A daily blog on the thrills, spills, and frequent absurdities of the world's one and only 'non-imperial empire' - as Barroso himself called it - the European Union.

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Tuesday, 26 April 2011

Feminists Do Not Represent Women

This is medieval, Mr Cable. Why don't you attack this?

The increasingly activist Vince Cable has stuck his neck out again. This time, it's over 'controversial' comments made by the chairman of Glencore, British expatriate Simon Murray, over the respective roles of the workplace and family in the private lives of women. Mr. Murray first courted the headlines when his dim view of 'shambolic England' was published in the Telegraph. Since then, his comments have became the undeserving focus of a classic liberal assault; Vince Cable grabbed a set of platitides and prepared for war, attacking the 71-year-old as 'primitive,' even 'medieval' in his attitude towards women for saying that some of them would rather raise a family than focus on their careers. As comments go, they're not that unbelieveable. There are lots of men who would rather raise a family than focus on their careers. What would Mr. Cable and other 'progressives' make of them, I wonder?

The liberal progressives that round on Mr. Murray's comments as the height of misogynism are wrongly assuming several things. They incorrectly think that Simon Murray is speaking up for the interests of somewhat old-fashioned men - or chauvinist pigs, as they're known in trendy circles - who have a rather more strict view of family life. He's not. I know of several women whose words on the subject could echo those of Mr. Murray, almost down to the last letter. It's not about gender, it's about the choices that an individual makes about what constitutes 'success,' and what they'd rather spend their time doing. The liberals would apparently want to deny them this choice - or at least supress it - in order to get more women in the workplace, a goal which, they believe, is shared by every female member of the human race. Women, however, are just as entitled to make that decision - between family life and work - as men, and so-called 'progressives' have no right to deride those who choose the former as 'throwbacks to the medieval era.' Would they rather spend their entire lives cooking and slaving away over a hot stove? No, frankly, they wouldn't. And no-one has said that they should. What we're saying is that women who gave up the pursuit of a high-paying job in the city, or the board of a FTSE 100 company, shouldn't be looked down upon or viewed as inferior by their feminist brethren simply because they make a conscious, adult decision to raise a family instead. It is a matter of personal choice.

They also seem to assume that Mr. Murray is talking out of his own personal preferences. It is clear from Mr. Murray's own comments that the opposite is true: women in the boardroom are 'terrific.' He is not against the presence of women in the boardroom. He is merely saying that, because the nature of womanhood is what it is, children and families often put a hold on women's careers. That may sound unfair to the left-wing, but those women made a decision to have children and to raise a family. Their actions might be to the detriment of Britain on some international equality scoreboard, but it's a personal choice that women are more than capable of making. They do not need old, middle-class men telling them what to do when it comes to their families, thank you very much.

Finally, the assumption that feminists represent women is fundamentally untrue. It has been since the 70s. Beyond equality, there is nothing that women, as equal members of the human race, are entitled to. They do not need special privileges - they are of equal ability. The efforts to give them some sort of advantage in the workplace and in law are both patronising and unfair, and most women would be perfectly happy to get into the top jobs on their own merits, rather than on the back of some employment legislation. Mr. Murray's comments - that a higher proportion of women put their families above their careers and that children are often a barrier to the highest-paid jobs - are not medieval. They are statements of common sense, and, whether or not Vince Cable agrees with them, they are firmly based on facts and rational opinions. To attack them as 'medieval' is a ridiculous excess of liberal intolerance with which many of the readers of this blog will be familiar; it is the type of anti-democratic assault that, frankly, open and honest debate can do without. And, on this subject, open and honest debate is sorely needed.

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