Gender Debate And Feminism


Sir, - The letter from the five academic sociologists in your edition of December 17th said that the debate was "getting out of hand, misleading the public and misinterpreting the essence of feminist perspectives in social science, in particular". By "getting out of hand" I presume they mean that people who disagree with feminist positions, such as John Waters, are expressing their views. "Misleading the public" is what feminist commentators have been doing for years.

In the course of their very vague letter they refer to "limited and partial studies which do not address the wider phenomenon of domestic violence in Irish society as a whole". The fact is that domestic violence policy has been, and still is, based on limited and partial studies which deal only with women's experiences and exclude men's experiences.

They go on to criticise "groups and individuals which seem to be most sure about the extent of female-initiated violence" on the grounds that none have "conducted research of any systematic basis" and "tend to base their findings on experience of one group of victims alone". Isn't this exactly what the groups who are most sure about the extent of male-initiated violence, and who dictate public policy, have been doing for years?

They ask: what feminist ever wrote that women should have total responsibility for children, and that men should be free or excluded from parental responsibility? I would suggest they read the works of Dworkin, Steinheim, Greer and other leading feminist authors, many of whom make no attempt to disguise their hatred of men and some of whom fantasise about an all-female feminist utopia where men (and obviously fathers) are extinct.

As regards the exclusion of men "from parental input" by the legal system, their pleas of feminist innocence are not quite accurate. The family law system, which destroys fatherhood as a matter of routine, was shaped by the two most powerful groups in our society - the legal profession and the feminist movement. Not surprising, therefore, that the system ensures that women invariably emerge as winners, men as losers and the lawyers have another lucrative gravy train. - Yours, etc.,

Michael Stephens, Pineview Grove, Aylesbury, Dublin 24.