Miffed feminists should cast eyes to real issues
MARTIN VAN BEYNEN
Martin van Beynen
What is it with young femininsts?
OPINION: I thought feminisim was about the pursuit of equality for women but, in the current climate, feminism appears to be more about taking offence to every trivial, supposed slight against womenhood. Even where none was remotely intended.
Massey University is the latest victim of this strident trend among young feminists, who seem to think their sensibilities are so precious and worthy that they need constant defending.
It is not as though there are not plenty of issues young women could be getting excited about, even locally. For instance scores of young women, not as privileged as the young feminists, suffer abuse, unwanted pregnancies, addiction problems and abysmal relationships because of the cretinous males they end up with.
These social groups throw up a lot of old but important issues on which the young activists could hone their young teeth.
But, of course, these sorts of guys and that sort of masculinity are hard targets. These poor guys are themselves, like women, the victims of imperialism, capitalism, chauvinism, racism and paternalism, all of which make it impossible for their better natures and potentials to grow.
What was the hanging offence of which Massey was guilty?
The university had the temerity to advise its young female students that it might be a good idea not to wear headphones, to carry a whistle and a torch and wear running shoes in an area where a young woman had been raped by a stranger about 10 days ago.
Student Tory Leening, 22, a member of the Massey University Friendly Feminists club, called the advice "insane".
"It made me feel weaker than I already do."
Fellow student Hannah Beattie said placing the onus on victims' actions was unhelpful.
"I don't think we should have to dress thinking I could be raped," she said.
"There's a potential for people to read that and think that [the victim] must have been dressed wrong, maybe she didn't carry a whistle - when it wasn't that; it was that someone chose to attack her."
There is no doubt that the advice was a little patronising. I mean how stupid can young women be?
Surely they know that if a rapist is about they should take some sensible precautions like . . . Gosh, I nearly started making some suggestions but that would be inviting even more scorn from the friendly feminists.
Institutions are all about butt covering and of course someone from the university thought it politic to spell out the danger for the students. Maybe they were even a little concerned about the students' welfare.
The friendly feminists are also correct in saying they should not have to live their lives in fear of being raped but nobody is saying they should.
Neither is anyone saying men don't need to fix some of their attitudes to women.
If we go back to brass tacks, all the university was doing was warning about a danger and making some suggestions on how possible future victims might minimise the risk of being similarly attacked.
Most homeowners don't complain when good neighbours take the trouble to suggest anti-burglary measures even if they are fairly obvious.
You don't hear them saying they are miffed by having to take sensible precautions because they happen to be homeowners.
The young ladies have every right to take offence at such an innocuous message but they should realise it makes them sound shrill, unreasonable and even a little ungrateful.
You get the impression they have known no real hardship, have not mixed with anyone other than their own select little politically aware and well-off group and are determined to feel affronted.
That in itself is not so bad because I doubt they are very representative of young women. What is serious, however, is they trivialise themselves and issues they are concerned about. They also risk alienating the very people who are well disposed to their message.
You can almost be sure they are proponents of the latest feminist craziness, benevolent paternalism (BP). This is a backlash against things like men opening doors for women and letting women go first into the lift.
It assumes the behaviour is a manifestation of men, however kindly or well intentioned, treating women as the weaker and I suppose more refined sex.
I understand that for some women this can be irritating but most, I would hazard, are only too pleased to see men acting like gentlemen.
BP must be the only movement in the world where people are angry about other people being kind and considerate. It is the height of lunacy.
Finally the young women's attitude about the university warning says something about utopian activism. If the young feminists think they can create a society where everyone is equal and everyone acts contrary to their gender instincts, then they are living on another planet.
And to use a over-used masculine phrase - they really need to get a life.
- The Press