“I am a dedicated women’s rights advocate but I’m also a men’s rights advocate and even becoming more of a men’s rights advocate as I want to see gender equilibrium in our society. I don’t want men to experience what women experienced before, that women are so strong that men have to struggle in order to maintain equal rights. To me it is important that men and women have the same rights in our society.
We’ve come far and a lot has been gained but we still do not have complete equality. We all know that when we don’t see equal pay for equal work we don’t have equality. We must value the jobs of women equally to those of men. However, the golden mean is the road to travel. All extremism is bad. It contradicts the nations psyche and a social struggle that becomes too extreme is counter productive. Of course I follow public debate on this issue and I say: Show caution, extremism can ruin a good cause”.
These are the words of the worlds first democratically elected female president, Vigdís Finnbogadóttir, in an interview with Monitor this March 22. She is responding to questions on her views on feminism and feminist extremism in particular as well as gender equality issues in general. Vigdís was born in 1930 and was elected president of Iceland in 1980 and served for 16 years, making her the longest-serving, elected female head of state of any country to date. I think it is safe to say that Vigdís is a thought leader and she is without a doubt one of the most respected persons in Iceland.
Reactions to her comments vary as one might have expected. Not surprisingly, the usual suspects are out to deny all claims of being too extreme or even extreme at all. But others feel that her words are timely words of warning to die hard feminist extremists in Iceland that many feel have hijacked the public debate with their propaganda and sometimes absurd actions and statements. I for one, welcome her comments and would like to put them into perspective.
Iceland has long been on the forefront of countries that enjoy the most gender equality. According to a recent investigation conducted by UK newspaper, The Independent in celebration of the 101st. International Women’s Day, Iceland is the best place to be a woman with regard to politics, education, employment and health indicators.
In spite of favorable indicators such as this, feminist extremism seems to be more prevailing then ever before. That is if one looks to frequent outbursts of feminist rage in the media. Of course, if one freely expresses concerns with these outcries or any other actions of the radical feminist movement, he or she is branded as being antifeminist, chauvinist, misogynist, gynophobic or even a pornophile to effectively shut him or her up. It will therefore be interesting to see the reactions of feminist extremists to a critique from a person of this statue.
But that’s not really a tangible enough indicator of feminist extremism is it? What defines feminist extremism anyway? is it isolated to a few young radicals or does it have deeper, more profound roots in our society? For me it’s this simple; feminism becomes extremist when a group or individual feminists demand rights for women that supercede those of men, creating a kind of reversed discrimination.
According to this criteria, let’s look at what’s new from feminist extemists in Iceland that is tangible and current, things that I believe most people are looking towards when they express worries that the radical feminist movement has lost it’s connection with the original vision of equal rights for men and women:
As is the situation in many societies that have undergone structural changes with regard to how men and women interact, one area of the gender sphere has suspiciously been left out when self-proclaimed equalitists have re-engineered our society with the aim to rule out every gender discriminating law or rule, be it written or unwritten. Namely laws on fathers rights with regard to their children.
In 2008 a committee was appointed by the then Minister of internal affairs, Mr. Björn Bjarnason. The committee made several suggestions to change the Children’s bill of rights for the better. For the first time ever, Icelandic men were seeing changes suggested that would grant them rights close to those of women that up until then had been holding all the threads when it came to their children. The single most important change suggested was that judges would be allowed to rule that a mother and father would have equal rights and obligation towards their children in case of a legal debate after separation. According to current law, judges can only rule that one parent gets the rights which almost always leads to women winning and the men loosing in the court of law, even though they may be equally fit to support and care for the child.
The National organization of Feminists (NoF) strongly opposed these changes and via it’s vigorous lobbying effort and the fact that the Ministry of internal affairs is now controlled by the left wing party (Vinstri Graenir) with strong ties with the feminist movement, these suggestions have now been removed from the current bill that still awaits processing by the Icelandic parliament.
Another thing I believe could be the reason for thinking that the feminist movement is too extremist are recent comments made by Ms. Gudrun Jonsdottir, a spokeswoman of one of the most prominent and best funded feminist organization in Iceland, Stigamot. Only a few months back, she publicly spoke favorably towards diminishing the human rights of men only. This she did by claiming that the ideology of assuming a man innocent until proven guilty is outdated in light of feminist research and therefore indicated that this cornerstone of the Icelandic justice system should be abolished. This right of people, that are accused of crimes, is clearly stated in the Icelandic constitution, The European human rights treaty and the United Nations human rights treaty and thus is not just a mere ideology.
Gudrun’s words are not an isolated incident. Other feminists have spoken favorably about reversing the burden of proof in crimes that are committed against women and the NoF cheerfully shared her words on their official Facebook page later to become the most popular record on that page ever, measured in shares and likes. One could have expected that the state funded Center for Gender Equality would utter a sound in protest to such blatantly male discriminating views but nothing has still been heard. Reaffirming the belief of many, that the Center for Gender Equality is actually a Center for Women rights only and not the least bit concerned with men’s rights.
Gudrun’s organization, Stigamot, are almost entirely funded with taxpayers money and to this date, her words seem not to have worried the Icelandic government even though Iceland is part of international treaties that explicitly state that being assumed innocent until proven guilty, should be the cornerstone of a nations justice system if it is to be considered in favor of human rights.
These are not the only cases of state level misandry that we have seen in recent months and years. A few months ago, the Reykjavik Municipal government funded and supported a study on it’s male employees consumption of pornographic material. The person responsible for the study stated publicly that one of the key underlying assumptions was that the males working for Reykjavik city and it’s individual service units, used porn to cope with negative feelings associated with having to work under female superiors. Reykjavik is the largest single workplace in Iceland so this is a hefty proportion of Icelandic men that are under the suspicion of being unable to work with female superiors without having to resort to porn as means of coping with that harse reality and save what little is left of their masculinity – to use the researchers words.
Last but not least I want to mention the complete collapse of the Icelandic financial system that occurred in 2008. As a result of that many people have lost their jobs. However the majority of the people that have lost their jobs are men. Actually, recent statistics show that the number of women with jobs today is slightly higher than before the collapse whilst men have lost their jobs in record breaking numbers. I guess the radical feminists were on autopilot when they publicly demanded efforts of affirmative action to salvage women that have lost their jobs and create jobs for them. These have been not just young radicals but politicians and the nations most prominent Professor of Gender studies, Ms. Þorgerður Einarsdóttir.
Feminist extremist ideology has an inherent problem that will inevitably prove fatal for this movement. Feminists that can safely be regarded as extremist or militant tend to view all negative reaction to their actions as positive signs that they are gaining ground. Well, the problem with that is that negative reactions are going to grow in direct proportion to their war against men becoming more and more absurd.
To answer the questions posed earlier I think it is safe to say that feminist extremism is a very real phenomenon. If these aren’t examples of feminism that has gone at least a bit too far, then I wonder what is. This extremism has roots that far exceed just a few young radicals. It is entwined into laws that discriminate against men, it can be found in state funded feminist groups and institutions that openly advocate the discrimination of men. Ironically, men sponsor these misandric efforts with the taxes they pay that end up in the hands of these extremists. For me this is proof enough that there is reason to worry about the future for young boys.
On the positive side I believe the time will come that feminists with healthy objectives will rise against the more radical feminists that want more than just equal rights and I believe that brave women like Ms. Vigdís Finnbogadóttir will play a pivotal role in that development.
I hope that at least for Iceland, Vigdís’s words mark the beginning of the demise of feminist extremism. A demise long overdue.
Athugasemd: Ég bið íslenska lesendur velvirðingar á “frönskunni” en þessi færsla er ætluð til dreifingar á erlendri grundu. Athugasemdir á íslensku eru auðvitað velkomnar eftir sem áður.