Is Kellyanne Conway proof that patriarchy has no gender? That’s what the British journalist, Suzanne Moore, says in the Guardian today. She broods over Conway’s contention that she too was sexually abused once (is there anyone out there who wasn’t?) and considers whether she deserves a bit of empathy before concluding that, because Conway is gunning for Christine Blasey Ford, empathy would be wasted on her. Actually, it’s not just that Kellyanne Conway is pro-Brett Kavanaugh. She’s Not One of Us because ‘She is anti-abortion, and though a survivor of sexual assault, works for a man accused of multiple sexual assaults.’ By which she means Donald Trump.
Now I don’t know Suzanne M personally, though on the one occasion I came across her I thought she seemed good fun, the kind of person I’d happily have a gin with. Nonetheless, this little piece usefully sums up quite a lot of what’s wrong with bits of the women’s movement. There are, it seems, only certain women who count as women for the purposes of the movement. Women who can’t possibly be feminists include Republicans – ‘Many white women supported Trump; some of them are now rallying to support Kavanaugh’ she says – and anyone who’s anti-abortion.
‘All over the world some of the staunchest defenders of systems that limit women are other women.’ Now consider framing that sentence to make it about men. You can’t, can you? All you’d be saying is that men are different: some are conservative, some are socially liberal, some are pro Trump, some are against, some are Republican, some are Democrat, some are pro-abortion, some pro-life. You’d be acknowledging that men, as a sex, are infinitely various, that human beings are infinitely various. So why this sucking of teeth, this gathering of skirts, when women turn out to be infinitely various too? Why should half the human race have to conform to a template of social attitudes, to tick boxes to certify you’re with the programme?
Let’s cut to the chase. This is chiefly about abortion – that’s mostly what Guardian columnists, not just Suzanne, mean when they talk about ‘systems that limit women’; that’s the issue at the crux of opposition to Brett Kavanaugh. Now, I am anti-abortion and I am a paid up woman. I see no incompatibility between the two things. I don’t like people killing foetuses because I take the perfectly respectable scientific view that a foetus is a human being – and therefore is entitled to protection under the law. End of. Obviously I feel for women who are pregnant and really, really don’t want to be. But even in these cases, I see two human beings; pro-choicers see just one.
Does that disqualify you from being a woman (let’s leave the whole trans issue to one side here) as far as woke, liberal women are concerned? I guess so. That’s me and Kellyanne Conway then, out of the club, propping up the patriarchy – even though there are a number of other issues where we’d almost certainly part company. If you don’t conform to the programme, you’re Not One of Us.
Looks like I’ll never be a feminist then. And you know what? I really don’t care.