Flat White

Authoritarianism gets women hot…

30 March 2022

9:00 AM

30 March 2022

9:00 AM

To understand why the rise of authoritarianism in once-liberal Western democracies is greeted – not by resistance, but rapturous applause – we must first understand why half the population seem predisposed to embracing authority. 

In surveys that ask about government power, whether for pandemic management, social policy, or law and order, women routinely outdo men in the belief that greater intervention is a good thing and that governments are responsible for just about everything.

Academic research backs this up: consistently, women are more likely than men to approve of measures that expand the reach of the State. Even political preferences fall along these lines. Parties that zealously advocate for an increasingly authoritarian society and ever-dwindling freedom – for our own good, of course! – have a higher proportion of female supporters than parties that lean towards libertarianism and individual responsibility. 

Any enquiry about why this occurs is obscured by fuzzy rhetoric like ‘the greater good’ and ‘thinking of others’. The common view, pushed ardently by players who stand to gain power, is that ‘the woman’s perspective’ is less selfish and more conscious of public wellbeing than men’s. What a massive lie this is. Whether because of biology, socialisation – or both – women support the exercise of power because the State has become what men, and especially husbands, have been to women throughout history.

With so many men painfully feminised and socially castrated, it is no wonder that women have turned elsewhere for a source of authority and strength.

Over fifty years ago, Germaine Greer wrote in The Female Eunuch that women who fail to seize emancipation do so because they not only still need, but actively crave, the command of men. She argued that even though the suffragettes threw open the door to the cage, the canary refused to fly out. The housewives of the 1950s shrugged their shoulders at the opportunities that their forebears had fought to bring about, and happily remained in a State of dependence by insisting that somebody else should exercise responsibility for them.

The only thing that has changed since then is the colour of the cage, because the patterns of behaviour are the same. Just as obeying one’s husband was once a virtue, obeying the State now is – while a challenge to the State is viewed as darkly as emasculating menfolk once was. Just as turning hard decisions over to a man was once seen to lift a burden from women, allowing the State to do the thinking now provides that soothing security blanket. And just as many women once secretly feared the power of men even as they clutched it desperately to themselves, now they secretly fear the power of the State even while they cheer it. 

Oddly, it is often the women who most promote themselves as models of liberated thinking who are the loudest to demand that the State must take responsibility for all and be involved in every aspect of human existence. Show me one of these paragons of progressiveness and I will show you a woman harbouring a deep-down Mills and Boon-esque fantasy about a dominating alpha male who takes complete charge, making her feel delicate, special, and sheltered. This is so shameful that she cannot even admit it to herself, so it becomes sublimated into a cry that anything even hinting of such appealingly untamed masculinity must be destroyed.

Smash the patriarchy, sisters! And while we’re at it, lobby for more government control over the lives of the people because, oh, how we hunger to submit.

Political parties who resist authoritarianism do not have a woman problem. Rather, the women who sneeringly denounce those parties have a problem with the possibility of liberation. Women’s liberation necessarily requires libertarianism. Yet still women refuse to see past their own intense yearning to sit like canaries in gilded cages, gazing smugly at bars bearing the insignia of the State and being too foolish to realise that they remain well and truly trapped.

 Turning the very idea of libertarian values into something ugly and terrifying from which only the State can offer protection, is exactly how men once convinced women that the world outside the home was too rough and nasty a place to expose their pretty little heads to, and that they needed a man to look after them. Those who champion the erosion of libertarianism are doing nothing more than validating feminised inability or unwillingness to move beyond a State of dependence on something bigger and stronger than oneself.

If this is what ‘the future is female’ means, then we should all be terrified.

Lillian Andrews writes about politics, society, feminism, and anything else that interests her.

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