Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Dr Catherine Hakim fights against the “feminist myth”

It is unfair really. If Dr Hakim were a man, I would harbor so much less distaste for her and her findings. However, sadly for Hakim, this is not the case and therefore her recent report for the Centre for Policy Studies I find particularly repellent. Sexism is a cruel fate indeed.  According to the investigation the equal opportunities battles has finally been won. Yes, so woman in full-time employment are still paid 17% less, rising to 36% for part-time jobs, among numerous other deeply depressing statistics, but not to worry. We can ignore all this for Dr Hakim assures us that it does not matter anymore. The disparity simply corresponds with the difference in gender aspiration (to be considered in another post).

In case you are now wondering what the true explanation could be to for why the vast proportion of top jobs are held by men (considering women officially experience the same luxurious opportunities), well, clearly woman just prefer low status jobs. (Yes, seriously).

She asserts that women now have more choices than men, requiring us to believe that educated, capable women are taking poorly-paid, low-status jobs purely because they prefer them. “Why are women less likely to achieve the top jobs and associated higher pay?” she trills, swiftly concluding that there’s no way of knowing and that we therefore needn’t worry ourselves about it.” (Rowan Davies 2011)

That’s what Capitalism is about after all - “choice”.

Another favourite snippets from the fantastically titled “Feminist Myths and Magic Medicines” include:

 “Unfortunately, feminist ideology continues to dominate thinking about women’s roles in employment and the family, and on how family-friendly policies are universally beneficial in promoting sex equality.” (Hakim 2011).

Feminist ideology dominating? I am beginning to wish I lived in Hakim’s world.

Not forgetting:

“On top of that, new feminist myths are constantly being created, seeking to portray women as universal victims” (Hakim 2011).

This sad interpretation begs the questions: what is Feminism to Dr Hakim? According to her report we can only conclude that Feminism is the out dated belief that men and women are not equal and that as a consequence women must be “protected” from the male agenda. The implicit assumption here being that men and women are separated by this movement and as ever, on opposing teams. Personally I always understood Feminism in terms of its fight for equality. Or it’s acceptance that although human beings are different and therefore may have varying skills and needs, fundamentally gender, nor any other superficial contrast, justifies discrimination. Feminism is a movement created to fight for those unable to shout loud enough alone - be that women or men, regardless of race, age, education or class. It is about equality. It is about strength. By encouraging the belief that feminism is the fight against men, the population is segregated; diminishing the power we would otherwise have in numbers. It is extremely sad to hear the words, “I’m not a feminist, I’m a man”, as though one excludes the other. Feminism may have evolved from a need to free women, but it’s ideologically beliefs scan far beyond this one area. Or at least, in my opinion, it should.


Hakim, C (2011) Feminist Myths and Magic Medicine: The flawed thinking behind calls for equality legislation.


  1. Great stuff! I'm loving your writing.
    I just added you to my blogroll, as I was very keen to encourage women who want to talk about politics and issues.
    I see you're linked to mine too - Did I know you under a previous alias? Sorry if I'm being a bit dense, lol.

  2. Coming from you Sue, that is a great compliment.

    I have been silently following your fantastic blog for a while. Although, I believe you're acquainted with my mother - suedavies18!

  3. Hi there,

    I came across this blog because i was reading about Catherine Hakim on one news site in my county (Croatia).

    First of all I'm a male so maybe it not my place to speak about woman's right cause perhaps i don't understand them as another woman does.

    The thing i read really seems true because i think in the modern world that we live in (at least here in Croatia) woman don't have it so bad as you might think. I think women here are appreciated but they do earn less then men (that is obvious), but i think most of them just don't mind.

    The biggest problem is for the women that are oriented towards their jobs especially in male dominated domains. They probably have to work harder then their male colleagues. But for instance in IT (in which i work in) there is really no difference in pay. It is only important that you can do your job good. But unfortunately not many women go into IT (which is a shame because it not pleasant working with so many man and everyone in my industry would LOVE to work with more women and they talk about that often).

    As this is perceived as a patriarchal state it seemed that it would be strange when a few years ago a woman became prime minister. But when she did no one seemed to mind (she even used some women analogies in politics like I'm a woman and i will clean up the mess in state or something like that). Of course there were plenty of jokes because she is a woman like "What kind of country is this when it is run by a woman?". But they were mostly just that - jokes. And other women don't seem to mind that joke either. They just know it is a stupid male joke so they are not offended. Actually most women here don't have a problem with chauvinistic jokes.

    So what i am trying to say is that some of the things that she said are probably true at least here in Croatia. Women would like to marry rich (most of them won't say it but secretly they would like it ). Hell even most of the men here would like to marry rich! (Who wouldn't? except me but I'm an idiot).

    And in the end what is so bad if it turns out that women are not so aggressively driven to their jobs as man? And that they want to be taken care of by men? Is that bad?

    Men want to be taken care of by women also, maybe not financially but they want their attention and love and affection (and let's admit they probably would like for them to take care of domestic things also).

    So every gender wants something from the other. And i think that is OK. Why should we be independent? We should probably be more even more dependent on each other. Because if you have a wife/girlfriend who believes in you and loves you and does some things for you that you cannot do by yourself(or she does it better) I think that is a good thing. Men i know are mostly children and they could use with some mother figure around in their lives (even if they are macho as hell).

    Well that's all from me so bye.

  4. Thank you for taking the time to comment. If you read my other posts you’ll see that I am all for men involving themselves in the discussion. I feel strongly that feminism is about equality in general, opposed to a movement which alienates men.

    It would be ridiculous to say that woman’s rights have not improved dramatically compared to history. However, I would argue that just because something is better, does not necessarily mean that equality has been achieved.

    Thatcher is in fact a good example. Once upon a time the idea of a female PM would have been ludicrous. We have reached a time where this is an achievable possibility. However, if we look closer at the details of Thatcher, and woman in politics in general we see that discrimination is ever present. For example, woman in this country represent 51% of the population and yet only 22% of MPs are female ( Of course, there may be more reasons why this is than simple discrimination, but when the stats demonstrate such an over whelming difference, it seems unlikely that something more sinister does not at the very least also exist. It’s worth mentioning that this percentage is the highest proportion yet, in part due to all-woman short lists. Thatcher herself took on an extremely masculine persona, including an unnaturally deep voice.

    On the matter of jokes, I shall quote myself from another post:

    “The contexts by which men and woman have arrived at their positions in society today are not equal nor the same and therefore the impact of negative treatment cannot be said to be equal either. The devastating abuse women have historically been subjected to, still have its footings deep in society’s unconscious. Reducing women to nothing more than mere stereotypes, even under the pretence of a “joke”, reinforces the unspoken truth left over from past generations, that women are less than.”

    You say “And in the end what is so bad if it turns out that women are not so aggressively driven to their jobs as man?”.

    Undoubtedly some people are not as aggressively driven as some other people. There may even exist a gender trend towards either side. However, I feel you are forgetting a few key points. Firstly, if this is true, then why is it so? Are you suggesting women are inherently uninterested in work? If not, we have to ask whether they are encouraged and or held back in another way that may have lead to a more apathetic attitude towards the work culture. Secondly, I do not believe men and women are so clearly different to one another than we can make such generalised statements to begin with. Ignoring these factors for a moment though and assuming that this is a correct assessment, then there would be nothing “so bad” about it. What does matter though, is allowing women (and men alike) the opportunities to make these decisions. I would argue, that as it stands, this is not always the case.

    You also say “So every gender wants something from the other. And I think that is OK. Why should we be independent?”

    Again, I am not sure we can make such sweeping generalised statements about gender. In fact, I do not believe the gender is even relevant in this point. Absolutely, people need each other and I would never suggest otherwise.

    I hear your point and would not disagree that there have been great advances in equality. Where we differ is, I fear there is more to be done.

  5. Thank you also for replying but i would like to reply to some of the things that you have said.

    First about the women in politics. 22% and 51% in population really does sound sinister.
    But it is hard to say. My guess is that there are lots of reasons why women are not more in politics with two main groups of reasons - one is that they don't want to and the other is that they can't. Sometimes one is connected with the other (like "they don't want to because they feel they cant or they cant because deep down they don't want to"). I think that the author that you were mentioning was saying that the first group of reasons is more prevalent and you are saying that the other group is prevalent.

    Like Ms Thatcher's male characteristics. It could be argued that she is that way because she is more "male" therefore proving that politics is a "boys game" or it could be argued that she was that way because she had to behave more like a male in order to be accepted.

    Without a series of serious sociological experiments its very hard to say. (Maybe they exist i don't know).

    On the matter of jokes i don't see the hard if women themselves are not offended (at least in my case). We can say that in any joke someone could be seen as an inferior but we cannot ban all jokes. Personally i don't like to make jokes to anyone if they are seriously offended by them.

    About women and jobs i would agree that women are held back so some extent by society etc. But the question is again : how much? Are they more held back by society or themselves.

    Personally talking to women i think women are not inherently uninterested in work but they are less interested in work. Let me explain that. I think that although there are women who are very interested in work and men who are totally uninterested (i know quite a few of them) that women are "on the average" less interested. That doesn't mean that every woman is that way but just "on the average". There is a possibility that there is a woman who is more interested in work then any other man. I'm just talking about the averages.

    If the above is true (and I'm not quite sure it is it is just my opinion) it is also a question of how much are their averages apart and what is the magnitude of the other problem - that women aren't allowed to make better jobs and be more successful. Again series of experiments should be made.

    And for the last thing i think that although people need each other man and women need each other more.

    Anyway i thank you for the discussion. Sorry if i babbled too much.

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