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One Billion Rising at Oxford

There was a great deal of feminist activity at Oxford yesterday, causing some of us to wonder at the evolving irony of a day filled with flowers, romance, and chocolates, as well as demonstrations and debates.  Jim and I actually spent our Valentine’s Eve at a debate on feminism–and we happily went along with about 12 others for the evening!

Women and girls were dancing all over the world yesterday to call attention to the problem of sexual violence.  Even at staid old Oxford, young women gathered to dance.  Thanks to “Zeemaster,” here is a video:


Our big group went to see the Oxford Union debate: “This house believes we are all feminists now.”  It was an interesting gathering of speakers and the question was provocative.  However, in addition to the usual problems of what “feminist” means, there were issues about who “we” are, how many “all” is, and when “now” begins.  I was disappointed, to be honest.  A few made good arguments, but it was hard to hear because none of the mikes were working.

But I certainly heard Edwina Currie, conservative MP, who pranced around the Union waving her arms and making faces like some antique marionette.  And her arguments against the proposition were equally out-of-date, charging feminists with wanting to be men and saying women couldn’t have children and all that old-style silliness.  It really put a jarring tone into the debate.  The rest of her team was dismayed, as they had carefully tried to make the point that “we” are clearly not all feminists now, as long as the Anglican church refuses to include women in the clergy, the government excludes them from the cabinet, and FIFA excludes them from football.

But then Currie got up and did the whole Schlaflyesque death dance about how evil feminism is.  One of her team tried to stop her by standing up in the middle of her speech and announcing that it was pretty clear from her attitude that we were not all feminists now and so they should win the question.  I can’t imagine what the people who put that team together were thinking.

But even that rather clear hint from her own team did not stop this very vain and backward-looking woman.  Indeed, even when the bell was rung, she kept going.  And when it rang again, she not only kept going, but went and took the bell away from the time-keeper!

I was completely creeped out by her.  I expect her poor behavior, vain attitude, and vicious characterizations did more for feminism among that audience than any dignified argument could have done.  Even so, I think I may have been the only person who walked through the “aye” door–and I did so only because I refused to vote for any team that woman is on.

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