Newcomers to feminism, particularly celebrities, are getting a lot of social media press lately. Yesterday Feminist Current published a post about yet another young, male celebrity celebrating his new-found feminism. Read it here. Asked his definition of feminism, he answered that it’s the belief that men and women are equal. This is a feel-good meme; you’d have to be some old codger not to share this belief. But what does it mean exactly?
To help answer that, I’ve drawn up a list of laws (and some social mores) that a society that truly believed a woman’s life, voice and needs were of equal importance to a man’s life, voice and needs would enact. This is a draft list; revisions and additions are totally welcome.
- A man who fathered a child would be required to attend court immediately after the birth to draw up a contract between himself and his child, specifying the amount of financial support he would provide for the coming 18 years. This contract would have nothing to do with the mother and would apply regardless of the circumstances of conception — whether within a marriage or the result of a one-time hookup. The monies would be deposited into a bank account set up for the child, and administered by the primary care-giver or agreed-upon substitute.
- A man convicted of sexual assault of a prepubescent child would receive a choice of death or life in prison. This punishment is commensurate with the devastating consequences of child sexual assault on both the child, and society as a whole. It also recognizes that pedophiles will never stop and therefore people are not safe as long as pedophiles are at liberty. It may also be the only deterrent capable of persuading pedophiles not to act out their urges.
- A man convicted of rape of an adolescent or adult for the third time would receive life imprisonment. This is again commensurate with the violation against the person (not just against the body) that constitutes rape, and recognizes a need to keep people safe from a man who will not stop. Convictions for rape will rely on the victim’s sworn testimony and a detailed examination of the accused’s sexual history. Where rapists are concerned, past performance really does predict future results. Severe penalties levied against accusers found to have lied.
- Organizations wishing to lobby against or protest against abortion would be required to set up and fund a subsidiary charitable organization to sponsor single mothers. Sponsorship would consist of three years of full financial support plus the services of a counsellor. There would be a specified linkage between money spent to lobby against abortion, and money spent to sponsor single mothers.
- A woman who believes her life is in danger from a stalker, spouse or ex-spouse would be allowed to claim self-defense if she kills him in a planned manner. Currently she can claim self-defense only if her life is in imminent danger — in other words when she is actually under attack. This is preposterous. If a woman truly believes the only way to save her own life is to take that of a man who threatens to take hers, she must be able to attack him in a manner that minimizes the risk to herself. Note this law would not allow women to kill men with impunity — only that they can claim self defense even if they plan the killing in advance.
- I’m not sure what to do about sex, so this one is the most tentative of all. People unable to find sexual partners could ask their doctors for a referral to a licensed sex therapist?
- This one could not be legislated, so it’s a social more rather than a law. Parents would teach their daughters not to accept free meals, drinks or other outings from men. In western history, young men paid for their dates with young women for two reasons: first the woman would have no money of her own, and second he would be demonstrating his fitness to be her husband by being able to provide for her. Circumstances have changed. Male-paid dating now teaches men how to use financial inducements to pressure women into sex, in effect teaching them how to be johns. It also teaches women to use men for their money, and puts them in the very uncomfortable position of feel obligated to give some return for the man’s investment. It is not easy to give something away for free; it is also not easy to accept something without feeling an obligation to give back.
So what do the new crop of feminists think about this list? Would you use whatever status and power you have to lobby governments to enact legislation something like this?