July 08, 2004 | Unknown

Discriminating Ladies

It has been suggested that many women are abandoning paid work for the home.
If this is an accurate appraisal, and not just wishful thinking on the part of some, then the Ladies Against Feminism (LAF) are surely this trend’s most radical faction.
Armed with a Bible, an Edwardian Apron Pattern and the booklet of Christian Modesty, the LAF are fighting for, or at least demurely crafting, a version of femaleness that probably only existed in pre-twentieth century romantic fiction.
LAF’s website, which was no doubt embroidered one day when columnist Mrs. Stanley Sherman’s husband was calling on parishioners and her bairns were playing impetuous, but Godly, games, is adorned with the kind of treacly images that suggests it could be a parody.
A modest perusal of How to Get Back Home and Responsible Manhood reveals, however, that these “ladies” aren’t taking the piss.
Unsurprisingly, there are no pictures from olden times of over-worked females in factories, servants cleaning day and night for a pittance or destitute wives surrounded by hungry and grubby kids.
Like much of the retrogressive advice aimed at women, LAF is pure bourgeois fantasy and could be used as evidence that watching too many BBC costume dramas addles the brain.
It’s also unadulterated hogwash; imagine a site called Negroes Opposed to the Civil Rights Movement (NOCRM), with sections devoted to appropriate slave wear and tips on how to behave around your owner.
“NOCRM recommends silver chains and a permanently bowed head so he knows who’s boss”.
Most of those currently promoting domesticity as the height of female achievement, such as Dr Laura Schlessinger, author of The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands (what a title – is she saying blokes are like helpless puppies?), and the New Yorker’s Caitlin Flanagan, are more modern than LAF; after all they hold down jobs outside the home so they can’t be trying to deny that right to others, can they?
Mind you, a chap in short sleeves, shorts and long socks would seem more hip than the LAF Mesdames.
The likes of Schlessinger and Flanagan are exploiting both the entrenched belief that certain roles and qualities are innately male or female and the insecurity that has arisen since this idea has been, partially, challenged.
Indeed, they’re taking advantage of a place deep inside us where a LAF member lives untroubled by three waves of feminism, or, for that matter, the end of the 19th century.
Lakshmi Chaudhry in Stepford Wife: You’ve Come the Wrong Way, Baby adeptly assessed Flanagan as someone, “…who represents that part of us that wants to throw in the towel, to give up the good fight in the hope that surrender will bring a better, more perfect happiness than the contradictions and confusions of a partly-liberated life”.
It looks, then, as if the centrality of individual contentment (as opposed to fighting for the rights of a group), as well as anxiety about contemporary living, allows these commentators to peddle their reactionary cure, but, as Chaudhry properly argues, “whatever we do there is no guarantee of happiness, there never was – how much the hardy band of anti-feminists may insist to the contrary”.
Although LAF obviously don’t champion women’s rights, elements of Mrs. Chancey’s dissertation on feminism demonstrate they do think females are morally superior and more dependable than men, till they start emulating them that is.
In this view, it’s a wife’s influence that frees a man from “promiscuity” and living without accountability.
That women civilize was accepted by some first-wave feminists, and given the harshness of early Australia not unreasonably, but persisting with this notion asks too much of women and not enough of men.
Dr Schlessinger doesn’t mind; in an article in The Courier-Mail recently, wherein she damned modern women, she claimed men are “simple”.
While possessing the emotional complexity of a children’s show host may be better than being amoral and “irresponsible”, when Schlessinger says this, and puts the onus on women to make a relationship work, isn’t she saying men aren’t capable of much?
Imagine the ballyhoo from right-wing boys if a feminist suggested this.
With all respect to the good doctor, and the LAF, activities like changing nappies, washing dishes, nurturing, needlepoint and working outside the home are not inherently gendered and both men and women are capable of doing them.
We should keep striving until the home and the labour market reflect this reality.
Darlene’s website.

Posted by Unknown at 2:17 pm | Comments (2) |
Filed under: Uncategorized


  1. Thanks for alerting me to another totally stupid website, “Evil”.
    Bitter, twisted ageing blokes who have no capacity for self-reflection and engage in explicit racism (“only marry foreign women”) are not the only ones who don’t have an interest in marriage, by the way.
    You only have to watch the dire Newlyweds to see that as soon as some people get married they turn into stereotypes of what a husband and wife should be. Blah and double blah!
    Thanks again.

    Comment by Darlene Taylor — July 12, 2004 @ 9:26 am

  2. Can my comment be rescued from the preview discard pit ? Inadvertent loss of useful comment, that I don’t have time to redo. If you can find it, please add it to the comments collection.

    Comment by Glynne Sutcliffe — July 12, 2004 @ 12:40 pm

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