All posts filed under: Feminism

Why It’s Time To Stop Worrying About First World ‘Gender Gaps’

Each year, 265 million in public funding goes toward The Canada Research Chairs Program, a program that funds top researchers at Canadian universities. Now, Science Minister Kirsty Duncan is threatening to defund its chairs for not meeting “diversity targets”. The decision came after Minister Duncan took offense at the unequal number of chairs held by women. “There were two times more men nominated (for research chair positions) than women” Duncan exclaimed during in an interview with the Associated Press. Government funding will be withheld until universities nominate an equal number of women. But aren’t universities progressive strongholds, bereft of bias and bastions of equality? Of all places, it seems unlikely that university faculties are actively holding women back. As of December 2016, only 30 per cent of the funded chair positions were held by women. However, between 2000 and 2015, 31 per cent of applicants for the jobs were from women. Based on these numbers it would be impossible to argue that sexist hiring practices are the cause of the gender imbalance in research chairs. Fewer women …

Why We Should Stop Using the Term ‘Gender’

Likely, we’ve all noticed that within each of the two human sexes there is a range of phenotypes stretching from masculine to feminine. We have distinctly feminine men and distinctly masculine women. The precise recipe for these phenotypes remains unclear, though there seems to be some combination of genetics and in utero endocrinology at work, interacting with ecological conditions. Certainly, while cultural attitudes have played some role in suppressing or encouraging the display of these differences at various times and places, their foundation is partly biological. As soon as this is said, it must be acknowledged that this biological basis has not always had the degree of scientific evidence it does today, and there have long been people hostile to such biological explanations. The latter group were among those who latched onto the term “gender” to identify this sexual phenotypic diversity. One might ask what was wrong with the more precise “sexual phenotype diversity.” Well, certainly “gender” was shorter and catchier. What I’d suggest here, though, is that there was something more involved in this …

Camille Paglia and the Battle of the Sexes

In the opening to what I consider the most important chapter in Camille Paglia’s new book, Free Women, Free Men—Chapter 17: “The Modern Battle of the Sexes”—Paglia writes the following:  As the millennium approaches, we can look back on 200 years of women’s advance in society after the Industrial Revolution. Women all over the world are moving, country by country, into positions of power in business and politics. That progress is inevitable and unstoppable. However, as we survey personal relationships, it is clear that the sexual weather is cloudy and stormy. There is an atmosphere of tension, of suspicion, of mutual recrimination between the sexes which feminism has not helped but in fact materially worsened. How did we get to this point? What prognosis is there for the future? Unlike Paglia, who’s both a Baby Boomer and a lesbian, I’m a wife and mother who hails from Generation X. I have a daughter who’s 17 and a son who’s 14, so my investment in the question Paglia asks about the future is more personal than …

The Hypocrisy of Sweden’s Feminist Foreign Policy

Sweden is apparently world’s first officially self declared “Feminist” government. The brave sisters, of the foreign affairs department, recently obliterated the patriarchy in the United States, with a staged photo onslaught. But that was before they surrendered to the dictates of an Islamist theocracy, just like all good Western feminists should. In a scenario all too painfully familiar in recent days, a bunch of privileged Western women found liberation in keeping their head down and knowing their place. Look, I have nothing against Iran, in fact, I respect them, that they are iron-spined and strong enough to make Western governments bow down in front of them and their rules, regardless of which continent they are in. I find the weakness and hypocrisy of the other side more abhorrent. In what can be termed as the most abjectly hypocritical turnaround in recent history, Sweden’s annoyingly grandstanding government, paraded (or should I say, reverse-slutwalked) with their heads covered in a visiting delegation to Iran. Why such a fuss with Sweden, you might wonder? After all, from Federica …

A Good Word for the Contemptible Straight White Male

I’m always on the lookout for new writing opportunities, especially with publications funded by the Australia Council for the Arts, as one can usually expect modest remuneration. I was initially pleased, then, to discover the literary magazine called, quite appropriately as you’ll see, SCUM. Its About section notes that it “has filthy feminist leanings and a disregard for propriety.” Terrific, I thought. Perhaps I could pitch an essay or two. I have often detailed the squalid nature of contemporary feminism à la Clementine Ford and the rest of the gang. While I haven’t dipped into her new book, Fight Like A Girl, I’m keeping an open mind, should the opportunity to read it ever come up. To update the old joke, I imagine that Ford’s oeuvre, along with every copy of Fairfax’s Daily Life, will be the only reading material available for borrowing at the single library in hell. There, how’s that for propriety? Of course, a quick glance through its essays and reviews proved that I had badly misread SCUM’s editorial policy — the …

Feminism Needs to Talk About Responsibility — Not Just Rights

At the age of 47 I suffered what I now like to think of as “The Year of Living Stupidly.” Unlike Sigourney Weaver in the film that inspired me, I did not live dangerously, although there was certainly a lot of drama. That was the year I suffered my last serious crush. The man was a volunteer at an organisation I feel passionately about. He was also an artist and writer, a fellow seeker in the creative arts. He was also a schmuck, although it took me almost a year to see that. My knowledge of unruly passions, which I joyously cover in my poetry classes, did give me some insight into my condition. However, managing it outside the classroom was something else entirely. I’m bringing that year out of the darkness and into the light because it’s time for the conversation around women’s rights and responsibilities to change. It’s especially time for those of us who can claim elder feminist statesmanship to ask tough questions of younger women who are dragging bewildered men into court, all in the name of micro-regulating the sex …

Students, Sex, Social Media and Why the Steven Galloway Affair Is so Murky

On a frigid night a few years ago, a friend dragged me to an event at a popular Montreal bar. Students of a local graduate program in creative writing were giving a reading. My friend and I sat close to them. I watched as pitchers of beer came and went and the students danced attendance on an older man, perhaps an instructor or organiser of the event. As the night went on and inhibitions were lowered, evidence of unruly feelings became obvious. Most creative arts departments are proverbial hothouses as far as egos go and this group was no exception. They were living proof of that punk axiom: eventually, love would tear them apart. The emotions I saw guaranteed it. Although I teach literature, I’m wary of university creative writing programs: they may be prestigious and even profitable, but I suspect they are more about buying access to agents and less about incubating talent. The students I heard that night read about relationships — with some texts directed at others in attendance — and yet …