The notion that there are vast disparities in power and influence which favour men over women across all levels of society is so prevalent and commonsensical to us these days that to challenge the concept of the ‘patriarchy’ and to question the dominant narrative on gender inequality is, at best, a demonstration of ignorance, at worst, an act of misogyny.
That men rule the world, own the vast majority of capital, hold all the levers of power and are predominant in the roles of political leadership, moral authority, social privilege and in determining the direction of the cultural narrative, is not open to debate, it is just fact. Common sense. End of story. No further conversation to be had.
Now, to a degree, this is true. One would be a fool to deny that there are hyper-successful men at the top of society hold many of the levers of power and have done for time immemorial. Issues arise when we make the mental leap to the belief the power and influence wielded by this tiny group of men represent the entire structure of western civilisation. Just some cursory glances around us and it becomes clear to see that these days this notion is fanciful. Power and influence are spread proportionately more so between the genders than the dominant cultural influencers in the west would have us believe. I’d even go so far to say that the tables have in the main turned in favour of the feminine. In and of itself, this is not an issue, our concern should lie with who it is turning the tables, with what aspirations, and at what cost. I’ll expand further on this point in a moment.
First, I’d like to state I am a father of twin boys aged 15 and a daughter aged 11, and I am writing this article (and others) out of acute concern for the current state of affairs with regards to gender relations and how the resulting conflict may influence my children and others on their journey to adulthood.
For my daughter, I am concerned about the negative impact of pernicious third-wave feminist ideology, which I refer to as ‘gender feminism’, which has gained significant influence over the cultural narrative. An ideology that on the one hand, encourages a victim mindset in girls and on the other ‘empowers’ them to believe they are the primary gender and also of the need to end the ‘tyranny’ of inequality forced upon them by the patriarchy. For my boys, as they grow towards manhood, I am anxious about the consequences of the increasingly hostile attitude towards masculinity, generated and perpetuated by this particular ideology.
I will return to the subject of my kids and concerns in the conclusion, before that I’ll broaden the issue and step through some examples of inequality in our institutions. But first, a brief discursion into neo-Marxist philosophy for an exposition of the intellectual framework and strategy through which an insurgent group might gain influence over culture and civil society with their ideas and agenda.
Cultural Hegemony and the ‘War of Position’
Regardless of one’s opinion of Karl Marx and Marxism, it should go without saying Marx’s beliefs, and those who developed further his ideas have been incredibly influential in shaping the world for nearly 200 years. I’m sure most people with even the most rudimentary understanding of Marx and Marxism will be aware Marx’s analysis of society and history was based on the class struggle between the proletariat and the ruling classes, the battle for control of the means of production, communication and exchange, and how those power relations are set and controlled. The concept I am interested in exploring from a Marxist perspective is ideology and how different ideologies influence society by reinforcing and challenging the status quo.
Antonio Gramsci (1891–1937), an Italian Marxist philosopher and communist politician who wrote on political theory, sociology and linguistics, evolved Marx’s thoughts on ideology with his writings on ‘hegemony’. Gramsci said for a movement (socialism in his case) to ever ‘win’ the battle for power it must also conquer the culture — the hearts and minds of the people (proletariat) — to establish its own cultural hegemony.
Gramsci believed in the west a ‘war of manoeuvre’ (direct assault on the state) would likely fail, without a concurrent or preceding ‘war of position’ within civil society that would also need to be waged for any direct assault on the levers of power to be successful. To establish this new cultural hegemony the proponents of the insurgent position must gain control cultural institutions and civil society, meaning education, media, social sciences, philosophy, law, art, and science, etc, to infiltrate the beliefs of the public.
Hegemony is a bottom-up approach that stealthily changes the beliefs of the culture itself. It involves softening or radicalising beliefs about social issues, such as, in the case of feminism; abortion, pornography, divorce, female political representation, etc. The idea is to move everything into the proponent’s favoured direction, so new norms are deeply rooted in society and the minds of the public.
Gramsci’s ideas have been taken up and used (whether explicitly or implicitly) by not only communists and Marxists but many social movements and political organisations, notably; feminists, the Labour Party, populist political parties around the world, and somewhat surprisingly, even Michael Gove of the Conservative Party has invoked Gramsci as an intellectual buttress for his views on contemporary education in Britain and declared him to be one of ‘two particular individuals who have influenced me more than any others’.
Now let’s turn our attention to feminism and how the idea of gaining hegemonic control of culture might look with this particular ideology in mind.
In another article I’ve written called ‘Rediscovering Masculinity — a contribution to the gender debate’ I gave a brief history and some contextual background to feminist ideology, which I shall quote in full here:
“There is debate over the number of so-called waves feminism has passed through in the last 150 years or so. For this article, I divide feminism into three distinct waves based on the movement’s demands and focus at the time.
First, there is the “Suffrage Period” spanning the late 19th century and the early 20th century. Increasing equality of opportunity was the aim. The movement focused its attention mainly on suffrage alongside campaigns for other legal rights and differing legal status between men and women was considered to be the root cause of inequality. The movement was most active in the UK, Canada and the United States and succeeded in gaining women the right to vote and other legal liberties.
The next wave, from the middle 20th century to the 1960s is the “Reproductive Rights & Equal Pay Period”. Again, gaining equality of opportunity was the aim. This wave began in the US and spread to the UK and Asia and focused mainly on sexuality, reproductive rights and the wage gap. The defined cause of inequality broadens to include societal subjugation alongside legal rights. The movement succeeded in gaining women reproductive rights and securing career options for women.
The third and present wave is the “Gender Feminism Period”. The movement at this stage continues to evolve, but feminism’s primary concerns include cultural and sexual diversity and gay rights. The attention here shifts to gaining equality of outcomes for the collective, and unlike the previous two waves, the definition of gender shifts from one based on biological determinism to a social constructivist position. Feminist rhetoric becomes distinctly combative and uncompromising, notably so following the birth of the #MeToo movement. All men are cast as abusers or complicit in abuse, women as victims, and the patriarchy (as defined by feminists) and capitalism are blamed for all social ills.
By now heavily influenced by post-modernist philosophy and having adopted an intersectionalist framework through which to view society, feminism in the “patriarchy period” categorises people into identity groups, making the assumption each group is engaged in a constant battle for power with other groups, and defines a hierarchy where one group can hold power only at the expense of others. Slogans such as the “Future is Female” and “Girl Power” betray the movement’s supremacist aspirations in this period. The historical battles fought by both men and women together to establish order over the chaos of nature and grinding poverty is wholly ignored. Masculinity is cast as an “illness”, and traditional masculine values like self-sacrifice, responsibility and protection are condemned as exercises in men gaining power and privilege over women. The only acceptable response for men, supposedly, is to recognise and atone for their eternal “subjugation” of women by deconstructing their “toxic masculinity”, realign their nature by developing their feminine spirits, and by becoming allies in the dismantling of the patriarchy and in smashing capitalism.”
In this brief history, I have sketched how feminist ideology has developed over the years and spread in influence, shape-shifting along the way, and slowly but consciously changed beliefs by waging a ‘war of position’ alongside a ‘war of manoeuvre’ across our cultural institutions, whilst evolving from equalist aims towards gender-focused supremacist aspirations and hegemonic dominance.
Some facts and figures
In the interest of transparency, in this section, in no way do I claim to be impartial. I am making a case that inequality if it exists, is also applicable to men.
One of the feminist’s most widely used tropes is gender inequality is rife at the top echelons of our political system. Admittedly, there remains a significant disparity between the number of female and male MPs, but let’s also look at a list of top political positions in the UK currently occupied by women.
- Prime Minister: Female
- First Minister, Scotland: Female
- Green Party leader: Female
- Tory leader, Scotland: Female
- Head of Met Police: Female
- Head of London Fire: Female
- Monarch: Female
- DUP leader: Female
- Plaid Cymru Westminster leader: Female.
- Defence Secretary: Female
- Work & Pensions Sec: Female
- NI Secretary: Female
- Chief Sec to Treasury: Female
- Every day 200 children are separated from their fathers in the family courts. (Fathers4Justice, 2017)
- 97% of non-resident parents are dads who are denied parental equality and shared parenting because of their gender. In effect, 97% of dads are regarded as ‘unfit’ to share in the parenting of their children. (Kielty, S. Journal of Law, Policy and the Family, University of East Anglia, 2006)
- The government has rejected parental equality for separated dads, rejected shared parenting, and rejected a legal presumption of contact between fathers and their children. (Fathers4Justice, 2017)
- ‘Judges are being brought out of retirement to cope with the family law crisis.’ (The Lord Chief Justice, Lord Thomas of Cwmgiedd, 2017)
- 50% of all court orders are broken. (The Times, 2002)
- More than 100,000 children were involved in family court cases over the past year. (Cafcass, 2017)
- 3.8 million children are living ‘at the mercy of family courts’ after their parents separate. (Sir Paul Coleridge, Daily Mail, 14/7/11)
- There is no government support for separated fathers, yet separated mothers have a wealth of publicly funded supported services including support workers, Women’s Aid, and access to free legal aid. (Fathers4Justice, 2017)
- Violence: Men are twice as likely to be victims of violent crime and 40% of domestic violence victims are male. (British Crime Survey 2011/12, 2008)
- Cancer: 53% of all cancer deaths are men. 237 men die from cancer every day. (Cancer Research UK, 2014)
- Homelessness: 84% of the hidden homeless are men. (Crisis, 2011)
- Prison: There has been a 92% rise in the prison population since 1993 of which 95% are men*. 81,268 men are now in prison**. (Prison Reform Trust, 2016* / HM Prison and Probation Service, April 2017**)
- Fertility: Sperm counts have fallen by 60% in 40 years risking a fertility crisis. (Hebrew University of Jerusalem, 2017)
- Low Testosterone: Men with a lower level of testosterone have a 33% increased risk of dying* and low testosterone is linked to depression, obesity, tiredness and erectile dysfunction**. (*University of California, 2011 **WebMD, 2014)
- Steroids: Steroid use amongst men has quadrupled in one year. Office for (National Statistics, 2017)
- Employment: The number of men in low-paid and part-time work has increased 400% in the past 20 years* and men who work part-time now earn less than part-time women.** *(Institute for Fiscal Studies, 2017 **Office for National Statistics, Annual Survey for Hours and Earnings Statistical Bulletin, 2013.)
- Life Expectancy: An unskilled man can expect to live 11 years less than a professional woman. (The Department Of Health, 2001)
- The American Psychological Association’s manifesto, Guidelines for Psychological Practice with Boys and Men
- For every £8 spent on women’s health, just £1 is spent on male health. (Men’s Health Forum, Royal College of Nursing)
- Eight times as much money is spent on specific female health issues as on male ones. (The Department of Health)
- The excess of premature male deaths is the equivalent of a jumbo jet full of men crashing every week. (The Department of Health)
- Just 1.7% of funding for road safety is spent on suicide prevention, yet men are nearly 4 x more likely to die from suicide than in road traffic accidents.
- More than 1 in 3 children never see their father again after their parents separate. Mishcon de Reya, 2009 2. Over 3 million children live in fatherless homes. (Office for National Statistics, Labour Force Survey, 2010)
- 1 in 4 children do not consider their father to be part of their family. (Childwise, 2007)
- More boys aged 15 have a smartphone than live with their father. (Centre for Social Justice, 2014)
- Fatherless young people are almost 70 per cent more likely to take drugs and 76 per cent more likely to get involved in crime.(Addaction, 2011)
- The cost of family breakdown across the UK is £48bn a year. Relationships Foundation, 2016 7. Almost 50% of men who take a paternity test turn out not to be the real father. (BioClinics DNA Clinic, 2016)
- Suicide is the biggest killer of men under 45 in the UK. (CALM, 2015)
- 12 men take their own lives every day. CALM, 2015 3. Dads are 3 x more likely to die after separation than mothers. (Department for Work & Pensions, 2015)
- Separation from children appears to be a significant factor in some men’s suicides. (Men, Suicide And Society, The Samaritans, 2012)
- Divorced men are three times more likely to take their own lives. (The Samaritans, 2015)
- Over 100 dads are believed to have killed themselves because of demands from the Child Support Agency. (Daily Mirror, 2006)
- Because of social stigma and religious taboos, male suicide is significantly underreported, or deaths wrongly attributed to other causes such as ‘accidental’ or ‘undetermined intent’ by coroners. (Samaritans, Men Suicide and Society Research Report, 2012
- Suicide remains an inequity, with men and deprived groups disproportionately affected. (Andrew Sim, Executive Director, Samaritans, Scotland)
- Nearly 4 x more men die from suicide than in road traffic accidents. (Parliamentary Health Select Committee, 2016 / Department for Transport, 2015)
- The suicides of dads are not included in any data despite men aged 45–54 being the highest risk group. (Fathers4Justice, 2017)
Mary Curnock Cook, chief executive of Ucas until 2017, has stated the fact boys are falling behind in education is a national scandal — yet it is such an “unfashionable” topic but is rarely discussed because it has become “normalised’”. The “astonishing” underperformance of boys is a result of “feminist interventions” that have made the topic “taboo”.
- University: 57 per cent of women went to university last year compared to 43 per cent of men (Ucas, 2017–18)
- A-levels: 79 per cent of girls received A*-C grades compared to 75 per cent of boys (Joint Council for Qualifications, 2018)
- GCSEs: 71 per cent of girls received A*-C grades compared to 62 per cent of boys (Joint Council for Qualifications, 2018)
- Key Stage 2: 68 per cent of girls reached the expected standard in the Three R’s, compared to 60 per cent of boys (Department for Education, 2018)
The media industry is one of the most prevalent peddlers of gender feminist ideology. Increasingly so anti-male attitudes are pumped into the collective consciousness with many big brands jumping on board the ‘toxic masculinity’ trope.
- Increasing numbers of diversity quotas in media, education and corporate culture
- The feminisation of men and the rise of the ‘beta male’
- Banning of ‘harmful’ gender stereotypes in advertising
- Gender feminist art that is openly hostile to men and masculinity and demonstrates their supremacist aspirations
- Gillette ‘We Believe: The Best A Man Can Be’ advertisement
- Belittling of men in advertising
So, is gender inequality a myth?
Inequalities are found in every sphere of life and are an inescapable and necessary facet of the human condition (clearly here I demonstrate my departure from Marx) and relations between men and women are, of course, no exception. But where I would argue and have here attempted to demonstrate, the answer to the question certainly is not as straightforward as the gender feminists, and their ‘men oppressors/women oppressed’ dichotomy would have us believe.
The answer I suggest is yes and no. I propose gender inequality exists but the reality is more complex and less favourable to the narrative the gender feminists have made hegemonic. The reality is more akin to the image on the right in the graphic below, which shows us the bigger picture the gender feminists either don’t believe or attempt to hide from us with their propaganda.
A tiny percentage of men at the top of society continues to control the major levers of power. The gender ‘pay gap’ remains an issue and a subject of fierce debate, and, as I mentioned above, there remain substantial representation disparities in corporate culture. Men still hold 95% of CEO positions at the largest companies in the US and Europe, but this proportion of men, who wield hugely disproportionate amounts of power and influence over the rest of us. Most men have as much control over the levers of power as women do. However, in most major civil institutions, particularly education, media, and law, gender feminists have firmly embedded their gynocentric dominance.
Women, as a result of a five-decade or more ‘war of position’ waged by the gender feminists, are now superseding the so-called patriarchy’s influence throughout civil society. The hegemonic belief propagated by noisy radicals that the patriarchy is pervasive at every level of society, across all institutions, and creating vast inequalities between the genders for the benefit of only men, regardless of caste or class, does not stand up to scrutiny and is both pernicious and dangerous. It is a horrible thing to tell young women and incredibly hazardous to the well being of men.
Gender feminists teach women to seek power, not personal betterment. To think of themselves as oppressed, weak, disempowered, and controlled by men and society. It is a version of equality that drills into women that they are entitled to more attention, support, money and power, by virtue of their historical ‘subjugation’ at the hands of men.
Meanwhile, these same radicals attempt to make young men believe they must fend for themselves, unaided, while being expected to care for others out of civic duty, because women are in dire need of help due to patriarchal oppression. This has created a system under which men are expected to prioritise women at their own expense and to despise their biological nature, while simultaneously remaining disaffected themselves, as prison numbers, violent crime statistics, suicide rates, war deaths, school achievement rates, etc, attest.
As a father, all of the above worries me considerably. I feel it my duty to inform my children of these issues, to make them aware of and avoid the mistake of falling into the traps set by radical ideologies, be that gender feminism or any other. Given the turbulent time in which we live, beset by cultural battles at every turn, I guide them through this volatile terrain. I teach of the perils of neo-fascism, the limitations and dangers of hard-leftism, explain the old assumptions about the world have shattered, and we have entered into a crisis of meaning, where everything is fluid, changing at an ever greater pace. There is a war raging for the heart of humanity, and it is easy to lose your footing at such a time, to get swept away by promises that can easily lead towards dead ends in life. As our friend, Gramsci, himself says:
“The old world is dying away, and the new world struggles to come forth. Now is the time of monsters.“
I want my children to think for themselves, to see the ‘angles’, and navigate their way through the world, a new terrain beset by cultural terrorists intent on indoctrinating their impressionable minds. I extol to them the virtues of egalitarianism but explain how the world is unfair, the inherent value of hierarchies and how it is on them to take responsibility for themselves and their destinies. Get them to appreciate that when seeking power, you stop seeking equality because you automatically start discriminating against some people to empower others. If they are so inclined and wish to embody egalitarian principles, it is on them to understand they can only prosper once they stop making everything about themselves or their own specific demographic. Egalitarianism is for all or none. And that true equality must be gender blind.
I tell my daughter she can be anything she wants to be. She is not a victim by nature of her gender; neither is she entitled to more power than men for the same reason. Her destiny ultimately lies with herself. I point to the women in history who have of their own accord, in an unequal world, achieved their dreams, exceeded the expectations of their peers and the ‘limitations’ set by the culture of the time. She knows she must take responsibility for herself. She is to remain vigilant, and no one has a right to take advantage of her, but equally, it is on her to ensure she does not put herself into dangerous situations and take responsibility for herself.
My boys understand their biological nature is nothing to be ashamed of, despite what a noisy cabal of agenda-pushing radicals would have them believe. They know they need to go out into the world and forge their destinies and live according to the mission they have set for themselves. And apologise to no one for doing so. They are to be courteous to women and treat them with respect, knowing that is enough, fair and right. They need not atone for the sins committed by their so-called ‘patriarchal’ forefathers.