Modern feminism has so successfully captured the mainstream media that notions such as ‘toxic masculinity’, ‘white male privilege’ and ‘the patriarchy’ are constantly parroted on page or screen. Grievance tracts by the likes of Carole Criado Perez are heavily promoted. But most of this literature is for middle-class consumption. While women in highly-paid city jobs are encouraged to be pushy, an unemployed steelworker in Cleveland or a homeless ex-serviceman under a Croydon flyover would be baffled by the idea that men have it easy. But soya latte feminists overlook women too, showing little interest in the tens of thousands of working-class girls raped by so-called ‘grooming gangs’.
Feminists should be worried less about traditionally-minded white men holding them back and more about the consequences of the liberal-progressive cultural revolution that they have promulgated. Transgenderism, for example, is a threat to women’s safety that cannot be blamed on the patriarchy. Suzanne Moore, Julie Bindel and Kathleen Stock oppose the subversive doctrine that a transitioning man is a woman, arguing that biological males should not be allowed into women’s space. Labelled as TERFs (trans exclusionary radical feminists) these principled women have received no support from woke millennials. They are deplatformed by student feminist societies, who vilify them as transphobic.
Ironically, some chaps from the patriarchy such as Toby Young and Brendan O’Neill have stepped in to defend traditional feminists. Yet as I’ve observed in mental health lecturing, most young middle-class students would trump women’s rights for the cause of transgenderism, believing that a man in a dress should be allowed to sleep in the female section of a psychiatric ward. Ideology is more important to them than the risk of sexual harassment (the transitioner is regarded as vulnerable).
Preventing sexual violence has been paramount to the feminist movement. However, middle-class feminists in Western society are voting against their own welfare. Keen to display their values of tolerance and inclusivity, they follow the liberal-progressive agenda on immigration. Placards at rallies proclaiming ‘No Borders’ are typically held by bright young women, oblivious to the unsustainability and insecurity this would cause.
If Guardian commentaries are a reliable guide, middle-class feminists were mostly Remainers. But EU free movement rules are a demonstrable danger to women. Victims of brutal sexual assaults have rightly wondered why serial rapists released from jails on the continent are able to come here unchecked. The reason, of course, is that the EU puts power before women’s safety. Conservatively-minded men who voted Leave cannot be blamed for this.
Sex crime transcends ethnicity and nationality, but the danger to women has undoubtedly risen in Europe following the mass influx of young men from Muslim countries. Some cities in Sweden and Germany have become ‘no-go’ areas for women at night. Instead of integration with the norms of the host society, a fundamentalist creed of Islam is gaining momentum. As we have seen with the systematic abuse of schoolgirls in northern towns, importing misogynist culture from the hinterlands of Pakistan and Somalia has brought trouble. While most Muslims of Pakistani or Somali heritage are law-abiding citizens, the number of men involved in these crimes is vast.
Middle-class support for multiculturalism could lead to a major reversal of liberal-progressive polity. Islam may be protective of women, but it is undeniably regressive in its distinct separation of the sexes. It is a classic patriarchy. Traditionalist men are decried as racist bigots for preferring Nigel Farage to the ‘more-of-the-same’ political establishment, but they do not impose pre-medieval constraints on their wives and daughters.
Temporarily, the patriarchy has been overshadowed by coronavirus. The rapid spread of this disease was facilitated by liberal globalism, with a particularly bad outbreak in Italy, where leather factories employ legions of Chinese workers (many from the source of coronavirus in Wuhan). In previous crises, British society rose to the challenge with the mantra ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’. But now a largely feminised institutional culture is responding in an emotionally-driven manner, urging lockdown. Middle-class parents of double-salaried households demand that schools are closed, not considering the consequences for women of lesser means for whom no work means no pay. I perceive a correlation between privilege and panic.
It’s too soon to predict the legacy of the coronavirus pandemic, but I’d guess that people will learn from the dangers of liberal globalism and pine for nationhood, cultural security and community cohesion. Transgenderism, free movement and the rise of austere forms of Islam are not favourable conditions for feminism. Perhaps middle-class women will return to the Enlightenment values on which their freedom and rights depend.