|Written by Erin Pizzey||Monday, June 11, 2007 2:17 PM|
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I left New York on 3rd April, 1977 after a whirlwind tour that exposed me to a variety of different groups of people who were all in the process of setting up refuge/shelters or trying to raise money to fund research into domestic violence.
I realised very quickly at the beginning of my tour that the American feminist movement was far better organised than the English movement. What became obvious was that in the late sixties very few English women went to universities compared to America and many more American women were politicised than their English counterparts. English women had for centuries organised themselves in the taking care of the sick the elderly and the vulnerable in their communities but most had no political experience and were apathetic about voting anyway.
I realised that most of the women I met on my tour were not representative of American women as a whole but they did represent millions of the highly educated, politically active women who even then were climbing their way into areas of great power. Even in England I was often accosted by women who would shyly tell me that they totally agreed with my very public stand against feminism but they were too afraid to make their views public. Indeed I was subject to endless vicious articles about my beliefs and anywhere I spoke I was picketed and screamed at. Threatening phone calls and death threats led to my departure from England in 1982.
On the ’plane back to England I had time to reflect on some of the differences that so concerned me between the two countries. I was shocked and horrified at the force of the hostility towards men that I found across America. Certainly the radical lesbian and feminist women in England expressed anger and rage at men, but even women who were in seemingly good relationships with men I met in America seemed to harbour huge resentments against their partners. American men seemed intimidated and subservient in a way that had not yet become common place in England. Of course English women were only just beginning to find their way into the work place and become financially independent of men. In time, once the anti male structures were in place, many men in England learned to their cost that their only role in the family was to supply the money, work long hours and keep their mouth shut. A married man soon found that he risked losing not only his home but also his children, should he not toe the feminist line.
Two major world wars in Europe destroyed millions of able bodied men. When I was growing up in the forties and fifties millions of women were widowed or never married. There was a dearth of men. Thousands of women during the Second World War moved into the work place and then, when some of the men came back from the war, moved gratefully back into their homes. Life was very grim for English families until the beginning of the sixties and almost every family I knew lost husbands, brothers, uncles and lovers. I’m sure this is why apart from the virulent militant handful of women who filled the media and the television channels, the women’s movement never took root in the daily lives of English women. Far too many of them had lived a large part of their lives without their men and for the children of the fifties without their fathers; they had no interest in fighting with their men.
In the 1850s members of my Irish family, the Carneys, migrated from the potato fields in County Mayo in Southern Ireland and made their way to America to begin their new life in California. Those turbulent lawless years of a young and dynamic country finally grew into a conforming, law abiding, and church going homogenised people. Compared to the suffering experienced in Europe, the loss of life, the destruction of the cities and the poverty and lack of food or any luxuries, America boomed. Young girls were better educated, were going to college and expected to have a career. Within the academic ivory towers they were exposed to professors (still largely men) who understood the great communist command. ‘IF YOU WISH TO CAPTURE A COUNTRY — FIRST SUBVERT THE WOMEN.’
English women had experienced the loss of family life through no fault of their own. Those who went back to their homes after doing their ‘war work’ embraced family life with fervour. We, their children, were brought up to fiercely obey the rules. Our newspapers and cinemas were still full of the war, the heroism of the men who fought the wars and the newspapers full of stories of returning men. Slowly the horrifying atrocities practiced by the Nazis in Germany against the Jews trickled out. America seemed a land far away and untouched by tragedy. The Americans that did come to England as soldiers came from a glamorous other planet. America was a bounteous, technicolor paradise compared to a grey, war torn weary England.
The war in Vietnam politicised the American people but to us in England it was a war fought very far away and the details were hardly reported in our English newspapers. The women demonstrating and supporting their men at the huge rallies against the war that swept across America were also involved in the black civil rights movements in the South. The well educated, politically active women who fought along side their brothers were outraged when the war in Vietnam was over and the battles in the South subsided to find themselves relegated into subordinated roles of make the coffee and typing the revolutionary manifestos.
The huge, largely student movement that turned its back so virulently on the nuclear family and the teaching of the churches in America created a media inspired ‘generation of love.’ The world press joyously reported upon the drug fuelled, sexually hedonistic freedoms and lifestyles of the American youth. Serious acts of violence and bombing campaigns stretched across university campus and various groups were hounded by the FBI and CIA until many of them fled to Europe.
As far as I am concerned those of us who were interested in becoming part of a movement that would help women to take their place in public forums and to campaign for women’s rights and equality never stood a chance of having our voices heard. The American women who came to England and brought with them their hostile new religion largely based on Marxist theory but with a change of goal posts so that capitalism was no longer the enemy but the patriarchy which included all men, set the fragile nascent women’s movement on fire. As any successful tyrant will tell you — always define your followers as ‘victims’ then define your enemy as ‘oppressors.’ Describe the brave new world purged of the oppressor — eulogise the physical, emotional, financial and sexual benefits that will create this new utopia and sit back and wait.
The contraceptive pill, the demand that all women should vacate the home, dump their children in child care and the no fault divorce, were the building blocks of the world without men. In the very early days of the huge eruptive arguments about women’s sexual demands, the radical lesbians tried to insist that all sexual relationships with men were a betrayal of the sisterhood. Laughable it may seem at this distance, but thousands of young women across the country were left confused and bewildered about their sexuality. More sensible women in the movement managed to contain the excesses and the heterosexual women in the movement were grudgingly allowed their male partners.
During this trip, I had been hosted in a private house rented by a large group of women professors at a prestigious university on the East coast who assured me that the majority of their students (all young women) were easily seduced into a lesbian choice of relationships. I didn’t think of it as ‘a choice’ I felt it was ‘brainwashing.’ In the seemingly loosely structured ‘consciousness raising groups’ that took place in private homes across the Western world, where we were exhorted to ‘examine’ ourselves and face our ‘oppression’ i.e. boot out our husbands and explore our career opportunities, the same ‘brainwashing’ took place. The feminist demand that women had the right to the same sexual freedom as men meant that women newly liberated from their marriages threw themselves into the arms of some very grateful men often with disastrous results. The purpose of marriage I believe is that both partners remain faithful and many men found themselves disenfranchised from the family in spite of being totally innocent of any wrong doing and with no recourse to the law.
When the no fault divorce came into being in England the figures for women bailing out of marriage were astronomical. There was no discussion at the time of the effects on the children of the relationship suddenly being bereft of their children. In fact, according to the feminist journalists that were now in positions of power in the Western newspapers, the unreconstructed family with the father in his place was a dangerous place for women and children. Before long the role of the single parent mother was formulating. Women who were living with men were forbidden any sort of financial help from the state and ‘goon squads’ could enter into her home at any time of the day or night to inspect the bathroom for an errant toothbrush. Ostensibly the raids were to ensure that men were taking financial responsibility for their families but practically this further increased the distance between couples. Many fathers, particularly in the black community who could not afford to support their families stayed away, aware that by risking living with their partner and their children he could reduce her to penury and persecution through the courts.
Four well known English feminist journalists wrote about their decision to find random men to impregnate them and then to have the babies without the men having any relationship with their children. Studies were quickly published to prove that children did not suffer from the absence of their fathers. Several other prominent women assured the British public that the new family unit was now the mother and child.
I was the mother of a boy and I became increasingly worried by the rampant feminist dislike of boy children. I remember feeling very isolated because under the new tyranny fuelled by magazines and newspaper articles women were ordered to bring up their sons as they would their daughters. All guns, trucks and boy’s toys that in any way could identify a boy’s natural interest in cars, machines and aggressive, competitive games were banned. I did rather feebly remove my son’s beloved guns. He retaliated by running around the garden shooting at his friends with his fingers and with sticks. He also had a huge collection of Action Men and he took them with him wherever he went. I endured many an afternoon in the houses of newly liberated women frowning at me while my son produced his Action Man and refused to play in the Wendy House or dress the dolls with his little male friends. I argued furiously that there will always be huge biological differences between men and women that will determine our behaviour and our interests but in those days the mission statement was quite clear. There was no such thing as genetic influences — babies were born genderless and it was only ‘nurture’ not ‘nature’ that determined the behaviour of the child therefore boys could be trained to behave like girls. As far as I was concerned this pernicious ignorant misunderstanding of the needs of boy children produced a generation of confused, angry, feminised boys.
I still maintained that the rules that created the structures that nurtured relationships between men and women had been in existence for thousands of years. Indeed the concept of a biological mother and father living under one roof (or possibly a cave) is clouded in the mists of time. The biological extended family has survived and successfully nurtured children throughout history. I think that marriage was created and discussed in biblical terms as the protection for women and children and for the securing of responsibility in men. In the seventies to even begin to support marriage as I did was to court ridicule and humiliation. Those of us that advocated that women should be at home with their children and took pleasure in creating a warm loving environment within the home were treated as traitors. A woman’s role in the home was slowly obliterated and generations of children will never experience a permanent motherly presence behind their front door.
By the time I landed at Heathrow in London, I was glad that I had a home and a family to come back to. I realised that though the roots of the feminist movement may have come from different experiences, the results of their irresponsible need to destroy family life and relationships between men and women were equally destructive to both countries. I acknowledged that the invitations I received from some of the groups were cloaked in hypocrisy and that I was used as a stooge to drum up support for the hidden agendas but overall the need to establish a safe place for women and children to go to needed immediate fulfilment. I was pleased that I could insist that men must not be excluded from protection and that domestic violence was not and had never been a gender issue. Certainly some of the willing groups who wanted to host refuge/shelters were able to hear what I had to say but their reasonable sane voices, like mine, were drowned in the avalanche of rage and hatred that was to drown out any argument that sought to argue for the right to family life and for the needs of fathers.
Copyright © 2007 Erin Pizzey, All Rights Reserved
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