Undead sexist cliches: Women don’t need feminism because they already have all the power

My discussion of Aunt Maria made me think of this particular cliche, which I first encountered in an article by actor Orson Bean in a friend’s skin magazine in the early eighties.
Like Aunt Maria, Bean believes women and men are made for certain roles in life. The role of men (surprise!) is to be in charge of everything. But women shouldn’t object because in reality, they have the greatest power of all: They can make men do what they want!
This argument, of course, was not original with Bean. I later caught it in a Gidget rerun from the early sixties, wherein Sally Field’s teenage protagonist realizes she doesn’t have to do unfeminine things like take auto repair classes, she can get men to fix her car for her.
And, unfortunately, it’s not dead yet. A couple of years ago, one of Psychology Today‘s online columnists, Satoshi Kanazawa, asserted that “It is true that, in all human societies, men largely control all the money, politics, and prestige. They do, because they have to, in order to impress women. Women don’t control these resources, because they don’t have to. What do women control? Men. As I mention in an earlier post, any reasonably attractive young woman exercises as much power over men as the male ruler of the world does over women.” And that proves feminism is pointless as women are already in charge.
Neither Bean nor Kanazawa explains how this works for lesbians and unattractive women; as they have no power, do they sit out on the ice floes to die? And Kanazawa’s analogy between young beauties and male rulers is laughable, of course: How many hot babes can get you locked up for months under brutal conditions like Bradley Manning?
And, of course, even a second’s thought shows this nonsense has no resemblance to the real world. A world where husbands cheat on attractive wives, beat up devoted spouses (my apologies to all faithful, non-abusive husbands reading this) and frequently manage to resist women’s super-hypnotic mutant power. If confronted with this, I wonder if Bean and Kanazawa would simply hand-wave it away or assert that it’s the woman’s fault (because obviously, if she was a real woman, she’d know how to handle a man).
Setting aside all that, how does this argument establish some moral imperative for women not to have power of their own—which is, I think, the point they’re making? If a woman decides she’d like to fix cars, run a company, become Secretary of State instead of wielding power through a convenient man, why not? Rich people, after all, have lots of power in the form of money, but I can’t see Kanazawa arguing that they should step back and let the poor run things.
The argument can only make sense if you starts from the belief that women shouldn’t have power (it still doesn’t make sense, but it’s as close as you get). Bean’s article bitched about how ridiculous it is for women to aspire to anything above their subordinate station; Kanazawa asserts that feminism is evil. That’s the real point; the stuff about women’s sexual power is just a condescending pat on the head—”Why honey, you know you’re the one with the real power, now just sit there looking sexy while I take care of things.”
In short, it’s just another way to put lipstick on a pig.

6 Comments

Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

6 responses to “Undead sexist cliches: Women don’t need feminism because they already have all the power

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