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Wed 8th June 2005

Equality politics a fallacy

Filed under: General — JohnPotter @ 9:16 am

What happened to being a woman, biology and all? In ALEXIS STUART’S experience, it is women’s difference that has the potential power to civilise men.

I was the feminist poster child. How could I be anything else? I had been indoctrinated for years. I had been taught it all, from French existentialist Simone de Beauvoir to Victoria University feminist economist Prue Hyman.

I remember indoctrinating my own pupils under the guiding hand of my lecturer at teachers’ college. She smiled approvingly as I brainwashed wide-eyed 15-year-olds about the hegemonic patriarchy.

Initially, I knew nothing of the undercurrent of sexual politics and the new doctrine that gender was a mere theatrical performance. By the time I was 20, the message was that women had to be liberated from their biology. By 25, the heart of equality politics was the need to destabilise the categories of male and female. Now some government forms have an indeterminate option after the male/female box.

The more I think about it, the more I dislike equality politics. It may have fermented in the Women’s Socialist Action League in the early 1970s, but it now permeates every political party from the Left to the Right.

Recent media coverage has fingered the obvious personalities involved in the Women’s Socialist Action League. The fact that many of New Zealand’s high-profile women were involved is not evidence of any conspiracy. They just took part in a major cultural shift that is sweeping us all away.

I’ve been called a radical. Perhaps I am. But it wasn’t so long ago that the aspiration of the Socialist Action League was considered radical. Now their action plan from 1974 is mainstream.

The feminists of 1974 planned to rid New Zealand of marriage, female child-rearing and domesticity. They argued that women would never be free without a social revolution against the family.

Capitalism, they argued, depends on the oppressive patriarchal family. It must be replaced with state childcare and sexual freedom.

Children should no longer belong to their parents but should be the responsibility of the Government. Prostitution had to be legalised, the Government had to supply unrestricted abortion, and women had to be financially independent from men.

It is hardly surprising that some younger women feel short-changed by the older radicals who are now our bosses, headmistresses and Prime Minister.

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