Ernest Belfort Bax: ‘The Fraud of Feminism’ (1913)

For anyone – and especially students at Nottingham University – holding to the conviction that feminism is the pursuit of gender equality, we recommend two things.

Firstly, they should immerse themselves in the website A Voice for Men. This website is the world’s most-visited and influential website advocating for the human rights of men and boys, and I had the honour of addressing the world’s first international conference on men’s issues in Detroil last July, which they organised. Around a third of the speakers were women, including the remarkable Karen Straughan (GirlWritesWhat), who is surely the world’s foremost ‘Honey Badger’ (a female anti-feminist).

Secondly, they should read a book published in 1913 – 102 years ago – and which is now downloadable for free, The Fraud of Feminism. It was written by Ernest Belfort Bax (1854 – 1926), a noted British barrister, journalist, historian, socialist, philosopher, and journalist. The Wikipedia entry on the man is here.

The opening of the Introduction:

In the following pages it is not intended to furnish a treatise on the evolution of woman generally or of her place in society, but simply to offer a criticism on the theory and practice of what is known as Modern Feminism.

By Modern Feminism I understand a certain attitude of mind towards the female sex. This attitude of mind is often self-contradictory and illogical. While on the one hand it will claim, on the ground of the intellectual and moral equality of women with men, the concession of female suffrage, and commonly, in addition thereto, the admission of women to all professions, offices and functions of public life; on the other it will strenuously champion the preservation and intensification of the privileges and immunities before the law, criminal and civil, in favour of women, which have grown up in the course of the nineteenth century.

The above attitude, with all its inconsistencies, has at its back a strong sex-conscious party, or sex union, as we may term it, among women, and a floating mass of inconsequent, slushy sentiment among men. There is more than one popular prejudice which obscures the meaning and significance of Modern Feminism with many people. There is a common theory, for instance, based upon what really obtained to some extent before the prevalence of Modern Feminism, that in any case of antagonism between the two sexes, women always take the man’s side against the woman. Now this theory, if it ever represented the true state of the case, has long ceased to do so.

The powerful female sex union spoken of, in the present day, exercises such a strong pressure in the formation of public opinion among women, that it is rapidly becoming next to impossible, even in the most flagrant cases, where man is the victim, to get any woman to acknowledge that another woman has committed a wrong. On the other hand it may be noted, that the entire absence of any consciousness of sex antagonism in the attitude of men towards women, combined with an intensification of the old-world chivalry prescribed by tradition towards the so-called weaker sex, exercises, if anything, an increasing sway over male public opinion. Hence the terrific force Feminism has obtained in the world of the early twentieth century.

The start of the final chapter, ‘The Indictment’:

Feminism, or, as it is sometimes called, the emancipation of woman, as we know it in the present day, may be justifiably indicted as a gigantic fraud – a fraud in its general aim and a fraud alike in its methods of controversy and in its practical tactics. It is through and through disingenuous and dishonest. Modern Feminism has always professed to be a movement for political and social equality between the sexes. The claim for this equalising of position and rights in modern society is logically based upon the assumption of an essential equality in natural ability between the sexes. As to this, we have indicated in the preceding pages on broad lines, the grounds for regarding the foregoing assumption as false. But quite apart from this question, I contend the fraudulent nature of the present movement can readily be seen by showing it to be not merely based on false grounds, but directly and consciously fraudulent in its pretensions.

It uniformly professes to aim at the placing of the sexes on a footing of social and political equality. A very little inquiry into its concrete demands suffices to show that its aim, so far from being equality, is the very reverse – viz. to bring about, with the aid of men themselves, as embodied in the forces of the State, a female ascendancy and a consolidation and extension of already existing female privileges. That this is so may be seen in general by the constant conjunction of Political and Sentimental Feminism in the same persons. It may be seen more particularly in detail, in the specific demands of Feminists. These demands, as formulated by suffragists as a reason why the vote is essential to the interests of women, amount to little if anything else than proposals for laws to enslave and browbeat men and to admit women to virtual if not actual immunity for all offences committed against men. It’s enough to consult any suggestions for a woman’s ‘charter’ in order to confirm what is here said. Such proposals invariably suggest the sacrificing of man at every turn to woman.

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