Nailing a Feminist Myth

Article excerpt

Maybe the times are changing, and the dreamed of swing of the pendulum is actually happening. I will not hold my breath, but it is pleasing to see the first genuine male apostate of the feminist movement coming out with a valuable new book that will earn him a fatwa as surely as Salman Rushdie earned his. Farrell's contribution, however, will be of great value in changing the perceptions generated over the last 20 years or so by the media and the skilled feminist lobby groups. They have, to a large extent, captured Western leaders and created in them a "female vote dependency" like heroin to a junkie. Unfortunately our own Liberal Party is as much addicted as the Federal and State Labor Parties and the book is thus a valuable starting point to question many of the policies implemented in this country.

Warren Farrell served on the board of directors of the National Organization for Women in New York City and lectured and made his career supporting and feeding the prejudices of the more extreme elements of the American feminist movement with catch phrases like "women are enlightened, men Neanderthals." He is well positioned to turn the tables, and he does so powerfully.

The book is constructed in an unrelentingly polemical way, and it is marred by new-age Californian cliches and smug and inaccurate generalizations about human nature that could put off some readers. Nevertheless, one should persist. The book's value comes from the copious amounts of hard statistics and anecdotes that systematically turn upside down the various myths propagated about inequality of power between the sexes. It should be compulsory reading for any policy-maker in almost any area, but especially health, education, defence and the law. The information applies to the United States but research in Australia suggests that the trend is very similar.

In compiling the book the author scoured thousands of publications and news clippings with the help of a huge research team. All facts and anecdotes were double-checked, and hundreds were rejected if there was any doubt about their reliability or accuracy. There are 50 pages of sources and references.

Farrell's essential concern is that male power is a myth propagated by radical feminists and the media to the point where it becomes difficult to think any other way. He asks where else in history do we find a victim group in society who has 53 per cent of the vote, who lives on average seven years longer than men, who has more net value in assets, who spends up to six times more discretionary income on themselves than men...The list goes on and on.

To dispel the obvious criticism that men do have real power in government, the military, industry and the financial world, Farrell correctly points out that the power elite is a very small minority, and that his task is to focus on the majority of men, who by their sex alone are all systematically associated with power in the feminist cosmology. One cannot generalize about power from the sex of a single Prime Minister or a whole cabinet. Modern political elites do not as a rule represent, nor are they elected to represent, only the male or only the female members of society. Feminists, in any case, are always confounded by the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Bronwyn Bishop, Benazir Bhutto or the present reality of. a female Prime Minister in Turkey! So let us look at the disempowered majority of males.

INEQUALITY OF HEALTH

In discussing minority groups such as Australian Aborigines or American blacks, most commentators employ health and life expectancy statistics as measures of oppression and victimization. The fact that the life expectancy of Aborigines is very much lower than that of white Australians is often seen as a product of powerlessness and dispossession, a lack of control over one's own life. What do we make, therefore, of the statistical odds of the following four categories of 25-year-olds surviving one single year in the United States? …