'Feminists demand equality, but women and children come first'
'Protect women and children in next week's Budget', declared the headline in a press release from the National Women's Council last Friday. The statement added a couple of paragraphs later: "Women and children are at the greatest risk of poverty and all payments supporting women and children should be protected. Women are already facing serious consequences from the recession with unemployment figures showing the sectors of retail and services have been severely hit."
So, 36 years after the foundation of the NWCI, we see what the official, government-sponsored version of Irish feminism has mutated into: the cry of the officers on the deck of the foundering Titanic -- "Women and Children First". But at least in those days there was a coherent moral order behind that command. Children were children, and women were seen to be weaker and inferior and thus voteless; gentlemen of all classes would naturally stand back and give them places in the lifeboats first.
If there is a coherent moral order to the present thoughts of the National Women's Council, it is that words no longer mean what they used to. In the Council's prospectus for the year 2009, the word "equality" is used 38 times. Yet clearly, in the sisters' deviant vocabulary, "equality" does not mean equality of pain, or hardship or suffering or poverty. No: it means the opposite of equality. It means a protection from these conditions, regardless of what men are enduring. In other words, lifeboat-feminism, surely the most ignoble and unprincipled of all the many liberal political creeds which dominate our ethos today.