I’ve had the opportunity to get to know some of the different varieties of feminism as it is understood in different parts of the world. In truth, feminism is looked upon with abhorrence by the vast majority of the world’s population. Even most Americans – including women – refuse to identify with it, and other than in the Nordic countries it is perhaps most popular in the US. In most of the global South, which includes the bulk of the world’s people, feminists are seen as borderline criminals, and certainly bizarre, depraved women.
And I would definitely agree with my Asian, African and Latin American friends in that regard…
However, even I have to admit that there are certain kinds of feminism that just aren’t as vicious, cruel and horribly effective as our own variety has been.
Take FEMEN and Pussy Riot for example. Both are examples of Eastern European feminism, and as obscene and repugnant as they can be, the net effect of their actions has been remarkably tame. Even their anti-religious stunts – hate crimes, really – have been little more than petty vandalism and hooliganism. Contrast that to our own “Christian feminism” that has all but subverted the Christian faith in a number of denominations. Or the feminism that laid waste to Reform Judaism, and threatens to do the same to Conservative Judaism. It wouldn’t even surprise me to see a form of feminist Islam openly emerge in the near future. This is a distinctly Anglo phenomenon.
More important even than religious subversion is the stranglehold feminism has placed on family law in the entire Anglosphere. For all the noise Swedish feminists make and all the crazy anti-sex laws they’ve passed, the Nordic system of family law is remarkably humane compared to what exists in, say, Australia. In the land of widespread acceptance of feminism, equal custody is the norm rather than the exception. Perhaps this explains the Nordic male acquiescence to feminism, or at least the fact that it isn’t all that controversial there.
So what is it about Anglo feminism that makes it such a nasty, deadly strain? A couple years ago, I suggested that the adversarial nature of Anglo government is largely to blame, and in considering the issue more I’m even further convinced that’s the case. In the linked article, I focused on the adversarial relationship between the state and the governed, which is enshrined in Anglo law, and suggested that feminists have been able to play off the people and the state to their advantage.
When seen in the context of the traditional Anglo antagonism toward government, it’s pretty clear that feminists are, for all intents and purposes, allies of the state against the people. It is akin to a symbiotic relationship between two parasites feeding off the same host; something like the relationship between the mosquito, the plasmodium parasite (malaria) and the human being.
However, this would explain not only the power of feminism, but of all identity politics in the US, so it isn’t all that specific in its effects.
I think it’s a pretty important insight, but on second thought there’s a lot more to it than just the wider political implications. On considering the brutality of family law in Anglo countries, which is unique in the world, it occurred to me that in no other part of the world is there a truly adversarial system of family law. In fact, Islamic Sharia family law is remarkably humane in contrast, although I’d give continental European civil law the highest marks.
The idea that a divorce is an occasion upon which attorneys can engage in the blood sport of custody fights, alimony and child support combat is unique to the Anglosphere. Without this adversarial system of family law, feminists couldn’t have done nearly as much damage to the family.
With this in mind, I’ve begun to see efforts to introduce “no-fault divorce” in an entirely different light. As I’ve pointed out before, no-fault has been something of a disaster, but now is looks as though the people who pushed for and introduced it may have actually been trying to mitigate the problems caused by adversarial divorces. They failed, of course, but according to accounts I’ve read, prior to no-fault couples routinely invented slanders against each other to justify divorce, introducing a barbaric element to the proceedings. The reason no-fault failed is that instead of dissipating, the fighting simply moved from fault in marriage to another arena: the assets and children.
No-fault was a well-meaning reform, but it failed because it didn’t go far enough. Instead of simply expediting the finding of dissolution, it should have also declared that if there is no fault in marriage, then there is no “fault” in custody as well, and both parents shall share equally just as they do marital assets. Unfortunately, at the time it was introduced the social norm was still a working father/stay-at-home mother couple, which is outdated today.
So, perhaps rather than criticizing the concept of no-fault divorce, we should embrace it in its entirety, and extend it to all aspects of the dissolution, including child custody. If “fault” truly exists, such as conviction for a violent crime against a family member, abandonment, a crippling addiction or disabling mental illness, then it may be introduced, but barring such circumstances a default judgment of no parental fault shall be entered, and custody equally shared.
The most effective way to neutralize feminism in the Anglosphere would be to eliminate the adversarial nature of divorce proceedings. By all means, keep it in criminal and tort law, but it doesn’t belong in the family, and never should have been there in the first place. Politicians and reformers tried and failed to provide a remedy some two generations ago, and now they have an opportunity to finish the job. Let’s hope they give this matter some serious attention. The time for reform has already come.