Went to a Prospect Book Club Event (Monday 19 Feb 18) – Shami Chakrabarti was speaking about her views on feminism et al as part of her book launch of her book ‘On Women’. I have always found Chakrabarti to be a earnest and well meaning lady. She runs on her judgement and sense of fairness rather than any deep analytic thought. In many ways she arrives at admirable positions: that the rights of women should not be seen in isolation, that fundamentally the welfare of all PEOPLE is the great good. She dispensed quickly with any hint of gender wars or battles of sexes while affirming her belief in affirmative action for women. In a way she skirted some entrenched issues (race in the women’s movement) behind the cloak of internationalism while acknowledging that the struggle for women’s rights needed men and would free men from an oppressive view of masculinity.
I asked her how she felt about the pervasive rhetoric that men were exploiting women and men were benefitting whereas as a sociological phenomenon some men and some women benefitted from the status quo and it certainly was not the case that all men benefitted from any particular oppression of women. I gave the example of the activist feminist group ‘Femen’ from Ukraine whom when I asked them how did other Ukrainian women view them admitted that young men supported them but the older women often spat at them. Chakrabarti strongly agreed with me ont eh complexity of the issue and insisted that it was not men versus women and yes, some women benefitted from the status quo and most men did not. Another woman in the audience chimed in that many women were in fact quite happy with the current status quo and asked what could be done. Luckily no one went down the rabbit hole of ‘false consciousness’! It was a pleasant meeting and surprisingly open discussion.