We are living in the middle of a massive global struggle over the rights and freedoms of women, a life-and-death matter for a billion women and girls, and secular middle-class Western feminism is proving irrelevant.
- Paul Sheehan, “Scarlet soles are a red rag to feminists’ ideology,” The Sydney Morning Herald, April 11, 2011
Really, Paul Sheehan? Western feminism is irrelevant?
Tell that to the women earning 83c in the dollar when compared to her male colleagues.
Tell that to the women who leave male-dominated industries due to the culture.
Tell that to the women who miss out on preselection, when just 20% of candidates elected in the last NSW election were women.
Tell that to the woman who is raped, then told it’s her fault for wearing revealing clothing, or drinking too much, or, god forbid, having a sex drive.
Oh wait, you just did.
The very fact you feel comfortable telling my peers and I that our feminism is irrelevant demonstrates quite conclusively that you don’t actually understand what you’re talking about and that you don’t grasp the extent of the problem of gender inequality in the modern world.
Can I just suggest that perhaps you take the time to watch this excellent video made by students at Sydney Boys’ High?
I suspect they’d have a thing or two to teach you.
While I have no desire to diminish any of the excellent points made above by Erin, in regards to the quoted portion above, feminism is almost irrelevant; it’s actually just a tool Sheehan is wielding in his ongoing struggle against immigrants and brown people. (You figure out the code after you read enough of his columns.)
Paul Sheehan is, let it be said, one of the worst people to be paid to write in Australia. His craft involves three aspects, and he is good at none of them. He is a poor thinker, a poor debater, and a poor writer. By that last one, I mean that he literally struggles to put readable sentences together. He and words have a decidedly uneasy relationship and he has never shown much facility in using them to express anything.
I want to make clear that I’m not making this criticism merely because I disagree with Sheehan. In a banal way, I sometimes do agree with him, in that we may coincidentally desire similar outcomes to occur in certain circumstances. That is, however, no greater an indication of him possessing sense than the famed occasional accuracy of a stopped clock. Sheehan is quite unlike other sometimes conservative Australian writers; Gerard Henderson — in spite of a self-indulgent and silly tic — usually makes an effort to put some thought into his arguments, while Janet Albrechtsen, Miranda Devine, Andrew Bolt, and the like exist to say outrageous things which delight those who agree with them and infuriate those who don’t. All three succeed in that mission admirably. Sheehan, however, presents as an aspiring serious thinker who is too stupid to understand how extensively he is hobbled by his own vapidity.
I read Sheehan’s column today — I usually make it a rule to avoid his nonsense — and the above extract is in context almost a non-sequitur. His subject is actually something about shoes, but as is wont to occur in a Sheehan column, the substance of that something is unclear. He says that Christian Louboutin has proved that feminism doesn’t understand complexity, or something, and also there’s a bit about the sort-of-timely Australian Fashion Week, and now you see what I mean by Sheehan being incapable of putting together a coherent argument. Despite his conviction that “academic” “feminist” “ideology” is deeply flawed, he argues against nobody in particular and criticizes no specific ideas. The first person he names with whom he disagrees is Betty Friedan, whose Feminine Mystique, Sheehan points out immediately, was “written 50 years ago.” Was this his point: to say that he disagrees with a text published in the early ’60s? If so, what does that have to do with anything that has happened since?
I criticized David Brooks recently as having an inflated reputation, but I should make this distinction clear: Brooks is overrated and too well-respected by the left, but he succeeds at his job. Paul Sheehan, on the other hand, should never be paid to write.