On October 3, 2013 the BBC ran the following headline and byline: O Canada: Women’s group calls for gender-neutral anthem – A group of prominent Canadian women have launched a campaign to make the English-language lyrics to Canada’s national anthem more gender-neutral.
The crusade’s objective is aimed at amending the following offensive lyrics: ‘True patriot love in all thy sons command” to “…in all of us command.” There’s much that can be said about the absurdity of such a campaign but I wish to draw your attention to a more subversive matter; the phrasing of the news article’s byline. When one glimpses the profiles of these women one immediately becomes aware that they are actually feminists and identify themselves as such. A more accurate byline would read as follows: “A group of Canadian feminists have launched a campaign to make the English-language lyrics to Canada’s national anthem more gender-neutral.” So why did the BBC choose the words they did? I would hypothesize that it is to convey the bogus impression that feminists speak for women at large and that feminist activities are the grassroots endeavours of everyday women. Feminists have always sought to hijack the female voice of society by treating gender as class; a class with interests that are fundamentally at odds with society and state, thereby restructuring a vertical class war into a horizontal one (if I were to express my observation in Marxist parody). This is not to say that women never constituted a class in society, what I am saying is that this class was primarily defined along biological lines, and not socio/political boundaries which is how feminists have come to treat it.
Why is feminism at odds with patriotism and Nationalism? Korean feminist Hee Kang Kim summarizes mainstream feminism’s antipathy towards nationalism in a Third world post colonial context:
- Many colonized men interpreted their disempowerment as emasculation, and an impulse to pursue nationalist movements came from the men’s resentment of being emasculated. Fanon (1986) famously called for the colonized black man to “reclaim his manhood,” and this call to action justified the masculinized and even macho style of many anti-colonial nationalist movements. In Enloe’s (2000: 44) words, “nationalism typically has sprung from masculinized memory, masculinized humiliation and masculinized hope.”
- It turned out that the national victory was not equally open to women. Upon national independence, male nationalists forced women to choose either their nationalist aspirations or their feminist aspirations but not both, and often times the nationalist cause triumphed at the expense of feminist yearning.
- Third, in order to discuss the cultural aspect of gendered nationalism, it is useful to take into account Chatterjee’s (1986, 1993) argument about nationalisms’ spiritual considerations and their connections to women. That is, women have been assigned a main responsibility in preserving and nurturing national culture—to play the role of “custodians,” “symbolic repository,” “transmitters,” “boundaries,” “carriers,” “icon,” or “intergenerational reproducers” of national culture.
When one ploughs through the above nonsense (painful as it is) one is immediately struck by a couple of salient assumptions that must be demolished. One, a resentment towards men being the movers of history. How dare we fight wars to defend our borders! How dare we have the audacity to construct the pyramids and the Taj Mahal! Us bastards with our childish obsession with building civilization.
The second assumption stems from the feminist view that Nationalism and feminism are mutually exclusive; which translates into women’s interests being separate from nation unless feminists are allowed to reconstruct culture on their own terms. The third point listed above, and the most obvious, is the tired old cliche that the traditional female role of protecting and nurturing culture (as opposed to subverting it) is inherently oppressive. It’s impossible to love a nation when you despise half of its population.
As I’ve written previously, traditional cultures produce women that willingly protect and fight for the values of their cultures. Despite their valiant struggles, feminists condemn such women as being brainwashed by patriarchy; which brings to surface certain contradictions in feminist thought. On one hand, feminism aims to restore women’s autonomy by seizing it from the jaws of patriarchy, yet that agency must be exercised solely at the feminist’s discretion. Very few feminists (to my knowledge)stood in support of France’s Muslim women who were barred from wearing the headscarf by law; so much for a woman’s body being her own. When their lesser sisters fail to act in accordance with their dogma, feminists infantalize their motives and actions with a paternalism that they are quick to criticize in men. Some have rightly referred to feminism as ‘paternalism in lipstick.’
The second contradiction lies in their rather peculiar definition of “independence.” When North American men think of independence we generally picture a society free from government intrusion that protects our lives, liberty, and property; as articulated by John Locke. We picture an existence where a man is free to pursue any vocation as he feels inclined. The spirit of freedom that underlies the protestant work ethic forms the very basis of our definition of independence. Free and independent men do not desire charity and observers during the great depression noted extreme shame in the eyes of the men who stood in bread lines. Women on the other hand (feminists especially) are more than content to live on charity; they simply refer to it with euphemisms like “Child support” and “Alimony.” This naturally calls for a more expansive and intrusive state whose function is to legislate this highway robbery and ensure the redistribution of wealth from men to women. It’s unsurprising why astute critics have called feminism a front for communism. Yet this contradiction is made evident when contrasted with the reality that women are still dependant, not on families and men, but on the state. Women aren’t independent, their dependence has merely been shifted onto the nanny state. Independent men want a smaller state whereas independent women desire a large nanny state to hold their hand (Family laws, affirmative action, ect).
A nation that hasn’t the support of its women has a bleak future. In Japan for instance, a larger number of women are turning towards far right anti-Korean and anti-China viewpoints. As one Ms. Takenaka puts it: “We are Japanese people doing what comes naturally and what any Japanese should do. We simply refuse to forgive what is unforgivable.” You will find very few Asian women whining about gender biased national songs or ‘masculinized history’; for these women heed their atavistic instincts and place Nation above everything else. In the next part of this series we will address Feminism in light of Jewish internationalism and the uniquely Jewish character of Marxism.
Read more: Feminism and anti-patriotism part 2