You may have seen at Laura Wood’s site a report on a new French women’s group called the Antigones.
They have been set up in opposition to Femen, a feminist group originally from Ukraine, but which has also spread to France. The Femen women often protest topless with obscene comments daubed on their bodies.
The Antigones want to be feminine and dignified. I’ve read some of their published material and it seems to be quite good. They are definitely opposed to the « gender theory » I reported on a little while ago. This is the idea that our identity as men and women is merely a false social construct and that we should be liberated to choose whatever sex identities we like.
This gender theory is obviously very closely tied to the liberalism which is dominant in the West today. Liberalism claims that we should aim to maximise individual autonomy, which means being self-determining or self-authoring, which means that predetermined qualities like being male or female aren’t allowed to matter. That then means that there cannot be complementary masculine and feminine essences as part of the reality of things.
The Antigones have set themselves in a principled way against the liberal position. Here are some quotes from a YouTube clip:
Femen, you assert that machismo dominates our society and you fight men. We reply that it is only with men that we will be women in the full sense of the word.
Femen, you demand sex equality. We reply to you that complementarity between men and women is a source of wealth for our society.
From their « Who are we? » statement:
Daughters of our fathers, wives of our husbands, mothers of our sons, we do not reject men. Instead, we are persuaded that it is with them, in complementarity, that we will build our future.
And from an article published at their website (the Google translation isn’t perfect but gives a clear idea of the arguments being made):
Everyone has an intuition, an immediate impression, sometimes confused, of what are the male and female identities. Sometimes these are clichés, but we must nevertheless admit that the physiology and psychology of both sexes have specific irreducible genetically transmitted and define their respective idiosyncrasies.
Beyond the visual evidence of the different conformation of the body, biology, cognitive science and ethology have shown that brains are physically different and how they work, how they process information, as well as hormone levels and differentiated control their behavior in response to the same stimuli. Cultural identity unfolding from the image represented the body, so there is a thread invariant of female identity, a feminine essence, an eternal feminine, a « feminine genius », that is, a way of being in specifically feminine world. It seems that the female nature is expressed by what we might call a « sense of closeness » what Julia Kristeva calls « intimate. »
At the very least, all this demonstrates that things don’t have to be the way they are now. We don’t have to have a women’s movement which is anti-feminine and anti-male. It’s possible to envisage something else.
It’s interesting to contrast the Femen women with the Antigone women. The Femen women are rancorous and destructive like so many movements of the Western political class before them. I don’t know what the flaws of the Antigone women may prove to be. But these women do seem to have turned in a different direction, one that at least has the potential to be more creative and affirming.
I will watch their further development with great interest.