Josephine Asher has a lot to thank feminism for

Josephine Asher is wrong. She has confused feminism and femininity – and says she is anti-feminist – but it is because of feminism that she can have her views published on News Ltd’s opinion site, The Punch.

Asher writes:

Instead of harnessing the different qualities of men and women to energise us, we are striving to make men and women equal.

Equality does not mean being the same. It means having the same rights and opportunities. Asher laments the loss of femininity in our society, but she is free to wear all the frilly dresses and white gloves she wants because feminism has given women more choices than they had before.

More women are joining the battle for the CEO’s chair and pursuing dominance in their homes and communities. But in the process they’re becoming more like men. And men are becoming… well, less like men.

Firstly, while women may be “joining the battle for the CEO’s chair”, it’s certainly not a fair fight. According to the Business Council of Australia, women hold only 10.7 per cent of senior executive positions, 8.3 per cent of board directorships and just 2 per cent of CEO roles. Two per cent. That’s not even a scrap behind the bike shed, let alone a battle.

Feminism has achieved victories for women, but could it be at the expense of femininity, chivalry and attributes of the opposite sex that instinctively attract us to each other?

Someone give that woman a dictionary. Feminism and femininity are two very different things. One of the feistiest feminists I know – Lexy – is very feminine. She could also kung-fu your arse. And she is in a committed passionate relationship with a man who adores her and loves that she is a feisty feminist. You only have to look around at all the people in loving relationships to realise that this is a really stupid point Asher is making. Are we really to believe that men and women aren’t attracted to each other because women have fought for the right to vote and to work in paid employment outside the home?

She then parrots James May’s claim that modern men don’t have “man skills”, which he said – funnily enough – while promoting his new show, Man Lab. (And thereby proving that the Australian and US mainstream media can be relied on for free publicity.)

Well into the last century the husband provided his family with a home and food and this sole responsibility gave him a sense of power and purpose. And women didn’t feel pressure to justify their existence with a career. They were proud home makers and mothers.

How do you know? Many of these “proud home makers and mothers” were bored out of their minds. Many also relied on valium – aka “mothers little helper” – to get them through the tedium of the day. (I’m ignoring the bullshit about justifying our existence.)

Until feminism.

Sigh. Here we go again. Feminism is to blame for blah blah blah. If it wasn’t for feminism, Asher’s article wouldn’t have been published because no one would care about her opinion.

Women are also suppressing traditional feminine characteristics like elegance and fragility to take on high power careers and step into male dominated roles.

Women are fragile? Puh-lease. I’ve never been called fragile in my life and I can assure you, I am one hellava woman.

The Annual Child Care and Workforce Participation Survey found 33 per cent of women who returned to work did so for independence, and 27 per cent for career progression.

What reasons did the other two thirds – the majority – give?

However, a British survey of 2000 men revealed one-third of men would prefer to be the sole breadwinning traditional father while another quarter would like to be the main breadwinner with their spouse working only part-time.

So, you mean the majority of British men are happy with both parents working? And we don’t know what questions were asked in this survey – perhaps they said they would prefer traditional roles because it means one parent could be with the kids, instead of both parents working their arses off and neither getting to spend time with the kids. That’s not the same as saying they don’t want women to work.

My friend Dave told me his wife speaks to him in the same tone as she speaks to their children – and the dog.

“Kids, turn off the TV, Buster outside, Dave, the dishes aren’t going to clean themselves.” Dave feels like he’s surrendered his balls.

We don’t know Dave. We don’t know Dave’s wife. Perhaps Dave and Dave’s wife both work full time, yet Dave expects her to do all the housework and all the childraising. Perhaps Dave is a douchecanoe. And with a name like “Dave”, perhaps he doesn’t even exist. If this is the best example Asher’s got, then she’s dropping the straws she’s clutching at.

When a man is stripped of his sense of purpose, it’s more difficult to satisfy that instinctive hunger for power and purpose. Could this be part of the reason why one in eight Australian men experiences severe depression in their lifetime?

Women are twice as likely as men to experience depression. Perhaps it’s because we still don’t have equality in Australia.

Would we be happier if more of us accept that men and women are not equal?

No. No we wouldn’t. We’d be happier if we all accepted that men and women are different, but deserve the same rights and opportunities. That we should all be equal.

43 responses to “Josephine Asher has a lot to thank feminism for

  1. Thank you. I had to retrieve my jaw from the floor after reading Asher’s piece, I keep forgetting that there are people who really believe such nonsense.

  2. i Work, i cook, i clean, i iron my own shirts, i fix stuff and take care of the kids its all about sharing and living a happy and equal life. If my wife went out and worked and earned enough i’d happily put my hand up and be the stay at home dad.

    mmmmm all day on the lounge mmmmm

  3. Oh angry-ness!!!!!
    How fucking obtuse can one person be?

  4. The ‘fragility’ bit irked me the most. Since when is being fragile a desirable quality?

    • I know. It didn’t make a lot of sense. I think Asher has been watching too many episodes of Mad Men and drooling over the outfits, rather than drooling over the outfits AND realising that, in terms of equality, we haven’t come that far at all.

      • I’m thinking, rather, Merchant Ivory.

        *Rolls eyes* because we really, really needed another antifeminist female MSM columnist. Haven’t been over to read it – has “Eric” the inveterate whinging antifeminist been the first to comment as always?

        • …..Hahaaaaaaaa..snork… There he is, the very first comment. And even though the article is as antifeminist as he could have wanted in his wettest dreams, he’s still whingeing, because he says there have been too many articles by women. The Punch is so predictable!

  5. Thanks Nips. I’m feeling utterly overwhelmed by the gender essentialism being displayed in the media at the moment. It’s like there’s a zeitgeist of gender divide desperately being foisted on the masses lately, and I’m trying to figure out why. What is the world so scared off they have to blame women, and make men back into manly men (spraining an eye socket).

    • I’m not sure why biological determinism is so popular at the moment either. I honestly don’t believe male bosses sit around in their secret men club and say ‘ooh, those women sure are getting powerful these days, what with taking two per cent of CEO roles, let’s start a campaign against them’, but some days it feels like it.

  6. thanks so much for the above – and the dose of sanity after the ignorant and factually incorrect piece in the Punch. 🙂

  7. Awesome post Nips. I only wish they’d publish this word for word on The Punch. It’s a great take-down. After reading her rant I almost jumped out of the window of my office. I just can’t handle the idiocy.

    • Thanks Boganette. Was thinking earlier today that The Punch should commission opinion pieces in pairs, so you get two opinions on the same topic at the same time.

      • That’s a really good idea. Especially when they publish shit like her piece.

      • Er, if you looked properly, you would have noticed that The Punch published three opinion pieces on women’s perspectives on feminism.

        • So, Josephine Asher, are you going to address any of the issues raised in this post? Like the fact that you seem to believe that feminists can’t be feminine. And also, that you have a lot to thank feminism for – if it wasn’t for feminism, your opinion piece would not have been published. If it wasn’t for feminism, a 29-year-old single woman like yourself would be considered something to pity. It seems very strange to me that you think a social movement that has changed Western society so that women like you (and me and many of my readers) can have an education and paid employment and can make choices about how we want to live our lives, is a bad thing. We don’t all have hairy armpits, you know.

    • Why DON’T you try sending it to the Punch? They often publish other side of the fence pieces.

      • Hi Evie, welcome to the News with Nipples. That’s true, they do. But they don’t pay. I only write for free for me [if I knew how to use emoticons I’d put a smiley one here]. Also, I don’t like all the misogynists in their audience who will just whinge and whine without addressing – or even thinking about – anything I write about.

        Having said that, perhaps I should…

  8. I used to read The Punch but I found it was bad for my blood pressure and I had to stop. This kind of reactionary bollocks is all too common there and I don’t need to look it up to know it must be followed by a long diatribe of polarised commentary, which I presume is exactly what the writer is trying to elicit.
    It’s great to see you pulling this rubbish apart piece by piece. Also good for the soul is a laugh, like this which I just found: http://mike-stuchbery.com/2010/11/29/dear-josephine-asher/ (I don’t know this fellow but I don’t think you’ll mind my posting a link here).

  9. Thank you so much NWN for putting into words the impotent rage that that silly girl’s article left me gasping with. I’d have been flabbergasted by its stupidity in 1980, but it’s utterly unforgivable in 2010. At least now I don’t feel like frog-marching her into a women’s refuge and tying her to their kitchen sink for a week to listen to some true facts about the way some women have to live in her own home town, let alone the horrors caused by patriarchal societies globally. Writing attention-seeking hogwash must be the only way this poor little thing can get any media attention – what a shame she has no talent or intelligence to rely upon.

    • Hi Marion Groves, welcome to the News with Nipples. The ignorance of the thing is stunning – clearly Asher can thank feminism for her job, her education, for the fact that her opinion piece is even published.

    • It’s hardly fair (or intelligent) to assume she is not intelligent. If you’d done a bit of research you would see that she obviously has some intelligence. If you were a feminist, as you are implying, you would be supporting free speech and the fact that Josephine can have her opinion.

      • Ooh, Android, I’d be a little careful berating others for being unfair when your email address gives away that you are Josephine Asher. Do you think it’s fair to create a fake name to defend yourself?

        Now, to your comment. Where has anyone said that you aren’t allowed your own opinion? Where? I wholeheartedly disagree with everything in your opinion piece, but nowhere do I say you shouldn’t be allowed to say it. As for doing some research to discover that you “obviously” have some intelligence, why should I? Why should anyone have to dig further to understand what someone is saying in an opinion piece? Don’t you think your words, your published opinion, should speak for themselves?

      • Android/Asher. I remember one of the first feminist theories I ever read was on ‘equality-difference’ feminism. Perhaps you should read up on this and it may assist you to understand that feminism does not necessarily assume that there are no gender differences. Indeed as a model, it celebrates rather than stereotyping these differences. The differences between the genders need not negate Equality. Therein lies the rub. So I can be promoted and wear a floral print dress all at once. In fact I do.

  10. Arse-hattery of the highest order. No-one ever said that to be a feminist you had to don the dungarees, renounce the razor and commence the systematic destruction of anything male. I mean, you can. But that ain’t my feminism, it’s someone else’s. We can be feminine (or masculine) and feminist in a number of delightful combinations.

    Sometimes I wonder if we need to ditch the ‘feminist’ tag to stop the bitching that we are whiney anti-male, anti-family blahhhh blahhhh blahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. But then is that just kowtowing to cognitively underdeveloped societal smegma who can’t see the prefix “fem-” without enacting some sort of predictable knee-jerk reaction?

    • Pants, I’ve often wondered why believing that men and women deserve equal rights and opportunities makes me a feminist. But if we ditch the f word, then we are indeed – as you so excellently put it – “kowtowing to cognitively underdeveloped societal smegma”.

  11. We should hold fast to the feminist tag. It is definitely kowtowing to the smegma (thank you for that word, it’s fabulous) to abandon it.

    I wonder what frightful economic necessity forced Ms. Asher to write this load of elderly shoemakers? Perhaps her husband died, and with seven children and an ailing mother to support, she is forced to comply with the patriarchal demands of her editor? Harriet Taylor wrote about what a pain in the arse it was to have misogynist men in charge of the printing press, ooh, 1840-ish? Good job feminism has changed all that, eh?

    I think we should have a competition for “The stupidest sentence in this article”. Asher’s implication that feminism was something that happened once in the seventies and immediately ruined life for everyone is one possible winner. The number of people in history she is ignoring or ignorant of is really, really big.

  12. As a guy in a committed relationship with a “feisty feminist” I have to agree. I grew up loving Star Wars and Princess Leia was probably my template for what I thought women should be like. Or was it vodka-slamming Marion Ravenwood from Indiana Jones? They weren’t “ohh save me!” damsels in distress – they were “give me that gun”-grabbing women who got right into the thick of it. Name one man alive who doesn’t think these girls are fantastic…

    It would make sense to me that instead of having to coming home to your missus after you have finished your adventuring that, instead, you would want someone to have your adventures WITH.

    Go fiesty feminists! :oP

  13. Oh thank god for your fantastic piece on this NWN. And, for your sound and reasoned logic Super Dik. I believe your perspective is shared by the majority.

    She is so wrong and it makes me ask: why portray us in this manner? Why would a smart and privileged (I assume) women of our generation (and I define that to be women who have had more real choices than ever) sprout this ill reasoned and baseless argument? In fact, the authority for her reasoning includes a sex-obsessed new age entrepreneur (just where we all get our information) plugging a new book, a brain surgeon (smart but clearly not an expert in this area) and a blokey television show host.

    She states, “Women are also suppressing traditional feminine characteristics like elegance and fragility to take on high power careers and step into male dominated roles.” What the fuck? Traditional to who? To what? I aim towards achieving elegance. I am definitely not suppressing it in my experience as a woman. Why must my drive to justify my existence with a career be mutually exclusive to this? It just doesn’t make sense.

    Why does this continue to happen? Should feminists be having a ‘should we re-brand’ debate? For our own sake. It is about equal rights and opportunities. Equality. Not pro-woman. And not anti-men. But, I understand enough about the movement to also appreciate why it is the way it is, why we are “feminists”. I just hope in our keeping of the term, we don’t increase the frequency of this willful misuse of the term/movement to catapult careers.

  14. Great post NWN, so glad you took this on (and promptly). When I read it I had one of those cartoonish steam-coming-out-of-ears moments. (Which is why I avoid The Punch, frankly!) Also, I have literally laughed-out-loud at your responses to ‘Android’. I mean, seriously, we’ve got to thank her for bringing the funny even if it does come wrapped up in teh stupid.

    • Thanks Spilt Milk. I hope Asher comes back, owns her comments and actually engages in debate.

      • Ah shucks NWN, thanks for the big up. Dreadful article, pandering to lowest common denominator reader with such drivel. Ps where do you deny her intelligence. Also how does one ‘research’ whether a person is intelligent. . . Do you have to take an exam for it? Do you get a certificate? Cos frankly a degree or such is not proof of smarts to me, I’ve met some pretty stupid graduates. I’ll base my interpretation of her intelligence on her printed word. Based on that article, she’s not on my nobel nominations list.

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  16. As a fragile stay-at-home housewife and mother, with a husband who can countersink screws (!), build aeroplanes, garages, and furniture and so on, I would have to say that I am damn proud to call myself a feminist.
    One day I may even have a reasonable job, possibly even…a….CAREER! I have a degree – which I wouldn’t have if “FEMINISM’ hadn’t appeared miraculously fully-formed in the seventies…oh hang on, the people who campaigned for women to have to rights to University education were a bit earlier than that, weren’t they…in the grand old days when men were men and women were elegant.
    And my manly, masculine, un-gelled, grotty-blue-drill-wearing husband who is at home with either power-tools or a scrubbing brush, a wooden spoon, a nappy or even an iron (although really I have to admit he is much more at home ironing on melamine edging on to Laminex) is also a feminist, and thinks I’m wonderful even though I DON’T SHAVE MY INELEGANT ARMPITS!

    I know – it’s a shame to have to destroy people’s illusions about hard-and-fast (so to speak) gender rules, but someone has to do it.

    Thanks NWN for the great post, and I look forward to reading more.

  17. Oh that article is rage inducing and full of stupidity. She’s doesn’t really believe that stuff does she? Please tell me she was just writing to a given headline or something. Bleurgh. Your take down was excellent. Unfortunatly neccessary, but excellent none the less.
    Fragile? Ba ha ha ha

    • Profligate Promiscuous Strumpet, what an awesome name! Welcome to the News with Nipples.

      I don’t know her personally, so I can’t say whether or not she actually believes it. But my feeling is that she (wrongly) thinks feminism has ruined femininity, and so therefore Feminism Is Evil. It’s not a very well thought out idea.

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