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Sara Ditum writes for Unherd on the strange route mainstream feminist politics has taken in the UK.  The ‘strange turn’ is also prevalent in Canada as many feminists whose goals include female liberation have found themselves without a political home as the parties that traditionally fought for their rights are now advocating for female erasure in society under the guise of being ‘trans-inclusive’.

Any political party that takes the material conditions of women in society for granted will not get my vote.

 

“Progressive movements, he argues, are no longer beholden to conventional liberal principles. Instead, they “contain within themselves both reformist and revolutionary tendencies, and progressives regularly move back and forth between the two”. This is, he points out, what Wesley Yang calls the “successor ideology” – successor, because it is primed to succeed liberalism, although it so far lacks an internal coherence of its own.

So a feminist might ask how self-identification would work in the prison system where vulnerable women need to be protected from predatory male offenders, and the successor ideology response would be that we should abolish the prison-industrial complex, at which point segregation would cease to be an issue. Or, if the issue is how to include trans women in refuges, the successor ideology could answer that the real aim should be ending all male violence rather than just ameliorating its effects — a laudable goal, but a remote one.

It’s a shift to utopianism that evades all responsibility for material conditions in the present, while justifying the removal of rights now as a trade-off against the glorious kingdom to come. Why do you need free speech to talk about sex when you have the post-gender future to look forward to? (Means of reaching the post-gender future remaining very much TBC.) For feminism, which has to be about directly improving women’s lives and prospects if it’s to be about anything at all, this is all deeply unsatisfying. If the Right is able to offer at least a common ground of norms, why not work there?

In any case, the idea that feminism inherently belongs to the Left is — if not false, at least a bit flaky. The suffragists and suffragettes covered a whole range of political opinion with outliers on Left and Right, united by their belief that they should be able to express those opinions at the ballot box. The second wave was galvanised by a split between the women’s movement and the anti-war Left.”

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