Feminism as intrasexual competition is putting our liberal values at risk.

Maligned British newspaper, The Sun, buckled to pressure in 2015 to remove glamour shots of attractive young women from their infamous Page 3 and relegate them to their website-only. Despite this capitulation, they’ve proven themselves to be both principled in their commissioning of articles defending women’s liberty and determined to trigger snowflakes – which they well and truly succeed with in their organising of the annual competition (as of 2016) The Best Bust in Britain. This year, the controversy is greater than ever with Janet Street Porter confiding on national T.V. that “as long as women are happy to be judged by their external appearances rather than what’s in their head and their skills, I feel depressed about it.” (psychoanalyse that!) during a heated row with judge Kelly Brook, prompting pop-star Boy George to weigh in with the quip “If you have great breasts celebrate them and if you are smart celebrate that too, If you are both! #Whoopee”. For me, this event falls well and truly into the ‘mind your own business’ category. There are no victims, only consenting adults exercising their freedoms in a society that is post-women’s liberation, post Sexual Revolution. Whether or not we individually want to engage with The Best Bust in Britain; we should at least be able to appreciate the fact that we can.

Despite it being muh current year, The Best Bust in Britain should not be described (as it is being) as archaic. Freedom may not be a new idea – but it is an immortal one. Furthermore, our freedoms have been hard won and will be tragically lost. Sexual freedoms have ricocheted between periods of free expression and oppression for all human history globally. The story of sexual freedom in modern British society can be picked up from the nineteenth century for our purposes. “Victorian prudery [had] ended the humorous sexual candour of both men and women during the agrarian era, a ribaldry chronicled from the Shakespeare plays to the eighteenth-century novel” (Paglia). However, philosophers such as “John Stuart Mill argued for freedom from the tyranny of public opinion and the moral conformism of Victorian society” (Goodwin), saying “Society can and does execute its own mandates: and if it issues wrong mandates instead of right, or any mandates at all in things with which it ought not to meddle, it practises a social tyranny more formidable than many kinds of political oppression, since, though not usually upheld by such extreme penalties, it leaves fewer means of escape, penetrating much more deeply into the details of life, and enslaving the soul itself.” (On Liberty). We gradually internalised this wisdom, leading to the twentieth century in which we made solid advances. Homosexuality was finally legalised in 1967. The pill was introduced in 1961. In 1959 a defence against the charge of obscenity on the grounds of ‘literary merit’ was introduced (which was successfully applied to the Lady Chatterley’s Lover case against Penguin Books in 1960) which laid the foundation for a vast expansion in freedom to publish explicit material. Accompanying these developments were concurrent advancements in social attitudes. These freedoms gained still apply to us in twenty-first century Britain – but we have puritan authoritarians (overwhelmingly in the shape of feminists) trying to drag us backwards, with some success. In the last two years, these feminists have managed to ban sexy ad’s from the tube and bus networks in London, managed to stifle The Sun’s Page 3, and managed to deprive grid girls and darts walk-on-girls of their jobs.

The truth is that: freedom is “a good in itself, rather than merely a means to an end” (Goodwin) and “The only principle for which power can be rightfully exercised over any member of a civilized community, against his will, is to prevent harm to others. His own good, either physical or moral, is not a sufficient warrant.” because “Over himself, over his own body and mind, the individual is sovereign.” (John Stuart Mill). But feminists find minding their own business and appreciating what gifts they have, having been born into our relatively free society, particularly difficult.

It has been interesting to watch what they’ve objected to most vociferously recently. It has not been the Hollywood elites or supermodels that grace the pages of women’s periodicals with their dangerously thin frames – but to the jobs and pastimes of buxomly healthy girl next door-types who openly enjoy the attention of men. There are two main reasons for this. Firstly, feminists hate male sexuality (a truism so blatant and established that I feel no requirement to justify my claim) and secondly because they are seeking to allay female competition and keep the price of sexuality artificially high by restricting the supply. All humans compete for mates, women tend to excel at indirect competition (reputation sabotaging, slut shaming, exerting control over other women’s behaviour, eg). In fact, women can take such skilfully subtle approaches to competition that they don’t always realise they’re competing themselves – but competition is the most plausible evolutionary motivation for women to instinctively object to celebrations of beautiful fecund women and to act to undermine and limit the same. Feminists need to take a long look in the mirror. Feminism is an exclusive and spiteful sisterhood. Feminism is intrasexual competition.

When feminists seek to prohibit women’s behavior simply because it offends them, they are yielding their rational mind to their jealous biology, objectifying those women (by removing their autonomy) and denying them due respect. Tolerance is a noble attitude to take that is consistent with living in a diverse and pluralist society and it’s about time the feminist preachers of tolerance started exercising some. Nobody has to like The Best Bust in Britain but we all should understand that it is a symptom of living in a progressive liberal democracy with free citizens. Mill and other liberal thinkers have understood that our best intentions governed by personal morality and taste are an extraordinarily poor guide for the preservation of individualist liberal values. We must police our instincts and actions rigorously to ensure that they are not arbitrarily limiting the choices of others. Choice is critical to personal freedom and personal freedom is critical to meaning. We must allow for freedom from the tyranny of feminist opinion.

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2 thoughts on “Handbags at Dawn”

  1. Maybe I have missed something important, but why is it so darned important whether one calls oneself a feminist or not? (I am new around here) I mean, there are so many definitions and practices of feminism, that labelling one as feminist can mean a lot of things. One can f.ex. be a feminist and care about the plight of men. bell hooks strikes me as a good example of this. I could probably also easily find feminists who dont care about the plight and men (the same for non-feminists). So I dont think you can necessarily deduce intent and behavior from someone labelling themselves as feminist. For me it is more important, whether one recognizes that sexism (whether based on gender, gender expression or sexual orientation) is systematic, and that it needs to be fought. This sexism comes in at least two types: (I am roughly using Julia Seranos “taxonomy here): Traditional sexism: Men and masculinity is better than women and femininity Oppositional sexism: Men/masculinity is categorically different from women/femininity (and they shouldnt be mixed) Of course theses two types of sexism are intertwined, but I think oppositional sexism is very much at the heart of mens problems. So I am more interested in discussing core ideas instead of labels. If you fight sexism (both kinds), I dont care if you call yourself a feminist, humanitarian, equalitist or something else. (my first comment here, btw)

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