Gender Identity Tramples Feminism

In the first part of this article, we showed the perils of stretching gender equality to the extreme. The feminists still had a long way to go in responding to these threats when another enemy hit them. It relates to the resurgence of an ideology exemplified and actively promoted by China today. This approach to state-citizen relations encompasses glorification of the past, capitalism and extreme state control. This odd mixture has revived the fortunes of the totalitarian state-control that had taken a beating after the collapse of the USSR and the brutal suppression of freedom at Tiananmen Square.

What is in this unusual ideological mix for feminism? We have to look at the past for empirical guidance to the expected course of events. As we look at the fortunes of women and feminism in totalitarian states, it stands out starkly that women have remained in the third tier of power in such systems of governance. Think of a woman dictator, and we draw a blank. Yes, there have been women heads of state with a dictatorial approach; Indira Gandhi during the Emergency and Bangladesh’s Khaleda Zia and her rival Sheikh Hasina. Yet, they rose to power through the ballot box and lost it by the same process. All the countries in which these women rose to power have regular elections. Even Benazir Bhutto became prime minister in a brief phase when Pakistan was closest to becoming a truly democratic country.

In its 74 years of existence, the USSR did not have a woman as party chief, president or prime minister. Men have ruled China since Mao came to power in 1949. It cannot be blamed on any cultural tradition as Empress Catherine ruled Russia for 34 years and Empress dowager Cixi had control of China from 1861 till she died in 1908. No woman ever headed any of the Warsaw Pact satellites of USSR during the existence of that Pact. Cuba, Vietnam, communist Laos, military Junta-ruled Myanmar, apartheid South Africa; the dictatorial regimes were always headed by men. Even in India, where numerous women have made their mark in political arena, whenever the communists ruled the states of West Bengal, Kerala and Manipur, a woman could not aspire to be chief minister. We can safely conclude that leftist ideology and lack of democracy are a serious handicap for women aspiring to top positions.

The hiatus between democracy and totalitarian regimes is too stark for a compromise for peaceful coexistence. Both have stated goals of undermining each other and actively pursued this goal during the cold war. After a brief lull, the new cold war began in which the Internet has weakened national boundaries but only for democracies, since a totalitarian regime like China can easily block its 1400 million citizens’ access to the so-called “World Wide Web”. Using this tool, the radical ideology has effectively penetrated every aspect of democracies, including social culture, academia and politics. Communism has the stated goal of destroying a system from within and feminism is an important target for the radical left.

Feminism stands on the male-female binary based on biological sexual characteristics. The new coinage heard across the western world is plurality of gender and gender identity, which do not have a necessary relationship with biology. It is the mind of the individual that dictates gender identity, not the body. Throughout history, there have been individuals who were not comfortable with their gender as determined at birth by their biology. Various cultures handled this situation in their unique ways; some called them the third sex, some ignored the issue and in modern times, some allowed them to undergo hormonal and surgical procedures to biologically transition to the preferred gender. The radical concept of gender identity blew up this peaceful coexistence.

The new idea got a boost during the eight years of Obama’s tenure in the US, as the Democrats have a substantial number of radical left in their support base. It was officially decreed that any person that was assigned male or female sex at birth could self-declare to be a person of the opposite gender without undergoing any corrective surgery, hormonal therapy or medical or psychological evaluation. The declaration is binding on the rest of the society and any opposition to it is deemed to be an act of gender discrimination. Children, as young as six years, are encouraged by teachers to explore whether they feel their gender is different from the one assigned at birth. Parents, who try to convince the child otherwise, are accused of cruelty to the child and it is demanded that the child be taken away and put in protective custody of the state. Kindergartens are arranging story-telling sessions by drag queens to normalise the idea of gender fluidity in young minds. Even the lexicon is under attack and the pronouns “he/she” are being replaced in official documents by the gender-neutral “they”.

In addition to knocking out the foundations of feminism, these developments have seriously harmed women in multiple ways. On mere declaration, a biological male convict can get transferred to a female prison and there have been numerous instances of such convicts committing sexual assault on other female inmates. Defenders of the idea say that the female identity of the biological male puts him in danger of abuse in a male prison. The number of such persons in any society is generally below 0.5 per cent, yet, in the new ideology, their interest trumps that of women comprising one half of society.

Trans-women, the biological males who have declared themselves women, under orders of the Obama administration, got access to women’s public washroom facilities as they claim harassment in men’s facilities. It was claimed that women’s facilities have partitions, so other women in the washroom will not suffer any inconvenience because of the presence of a biological male. Trump reversed this policy almost immediately after assuming office and the issue is before the courts.

For a long time, trans-women claimed the right to compete in women’s sports. Under the liberal ideology, that has become a widespread reality. Now it is not rare to see a six-feet plus, 120 kilo biological male wearing a woman’s outfit tackling a woman in football or outrunning her in a race. Not surprisingly, many of these trans-women end up dislodging the established champions in women’s sport. The defenders say that “woman” is not a homogeneous class and there are considerable differences in physical characteristics, strength and stamina between women. What is overlooked is the fact that throughout history, women’s average height, bone density and lung capacity has been less than that of men. Consequently, the sports records created by women have been below those of men.

Harry Potter author, J. K. Rowling, is a rare celebrity who took courage to say, “If sex isn’t real, the lived reality of women globally is erased.” She is facing a huge backlash and has been shouted down as a TERF (trans-exclusionary radical feminist). Ideology is a vehicle to power and humans are dispensable under its wheels. The radical ideology’s march to undermine democracy tramples feminism even as political correctness silences most of the feminists.

Source : Daily World

The writer RN Prasher is a retired IAS officer of Haryana cadre | Personal Opinions

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