I’ve long suspected and felt that how women are viewed by both traditionalist chauvinism and modern feminism are remarkably similar. It may make uncomfortable reading for some feminists, but bear with me here as I go through where they overlap with the chauvinistic view of women.
Chauvinists see women as the weaker sex – weaker in every way. Physically, emotionally and mentally. According to the traditionalist mindset, women are generally not in control of their faculties. So when they cheat on a partner, kill a love rival, have an emotional outburst or otherwise do something bad, they are not to blame. They can’t help it – it’s genetics and perhaps lack of the fortitude clearly present in the male half of the species. She didn’t know what she was doing; she suffers from a permanent case of diminished responsibility due to her genitals.
Feminists also see women as blameless albeit approaching from a different angle. Women are blameless because they are victims of everything all of the time. If she cheats, she isn’t to blame – her partner did something to make her do it. If she kills somebody, she must have had the good reason for doing so. Not so much diminished responsibility, but the idea that women don’t do bad things without good reason for doing it.
Women Must Be Protected
Women are fragile and delicate creatures – according to both chauvinists and feminists. From the traditionalist perspective still stuck in the mindset that women are the weaker sex, they must be protected from anything that might upset them. That’s why we should go easier on female criminals, why we should forgive women who cheat or at the very least, hold our tongues in the recrimination phase – you might upset her.
Feminists, on the other hand, pose the idea of a kind of sacred feminine. Women must be protected because they are “special” or because they are so oppressed everywhere by everyone that we must give them special protections. This is why online abuse is often accused of being misogynistic when aimed at a woman even when her gender has nothing to do with the argument at hand. The “misogyny” label attempts to deflect or silence criticism because it is aimed at a woman.
Woman on a Pedestal
Hold a door open for her, pay for her meal on a date, walk her to the taxi, make sure she gets home ok, treat her like a princess. These rote-learned approaches to dating or treating a woman are, in general, held up as the standard for all men everywhere, even in the 21st century. It goes back to “woman the weaker sex” attitude but one that many feminists have yet to dispose of, presumably because they like or prefer to be put on a pedestal.
Feminists put women on the same pedestal. Jokes about women are off limits but jokes about men are always acceptable. Negative stereotypes of women, even when used in jest, are held up as oppressive and misogynistic. Stereotypes about men are fair game and we’re told to just accept it, broflake! Think back to the Elliot Rogers shooting. More was said about the two female death victims (and three further injured) than about the four male death victims (and 11 injuries). He wanted to get his “revenge” on the women who rejected him and the men he perceived as being more successful with women than he was. The fact that most people are still not aware that he killed and injured more men than women is highly suggestive of the inherent value we still place on female lives.
Chauvinists and feminists alike place women on a pedestal, want special protections and are all too happy to excuse the bad behaviour of women. True equality lies in treating women as adults and holding them to account for their behaviour.