Human Rights

Democracy and women

Clive James, who has his detractors, is completely spot on in this A Point of View. Unfortunately, the transcript is not yet up.

UPDATE: It is now! The best bit:

since many western feminists are still convinced that the social stereotyping of the West is the product of fundamental flaws within liberal democracy itself, they have a tendency to believe that undemocratic societies are somehow valuable in the opposition they offer to the free countries which the feminists are so keen to characterise as not free enough.

I have to pick my words carefully here, because this is the touchiest theme I have ever tackled in these broadcasts, but I do think it’s high time to say that if feminist ideologists find liberal democracy unfriendly, they might consider that the absence of liberal democracy is a lot less friendly still.

Helping to give me courage, here, finally, is that quite a lot of women are already saying it. But they tend not to be western pundits. They tend to be women out there, in the thick of a real battle not just an argument. Why their bravery doesn’t shame more of our feminist pundits I hesitate to say. It certainly shames me.

This importance of democracy, or at any rate of an amelioration of tyranny, should have become clear when, after Saddam Hussein was deposed, the first provisional government in Iraq included women members. But it didn’t become clear, because too many of our commentators wanted to call the provisional government a puppet government, under the control of the US.

Even as it became steadily more clear that nothing in Iraq was under the control of the US, feminists in the West continued to do a stunning job of ignoring the risks that women in Iraqi public life were running. An Iraqi female MP could get murdered and it was held to be a natural result of US imperialism, almost as if she had been murdered by George W Bush in person.

But she hadn’t been. She had been murdered by local men who were making an example of her. They feared what she would bring: the spectre of women claiming an importance equal to that of men.

And if you want an example of how men will treat women if given the opportunity, consider the story of a UK man taking advantage of the laws in Dubai to have his wife arrested.