The Istanbul Convention, A Feminist Trojan Horse

Critical race theory (CRT) and its impact on schools has recently gained prominence in wider society as many people wake up to the ideology’s dangerous perversion of our institutions. But the cancerous spread of such ideological views is not just restricted to universities: we can also find it in the highest realms of government and CRT’s ugly older sister — political feminism. 

Dominating all parts of society for decades, the various international treaties drawn up to benefit women in the name of feminism have in fact smuggled in radical ideologies that instead harm women, children, men, and society. Principal among these treaties is the Istanbul Convention, an international human rights treaty designed to “prevent and combat violence against women and domestic violence.” Signed by most Western countries, the convention is not only a danger to societal norms but also women, its provisions pushing gender ideologies that eliminate the very concept of women altogether.

In its signing of the Istanbul Convention, the UK government committed itself to take “necessary measures to promote changes in the social and cultural patterns of behaviour of women and men to eradicate traditions and all other practises which are based on stereotyped roles for women and men.” The government declared:

“[gender is] the socially constructed roles, behaviours, activities and attributes that a given society considers appropriate for women and men.”

Westminster also informed the world that the UK is:

“Aware that a change in the traditional role of men as well as the role of women in society and in the family is needed to achieve full equality between men and women.” 

“… convinced that the establishment of the new international economic order based on equity and justice will contribute significantly towards the promotion of equality between men and women.”

The UK government has rallied to support such notions, and much besides, in the various treaties that were supposed to be concerning women’s protection. Domestically, the government’s legal department has also endorsed a statement in its so-called Risk of Harms Report. Supposed to be about protecting victims of domestic abuse, the document introduces a policy that effectively disenfranchises everyone of the right to mother or father their child without government permission — even if they are happily married — on the premise that “there is no automatic right of contact between a parent and a child.”

It is up for debate precisely whether such notions are emphasised as the result of some insidious machinations of a Neo-Marxist plot, or as the natural result of the gradual delegation of responsibilities to politically indoctrinated graduates. However, the first question is how these notions were waved through our democratic processes without the normal degree of public due diligence. The answer lies in an ingrained public sense of duty to protect women; a relic from the days of patriarchy. It was at the height of patriarchal power in 1852, for instance, when the Birkenhead Drill (which proclaimed ‘women and children first’) was enforced virulently by the British Empire’s acutely masculine Royal Navy.

But the protection of our own safety, as we have recently re-learned yet again with the Covid pandemic, is deeply infantilising and constraining regardless of gender. Even the Birkenhead Drill places women in the same category as children. It is of little wonder that so many women have fought against ‘the Patriarchy’ in establishing their independence, and it is also of little wonder that many protective and forthright men stood aside in confoundment as those women bravely bore the burdens which men traditionally would have been willing to bear for them.

Even in our modern times, however, those same men still seek vanishing opportunities to show their gallantry. Thus, we find ourselves in a society that, despite sanctifying the empowerment of women, retains its traditional instinct to protect them. Both ‘the Patriarchy’ and the feminist movements that seek to overthrow it consequently end up colluding in the promotion of measures that can only culminate in the unequal overextension of ‘protections’ for women.

Under such conditions, ideologies such as neo-Marxism were easily waved through because they were embedded within motions to protect women from harm — a cause which spoke to both feminists and traditional patriarchs alike. However, like the proverbial Trojan Horse, these ideologies are far from benign. Once permitted past the defensive gates, they can unleash their malevolent payload to wreak havoc. And, perhaps prophetically, women in the UK now face being declassified, humiliated, and dehumanised: their real protections trampled on and their hard-won rights subverted. 

Yet, even after such threats are identified, the cover provided by the public’s desire to ‘protect women’ survives; we have indeed left it to the ‘Patriarchy’ to re-assume its traditional role of defending women. Upon the Istanbul Convention’s rejection by Turkish and Eastern European governments, for instance, the Council of Europe and the United Nations, rather than considering the reasons for the respective countries’ disquiet, claimed that by rejecting the treaty, they were seeking to “victimise women.” In reality, though, the governments who rejected the Istanbul Convention were all saying the same thing. They wanted to protect women from radical gender ideologies to which they did not agree and would not incorporate into domestic law.

To date, the Istanbul Convention has since been rejected outright by the Vatican, Hungary, Bulgaria, Slovakia, and Turkey, with Poland declaring its intention to withdraw. Meanwhile, Lithuania, Latvia, Armenia, Ukraine, and the Czech Republic, as well as the EU and UK, have failed to ratify it. Chastising the EU for its failure to amend the treaty, a statement by the Vatican clearly identifies that the Council of Europe was aware of the many objections to the redefinition of ‘gender’ in the period before the finalisation of the treaty:

“During the process of its negotiation, this Delegation — along with others — drew attention to the novelty of the definition contained in Article 3c [gender] … This definition, in fact, differs substantially from the one which had been used in international law until this point, and which was reflected specifically in Article 7.3 of the Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court…”

“Finally, it is important to emphasise that the use of such a contested definition of the term ‘gender’ does not serve the goals of the Istanbul Convention. This usage has moreover posed an obstacle to forming a real consensus in support of this Convention.”

“At the very least there exists a fundamental human reality through which the specificity and complementarity of the two sexes is determined, and which cannot be interchanged or modified at will. We cannot, [therefore], share the claims of those who consider that ‘gender identity’ results exclusively from cultural and contingent factors, or that it is entirely subject to individual freedom. Nor can we share the view that deep-seated values within a culture which contribute to interpreting sexual difference must be seen solely as ‘gender stereotypes’, the only complete elimination of which would unable to ‘liberate’ women, in particular, from the condition which oppresses them.”

Demonstrably, the Council of Europe proceeded regardless of such objections, though fully expecting that the Istanbul Convention would impede the ability to protect women from harm. Bulgaria’s rejection, by means of a binding judgement about the country’s constitutional law, is significant because it should prevent the entire EU from ratifying the treaty. The Constitutional Court of Bulgaria found the Convention to have “internal contradictions which created a ‘second layer’ to its text, going outside its declared objectives and name, due to, among others, the interplay between the concepts of sex and gender.” The Bulgarian Orthodox Church (Bulgarian Patriarchate) said of the convention:

“There is no reasonable person in Christ who does not approve of the fight against violence in general, and particularly violence against women … The ideas set down in the Convention related to gender communication, attitude to religion, traditions, customs, education and others, contradict the inherent understanding of the Bulgarian people of faith, nationality, morality, honour, integrity, upbringing and family. Although a legal act, the Convention also has spiritual dimensions — it is a means of imposing a system of values that is alien to us in order to allow society to be ruled by a new model, relevant to the needs of a small portion of it.”

This was mirrored in the views of Bulgaria’s Islamic Grand Mufti:

“The Istanbul Convention is not a privilege to Bulgarian Muslims. It spells risks to their identity, as, under the guise of deterring violence against the female sex, it targets the stability of our families.”

The Council of Europe’s persistence to implement a radical and unnecessary redefinition of ‘gender’ knowing that a number of countries would not be able to enact it shows that the priority of the Istanbul Convention was not the protection of women, but the redefinition of ‘gender’. Furthermore, as the convention defines ‘gender’ as a social construct, ‘gender’ under the treaty is necessarily defined by the stereotypes assigned to both men and women in a patriarchal society. Both the United Nations Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) and the Istanbul Convention oblige governments to eradicate these stereotypes, which would require the eradication of the very concept of ‘woman’ and ‘man’. It is exceedingly difficult to square this with the European Council’s claimed intention to ‘protect’ women.

Meanwhile, both CEDAW and the Istanbul Convention espouse a commitment to achieving a de facto equality. Certainly, such forms of equality really mean ‘in practice’, and such equalities are measured by outcomes, not opportunity: ‘equality of outcome’ is of course always antithetical to freedom of choice and equality of opportunity. Although earlier CEDAW doctrines required that “measures be discontinued when the objectives of equality of opportunity and treatment have been achieved,” there is in fact no such sunset clause in the Istanbul Convention, which instead asserts by fiat:

“The realisation of de facto equality between women and men is a key element in the prevention of violence against women.” 

In this light, quite why the make-up of the managing board of, say, a toothpaste manufacturer would affect violence against women is not explained, nor is it explained how the overwhelming female membership of the Instanbul Convention’s own oversight committee (GREIVO) does not similarly present such a risk. But because “special measures that are necessary to prevent gender-based violence shall not be considered discrimination under this Convention,” it means that the convention explicitly accepts religion, race, and notably sex discrimination in its pursuit of equal outcome.

The question may arise whether there is method to this madness. Feminism, which once predominantly advocated for equal rights for women, has been diminished on two fronts. First, under the conventions described prior, the aim of ‘equal rights’ is being subverted by the drive for ‘equal outcomes’ (unless it favours women). Second, the biological essence of ‘woman’ is being eradicated.

By these two subversions, ‘equal rights for women’ is transformed into equal outcomes for all. Such a result clearly aligns with Marxist ideology.

Herbert Marcuse, of Frankfurt School fame, in the third part of his 1969 An Essay on Liberation, wrote that because the working classes had become “well-integrated and well rewarded” in a capitalist society, “the political consciousness [for socialist revolution] exists among the nonconformist young intelligentsia.” He wrote that the class-based proletariat of conventional Marxism would be supplanted by race-baiting black America:

“In the advanced monopoly-capitalist countries, the displacement of the [socialist] opposition (from the organised industrial working classes to militant minorities) is caused by the internal development of the society … This implies a shift of emphasis toward “subjective factors” … Under these circumstances, radical change in consciousness is the beginning, the first step in changing social existence: the emergence of the new Subject. Historically, it is again the period of enlightenment prior to material change – a period of education, but education which turns into praxis: demonstration, confrontation, rebellion … The ghetto population of the United States constitutes such a force. Confined to small areas of living and dying, it can be more easily organised and directed … the black population appears as the ‘most natural’ force of rebellion.”

In the modern context, however, feminism remains the more effective “new subject” for Marcuse’s socialist revolution. Unlike African-Americans, almost all rich and powerful households already include a woman, as do almost all poor and disenfranchised families. Women already made up both the “intelligentsia” and the “underprivileged” sections of the labouring classes,” the latter of which Marcuse fretted — regarding race — were so distant from the “common ground” that the “total rejection of the existing society, of its entire value system, is obscured by the obvious class difference.”

Feminism presented itself as an ideal vanguard for a neo-Marxist ‘march through the institutions’. Its relative power over race is illustrated by the popularisation of the hitherto intellectual backwater of CRT, which occurred only after Kimberlé Crenshaw attached it to Critical Feminism in her development of ‘intersectionality’. But for feminism to apply to the wholesale deconstruction of Western capitalist society, for the ‘Middle Battle’ to assume the gains of the vanguard, the concept of ‘woman’ must become universal, which, in praxis, means destroying the essential meaning of ‘woman’.

Feminism is now in the process of abandoning women; so ironically it has fallen once again to the old patriarchs of organised religion and the conservative Right to re-assume their traditional defence of biological women. If they don’t step up to this task, this “new international economic order based on equity,” to which the UK has inexplicably committed itself by international treaty, could be realised in the destruction of our free Western culture.