From The Personal To The Political
by Erin Pizzey © 2001
One of the most interesting debates in the new century might well be the question of how and why the women's movement in the Western world was founded?
Did it, as many of the women journalists explained, rise from the needs of the oppressed women of the world?
Or was it manufactured by leftist women tired of being relegated to the role of 'chief cook and bottle washers' in the kitchens of their revolutionary lovers?
According to Susan Brownmiller in her excellent history of the women's movement, In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution, the women's movement was founded in New York when many of the female activists returned from Mississippi after attempting to help black people register their votes.
The men in the revolutionary movements who expected them to take inferior roles hugely discouraged the women activists. The famous quote from Stokely Carmichael when asked about the position of women in the forthcoming revolution was: "What is the position of women in SNCC (Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee)? The position of women in SNCC is prone." Thereby precipitating a revolution the outcome of which even the most dedicated of Black Panthers would be unable to imagine.
I joined this amorphous movement in 1971 when Jill Tweedie and other left wing journalists were writing in newspapers and magazines that what women needed were several very sensible demands. There was a national sigh of relief from millions of women in Britain whose only reading matter was filled with cooking and knitting patterns. With the exception of SHE magazine, which was run by the redoubtable lesbian Nancy Spain, most of us were lectured on how to be perfect housewives.
The Guardian gave details of how to contact this new, exciting, liberation movement for women. I telephoned the main number in London and was directed to my local group in Chiswick. I left my husband facing his first night of baby sitting the children and set off for my meeting. I was less than impressed to find myself in a very big house hosted by a small woman with a sharp tongue.
If I thought I was going to join a movement that was going to lessen my isolation with my two small children I was wrong. "Your problem is not your isolation," I was told. "Your problem is your husband, he oppresses you."
I looked at the other white middle class women in the room with me and tried not to blush.
We were also told that we were to call ourselves a collective, to refer to each other as "comrades" and pay three pounds ten to join the Women's Liberation Movement. There were posters of fierce women waving guns over their head and a very large portrait of Chairman Mao on the wall. The violence of the posters upset me and because I was a child born in 1939 — a child born into a terrible war.
I was born in China in 1939. My father was working in the British Consular Service. Both my parents were friends of Chaing Kai Check, who was eventually exiled to Taiwan by the communists. My parents and my brother, who returned to China in 1942, were captured by the communists and put under house arrest for several years. My twin sister and myself believed them to be dead. My father's hatred and disgust for any totalitarian regime left its mark on me and I was offended by what I saw as a manipulative attempt for the local communist party to add my three pounds ten shillings to their account.
Still, I passionately believed that women in Britain needed a place to meet and to organize in their local areas. I was aware of a huge group of isolated women, many of whom had invaluable natural gifts, and some work experiences that we could use to work in our own communities. I braved the hostility towards my high heels and my make up in the women's liberation office and took over the typing.
I didn't last long.
What I saw happening were groups of left-leaning, white, middle-class women gathering together to hate men. Their slogan was: "Make the personal political." What I could see happening was that the most vociferous and violent of the women took their own personal damage, their anger against their fathers and lovers and expanded their rage to include all men.
Many of these women were "trust fund bunnies" meaning that they lived off their rich father's money.
What made the movement so immediately violent, was the fact that it was founded in England by American women who were on the run from the FBI.
This was not the first time America exported its revolutionaries. Trotsky was deported along with other revolutionaries years before.
Some went to Germany to join the Badermeinhof revolutionaries. Others went to Holland to join the Red Stockings and some chose to come to England. England seemed destined to become the revolutionary hot bed for terrorists all over the world, Beirut by the Thames.
I was once at a BBC party that the taxpayers shelled out to pay for all the famous revolutionaries to be flown in from across the world to make a BBC programme. I watched 'Danny The Red,' argue with the sweating producer that he wanted bigger expenses and a more comfortable hotel. Ken Tyne kept spitting all over me declaiming that we should take over the BBC and launch the revolution ourselves.
I was also forced to attend a tedious lecture where Bernadette Devlin harangued us and various black panthers gave salutes. A row of BBC would-be revolutionaries raised their pallid fists in reply.
In 1970 terrorist women from groups everywhere poured into London for the first women's liberation March but by this time I was becoming far more politically aware.
I stood up in many of the violent and threatening collectives to tell the leaders of this movement that hating all men was not anything that I wanted to be part of. I told them that I considered my life a luxury. I had a husband who went to work and paid the mortgage so that I could stay home with my two children. I reminded them that, apart from a small group of men who internationally ruled in their countries, most people were slaves. I reminded them of the murderous regimes of Mao and of Stalin but of course many of those women were followers of both Mao and Stalin. Their attitude was that if thirty million died for the cause of the revolution so be it. I was hated with a passion and finally, ironically, excluded from the liberation movement.
I left to open a small community centre for women and their children so that my vision of the lessening of the isolation found in the Western world due to the breakdown of the extended family could be ameliorated.
The first woman who came in to show me her bruises several months later began a world movement of refuge for victims of domestic violence.
However, from the very beginning I was aware of the violence of some of the women coming into my refuge. By this time I had attracted the two things the women's movement wanted. A just cause to clothe their political agenda and money to fund this agenda.
By 1972 the women's movement had run out of money. Ordinary English women were far too intelligent and educated to want to be included into a movement that so obviously desired to destroy the family and men. Only the very isolated pockets of women living in areas like grizzly Islington and Kew, refused to let their boy children have any male toys, and boasted that their husbands or lovers had now been changed over night into 'new men.'
The rest of us accepted that men would always be men and any help in the house was gratefully accepted.
While the bra-burning movement became a figure of fun in jokes on television and in newspapers, the movement slid into obscurity except in certain newspapers and in the academic circles. Here the misandry of the women's movement found its exponents amongst untenured women professors. What they could do was to create a whole new ideology called "Women's Studies" and brain wash generations of young women coming into Universities.
I found schools filled with "teachers" who were not teachers but political activists. I went to Universities to lecture and was roundly hated when I pointed out that 62 of the first hundred women who came into the refuge were as violent as the men they left.
I addressed public meetings and talked about "battered men." Since "Domestic Violence," was considered a "female" issue it was women journalists who covered the subject. If I tried to interest newspapers in publishing my views, I came up again the same problem. I was in the hands of women editors who refused to allow me to publish.
Things were no better in the book publishing field; editors routinely censor books, especially the radical lesbian editors. There was, and still is, a heavy censorship against anyone trying to break the code of silence. No one wants to acknowledge the extent of the damage that the feminist movement has done to the family and to men in the last thirty years. Melanie Phillips wrote The Sex Change Society also in 1999. I advised her that our protagonists would refuse to surface and reply to her well-researched history of "Feminised Britain and the neutered male," as she so aptly put it.
Over the last thirty years I saw great corruption in the English courts. I saw fathers of children denied their rights and persecuted. I saw our own government concur to a television advertisement on Scottish television where children were advised to contact a telephone number should their fathers shout at their mothers. I had a very early memory of a small girl of my own age who also lived in China during the time of the communist take over, denounce her father who was taken from the family and tortured for seven years. I watched as the "consciousness raising groups," that again reminded me of Mao's teachings, spread like a rash over the Western world designed to brain wash women into believing that their husbands were the enemy and must be eradicated from the family. I saw the rise of the single parent mother glorified in the women's sections of some newspapers. Four women journalists wrote about their search for the right man to give them their children and the four women promised their readers that the children would never even know their fathers. I felt that these rich privileged women journalists were acting irresponsibility, as I was a single-parent mother and suffered the anxiety and the loneliness of bringing up children on my own.
Most of all I saw feminist women teachers discriminate against the boys in their classrooms. I saw the huge tide of women pouring into the work force hungry for jobs and careers. Many had no choice. Financial hardship made it imperative for both partners to work. In spite of promises there was no national child care plan. So illegal and often dangerous attempts were made by other women to take in children. Men, freed of any restraint by the birth pill, demanded sex whenever they wanted it, and then many ran away from the subsequent pregnancies. London became not only the abortion capital of the world but also had the highest level of teenage births in the West. Men turned their backs on marriage and commitment, many fearing, quite rightly, that whatever commitment they offered would end up with women fleecing them for the rest of their lives.
In 1977 congresswoman Lindy Boggs and Congressman Newton-Steer invited me to a luncheon of honour on Capitol Hill. I realized by now that what I was going to say was going to make me deeply unpopular. Everyone who came to meet me always assumed quite wrongly that I was a 'feminist.' I was nothing of the sort. I have always disbelieved in 'ists' of any sort and the only way I am willing to define myself is as "a lover of God in all his aspects."
By the end of my speech everyone at the table was avoiding me and I faired no better at the Press Club in Washington. The expression on the faces of the hard-bitten women journalists was a source of amusement to me. Many of my speaking engagements were cancelled, especially in New York and Boston. I spent a hilarious night with another member of staff in a communal lesbian household of professors in Anne Arbor but I was very glad indeed to be hosted in another city by a sweet young wife and mother.
I could see then that the feminist movement everywhere had hijacked the whole issue of domestic violence to fulfil their political ambitions and to fill their pockets. By now feminists in America and other countries were redrafting the law.
In the past decade, feminist legal theory has become a formidable presence in many of America's top law schools. Feminist activism has also had a major impact on many areas of the law, including rape, self-defense, domestic violence, and such new legal categories as sexual harassment.
However, the ideology of legal feminism today goes far beyond the original and widely supported goal of equal treatment for both sexes. The new agenda is to redistribute power from the "dominant class" (men) to the "subordinate class" (women), and such key concepts of Western jurisprudence as judicial neutrality and individual rights are declared to be patriarchal fictions designed to protect male privilege.
My sojourn in Germany at the invitation of the German Minister for Sport was no different. I left some very grim looking German refuge workers at a dinner table because I could no longer bear the future of what the refuges were to become.
I watched the feminist movement build its bastions of hatred against men. Fortresses where women were to be taught that all men were "rapists and bastards" and the destruction of the children in the refuge who were to learn that man were not to be trusted.
I was asked to visit New Zealand in 1978 and I'd hoped to be invited to speak to groups of refuge in Australia. At that time New Zealand hadn't yet fallen into the arms of the totalitarian women's movement (it has now). I was refused a visit to Australia because the militant lesbian movement there had control of most of the refuges. I was anathema to the women's movement and to many politicized women who moved from the outside of the establishment and were now making their way up the power ladder in the government.
To show how this movement had the power to censor information I will quote one example amongst many. In 1984 I gave evidence in San Antonio to The Texas Force on Family Violence. There was huge trepidation in the minds of the various shelter groups who were gathered there to give their testimony. Woman after woman gave her personal evidence. In some cases the evidence was grim and dreadful. Those were the genuine victims of their partner's violence. However, many of the women giving evidence gave a bravura performance which elicited much clapping from the audience of excitable sisters but puzzled the members of the Attorney General's Task Force. "I understand your grief," one of the women members said to a particularly histrionic woman. "But you said this happened to you ten years ago? Don't you think it is time you moved on?" She spoke for most of her task force who were very puzzled by what they could see as a definite split between the women who were genuinely giving evidence and the other who were violence prone women who were not innocent victims of their partner's violence but violent themselves. I gave my evidence about the differences between women who were genuinely battered and those that were violent themselves and needed treatment. The committee thanked me and I received a standing ovation from the audience. When the report arrived at my home in Santa Fe, it recorded one meaningless sentence and referred to me as "Erin Shapiro author." Even though my written evidence was submitted in the name of Erin Pizzey and my standing as the founder of the refuge movement was well known to everyone.
By this time I was working in Santa Fe, New Mexico, on child abuse cases and against pedophiles. Here is where I discovered that there were just as many women pedophiles as there were men. Women go undetected as usual. Working against pedophiles is a very dangerous business. I rescued a little British girl from a female pedophile in Britain while I was in New Mexico. It took three years of fighting against the English courts to rescue her and return her to her parents. When the official solicitor finally telephoned me and said I was right all along, the child had been abused, I asked him if he was going to prosecute the woman. "No," he said.
Yet another woman got away and is still getting away with abusing children.
During all these years that I specialized in working with violent women and their children I could never come to terms with the fear men had of violent women. I sat around dinner tables and in sitting rooms, listening to the feminists women abusing the men they lived with. I saw some women running what amounted to mini concentration camps behind their front doors. I rarely ever saw a father stand up to a violent wife or lover. I hardly ever saw a father stop his wife abusing the children. They would come to me for help but when faced with an angry and violent partner the men stayed quiet and tolerated the violence.
Even now people laugh when a man says he has been abused. I don't find any sort of abuse to any living thing a laughing matter. I do feel that it is time that men recognized that women in the last thirty years have made many changes. They have become much more independent of men but men have not yet made that step themselves.
It is depressing when working with men to find them running out of one violent relationship and then immediately looking for another woman to "look after" them. Men have to get used to the idea that they can look after themselves. The younger generations of men seem to be aware of this male dependence upon women and can and do live by themselves.
When I was in Santa Fe a man came to see me who had lost his children and everything he owned because his little daughter had accused him of molesting her. I knew from the moment he confessed that he was a womanizer that he wasn't a child molester. After seeing the mother who was a violent and manipulative narcissistic exhibitionist, I realized that she had instructed the child to name her father. I could see from the behaviour of the child that she had indeed been molested. Finally after three months of work with her she told me that the molester was a man who lived across the road. This man was a government official. When I took the evidence I had to the D.A's office he refused to target the case. A state trouper who also tried to get cases targeted me told me the DA was divorced on grounds of suspected child molestation so I had no chance anyway. I knocked on all the doors I could find around his house and warned the neighbors. Many of them knew but were to frightened of him to do anything. When I confronted him he told me he was safe from prosecution because of his position and he would move his family to Alaska were there was less chance of being convicted. He had, like so many violent and dangerous men, married a bride from the Philippines. She didn't dare say anything.
Another little girl told me that her father, his new wife, and a neighbor raped her every Saturday afternoon during her access visit. I asked what hurt her the most about the abuse and she said "her nails they are very long at sharp in my..." and she pointed to her bottom.
Those are the terrible details that confirm horrible truths.
Part of the problem with men is that they do not want to accept that women, and particularly the women they have loved, can be just as evil as men can. When I was in Canada for a six weeks lecture tour last year, I was appalled at the fear I saw in men across this huge country.
Sexual harassment cases at work mean that there are virtually no more office parties.
I met a very fine professor who had been accused of sexual abuse of two of his students. He said living in Canada was like living in a totalitarian state.
Indeed it was.
I spoke to groups of men and women all over the country. Men there were already feeling the heavy hand of the state taking away their rights to their homes and their children. Men told stories of leaving the house to go to work and returning to find the woman had "hovered" the house, which means she had taken everything she could out of the house and disappeared with the children into a refuge.
The distraught fathers were unable to find their wives and children because the refuges refused to disclose any information.
In some cases where the father was very violent it is a necessary precaution but I never intended it to become routine so that many delinquent women could use this recourse against totally innocent men.
For a woman, declaring your partner violent is a known fast track to a divorce. If that isn't sufficient, women now have recourse to what is called "the silver bullet." This means that she accuses her partner of sexually molesting the children. He then is cut off from his home and his family immediately.
I was speaking to men's group in the West Country recently. Two police officers were at the meeting. They agreed when I asked them about the truth of false sexual abuse charges. They were indeed forced to take a father away from his family even though was no evidence. In this case a woman had accused the child's father of having 'interfered' with her in her bath. She called the police and he was taken away immediately. Later he was released for lack of evidence. We should have a law that allows innocent victims of such allegations to sue their attackers. There is no evidence needed, just a woman's hand on the telephone and the man is taken away.
I find that men will not help each other the way women do. Men have had thousands of years of conditioning that enables them to work together very successfully but when it comes to organizing the same sort of help over their personal lives, they fall apart. I saw this happen when I tried to open a men's refuge almost immediately after I bought the main Chiswick building for the women's refuge. I had seen sufficient men who were horribly abused and needed somewhere to go. What offended me was that even though the Greater London Council were willing to give me an excellent building in North London, I could not get one single fund raiser to help me raise money for the men.
Now we do have men's groups running in most countries. But as yet they have no funding, when millions of pounds are given to the women's refuges, some of whom abuse the money they are given.
We know we have huge problems with our young men. For the last thirty years they have been discriminated against in the media and in schools. These young men have been fed a diet of feminist rhetoric that assures them that they are "rapists" and "batterers." Those were the placards that surrounded The Savoy Hotel when I was there for a luncheon and the launch of my book Prone to violence . This book catalogued my work with violence-prone women and their children. I was used to the pickets because anywhere I spoke or appeared I was followed by these hate-filled women.
I was aware that they held their secret conferences that excluded men all over the world. They have infiltrated most large institutions and the UN is filled with women who are determined to destroy the family and marriage as an institution. They want the family to be defined as women and children only. Men are to be sidelined. Their role as fathers is to be used as sperm banks and wallets.
Fortunately those of us who believe in marriage and in the necessity of children having both biological parents in their lives, if at all possible, have time on our side.
The women's movement is dying out as the elderly proponents now write books recanting their misspent youth and totter to their graves. We discover, thanks to Mike Horowitz's interesting book Hating Whitey and Other Progressive Causes that Betty Friedan was a Stalinist Marxist.
I was constantly aware of the political background of so many of the so-called "leaders" of the movement that I wrote a passage in one of my novels First Lady (p. 389). This is the communist agent who is a tutor at one of England's major universities speaking. He is quoting the Russian President's wife:
"I'll tell you. It was actually the Prime Minister's wife who came up with the answer. Lovely woman, she was. And she looked at me while she spoke. I remember the exact words she said: 'You always subvert the women first, as in Africa, offering them contraception, free doctors, abortions and the rest.' "
Indeed, it was while I was working with missionaries in the African bush in Senegal when I first saw the communists giving away free transistor radios to African women. My missionaries tried to lure the same women into their clinic with medical help and then a lesson from the bible.
My conclusion about the way in which the feminist movement spread is that it was not nearly as spontaneous as the feminists would have us believe. I was there in those early days and I marvelled at the organization and the amounts of money that were floating about. Almost any dissident group, except for myself because I was not "one of them," could have an office and a telephone for the asking.
What grieves me is the damage that has been done, and has been allowed to be done by men unwilling to tackle the problem of violent women.
We know that women perpetrate sixty per cent of all child abuse. This is where the core problem lies. Women who themselves have been unmothered and victims of dysfunctional family life cannot be asked to 'mother' their children as if all that is needed is a magic wand.
I am convinced that PM Tony Blair will be remembered for his £540 programme called " Sure Start." This will begin to give new parents a chance to learn all those important lessons that most children from normal happy families learn at their parent's knees.
Even if we want to turn our backs on men and women who are victims of domestic violence with the uncharitable thought that they made their beds and they must lie upon them. Nonetheless, we must care for the children of those relationships who do not have any choice but to be born into a family where degradation and horror is their everyday life.
We live in one of the richest countries in the world yet we have one of the biggest divides between the rich and the poor and needy anywhere in the world. Surely we must end this futile war between men and women and concentrate on reducing this gap as one of the first tasks we must tackle in the dawning of the new century?