Discourse

Feminism is a political ideology that is about power not women's liberation

When women in STEM are thrown under the bus because their findings don't align with feminist ideology, it becomes clear that feminism is an ideology steeped in gaining power, not supporting women.
Paula Wright
Paula Wright London, UK

When women in STEM are thrown under the bus because their findings don't align with feminist ideology, it becomes clear that feminism is an ideology steeped in gaining power, not supporting women.

Feminists don't care about women who don't prostrate themselves before the great patriarchal lingam. I gleaned the first hint of this rhetorical sleight of hand in my first year as an undergrad, after being informed in a lecture by my reliably feminist PhD woman's studies teaching assistant, that women's rights and feminism were not the same thing. Years later, whilst taking part in a debate about feminism on UK Talk Radio, corralled between two very classy feminists, I heard it again.

It was here that I first heard a woman say, "If my feminism isn't intersectional it isn't feminism" out loud and in front of people. She was, and still is, editor of The F Word and working in the UK parliament. She was more honest about the differences between feminism and women's rights, saying very clearly, "Just because a woman makes a decision, doesn't mean it's a feminist one."

The common goal of all feminisms, even ones that despise one another, is not to promote women's rights but to dismantle patriarchy, and if women get in the way of that goal, then they become legitimate targets.

Bedoor AlShebli has a Masters in computer science and a PhD in interdisciplinary engineering, and in her, we have a woman surely worthy of the support of the hashtag feminist movement #WomenInSTEM.

Well, she would if women in STEM didn't actually mean feminists in STEM.

AlShebli's crime against feminism was to be lead author of a paper which found that "junior female scientists were more impactful when collaborating with male mentors." This paper passed through the crucible of peer review and was published by one of the most impactful scientific journals of all. AlShebli is herself a junior scientist of great promise and already had a previous paper published in the same, high impact, journal.

Rather than congratulate AlShebli, feminists in STEM rounded on her, and her colleagues, for their problematic conclusions, which suggested that female scientists may do better in the long run if they had a male mentor.

The authors did moot various explanations for this, including the go-to feminist explanation for everything, i.e. patriarchy and male privilege. However, they also did not explicitly rule out other explanations and questioned the unintended consequences of diversity policies which promoted female/female mentorships, only expecting positive outcomes.

Queen bee syndrome describes the observation that women in senior positions are sometimes less than helpful, and sometimes more than unhelpful, to women coming up the ranks behind them. Within feminism and the social sciences, debates swing from whether queen bee syndrome is a misogynistic myth or a real phenomenon. Every woman alive knows it's real, but because it undermines the concept of the 'sisterhood' feminists are loath to give it serious air time.

Elsewhere in the human sciences, particularly the evolutionary human sciences, there is a huge body of research which goes by the name of intrasexual competition. The sex in intraSEXual is a noun not a verb, and decribes the sex of the people who are competing. I find it useful to point this out, as we primitive humans, a sexually reproducing species with sex on the brain, generally hear the word sex as a verb, that is, a doing word. This is probably why we needed to invent another noun for sex, and came up with gender. The intra in INTRAsexual means within or amongst: Female intrasexual competition then, is an unwieldy scientific name for competition between women.

There is a corresponding area of research in male intrasexual competition—competition between men—but this is hardly controversial. There are vast libraries full of books about male contests from The Iliad to Jack Reacher. Indeed, around the world in all cultures, humans have built monumental arenas to worship male competition and called them sports stadiums. We experience immense joy and excitement watching men compete with other men in these arenas, and men have a hell of a time doing it too.

There are no corresponding cultural arenas for women to compete with one another. Well, not until Twitter and Instagram, that is, which are perfect environments for female relational aggression. Competition at a safe distance, which is how women (and older men), on average, prefer it.

There is something called inTERsexual competition and this is more familiar to us. This is competition between the sexes, aka the battle of the sexes and is feminism's main obsession. Competition between women is not, and it is feminism's biggest blind spot by far.

Research shows that competition within a sex is far more intense than between sexes, but because feminists and feminist academics in other disciplines are so focused on blaming patriarchy for their problems, they consistently fail to see the pink elephant in the feminist room. Some glimpse it, like feminist grand dame Germaine Greer when she declared in 2014 at a feminist conference,

"Men's misogyny doesn't concern me. I'm more concerned about ours, Men are trained to work in groups."

And she was right. Feminism has no robust framework with which to grapple with female competition and rivalry. Some call it queen bee syndrome, others call it internalised misogyny - all are insufficient circular roads that inexorably lead back to patriarchy theory. And because there is no explanation within feminist language to describe it, feminists, overcome with dissonance, generally resort to denial. And this is the main reason Alshelbi's paper was seized upon as 'problematic'.

On December 21st, after a month of intense mobbing on social media...

...by feminists in STEM challenging the interpretation of their misogynistic conclusions, the authors retracted the paper themselves. It was a jump or be pushed situation. They stand by their results however.

Tania A. Reynolds, is a woman in STEM, and a researcher like myself in female intrasexual competition. She wrote a thorough analysis of the pros and cons of the AlShebli paper, which I highly recommend.

The fact is, there is no justification for retracting this paper other than it offends feminist sensibilities. Had the paper reached different conclusions, feminists would have found no issue with their methods. In fact, the degree of perfectionism feminists in STEM demanded this paper adhere to, if applied to the entire cannon of feminist and gender studies research, would wipe both off the scholarly map.

Had Alshelbi, et al, described their findings as evidence of sexism, patriarchy, structural oppression or toxic masculinity, I have no doubt that the online feminist movement #WomenInSTEM would have spun a very different, effusive narrative.

Another woman to catch Medusa's gaze this month is author Jessica Cluess, who has lost her livelihood after being accused of racism by intersectional feminists, because she criticized critical race theory. Yes, you have that right. Cluess was accused of racism because she mocked the tweets of "antiracist educator" Lorena German, who doesn't seem to know an ad hominem from her elbow.

Unlike with AlShebli, this has nothing to do with science. There's barely a demand for even basic, high school level, standards of intelligence here. Both cases however, make me wonder what benefit is critical race theory and feminism generally, to women, if it schools them only in learned helplessness and intellectual fragility?

Cluess apologized, but the feminist harpies, not being able to parade her for shame, head shaven in the marketplace, were not satisfied. They wanted their pound of flesh.

And here we come full circle. Feminist activism isn't for women's benefit. It's for feminism's benefit.

We need to remember, when feminists are lobbying for 50/50 women's representation in politics, science or business, they don't mean women at all. They mean feminists. And since the number of feminists in the general population, men and women combined, is optimistically never more than 15 percent and regularly as low as 7 percent, they are actually lobbying for a significant OVER representation of ideologues with less than liberal intentions.

Feminists take the name of "woman" in vain just as woke progressives take the name of black people in vain. If we are not useful to them, they have nothing but contempt for us. We are legitimate targets for cancellation.

As my learned feminist friend above stated clearly, women's rights and feminism are not the same. What feminists want, all feminists, is well documented. To quote the iconic black feminist bell hooks, patriarchy is "a system characterized by power, dominance, hierarchy and competition, a system that [cannot] be reformed but only ripped out root and branch."

The fundamental problem with the feminist concept of patriarchy is that it is an axiomatic, unquestioned premise upon which all feminisms stand on. That the premise may be false is never considered. But the premise is false, and therefore, so is all that follows from it.

The feminist concept of patriarchy it is about as scientifically robust as the theory of Santa Claus. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a believer.

So is Ilhan Omar.

It's no secret: the difference between women's rights and feminism is that for the latter, women are a means to an end towards dismantling patriarchy, not helping women to self actualize as a stay at home mother, a CEO or anything in between. Remember what my learned friend who works in the UK Parliament said, "Just because a woman makes a decision doesn't make it a feminist one."

And cancel culture, the harpy"s weapon of choice? It is an organic manifestation of the dark side of female psychology, enabled and encouraged by feminist chauvinism.

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