Why Destroy the Joint?

I was sad when I saw the logo for Destroy the Joint had changed. I am sad when I look at my mug with the old logo on it. This is not because I do not like the new logo, but the change itself symbolizes my perception of both the history and processes of feminism over the more than  sixty years since I, as a young girl, first became aware of them.

There are many different concepts of feminism. And this is good. There are many varieties of women.

Over arching, in my simple view, is that the nature of feminism has always been based on a concept of equality. Women have not been equal over the years with men and much of this has been based purely on gender. This is unacceptable and I think anyone who has called or does call themselves a feminist will agree with this.

Where feminists have philosophically disagreed or have branched away from each other has been at the intersection of sexuality and gender. I would have thought that with more reproductive choices for both men and women, with the growing recognition and acknowledgement of the need for equality for same sex relationships and the awareness of issues faced by transgender people, the distinction between gender and sexuality would have become more clear.

Sexuality is the private matter which is regulated by personal choice. On the other hand gender equality should always be publicly acknowledged and should be an on going public concern. 

When I say sexuality is regulated by personal choice I mean the equal choice of those involved. (Imposed sex and sex by force is a crime in most countries and, where it is not a punishable crime, both women and men need to continue the fight for it to be criminalized and routinely punished.) And this is the first issue on which we should be prepared to “destroy” any “joint”.

Where there are personal choices made in the area of sexuality with which we individually disagree we are entitled to voice an opinion and advocate for certain points of view, but I contend we cannot “destroy the joint”. If adult women (or men for that matter) chose to wear the burqa or dress like “sluts”, that is their choice and we must accept it.

But in gender issues there must be universal equality and we should fight for this with all our might. We still do not nearly have equality of gender. But with any true equality might come some things we do not like.

Women should be considered as equal contenders for every job, even as cabinet ministers. Women and mens’ abilities, training and work history should be the prime determinents for promotion. Clearly with the lack of women in significant positions we still have some joint destroying to do here in Australia.

But at the same time men must regain some of the choices for equality in parenting, lost after the industrial revolution and the rise of the more isolated nuclear family. Apart from the obvious post partum differences between men and women, responsibility for children should be regarded as equal in the workforce. Such gaffs as saying, for example that Tania Plibersec cannot be leader of the Labor Party as she has a three year old child whereas Bill Shorten can be, although he also has a three year old child, cannot be tolerated.

There are other examples of gender stereotyping. Men, for example, are under represented in the teaching of young children, particularly in child care centres, and are often regarded with suspicion and doubt when they work there or are training there. They can play a very beneficial role in these positions.

On a connected but sadder, and very fortunately much rarer, note for both genders, some unpleasant things must be acknowledged such as that disturbed women can abuse children both physically and sexually as do some disturbed men. At the moment there is still the widely held viewpoint (mostly unspoken) that women feel differently about the young than men do. Women’s abuse of children is under reported but, when it is found, it is interesting that women get longer gaol sentences and more public abhorrence than do men as their behaviour is obviously regarded as more abnormal.

Where I think we really need mass destruction to re-arise and this time wreak havock is in the area of the sexualization of the genders in early childhood. Not to sexualise young children was a foundation plank of early feminism. It has been lost and abandoned via some of the competing feminist philosophies. I contend that if sex is a part of childhood gender, boys and girls and equality itself are lost. We are not sexual beings until pubescence and even after puberty is complete, as I have pointed out, we need to be able to separate and recognise as different our sexual free choices from unstereotyped gender obligations. Our sexual choices as adults, such as partners, children and their numbers, our chosen dress and behaviours may define and sometimes will limit or change parts of our future.

Our gender should not.

Let children wait and make their defining sexual choices as adults. Let us destroy any joint that will prevent them having this freedom. We can do this by example and in our decisions for them as a society so all the children of this world, of any gender, can grow up to be equal.

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About Anne Powles

I am retired from paid employment. During my working life I have been variously and sometimes contemporaneously, wife, mother of four, lawyer, teacher and psychologist. I have also been a serial education junkie. As are we all, I have been an observer of the world around me. Here I have recorded some of my memories, observations and theorisings.
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2 Responses to Why Destroy the Joint?

  1. Jan Bennett says:

    If you haven’t already read it, have a look at Far from the tree, written by Andrew Solomon. I’m still thinking over many issues raised.

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