As a man with no daughters, here are my views on feminism

Are women even human? How can we be sure? 

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When I read news stories about sexual harassment, rape culture or mansplaining, I find myself completely and utterly unmoved. There is a reason for this. I – unlike the men who loudly declare that they deplore sexism because they are the father of daughters – have no daughters. And as a man with no daughters, I am completely incapable of feeling any empathy towards any woman whatsoever.

It’s not that women have played no role in my life. One of my great formative influences was my mother, who not only fed and clothed me but went so far as to grow me in her womb, and even gave birth to me. I have always appreciated the kindness she showed towards me, in large part because I did not wish to spend my childhood hungry, naked or never being born at all. Thank you, mother, for spawning me. You have been a great help.

Today many of my own colleagues are women, too – and despite being women, many of them even have jobs. Isn’t that great? I have yet to learn which of them is which – I think one of them might be blonde? – but the important thing is that I recognise that they are people with whom I work and who also happen to be women. Let us give them all a big hand.

Perhaps my greatest claim to understand that some human beings are women is that my own wife is one: both a human being, and a woman. Yes! I, a man, am in fact married to a woman. So you will see, the idea that I could be in any way sexist is laughable. What could be more feminist than to be married to a living, breathing female?

And yet, despite being conscious of all these women, and even sometimes brave enough to speak with them, I find I am unable to feel any empathy towards women as a class. I am unsure, indeed, that they even exist at all. I am confident that I exist, because I know that I can feel emotions, like joy and pain and the Piccadilly Line. But can women feel emotions of their own? How can we know? How can any of us truly know?

Are women even human? And if they are, why was Katy Arbour so mean to me in the playground that time when I asked her out in the autumn of 1994? Why did she get everyone to laugh at my hair?

Soon there will be war. Millions will burn. Millions will perish in sickness and misery. Why does one death matter against so many?

While I feel no empathy for women at the moment, I believe that this would change were I to produce female offspring of my own. That is because my daughter would not simply be a woman: she would be my own, miniature woman, grown from the seed of the homunculi which lie waiting in my loins.

I would thus expect the world to respect her – partly because of my natural, parental impulse to protect her, and partly because of my equally natural impulse to view her primarily as an extension of myself rather than a human being in her own right.

“Women deserve respect!” I would say. “Because some of them might be my daughter!” This is how men speak when we wish to show that we are good men.

One may argue that my feelings for my wife or mother or friends or colleagues or, hell, just not being a sociopath, should mean that I can conceive of women as people – human beings who deserve respect, just as much as a real person like myself. To which I would respond: Bernie would have won.

Hillary Clinton should shut up.

Jonn Elledge edits the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric, and writes for the NS about subjects including politics, history and Brexit. You can find him on Twitter or Facebook.