My name’s Raili Simojoki, I’m a writer, Greens member and feminist.
I read your piece about women going to war. I personally don’t think we should be sending anyone to war, although haven’t quite got that worked out intellectually yet.
Anyway, some of the assumptions you made about women that we’re naturally nurturing etc – are disputable. Just because women act like that, doesn’t mean those are ‘natural’ or ‘immutable’ characteristics. After all, for many years, it served men’s interest for women to be mothering, empathetic types, do housework and child-bearing and stuff while they went out into the world. In this long-term context of inequality, how can you say these traits are natural?
Anyway, point of this is not to talk at you, but to ask you, have you read Cordelia Fine’s Delusions of Gender. Are you the type of person that often changes your mind about things? If so, this could just be the book to do it.
Anyway, feel free to write back to me at email@example.com if you want to chat about it.
Cheers – Raili
Many thanks for your email and your comments on my piece. I wrote it because I picked up from a number of women around me–all independent and successful–that they felt a deep discomfort with the women-in-combat decision, but could not really articulate why. I too felt that discomfort and developed the argument to try to explain it.
In my piece, although ostensibly attacking “feminism”, I was really defending one type of feminism, difference feminism, against another type, liberal feminism. I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of women who have emailed me in support, although aware that my arguments would attract criticism as well.
Perhaps my views have been too heavily shaped by my early participation in the peace movement, where women’s contribution was so influential. I admired the long-running Greenham Common protest in the UK, which was a women’s protest that excluded men and asserted “difference”.
In my article I was careful not to say that the differences are natural, in the biological sense, but arose out of women’s distinctive history, and that it is not right, and not helpful, to characterise that history as wholly determined by men and male structures, and that even while subordinated women developed their own cultures, life experiences and ways of negotiating the world. So it does not help to abandon all of that as merely the product of patriarchy because if you do then it not only denigrates what is distinctively female but also means the objective must be to emulate men. I always understood that one of the two principal objectives of the women’s movement was to change men.
Cordelia is a good friend of mine. I have read her book and admire her work a great deal.
*NB Clive gave permission to publish this.