive posturing style of NAct and some opposition MPs. As mentioned in the video fatty links to below, many women (and quite a few men) are put off by the macho, competitive culture of western politics.

                    The Green MPs oppose the government through reason- & evidence based questions. Turei is especially sharp in the way she does it. If you’re looking for obvious macho point scoring, you’ll have missed how she puts government MPs on the spot.

              • fender

                May be a strategy to attract shallow voters like you but these positions are best awarded on merit (not looks).

                Besides, then you will be saying the party is lead by an Australian and a Canadian blah blah blah.

          • just saying

            So you’re picking a partner from the pool of current woman parliamentarians?

          • One Anonymous Knucklehead

            Farmboy’s success rate with drunk women is no doubt a source of considerable pride, and after all, if John Banks can lift his behaviour to the level of a pissed agricultural worker that will be some improvement.

            • farmboy

              It is I was above par and it was alot of fun what the fuck is wrong with that , we didnt all spend our youth havn a cry about everything with the curtains closed on friday night at home.

              • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                Oops I think I may have touched a nerve 🙂

                Friday night? You must be pissed, mate, it’s Thursday afternoon.

          • lprent

            …your a guy you always go for 1 of the hottest woman in the bar…

            Well I guess if you are damn shallow and have nothing much to offer in the conversational line and are trying to find a like minded person then going into a noisy bar, sucking down some drugs to lessen your sense of discrimination, and targeting some makeup would be your best approach.

            Most of us other males aren’t archaic grunts with social habits that sound like a bad scene from a 1970’s porn flick. Please don’t try to associate me with that kind of antique crap.

            • farmboy

              Oh so your a pussie is that what your saying, cause thats what it sounds like.Lessen my sense of discrimination hahaha yea thats the one.

          • tracey

            Actually we might not all be judged (or judge) on appaearance but the judging is harsher for some than others.

            That you don’t see that speaks volumes about you, not Karol.

          • fatty

            when your a guy you always go for 1 of the hottest woman in the bar,thats the way it has always been and always will be.

            That’s the most ignorant thing I’ve ever heard. Maybe its the people I spend time with, but we don’t go to a bar and ‘go for the hottest girl’.
            Why would I want to spend time with someone based on whether or not their bodyparts/features correspond with the latest hollywood ideal?
            I hate it when rednecks try to speak on behalf of me.
            Fuck you’re a moron farmboy

          • Murray Olsen

            “when your a guy you always go for 1 of the hottest woman in the bar”

            What about the times when you’re not a guy?
            We do not all get judged on appearance, or else Brownlee (for example) would not be a minister. I don’t even know when to start – equating your chances of finding someone drunk enough to sleep with you to the selection and appraisal of politicians? Wow. Some of us have come a long way, some still shouldn’t be allowed out of the top paddock until they find the missing sheep.

          • Frank Macskasy

            “We all get judged on appearance,just like you wouldnt role up to the black power at 12 at night to have a chat would you.”

            Neither would I roll up to a Mafioso meeting, at noon for lunch, even if they were dressed in shirt, tie, and tux.

            So your point doesn’t really stack up, Farmboy.

            Appearances count for only a small part of our perception of people. Spend longer than 5 minutes with someone, and their appearance becomes immaterial to their personality; intelligence; behaviour; charm (or lack of); etc.

            One of our best prime ministers was Norman Kirk – because of who he was, not what he looked like.

        • prism

          Just give him some hay and say see’d you later.

      • Ennui 1.1.2

        WTF Farm Boy? I could define “unattractive” as your comment about Metira. Get a brain cell.

      • fender 1.1.3

        Stick to your farm animals dropkick.

        Metiria Turei is gorgeous.

        • Ennui

          The sheep find him too ugly. And the cows would kick him into touch.

          • fender

            I could be tempted to partake in the kicking of farmboy cowpat eater too!

            • farmboy

              You couldnt kick shit ,you limp wristed little bitch I live in otorohanga you want to come find me tell me the day I am more than happy to met.

              • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                This is a bit sad, really. I mean, I know Farmboy probably finds the subject matter a bit threatening, but to this extent? Backed into a corner all duked up mouthing threats? He won’t get near the bar at this rate.

        • farmboy

          holy shit dude, holy shit your fucked

          • fender

            What you write on TS is fucked, am pleased you are hopefully miles from a major centre, you belong in a backwater away from humans.

            • farmboy

              Comn to a town near you

              • fender

                Oh good I’ll keep an eye out for you, don’t bother carrying a farmboy sign, the Neanderthal appearance will give you away.

                • farmboy

                  And then what

                  • fender

                    First off give you a water-blasting to remove the animal excrement you swim around in. Then I’d have to battle my testosterone fuelled desire to make you a necklace out of Millsys’ piano wire with the greater need for you to receive some education on how to view and treat woman.

          • One Anonymous Knucklehead

            Scratch the surface, and what do you find? A jumped up little dictator trying to tell people how to look and what to find attractive. He’ll give us all a lecture about freedom and responsibility any time now.

            The image that springs to mind is the bleating, thrashing, humiliated Farmboy being dragged outside by the bouncer for a lie down. 😆

            • NZ Femme

              Really? I thought he was telling us he would only vote for a woman who gave him a hard on.

              While he certainly has the freedom to do so, it really isn’t very responsible.

              • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                cf his

                Freedom and responsibility being the ideals the Right pretends to, while failing to live up to either.

                • NZ Femme

                  Yup. And FB’s contributions here in Black and White make him such a great living example of that. 🙂

                  • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                    He’s only embodying National Party values, bless him 🙂

              • farmboy

                your name just gave me a hard on

                • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                  Come back Derek and Clive. All is forgiven.

                • NZ Femme

                  Waste of a hard on FB. You’ve got the wrong gear in your undies, and a remarkably deficient space between your ears for any reciprocation on my part.

              • farmboy

                I gave you the town mate tell me the day and I will come meet you,my family dont need to see.

                • vto

                  ha ha i had a goose like you raging on at me recenty in some demented drunkeness like you here. Like you he was a piece of shit – when he finally backed himself to back his shrill calls and ran at me he fell over spread-eagled at my feet. Didn’t even have to lift a finger. Ha ha ha – you dopey drunken rural hicks are all the same. Pathetic. Why don’t you just fuck off. Nobody needs you. Or wants you when you behave like you do. Cock sucker.

                  • farmboy

                    Real convincing story,so you do leave your computer.Nobody needs or wants me on here, yet hear I am hahahahaha

                    • vto

                      yeah, so you are. Got anything decent to say?

                      What about how this government gives handouts to bludging farmers who are unable to get funding for their own private business? Or who are unable to get what they want using normal processes so they get this government to sack democracy and simply thieve it?

                      Bludging thieves on both counts. In Canterbury at least.

                      Or, why do farmers think they should be able to dump the shit from their business in the public estate when nobody else can?

                      Or the sheer gall of claiming that they are the backbone of NZ when it is quite clear that farmers do not pay their share of tax (instead hiding their wealth in tac-free capital gain) and instead rely on city wage and salary earners to pay for their roads, their kids education, healthcare.

                      Useless thieving bludgers you lot.

                    • ghostrider888

                      an aside vto; recent commentary on the opening presentations from the New Zealnd Climate Change Conference being held; “New Zealand economy rests strongly on agriculture, forestry and tourism, all of which are dependent on the climate” (and it’s effects on the environment). Still, dairy-farmers will continue intensifying until the mud slips in their own back door.

                • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                  Base, filled with hate, soiling yourself as you no doubt soil the rivers, and not even the smallest sign of understanding the topic, you nonetheless provide a remarkable example of its subject.

            • farmboy

              I dont tell people how to look some look ugly others look hot,do you deny this.
              You people have no trouble comenting on the look of John Key, do you.

              • vto

                some say beauty is skin deep and that upon further time spent listening to and being with someone a true measure of their beauty emerges

                and you are doing a wonderful job on that part farmboy.

                hands up who finds farmboy a beauty?

                • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                  I find him the embodiment of everything the National Party represents: ill-mannered, brutish, unoriginal and imbecilic.

              • One Anonymous Knucklehead

                Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, making pejorative judgement calls on the subject both vacuous and ill-mannered in equal measure. Do you deny this?

                I can’t recall a single remark I’ve made about John Key’s appearance. Feel free to show otherwise.

              • NZ Femme

                Can say that I’ve never commented on John Key’s appearance. Because, unlike someone I may be interested in snogging, his appearance is entirely irrelevant to his role. Just as female MP’s appearance is irrelevant to theirs.

              • Is there a reason why Farmtroll’s welcome was outlived after 2.44pm?


                [lprent: I was busy chasing a sporadic SIGSEGV from about 1500 and not really able to moderate much. But when I last looked he was on pretty thin ice. ]

                [karol: I was watching fb yesterday closely before I went out for the rest of the afternoon and evening. I was close to issuing a warning. fb was very close to crossing the line between addressing the topic of the post and trolling/derailing.]

          • prism

            What say we give farmboy the freeze? Not the creamfreeze either. The words he strings together don’t advance the blog in any way. He is just playing around, filling in time with us, would be better if we left him to play on his own. He just infuriates us into taking notice of him – pathetic interaction results.

  2. just saying 2

    The rise of feminist socialism has been one of the few bright lights in current left-wing politics. A cause for some optimism.
    A real momentum seems to have grown through the alternative media including the blogosphere (and tautoko Karol and QoT), and now the discourse has even started to be heard, if tentatively, in the msm again after being shut out for so long.

    • tracey 2.1

      yes, it won’t be long until the word feminisim is associated with lesbian again to try and deflect from its point of view. For the ignorant, men can be feminists too.

      • QoT 2.1.1

        You say “again” like feminists aren’t already constantly getting homophobic shit thrown at them (because of course being a lesbian is the worst thing ever.

        I’ve had some fucking doozies on those lines right here at The Standard.

        • Populuxe1

          When I wake up in the morning, I frequently don’t know whether to wear my patriarchal white privilege hat or my economically and homophobically oppressed low earning gay hat. So confusing.

    • One Anonymous Knucklehead 2.2

      +1 @JS

  3. Colonial Viper 3

    One of the best things to ever happen to capitalists was the flood of female workers who appeared and wanted full time jobs, skilled and unskilled, and would accept lower rates to get those jobs. This massively increased the labour pool, eliminated the very tight labour supply of the 1950s and 1960s, and once unions were destroyed a decade later was another factor that helped capped labour’s ability to demand decent wage increases in both skilled and unskilled roles.

    “Neoliberal” propaganda fractured socialist feminism, narrowing feminism’s range, commodifying it and reducing it to the (often dismissive) label of “identity politics”.

    The powers that be are always happy to give you a few gender politics and social liberalism wins as long as they still achieve their profit and capitalist objectives. For a while plenty of feminists seemed satisfied with that.

    • just saying 3.1

      One of the best things to ever happen to capitalists was the flood of female workers who appeared and wanted full time jobs, skilled and unskilled, and would accept lower rates to get those jobs. This massively increased the labour pool, eliminated the very tight labour supply of the 1950s and 1960s, and once unions were destroyed helped capped labour’s ability to demand decent wage increases.

      Apart from the basic human right to be in the paid workforce, for the vast majority, the money earned was essential for supporting themselves and their families. Most also continued to do the lion’s share of housework and childcare.

      Women have been particularly hard-hit by neoliberalism and are overrepresented in poverty stats. Gender politics are socialist politics

      • Colonial Viper 3.1.1

        Of course. As individuals people can do anything that they want. But when they do the same thing together in the millions, the whole political economy of a society is changed, and there are plenty of unintended consequences.

      • prism 3.1.2

        It seems to me that Colonial V wasn’t making comments that disagreed with anything you said. It is important to understand the background and effects of feminist changes to understand how women have got to present conditions.

        The wealthy men and women, are beginning to think of the underclass as being servants as they did in earlier times. This actually can be a good job, but so often not, with poor wages and little time off. The Filipino women who do so much of this work know what it is like to be at the whim of employers.

        So feminism here has to think about women who are in the strugglers group and will not be able to lift themselves with education as a rule. (Poorer Benefit is an exception that proves the rule.) That women have been able to break through to top jobs with lots of money in greater numbers is good. But with high-flyers the place of feminism in their rise will probably be denied. The self-made woman is as smug as the self-made man.

        Getting conditions and support for all women, but particularly for the low income group, to a vastly improved state to assist with their gender-specific role of child bearing and usually, rearing and that remains unfinished business in NZ. And encouraging employers to make some jobs part-time so parents can work in the morning till say 1.30pm and then go off and have their lunch and be ready for their children homecoming from school for instance. Perhaps offering such women a grant that is a subsidy to go to the part-time employer would be a practical help. It is important that women are able to earn and not just have to stay a dependent on a partner. Also there is respect for people who have a job and skills and just looking after one’s children at home is a hidden job, and without social interaction in the wider community which is important for a healthy life experience.

    • karol 3.2

      So women should just have kept to their place, doing unpaid labour inside and outside the home, servicing the workers that capitalism required?

      And you ignore the changing social, technological and consumer context, with increased labour-saving electronic equipment in the home, and the increasing pressures to consume.

      You make it sound like it was women’s fault for daring to aspire to financial independence?

      Socialist/left wing feminists as a whole were not happy with the changes brought about by the “neoliberal” revolution. Large numbers were out on the streets, and in the unions, etc protesting, and debating the problems associated with the rise in the such things as the “double shift”, the casualisation of the workforce, the attacks on social security and the welfare state. They were no more happy such crumbs and limitations than left wing men.

      • Colonial Viper 3.2.1

        Greatly increasing the size of the labour pool at the same time technology, automation and global outsourcing reduced available jobs was a very profitable circumstance for big business and greatly reduced labour leverage.

        I’m not saying “what women should have done” I am saying that is what actually happened.

        • rosy

          Greatly increasing the size of the labour pool

          The story doesn’t start in the ’50s & ’60s though. The labour pool was always there – it was just utilised as the Capitalists saw fit i.e. hiring women when the men were off to war in the previous decade. The difference was that this time, for a variety of reasons, women who found they wanted or needed to work in paid employment refused to put back in the home.

          • Colonial Viper

            The labour pool was always there – it was just utilised as the Capitalists saw fit i.e. hiring women when the men were off to war in the previous decade. The difference was that this time

            The difference this time? Well, the capitalists are still utilising the labour pool as they see fit.

            • rosy

              Well, the capitalists are still utilising the labour pool as they see fit.

              That they are.

              But for a while there we gave them a run for their money 😉 … an still do, in some places, clearly NZ is not one of them anymore.

      • Colonial Viper 3.2.2

        You make it sound like it was women’s fault for daring to aspire to financial independence?

        You spoke of the effectiveness of “neo liberal propaganda” before. The cult of individualism and self actualisation through career and money were central tenets of that propaganda. So no, I don’t “blame” women, the aspiration was very loudly and widely promulgated at the time through society.

        • just saying

          How was it “communal” having men predominate the paid workforce? Or is it just women who should be less selfish?

          • Colonial Viper

            Do you know what happened to US families when both subrban parents went out to work? American families bought two gasguzzlers not just one. No problem if that just happens once or twice. But it happened tens of millions of times across the nation.

            Massive unintended consequences for oil demand, greenhouse gases, pollution, mining, etc.

            You speak of what would be more selfish etc, I’m just telling you what happened as a natural result of these societal changes.

            • karol

              That is part of what happened. It also increased the burden of the double shift for many women: working outside the home as either a main breadwinner or to supplement the main wage, while still taking the leading role in domestic duties. Meanwhile, large numbers of women and their families have been increasingly subsisting on low incomes in part time or low paid jobs, with increasing pressures on beneficiaries.

              Women continued also to be employed in large numbers in the public sector, and to be engaged in community work.

              Of course, if the most powerful capitalists hadn’t moved to reassert their dominance in the way they did, we could have taken a different route: technological changes and efficiency gains could have led to less hours in paid work, with a more egalitarian distribution of incomes, and less focus on competitive, status-driven consumerism.

              The solution then, is not for more of the same, but a shift away from consumerist lifestyles, and more focus on collective, in-equality reducing, sustainable values.

              • Colonial Viper

                How can you ask people to have less individualistic/ consumerist and more collective lifestyles while still extolling the virtues of having your own decently paid job (which you need your own car to get to) so you can have the good things in life and be financially and materially independent?

                That doesn’t sound like less consumption to me.

                Also, women got conned into believing that going out into the workforce was going to be good for them. And for some it was. But as you point out, many just ended up wage serfs like everyone else. More of the propaganda in action.

                • karol

                  How can you ask people to have less individualistic/ consumerist and more collective lifestyles while still extolling the virtues of having your own decently paid job (which you need your own car to get to) so you can have the good things in life and be financially and materially independent?

                  This is not what I was saying, especially not the bits I’ve put in bold.

                  For some women, being financially independent meant being able to escape for domestic violence and/or servitude as was in the current context.

                  Everyone should have access to a living wage. I’m not extolling the values of individualism but looking towards more collective solutions.

            • just saying

              Two gas guzzlers meant both adults had freedom of transport.
              You do seem to me to have made a value judgment, CV. If women having what men had led to a more selfish society, how was it better that just men were able to enjoy the money, freedom and independence of paid work, and the power that gave them? There does seem to be a assumption that things were better when women sacrificed themselves in various unpaid capacities for the benefit of their husbands, their kids and their communities. Better for who?

              • Colonial Viper

                Of course in the US having your own car means “freedom”, and of course so does having a gun. But liberals over there want gender equality in the workforce, don’t want guns and want to stop greenhouse gas emissions but you still need the freedom of your own petrol consuming car to get to work. Good luck with that melange.

                • Populuxe1

                  Having a car also means being able to leave an abusive relationship and move to where there is work. I don’t see why you think that’s not important.

                  • karol

                    Also, for many women, it feels safer to travel by car at night than walking to and from public transport. For some women it’s the difference between going out at night and staying home.

      • Ennui 3.2.3


        I think that is to oversimplify the issue. I will try and paraphrase what CV alludes to….women came into the workforce, which enabled capital to squeeze wages. “Traditional female” roles were not back filled by “liberated” males. Families then had to pay for these household domestic “services”. Capital sold a lot of “whiteware” etc, childcare centres flourished…..the laws of unexpected consequences kicked in.

        To be contentious, I don’t think males have bought into the concept of being able to fulfill what were “traditional female” roles. And whilst males have to a high degree accepted the idea of women in the workforce, my personal perception is that the converse of accepting the concept of men in the home is problematic. Capital meanwhile does not give a flying fuck so long as they can keep up consumerism and low wages.

        The whole thing may have been a huge improvement for women ( as it should be, no problem there), it has also been retrograde for all the domestic activities and linkages that construct a cogent society. So how do we (as in males and females together) clean up the mess?

        • just saying

          ..it has also been retrograde for all the domestic activities and linkages that construct a cogent society. So how do we (as in males and females together) clean up the mess?

          Well said, but not what I heard CV as saying.

          • Colonial Viper

            Well, I was being a tad more provocative to get the ideas flowing 🙂

          • just saying

            In my opinion is the precariat – sometimes paid a pittance, often unpaid, is increasingly being conscripted into trying to plug the gaps. Meagre scraps of funds are backed-up for workers with inadequate benefits. NGOs are becoming corporatised, social services, privatised and exploitation increasingly abounds.

            • Ennui

              All you describe is true: we all drift toward becoming precariat, even those of us who have our own businesses. The concentration of wealth and power toward the corporates is killing us all. We can no longer afford social services because the buggers dont even pay their share of tax.

  4. Sosoo 4

    A recent Guardian article argues that feminism is a rising and significant presence in the digital age, which includes a reference to “socialist” Laura Penny.

    In their dreams. Feminism in the sense used in this article is a marginal ideology, which most of today’s university students not only do not support, but do not even understand. I’ve lost count of the number of papers I have read where women claim (quite sincerely) that they don’t really know anything about it. And these are people who you would expect to be exposed to such ideas on a regular basis.

    I don’t personally think that this is good at all, but it’s nevertheless true.

    • karol 4.1

      Maybe the university is the wrong place to look for those currently actively involved in feminism?

      Being on the rise, doesn’t mean it includes the majority of young women.

      • Sosoo 4.1.1

        The answer is that it isn’t really on the rise. It seems to have been in a steep decline for years. I’d wager that more young people are involved in playing Magic: The Gathering than in feminist activism.

        Feminism is now about as popular as communism in New Zealand, which is to say that a very small number of active people care, but the impact on society at large is virtually nil.

        The concerns of feminism appear to have either been absorbed into the mainstream or jettisoned from popular consciousness in people under 30. It’s not that they are actively hostile. It’s just that they see a bunch of greying people going on about some old folks’ stuff that they don’t really care about (just like Dylan or the Beatles).

        • karol

          There has been a noticeable rise in feminist websites internationally. Check some out. Feminists these days includes people of diverse ages. And some of them are students (albeit the minority amongst students.

          The internet provides a connection and sense of engagement with a community. Also, as with post at the Handmirror that I linked to, it helps with the promotion of offline events.

          You are representing another stereotype of feminists as being increasingly aging and irrelevant.

  5. tracey 5

    If you want to train as a police officer, you do 3 months (paid). If you want to train as a teacher or a nurse you do 3 years (unpaid and with a debt). Which of these is dominated by women.

    It’s about the value society, through our politicans places on these roles. As much as things have changed int he last 30 years, much has stayed the same.

    • Saccharomyces 5.1

      If you want to train as a doctor you do 6 years of training (unpaid). If you want to train as a primary teacher you do 3 years training (unpaid). Which of these is dominated by men?

      • Colonial Viper 5.1.1

        Med and law school close to 50/50 these days. Some intakes there are even more women than men because women are outpacing men academically.

        • fatty

          women are outpacing men academically

          True, however this is just one part of addressing the pay gap.
          The problem is that once women move into a traditionally male dominated profession, the relative wages of that profession drops in comparison to other male dominated industries. I don’t think its just coincidence that since females have moved into academically trained industries (such as law and medicine), then other male dominated industries (such as engineering and construction) have moved up the pay scale at a fast pace.

          I remember reading something from Michael Kimmel a couple of years back about how money follows male dominated jobs. He gave the example of dentistry in USA compared to Europe. In Europe where female dentists are more common, their wages are not that high compared to other medical professions. Whereas in the USA, where male dentists still dominate, their wages are much further up the medical pay scale. (That’s off the top of my head, I’m having trouble finding the text as he’s written so much)

          So, although women becoming more educated and moving into high paying jobs is balancing things out, capitalism has a natural tendency to move higher wages away from women. There needs to be more equality across all industries if equal pay is going to be a reality. Men have to move into women dominated industries – to help push the wages up. And women have to move into male dominated work. (Of course women will still get paid less, but that’s capitalism for you)

          • prism

            good points. What I’ve read too.

          • Colonial Viper

            So, although women becoming more educated and moving into high paying jobs is balancing things out, capitalism has a natural tendency to move higher wages away from women.

            the presence of women is a risk factor for the undermining of pay structures and prestige of established professions?

            Incomes in an industry fall for many reasons, but one will be because there are far more workers than before when women join the labour pool for an industry. Another is that women aren’t as good at demanding more pay from employers to match what they are worth.

            • karol

              CV, while your are on he money in some ways that capitalism under-utilises women, @8.20pm you seem to be implying that women should stay away from high paying male-dominated jobs because they will only cause them to be devalued. ie you put the emphasis on the negative impact of women’s behaivour rather than on the way well-paid males and/or capitalists behave.

              • Colonial Viper

                Yes, I think we know exactly how “the bosses/capitalist owners” behave. And when the women become “the bosses/capitalist owners” we know exactly how they behave, too – the same way. Our fabulous mining billionaire from across the Tassie comes to mind. So does Brooks, formerly of the Murdoch empire.

                We also know from over a century of collective labour experience how you get workers to be valued the way they should be valued by the bosses and capitalist owners: worker power in the form of strong unions able to limit the labour pool, able to threaten effective strikes, able to threaten serious business disruption, able to remove politicians, and able to take other industrial action.

                In my recollection, using harsh language, finger pointing and indignant stares against the bosses and capitalist owners was never very powerful.

                @8.20pm you seem to be implying that women should stay away from high paying male-dominated jobs because they will only cause them to be devalued.

                I make no judgement on what women should or should not do (they can suit themselves) but the second half of your statement saying that male dominated professions get devalued (is from the standpoint of remuneration), a proven matter of record and a well known pattern.

                • karol

                  Well, they end of your last comment points to, or opens the door to a better way – and end of this system that bases status on money and level in an individualistic and competitive hierarchy, and more focus on collective action, and doing jobs or activities that make a contribution to society.

                  Collective power by unions or other organisations is a way to work towards that. Although, Unions tend to strategise around working for the best outcome within the present capitalist system.

  6. Winston Smith 6

    “… get dressed up with their lipstick and make-up on t.v. ..”

    – I don’t think he was making the point about her being attractive or not but rather trying to “dress up” the message they’re saying instead just in his usual ham-fisted way

  7. fatty 7

    Just last week on 10 O’Clock live Laurie Penny was in a debate about gender equality in the workplace. The other two debaters really struggled to understand how class intersects with gender (in)equality)
    The debate can be viewed here.

    Although the debate was interesting, its worth viewing the next segment where Jimmy Carr shows no shame. He has no problem spewing out his predictable sexist jokes. I don’t think Charlie Brooker is too impressed at the end

    • karol 7.1

      Thanks for the link. Gee that red haired woman is a bit unbelievable – let’s hate on woman seems to be her line.

      Laurie Penny looks suitably unimpressed, and says her piece when she can get a word in edgewise.

      And the other two women are pretty middle-class and, maybe not an excuse, but they seem comfortable not empathising with women on lower incomes.

  8. ghostrider888 8

    Embodied cognition
    and the Embodiment of gender ; people ‘police’ their ‘good ol’ selves’ just fine without any help from chauvanists of any gender.

    • Ennui 8.1

      Truly spiritual Spooky. Be good (metaphorically of course).

      • ghostrider888 8.1.1

        it’s a dilemma; what next? not more of the same. sigh, what’s a poor boy to do.

      • ghostrider888 8.1.2

        some ars from the old man’s vinyl collection;
        (sad really, that ‘old man’ was such a chauvanist bastard too, “Polly want her housekeeping?”)

  9. joe90 9

    Just mooching around the webs. This:

    “Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties. Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions.. for safety on the streets… for child care, for social welfare…for rape crisis centers, women’s refuges, reforms in the law.”

    If someone says ‘Oh, I’m not a feminist,’ I ask ‘Why? What’s your problem?”

    Dale Spender.

  10. millsy 10

    Farmboy probably looks like one of the characters from the 1972 movie Deliverance.

    Not talking about Burt Reynold’s character.

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