A big part of feminist augmentation is the thought terminating cliché. Once this cliché has brought unthinkingly into the argument, all further thought, nuance and discussion become superfluous, or so feminists seem to think. Here are a few popular clichés and their obvious shortcomings.
- My Body, My Choice is a slogan we have been hearing a lot of in the aftermath of the overturning of Roe v Wade by the American Supreme Court. Although I am in favour of allowing abortion, subject to limitations, this slogan adds nothing to the debate. Obviously, there have to be boundaries to the choices we can make. For example, most people on either side of the debate would accept that abortion should not be allowed in the third trimester other than in exceptional circumstances. Should a mother be allowed to drink to excess in the first trimester? After all, it would be her choice and it is her body. The YouTube videos below show philosopher Peter Boghossian exposing the limitations of the simplistic slogan. In the first video, Peter poses the question “My Body, My Choice” should be consistent for vaccines and abortion? Similarly, in the second video, he asks the question should abortion be allowed in the third trimester?
2. Pro-Choice is very similar to the first slogan and adds equally little to any reasoned argument (as does pro-life). Most people believe that we should give people as much choice as possible but there have to be boundaries. Other than in exceptional circumstances, should people have the choice to terminate a pregnancy in the third trimester? People who are pro-choice in one domain may not be in another. For example, a supporter of liberal rules on abortion may favour an authoritarian approach to vaccination believing that it should be compelled.
3. MeToo is a Twitter hashtag that rose to prominence in the wake of the Harvey Weinstein trial that has become a proxy for reasoned argument. The meaning is that all women are subject to sexual harassment and rape threats which they are not. During the Amber Heard v Johnny Depp defamation trial, MeToo became a stand-in for rational argument or fact-based discussion of the court proceedings. Many of the newspaper articles avoided reasoned discussion of the trial and either lamented the effect the proceedings were having on ‘MeToo‘ or used the slogan in place of a balanced account of the court proceedings. It was a case of ‘we have our slogan so Johnny Depp must be guilty.’ Comedian Bill Burr has some wise words on this subject- see below.
4. BelieveAllWomen is sometimes toned down a bit to BelieveWomen. This slogan is used in a similar way to MeToo as a proxy for informed debate. Why all women? Why not 86% say? Feminists don’t tell us. This slogan is an important pillar of feminist thought that posits women never lie or make false accusations and for that reason, we can dispense with due process. In this regard, they have been remarkably successful. For example, through the misuse of Title IX, men on American University Campuses, have been denied due process when allegations of sexual assault have been made against them. In the UK it is argued the the rate of rape prosecution is too low. How do you know what the correct rate should be? Better I think to make the process as rigorous as possible and not rely on feminist clichés such as BelieveAllWomen. Just think of the corollary of this slogan, Don’tBelieveMen and you begin to understand the moral infantilism of the feminist position.
5. Women’s Rights Are Human Rights – This slogan believed to have been coined by Hilary Clinton is as daft as anything Donald Trump could come up with. Obviously, the statement is true. Both men and women are humans and therefore women’s rights are indeed human rights, but so are men’s rights. The intention is, by the omission of men, to imply that women’s rights have been forgotten and all is well for men. This is not true, of course, and divisive slogans do little to enhance human rights.
6. The Future Is Female – This cliché originated in the writings of Sally Miller Gearheart who believed that the proportion of men needed to be reduced to and maintained at 10% of the human race. I am not suggesting that every naive feminist who wears a –future is female – teeshirt is advocating some sort of male genocide but they might like to reflect on the origins of their slogan. They might also like to reflect on who is going to do those dangerous and demanding jobs presently done by men. Female construction workers, HGV drivers, firefighters and mechanics are still few and far between. All those extra women can’t all be employed in the jobs they like such as Human Resources or management. We need each other.
Handmaids Tale. (A visual cliché) A good friend of mine likes to dress up in a Star Wars stormtrooper outfit. He gets a lot of pleasure from it and he gives a lot of pleasure to children who love Star Wars-themed processions. He doesn’t think the outfit says anything about him as a person or his state of subjugation by an oppressive military order. Contrast that with the women who dress up in outfits from the fictional dystopia Gilead. They appear to believe that they are oppressed in the same way as the women in Gilead – they are wrong.
Let me know what thought terminating clichés I have missed out. I think there are lots more.