Wednesday, February 4, 2009

An interesting view of contemporary feminism

Not long ago, I received via email the text of a lecture, which I found quite interesting. It was called, "What's Wrong and What's Right with Contemporary Feminism?", by Christina Hoff Sommers. The fascinating part about it was that the author is a feminist, yet she found the integrity to point out that the modern "women's movement" has taken - the way she put it - "a wrong turn".

"First, today's movement takes a very dim view of men; second, it wildly overstates the victim status of American women; and third, it is dogmatically attached to the view that men and women are essentially the same."

Personally, I wouldn't waste my time thinking how to "fix" feminism. The entire movement was wrong from the beginning, heavily leaning on Marxism, a recipe for social disaster. The only way, in my eyes, to truly ensure women are treated the way they deserve, is to fight for fair treatment of women the way God commanded. Because what counters His Word, cannot possibly be right.

Obviously, I'm speaking from a Jewish point of view. If we lived in a community ruled by Jewish Law, women would be protected the way our Law commands. I would much rather live under this protection, rooted in eternal, God-given commandments, than under those who try to make up arbitrary rules that may very quickly spin out of control. But obviously, if women shun the obligations of the Law, they cannot demand to be protected by it.

I understand that feminism probably didn't grow out of nowhere. There must have been men who abused their power and their role of leadership, and mistreated their wives and daughters. There are still such men out there. The right answer, in my eyes, would have been to make those men behave the way they should. If each Jewish men was reminded that he is supposed to love his wife as himself, and respect her more than himself, there would be no need to "protect" women. But feminists preferred to cast off masculine leadership altogether - with the disastrous consequences of broken society, ruined homes and marriages, and children who don't know their fathers.

I fail to see why the fair treatment of women - indeed, of any human being - should be necessarily associated with trying to erase the differences between men and women, disregard traditional femininity, and downplay the importance of wifehood and motherhood as a vocation.

Today, the talk about "oppression" of women in the Western world seems quite ridiculous to me. Women can study whatever they want, work at whatever field they choose, and generally, do whatever they like. But somehow, "women's movements" continue to complain, complain, complain.

"The dominant philosophy of today's women's movement is not equity feminism - but victim feminism. Victim feminists don't want to hear about the ways in which women have succeeded. They want to focus on and often invent new ways and perspectives in which women can be regarded as oppressed and subordinated to men."

Why? That way, it's much easier to get all sorts of special treatment that is attempted to be passed off as "equal rights".

"In doing research for my books, I looked carefully at some standard feminist claims about women and violence, depression, eating disorders, pay equity and education. What I found is that most - not all - but most of the victim statistics are, at best, misleading - at worst, completely inaccurate."

It's much easier to bully employers into funding extended maternity leave, than to address real abuse and mistreatment of women around the world. I'm not sure if any of my readers live in a country which silently hosts barbaric practices, such as female genital mutilation and murder of women who refuse to marry the men their family chose for them. Such things, unfortunately, happen in certain Muslim communities in Israel - and the authorities, which are normally quick to deny a man the right to see his children if his ex-wife so much as hints at the possibility of mistreatment, more often than not remain twiddling their thumbs.

"The plight of women is not improved by sexual politics and exaggeration - no matter how well-intentioned. Misrepresentation almost always clouds the true causes of suffering and provides obstacles to genuine ways of preventing it."

"To sum up so far: Contemporary feminism can be faulted for its irrational hostility to men, its recklessness with facts and statistics, and its inability to take seriously the possibility that the sexes are equal - but different."


If you are interested, you can read the original text here. It took me a couple of days to get through it, but I think it was worth the time.

63 comments:

Gothelittle Rose said...

I'm going to read that publication. I hope some of those statistics are cited! I know some of them already, but it'll be neat to see what this writer has come up with.

This layout is MUCH better on the eyes. I can read everything just fine now. :)

Gothelittle Rose said...

Ok, I read it all through and I enjoyed it very much! One part in particular stood out for me:

"Equity feminism is vigilant about protecting the principle of equal opportunity for all. But, unlike gender feminists, we do not insist on equality of results. On the contrary, equality of results—-in the face of genuine differences in preferences—-would lead to a different kind of discrimination."

In the U.S. I think this problem extends beyond simple gender equality to race, class, and even beyond. One of the best descriptions I've ever heard of the difference between 'liberal' and 'conservative' in the U.S. (I'm aware the terms are reversed in parts of Europe) is that conservatives seek equal opportunity while liberals seek equal outcomes. I agree with her that the latter leads to a different kind of discrimination, in which those who have succeeded through hard work are marginalized by those who haven't tried, despite the successful one's desire to aid those who are truly in need.

I saw this (going back to the feminist side of things) in college and the workplace, where the justified stigma of women in computers made it hard for me to prove that I could be the crack coder I wanted to be. The effort to push more women into a field for which they were unsuited resulted in a lot of female programmers who were not good for much more than maintenance coding, while hampering the efforts of women like me to show that they were just as good at application development as any man, and in some cases, better than most.

During my working years, I would have much preferred to be a single woman in a company full of men, accepted as one of them in intelligence and capability, than to be one of an Equal Number of women and assumed (justifiably, by their experiences!) to be pretty nearly worthless.

Nurse Bee said...

I completely agree with you about contemporary femminism. But do you consider that the beginnings of feminism may have been a good thing...the right to vote, to be recognized as a person? Do you ever wonder if you would enjoy being a homemaker if it were forced upon you rather than chosen? Just something to consider!

hotelindialima said...

Anna,
I grew up in a very feminist household, and it somehow became misconstrued that doing traditionally feminine tasks was beneath me...fix a car? "Right on!" Bake a cake? "What horrible society is pressuring me to do so!?"

I first came into the anti-feminist circles looking to LEARN HOW TO BE A HOMEMAKER. You all took taking care of a home seriously, and I was in desperate need to learn.

I am the single mother of two daughters (receiving no help from their dad) and I am teaching them (ages 6 and 8) how to manage a household now. Even if they grow up to be corporate CEOs, knowing how to do laundry can only be an asset.

I was in a horribly abusive relationship, and I am grateful to feminism for the right to a divorce, the right to work in whatever area I choose, the right to own property, and the right to vote. That being said, it seems to me that another gift of feminism has been the right to do everything a woman is expected to do AND handle all of the responsibilities of a man...feminism can be exhausting!

Anonymous said...

I would like to address each of Sommers's claims in the first paragraph you quoted:

First, my experience is that feminists have a higher opinion of men as a group than virtually anyone, including men themselves! It is the conservatives, not the feminists, who portray men as incompetent at childcare. It is the conservatives, not the feminists, who often believe that men are sex-obsessed animals who want only one thing from women. It is the conservatives, not the feminists, who believe that a man's ego can't handle an egalitarian relationship with a woman. Believing that men should not automatically be in charge is not the same thing as having a dim view of men.

Second, there is the notion that feminists are fixated on women's victim status. I think that it is true that feminists tend to be critical of our society, but it is natural to focus on problems we still have to solve. We don't need to put the same energy into problems we have alreday solved. So yeah, feminists, like any social justice group, are going to focus on the negative. That having been said, I appreciate Sommers's point that we SHOULD trumpet the positive gains of American and western women. As I have said repeatedly on this site, my life is exponentially better than my mother's, thanks to feminism. I have seen massive improvements in the lives of women in my culture just in my lifetime. I love being a woman in 21st century America!

I also appreciate Anna's concern with the suffering of women outside the western industrialized democracies. But it doesn't follow that western women should just shut up about problems in western society. Why can't we insist on a solution to women's problems in BOTH the western world AND elsewhere? (Incidentally, contrary to slanders by many folks, including Sommers, herself, western feminists have ALWAYS talked about and supported women facing difficult problems in other parts of the world, and are very involved in contributing to women's groups in Africa, South America, the Middle East, Asia, etc. Personally, I HAVE lived in an Islamic country in the middle east and that experience is one major reason why I am a feminist.)

Third, Sommers criticizes feminists' dogmatic insistence that men and women are just the same. That's pretty funny-- because didn't she just say that feminists take a dim view of men? So, allegedly, we take a dim view of men while claiming to be exactly like them?

In fact, she is correct that there are some feminists like that. I think it is natural for feminist to have a bias towards this view, because in the larger culture, there seems to be this automatic assumption that men and women are TOTALLY inherently different, almost like different species. And these alleged differences always seem to be interpreted to the detriment of women -- these are pointed to as reasons women shouldn't have leadership roles, or shouldn't be paid as much, or are not deserving of as much respect. So yeah, it is natural for feminists to be suspicious of claims of gender difference. I wouldn't go so far to say that the sexes are exactly alike, but I would say that I don't think we are so very different as everyone always seems to believe. My position is that we have to be very skeptical and critical of broad claims of "hard-wired" gender differences, and we also have to respect the fact that individuals do not always conform to generalized differences across the genders.

-- Pendragon

Sasha said...

In my relationship with my husband thre's no masculine leadership at all. I clean the dust,make the wardrobe and my husband makes the bed and washes the floor. We iron each other's clothes without thinking whose they are and wash dishes,when someone of us has free time. Usually it's me who cooks,but when I have to prepare for exams or just am tired,my husband does it. We both are beginning our second degree,have the same ambitions,dreams and plans. I can see your point,but these women you are talking about are really a minority - I mean the ones who express hostility towards men etc. The women who prefer their ex husbands not to see their kids are usually the abused ones.Even though my sister in law is one of this poor ladies(btw she is engaged to a great man now),she doesn't prevent her ex to see their daughter. So I really think you are exaggerating here. It's my opinion. I don't see any "unequalities" in our realtionship and I think each couple should decide how they work thing out in their home and family.

Anonymous said...

Another point: I used to be a big fan of Christina Hoff Sommers, have read her book on Who Stole Feminism, and even met her once in a small group discussion. She has QUITE rightly pointed out erroneous information publicized by certain feminist groups. As a feminist, it is VERY important to me that feminist groups remain intellectually rigorous and accurate in the information they use. But I have become disenchanted with Sommers over the years. I never her see her advocating feminism, only tearing it down. I am suspicious of her use of the "feminist" label to describe herself.

-- Pendragon

Sasha said...

I'm sorry if I was too harsh in my last commentIf you find it unpleasant please don;t publish it and forgive me.

Mrs. Lindblom said...

I hold the feminist movement is responsible to much of the turmoil in America right now. If the nuclear family was still highly valued, children would grow up in safer, more secure environments for the most part, with both parents role modelling for them.

Anonymous said...

We(women)do ourselves no favor if we follow such thinking. It's worse than sad....the negative impact of feminism is almost too much to try & comprehend.

Brenda

Anonymous said...

Last point:

I have to take issue with Anna's notion that feminism only arose because some men were abusive. Certainly, that is part of the problem. If you give one person power over another person, there is always going to be a tendency (at least among some) to abuse that power. It doesn't really matter how much you tell people not to abuse their power, it's going to happen because that is human nature. (No, I am not trashing men. The same thing would happen if wives were put in a socially and religiously sanctioned position of leadership over husbands.) So the only viable solution is the feminist one, of not imposing on women an obligation of lifelong submission to one man.

But feminism would take place even if every man on the planet were a benevolent husband. Why? Because all human beings, including women, want the opportunity to direct our own lives, to have some sense of autonomy and self-direction. We also want to have a say in what is going on in our government. We have our political, religious, and moral opinions that often differ from those of our husbands, and we believe that these opinions have as much a right to be heard and to possibly affect public policy as the views held by our men. We also want to be able to care for ourselves and provide for ourselves and our children, rather than experiencing the awful vulnerability of dependence on another human being; even the most reliable men get sick or die.

We also have a sense of pride and self-respect that makes it difficult, if not impossible, to accept the notion that another human being should direct our lives. You can all easily see how unbearably humiliating it would be for my husband to have to submit to me, no matter how smart and kind and capable I might be. I simply can't understand how submission to a spouse could be seen as so humiliating for a man ("emasculating" is, I think, the word you use), but perfectly fine for a woman. That just doesn't compute for me, and it doesn't compute for most women.

-- Pendragon

Stefanie said...

Just remember not to confuse Radical Feminism with Feminism. There is a huge difference. Anyone who believes that men and women should be equal (in the eyes of the law etc.), is a Feminist. I think what most people refer to when they dismiss Feminism is Radical Feminist ideals. I think most can see the value of Feminism, but I feel what most reject is the perception that Radical Feminist theory is Feminism- which is not the case.

I'd like to think that all persons were created equal, and that includes men and women. Therefore, I am a feminist. However, I do not believe that men and women should have to be the same, or that women should fight oppressors or whatever, so I am not a Radical Feminist.

I actually have pretty traditional values, but mere Feminism is by definition equality, not the radicalized perception that I believe people attach to Feminism itself.

Tammy Frey said...

It does seem a little unfair to point out the practices of Muslims in Israel when fundamentalists of ALL religions tend to treat their women badly. Ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel have been known to beat women who refuse to move to the back of the bus:

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/915215.html

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g5JVvBfrnNY

Not to single out any particular religion -- you can google "(any religion) abuse of women" and find plenty of this sort of thing. But it does seem to me that "God's rules" can be misinterpreted, or applied with malice, by any group.

Tammy Frey

Kim M. said...

I have been a silent reader, but I am coming out and saying "hi". I am a Christian wife in America and your posts have been a blessing to me. This post, in particular, is right on. Thanks so much.

Terry @ Breathing Grace said...

I'll have to read this when I have time, but I do applaud this feminist woman's honesty. It's rare.

And the disingenuous victimhood train rolls on. An "equal pay for equal work" law was signed by our new President just last week.

How anyone can even say that with a straight face astounds me.

cottonclippings said...

I'm responding to this comment: "Today, the talk about "oppression" of women in the Western world seems quite ridiculous to me. Women can study whatever they want, work at whatever field they choose, and generally, do whatever they like. But somehow, "women's movements" continue to complain, complain, complain."

I am a working woman living in the US. There is still gender discrimination goes unchecked. For instance, in our company there are two people (one man and one woman) that are equal in the eyes of our parent company, but the man tries to run over the woman and undercuts her authority. If this was two men, something would be done (or they'd have a fist fight behind the building). Also, women who are assertive are labeled bitchy, but men doing the same things are applauded. In my own position, my opinions or perspectives are ignored (even if they are the same as my male colleagues). This didn't exist in my last position, where what I had to offer was always considered. Also, it's still a fact that a woman is paid less for doing the same job as a man in the same position. All of this happens behind the scenes.

So you understand, I can't wait for the day when I'll be able to stay home and care for my husband and home (and children when they come). I'm not interested in climbing the corporate ladder.

While you're right that we can have the jobs we want and study what we want, there is still discrimination, it's just not as obvious anymore. I don't agree with the feminist movement, but we do need to talk about the discrimination that still exists.

Erin_Coda said...

Even as a fairly "secular" woman, I agree that feminism has made some very egregious errors. In addition to the victim mentality you mentioned, there are two other bad ones-- the idea that a woman must be free with her sexuality in order to be truly "liberated" and that men must act and talk like women in order to ensure "equality." No, no, no! Just because I want basic things like equal pay for equal work, does not mean I want to engage in the "hookup" culture, or that I want my male friends to deny their basic masculinity. There is something to be said for common sense, and many feminists have completely abandoned it.

Mrs. Anna T said...

Just a note: when I talk about masculine leadership, I don't mean Who Washes The Dishes, or performs other "traditionally feminine" tasks. My husband, for instance, bakes challah every week. But, he is the one who determines our family's direction in financial investments, voting, and children's education. He is definitely the Captain of this ship!

Mrs. Anna T said...

I think it's ridiculous, by the way, to compare women in Orthodox Jewish vs. Islamic society.

That Haaretz article describes an isolated incident which is against everything the Torah teaches. Orthodox Men aren't supposed to even LOOK at a woman who isn't their wife, let alone touch her in any way... if there's a woman who is immodestly dressed, most Orthodox men will avert their eyes and pass by.

Erin_Coda said...

To clarify my previous post, when I said "equal pay for equal work," I freely acknowledge that such equality has been my experience in the workplace. But such was not always the case in my mother's generation (she was born in the late 1940s), and I am grateful to her generation for ensuring that we have the opportunities that they did not.

Bethany Hudson said...

I must confess, though I am not a fan of Second Wave Feminism and think that it has done great damage to society and, frankly, to women, I think that the roots of feminism are, on the whole, very noble.

The second wave DID lean heavily on Marxism, and even some members of the first wave held socialist viewpoints. But, feminism did not just stem from abuse of men or a Marxist agenda. Feminism was born from societies that TRULY undervalued and dehumanized women. True, mothers were viewed as angels of sorts--but making a human woman into a saint is no less dehumanizing: she was not permitted to be a being with sexuality, rational thought, or ambition of any kind. I'm not saying that the whiplash in the other direction has been a good thing, but at least now women are seen as WOMEN, not as either whores or angels. The feminists certainly got some things wrong, but the injustices and prejudices they were fighting against were all too real.

Moreover, they were champions of the lower class of women who were not permitted to participate fully in the middle- and upper-class idealization of womanhood because they HAD to work to support their families. A woman who is abandoned with a housefull of children often has no option other than to work, and I don't see that any amount of "correction" to the delinquent husband is going to get him to shape up.

Example: When my maternal grandmother was pregnant with my mom (her fourth child), her husband abandoned her to run off with his secretary, who was also pregnant with his child. Before either my mom or this other child were born, he had abandoned the secretary and impregnated yet another woman. My grandmother did not even have a high school education: after all, women weren't necessarily expected to have one then; she married instead. For the meager wages she earned (significantly less than a man doing the same job), she had to work 16 hour days and leave her children in the care of her sister. Meanwhile, she still did all her cleaning, cooking, and baking from scratch, and made all the children's clothes herself--because she couldn't afford to do otherwise. Because she was devoted to her family, she later remarried: this time an abusive man who made the rest of her life a misery. But, what was she to do? She needed someone to provide for her children, because she couldn't on the wages offered to an uneducated woman in the 1950s.

I'm not saying that feminism isn't flawed; I definitely think that it is in many ways. But, I think it is myopic to presume that it did not have any noble roots. Upholding the cause of the oppressed is always noble. Unfortunately, I believe feminism has strayed far from these roots.

~Bethany

Ivy in the Kitchen said...

What a good post. I read the text of the full article. "Victim feminism" has certainly made me resent modern feminism; I had no idea I was a victim (sarcasm) until I got to university 1,000 miles from my small hometown. Frankly, I resent that notion, especially since in the U.S., courts, schools and various other aspects of society all seem to bend over backwards for feminists and revel in taking away rights and traditions of traditional men.

-Ms. H.

Rebecca Grider said...

Terry @ Breathing Grace: I don't really understand what is laughable about equal pay for equal work. I have a male colleague and we have the same job title and started work on the same day, why wouldn't I expect to be paid equally?

I worry that what strikes most anti-feminist women is the notion that they must either be submissive to their husband homemakers or sexually free career gals, that somehow there is an extreme choice to be made and they wish to err on the side of their families. I don't see feminism as this black and white choice, instead it is simply the statement that women are capable of creating whatever life they wish for themselves, in the same way that men can choose to marry, not marry, have a career, go to college, etc. That's all feminism is: the right to the same opportuntities as men to dictate the path of one's life, to be treated with respect, to have control over one's life and to have the same opportunities to education and careers as men do.

Before feminism very few women were able to be anything but homemakers. Maybe they were happy that way, but the point is they had no choice in the matter. Mrs. T states that women can go to school and have jobs and do whatever they wish. Yes, they can now - because of feminism. If it weren't for feminism, women would have no recourse for sexual harrassment in the workplace, would still have no say in the size of their families if they so choose, would be undereducated and, most importantly, could not vote. Without feminism women would not be able to be full citizens with the rights and responsibilities due every citizen of her nation.

Just as in any religion, you'll have extremes. There are Muslim extremists who terrorize. There are fundamentalist Christians who barricade themselves in compounds. There are also women who view themselves as victims and men as evil.

But there are also men and women who believe that every individual, regardless of gender, should be allowed the same human and civil rights and opportunities. They believe that every person is responosible for him/her self and should be allowed to choose the life that fullfills them, without having to conform to irrational rules of conduct. And to deem one group of people based on a genetic attribute less than or not equal to another is irrational, whether it's racism, homophobia, or sexism.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Bethany's take on feminism's roots. Whatever mistakes feminism has made (and it has made many) its original goals were noble and necessary.

Thank God the woman who is abandoned today can get a job, or inherit her parents' property, or even go to school. Life is not over for her, and it is terribly naive to think that the man who leaves his wife, or beats her, or cheats on her, can simply be 'corrected' and all will be well. That leaves the man with all the power; his wife's entire fate depends on his goodness or lack thereof. I don't want to live like that.

I don't see why I have less of a right to inherit my parent's hard-earned assets than my brother. That's why women were so desperate in those novels of old to marry; they couldn't work, they couldn't inherit, all they could do was find someone well-off to support them.


I do think that feminism (especially the radical stream) made a mistake when it mocked domesticity as inferior. Many of us want the domestic life. However, I want it on my terms; as a feminist. I want to keep house and take care of my family, as an equal, not as a submissive woman. Pendragon voiced my thoughts exactly when she stated:
'We also have a sense of pride and self-respect that makes it difficult, if not impossible, to accept the notion that another human being should direct our lives. You can all easily see how unbearably humiliating it would be for my husband to have to submit to me, no matter how smart and kind and capable I might be. I simply can't understand how submission to a spouse could be seen as so humiliating for a man ("emasculating" is, I think, the word you use), but perfectly fine for a woman. That just doesn't compute for me, and it doesn't compute for most women'.

I must say that I think the modern 'submissive' attitude is often not quite what it says it is. Many 'submissive' women purposely marry a man who thinks just like they do, so there is not much to submit to. And there is no real authority; no consequences or punishments for the woman who disobeys directly or indirectly.
I think a lot of today's modern 'submissive' women are just playing at the role. There is no real, desperate need or societal expectation to be submissive, as there was 100 yrs ago (at least not in western society). It seems to be a fashionable mantra in conservative Christian circles, 'to be submissive'. I doubt many of them make the daily desperate compromises and surrenders their sisters were forced to back in the day.

(Not all women are like this, of course, but it seems to be a trend. Those women who consistently submit to things they despise or strongly disagree with just because their husband wants it so....well, I don't think it's healthy for them, their marriage, or society).
Tammy

Karen said...

A very interesting post. I've also enjoyed reading the comments. For the most part, I agree with you.

Laura said...

I am so glad you posted this. I often get the impression in the blogs of religious ladies like yourself, that you have nothing to say to secular ladies like me, and that there is no common ground, and not even a common language. Sometimes I feel like I am trespassing and reading what was meant for someone else, despite many agreements I have with what is posted. But the fact that you even bothered to read something like this, much less recommend it makes me feel like perhaps we can at least communicate.

Laura Ashley said...

I read the article from haaretz.com, I don't think I could stomach seeing the video. I did not know that things like that went on in Israel. And the article was casual about it too. Those men should know that they have only made the other side stronger and that will cause people to abandon their religion.

I am not a feminist. But because of countless stories like the one Bethany told, I won't ever say feminism is bad by definition. In the US they have done a lot for the rights of minorities and the poor. Feminist helped allow black Americans be able to vote even before women could. And in India it the feminist who protest against abortion.

Analytical Adam said...

Hi Mrs. Anna T;

One point I disagree Anna is acutally the biggest sin of men is not that they were too abusive and too controling. The sin was on the opposite extreme IMO that they did whatever their wives wanted even when clearly they wanted the husband to disobey G-d. Take the first story in the bible. Adam's sin was that he should have told Eve that I'm sorry I can't eat from the apple because G-d told us not to. Instead he went along with his wife and then said to G-d well I listened to my wife and G-d found his excuse not acceptable. I think the biggest reason for feminism is MEN THAT ARE TOO WEAK not MEN THAT ARE TOO STRONG which in the end shows contempt for women if you feel you can never say no to them if they are acting in a way that is unreasonable and the women's respone to weak men is feeling they have to do everything themselves as men are just slaves to women to satisfy their desires and lusts.

It is true that men are bigger then women (although women are the fairer of the two sexes) however, most studies on abuse have found that women are just as likely as men to engage in physical abuse(among American Jews men have the lowest rates and the percent is higher among Jewish women using physical violence then Jewish men which is defined as abuse that can seriously injure the other party) by the way and in the observant world if there is a problem you need to here both sides of the story and if the problem they can be seperated but you still are suppose to hear both sides. The abuse industry has become very politicized as originally shelters did include men as well who were abused but the feminist only believe that every abuse case the man is 100% the abuser and the woman is 100% the abused although all studies have shown otherwise.
A site called www.mediaradar.org Respecting Accuracy in Domestic Abuse Reporting discusses this issue of intimant partner violence better know as domestic violence

The only time the biblical torah was concerned about women being abused was if the women had a poor father and had to sell her (and the husband shouldn't mistreat her because she has a poor family and the torah warns to fear G-d) or she was a widow both cases where she could be taken advandge of. Today you here these horrible stories with women in the sex trade being forced into prostitution and it is absolutely disgusting and these women are ruined for life and have incurable sexually transmitted diseases. This goes on in the US and Israel from what I have heard and most of these women were from poor families and were promised some false opportunity and this is horrible and the feminists don't seem to really care. The torah doesn't seem to feel that women for middle or upper class families are victims however. The torah also makes no difference of sexual sins for a man or a woman except if a woman is raped in private domain where the man is obviously bigger then her in most cases and if she screams there is no one to hear her. But in public the torah does expect the women to do something if someone is trying to rape her and if she doesn't she is held accountable as well.

I have the book by Christina Hoff-Sommers called THE WAR AGAINST BOYS which is a good book as well and was the first book I ever read that I started to realize that men have issues as well as growing up I thought men had it easy and never spoke up. Again my problem was being too meak not too strong.

Last thing this concept of victim feminism is out of control in all aspect of Orthodox Judaism. I am no site called Frumster and I am saddened how many women (especially in their 30's and above) who are nasty to Jewish men in general and mean and acting like Jewish men are the enemy and they are in court yet the slightest criticism of a Rabbi get's them upset even if you point things you agree with the Rabbi as well. It seems like religious marxism to have women just respect the male Rabbi but are taught to be distrustful of all other men which again the sin of these men is tell these women what they want to here (that men that are their peers are bad which decent Rabbi's should never do this) rather then being too controling and making too many demands. They are making too few demands which Solomon said to let someone do what they want is also a form of abuse.

Kyle, Amanda, and Tobias said...

"But obviously, if women shun the obligations of the Law, they cannot demand to be protected by it."

I just wanted to point out how true this is and how I completely agree! So many women (and men) break the rules laid down by God, then complain about the sinful world they find themselves in. They reject marriage, but want the financial support of a man in the case that they have a child by him. Or, upon getting married, they reject their husband's masculinity and his attention and efforts, and treat him as an inferior, then complain when he turns his attention elsewhere. Likewise, a man will ignore his wife, treat her with disrespect, yell at or hit her, and treat her as an inferior, then complain when his wife does not want to be intimate with him or does not give him her utmost respect and love. It is a vicious cycle that can only be altered if we stop and look to the Lord and keep our eyes on Him as we start forward again in our relationships, this time headed straight ahead rather than in thoughtless circles.

Becky said...

As usual, Anna, I agree with you completely. Thank you so much for your thoughtful posts! Keep the pictures of the little one coming :)

Machelle said...

I have just finished a WONDERFUL book by Sommers called "The War Against Boy's" it's amazingly eye-opening.

Machelle said...

Also, I'd like to say my overall view of ANY kind of feminism, is that it's taken more away from me than it could EVER give back. I'm sorry, but getting to jot my name down on a ballot once every four years does NOT compensate for all the stigma I have to push through to do what God CREATED me to do.

American Home said...

Keep telling the truth. Don't give up. Your writing is blessed

Mrs. Honeybee aka Umm Ali said...

Ann, I'm a Muslim and I believe we have so many things in common regarding our traditional roles in marriage and motherhood.

I love your insights and wisdom regarding traditional femininity but I cannot let your comment go without making a few things clear:

Islam does not and has never condoned the barbaric treatment of women. These so-called Muslims who abuse their womenfolk are not practicing true Islam. They are choosing and picking God's command as they see fit.

Praise be to God I do not live in a country steeped in that despicable practise that goes so much against what Islam taught us.

There is a beautiful line in the Qur'an which describes the relationship between a husband and wife, "they are your garments as you are their garments".

God commands that men be the protectors and maintainers of woman and to harm them in any way means a complete disregard to His word. If only all men would understand and practice God's perfect vision regarding the role of true masculine leadership.

Well, I'm done here :) Now I want to congratulate you on the birth of your adorable baby girl! My sister is also expecting a baby girl this evening, and I can hardly wait!

~Malaysia

Anonymous said...

I would like to clarify one of my comments above. Of course I don't think it's a mistake to marry someone who shares all the same values and life plans as you do. I just think it's ironic to then state that you are being submissive, when all along you agree with most of what is being done.

Furthermore, many of those who encourage women to be submissive do clarify that they should submit to decisions which are biblically based. If the husband isn't 'godly' then a woman is called upon to use her reason and logic. In other words, a wife should be submissive until the point where she no longer agrees with the husband's world view.

This is a saccharine submission, one pretty much in name only. I am often amused that sometimes the strongest women, who really rule the roost, cry out the loudest in the name of wifely submission.

I do realize that many women do submit even when it hurts, which is the true test. Likely some of the readers here fall into this group. They work although they'd rather stay home, their kids are at public schools although they'd prefer to homeschool, they live in the country though they yearn to move back to NY...all because that's what hubby wants. I can't agree with their approach, as a feminist, but I can respect it. What irks me are those women who do everything they want and still declare they are submissive.

Anyway, to get back on topic, I do agree with Sommers that men and women are not the same, but I haven't seen the victim card played in the past years in western society.
Tammy

Mrs. Anna T said...

Mrs. Honeybee,

Thanks for the clarification. Obviously, as I've never learned anything about Islam in itself, I don't know what it advocates regarding treatment of women. I merely pointed out the atrocities that happen in Muslim neighbourhoods and villages around here, without anyone lifting a finger to stop them.

Adam,

This is totally beside the point, but for some reason I heard lots of negative things about Frumster, from various people. Have you tried JDate?

Gothelittle Rose said...

A couple of thoughts:

1. In the Old Testament Ancient Israel laws, women could own their own property, even married women. Therefore, abused wives could just leave and take their own property with them, and they could make a living managing their land and/or business. Widows similarly owned all their husbands had owned. Only the women sold as a slave needed special mention under the law to ensure that they would have some recourse. Contrast someone like Cindy McCain (the reason John McCain didn't know how many houses 'he owned' was because they were all in her name only) with the Typical Abused Highschool Dropout.

2. It was also common in Ancient Israel for daughters as well as sons to inherit property. The one case brought before the elders was done so because there were no sons At All and that created a concern of keeping the family land within the same tribe. The elders ruled in favor of the daughters' inheritance rights.

3. Biblical submission is necessary even when you and your husband have the exact same goals. You will not have the exact same ideas on how to reach those goals. It's also a lot more than just bowing to his wishes. True submission requires you to take them on. There's a huge difference between grumpily saying "have it your way" and wholeheartedly throwing your ingenuity and hard work into making it happen, even when you secretly think another method would have been easier.

Is that tyranny? Well, your husband goes off to work each day, where he is compensated well for wholeheartedly throwing his ingenuity and hard work into making the wishes of his boss happen. The guy who halfway makes a sort of attempt to do what he's told while grumbling that he has to put himself out for it will find himself on the street pretty quickly!

Elusive Wapiti said...

Bravo, Mrs Anna!

A couple of points to add:

"I understand that feminism probably didn't grow out of nowhere. There must have been men who abused their power and their role of leadership, and mistreated their wives and daughters."

Another contributing factor may be something as simple as Eve's curse. She wants to rule, to be in control, and resents (while coveting) the male role. I see feminism as simply an expression of this fundamental fault.

Also, the early feminists were far from stepped on. They were upper middle class or wealthy women, arguably the most privileged beings in the world next to their male peers or husbands. I think that, in true Gramscian Marxist style, they exploited the sufferings of the proles underneath them to give them political power.

One of your commenters wrote:

"I am grateful to feminism for the right to a divorce, the right to work in whatever area I choose, the right to own property, and the right to vote."

If memory serves, divorce existed well before feminism. As in before the time of Moses. It just didn't happen as much then as now for various and sundry reasons.

Right to work? I suppose you have a point there. But work isn't as great as feminists suppose that it is.

If memory serves, the 'right to own property' also predated feminism, as G. Rose so aptly demonstrated.

And the right to vote for women I think is (a) immoral, (b) arguably unscriptural, (c) economically disastrous, and (d) hostile to liberty and freedom.

Anonymous said...

Daughters did NOT commonly inherit property in the Old Testament; although I don't want to get into that right now. It was a patriarchal society, the land was passed from father to son.

Women actually were 'owned' by their husbands. Even in modern Hebrew, the word for husband is 'owner'. It's lost much of the original meaning, of course, but still...

In any case, feminism came along to help women living in the twentieth century, so how women lived in biblical times is rather irrelevant.

As for Gothelittle's parallel of the way men approach their bosses with the way women should treat their husbands. That is precisely what astounds me in the whole 'wifely submission' philosophy. I cannot comprehend the likening of a boss to a husband. I put a lot of effort into pleasing my boss because I fear he will fire me otherwise. We are not friends, we are not intimate, our whole relationship is based on my fear and his need of my work (these days, in these trying times, most relationships with the boss are probably based on fear).
I would hope that there would be no comparing that kind of dynamic with the marital relationship.
Guess I'm wrong, though.
Tammy

Elusive Wapiti said...

Sorry to spam your comments, Mrs Anna, but I am compelled to address Pendragon's comments earlier in this thread:

"...feminists have a higher opinion of men as a group than virtually anyone, including men themselves! It is the conservatives, not the feminists, who portray men as incompetent at childcare...who believe that a man's ego can't handle an egalitarian relationship with a woman"

While the put-women-on-a-pedestal conservatives in the culture may certainly believe the things that Pendragon accuses them of, feminists by no means think that men are competent at child care (for evidence look into feminist attitudes when men and women divorce and who gets the kids). Ditto with the 'ego and egalitarian relatioship'. Exactly which group of people are always shame-languaging men about not being able to 'handle a strong woman' and all that trope?

"As I have said repeatedly on this site, my life is exponentially better than my mother's, thanks to feminism."

At what cost, dear woman? And not wonder you love being a woman in 21 century America...you are the most privileged being on the planet!

"So, allegedly, we take a dim view of men while claiming to be exactly like them? "

Feminists don't want to be men. They want to be like their hateful impression of men says how men are to act. Which means that they want to be irresponsible unaccounatble amoral rakes--and potential rapists to boot--all while crowing about how free they are. But this is not acting like a man, it's more like acting like an out of control, power drunk child. Furthermore, true freedom entails self-control and responsibility. Thus freedom doesn't mean that one is free to act as one likes at all times.

At any rate, there is no contradiction. Feminists take a dim view of men, while aping the habits of the most slanderous caricatures of them.

"...men and women are TOTALLY inherently different, almost like different species."

Biologists have found that there is more variation between the sexes than between the races. So yes, they are almost like two different species. You must not have children, Pendragon, otherwise I suspect that this notion would be dispelled very quickly.

"...it is VERY important to me that feminist groups remain intellectually rigorous and accurate in the information they use."

So then what would you say about rape and sexual assault statistics? Or the pay gap? How accurate are those pieces of data? And what does it say about your fellow feminists' intellectual honesty when they peddle such falsehoods and suppress contrary research and opinions?

"abuse their power...the same thing would happen if wives were put in a socially and religiously sanctioned position of leadership over husbands"

Wives have been placed in a socially and legally superior relationship to their husbands. And I submit to you that the results haven't been pretty.

"So the only viable solution is the feminist one, of not imposing on women an obligation of lifelong submission to one man."

Wow. A more clear call for serial polygamy I don't think I've ever heard in public. But I suppose it's no big deal...thanks to Pendragon's sisters, we already have de facto serial polyandry. May as well formalize it.

I guess the equalitarian flip side to this statement is that we should not impose upon men an obligation to one woman, and by extension, the woman's children. Sounds great! Where do I sign up?

The rest of her comment, I'll think I'll fisk over at my place.

Anonymous said...

Machelle said:

Also, I'd like to say my overall view of ANY kind of feminism, is that it's taken more away from me than it could EVER give back. I'm sorry, but getting to jot my name down on a ballot once every four years does NOT compensate for all the stigma I have to push through to do what God CREATED me to do.

Machelle, this is a point of view I have been struggling to understand. My usual response is there was a stigma to being housewife even before feminism, even when many women were expected to be housewives. (Yes, it is true. Patriarchal culture often demands that women behave a certain way, and then heaps scorn on us when we conform to those expectations. My mother was expected to be a housewife and then was treated as though she were stupid because she was a housewife. Women are expected to be beautiful and fit and presentable at all times, but then we are also scorned as shallow for paying attention to our appearance. It is a catch-22!)

But you do have a point. There is a different kind of stigma now attached to the choice of becoming a housewife, the belief many people have that housewives have made a bad choice. I think that stigma is a natural outcome of any kind of freedom. If all men are farmers, there is no shame in becoming a farmer. But if a man has a choice between becoming a farmer or becoming a doctor or a banker or an astronaut, then suddenly his choices are subject to judgment and question. The same goes for homemakers.

I am sure feminists are guilty of contributing to this mindset. And while I understand that judgment of your lifestyle is intrusive and painful, I am not sure that the questioning of people's lifestyle choices is a wholly bad thing. I do think there is value in questioning people's choices (not in a personalized rude way, but in a philosophical way) regarding the most valuable way to live. Now that so many have freedom to choose, what are the best choices to make? (By the way, it goes both ways. I notice that many homemakers are not at all shy about judging the lifestyles of us career gals on the harshest of terms.)

That having been said, I do think such discussions should be held on a generalized, philosophical level. I think it is wrong to make rude comments to people about why they have so many children or why they have no children, why they have no paid employment or why they work outside the home, etc. etc. And at risk of adding to the accusation of having a "victim" mentality, I would note that women's choices always seem more subject to judgment and censure whether you are stay-at-home with a quiverfull, a childless woman who plans to run for high political office, or a woman in-between those extremes!

-- Pendragon

Anonymous said...

Gothelittlerose--

You ask, "Is that tyranny?" I think you are referring to the idea that a woman will be rewarded in her marriage if she throws herself behind her husband's agenda wholeheartedly even if she believes she would have preferred a different method.

I am feeling feisty today, so I'll bite and say, "Yep, it's still tyranny." It may work in your family and many other families, but it is still tyranny. (You know the old observation of how the trains always ran on time under Mussolini's rule.) It is tyranny because this system is based on a belief that God has set up one class of people to rule over another class of people, regardless of their wishes or consent. (Yes, I understand that you choose to submit but you choose because you believe it is required of you by God. This is similar to choosing to obey a King because the law requires you to do so.)

I think that people who believe in submission do not really think that tyranny is a bad thing, although they may not like the negative connotation the word holds. I like using the word tyranny to describe it; that word reminds people that men don't generally tolerate similar justifications for placing other people in lifelong rulership positions over their lives. (Indeed, men throughout history have actually gone to war and killed people rather than tolerate tyranny; that is far beyond anything we mean feminists ever do!)

-- Pendragon

CappuccinoLife said...

Gonna read that and post it to my facebook. I have some sad, angry, rage-filled, victim-mentality feminist friends. :(

Anonymous said...

Wapiti quoted Pendragon "So the only viable solution is the feminist one, of not imposing on women an obligation of lifelong submission to one man."
and then she stated....
'Wow. A more clear call for serial polygamy I don't think I've ever heard in public. But I suppose it's no big deal...thanks to Pendragon's sisters, we already have de facto serial polyandry. May as well formalize it'.

Excuse me?????????? If I refuse lifelong submission to one man then I am the enemy of monogamy?? Among all the faulty logic in Wapiti's post, this is the worst.

I've been married almost two decades. I am not a submissive wife and never plan to be, God willing. We are partners, equals, and answer to one another. AND we believe in monogamy as the ideal path, thank you very much.

(As an aside: we always had men who were not monogamous - see the story of Bethany's grandmother above. Feminism just made it more socially acceptable for a woman to shun monogamy too. I don't condone these serial affairs, but I prefer this situation to the one where only men had the privilege for free amour. I think at some point the pendulum will swing back to a stronger emphasis on monogamy, this time for BOTH sexes, hopefully).
Tammy

Gothelittle Rose said...

There are actually several examples in the Bible of daughters inheriting or otherwise receiving property from their fathers. There was the case of the daughters who were asked to marry within their tribe, because there were no sons to share the inheritance. It was the lack of sons, not the idea of daughters inheriting, that was the novelty. Even then they were still given precedence over their uncles.

Caleb's daughter inherited land from him, came to him, ASKED FOR MORE, and he gave it to her. Also, Job's daughters had equal shares of inheritance with their brothers.

According to an examination of the "Elephantine Documents" (post-exile documents from a Jewish colony in the time of Ezra/Nehemiah), Jewish women initiated divorce, bought and sold property, and inherited property even when there were male siblings as a not uncommon occurrence. This held true for the daughters of female 'slaves' as well. It is worth noting that this Elephantine colony was a Jewish military outpost, and not just some isolated group within a strange place taking on someone else's customs.

Another archive, the "Babata Archive", is a collection of documents from the Greco-Roman period that a Jewish woman used to keep track of her legal matters regarding marriages, lawsuits, and property transactions. Babata also inherited land from her father and held possession of it, adding to it her late husband's holdings (when he died), which she successfully retained despite lawsuits brought by ex-in-laws, male and female. Again, this was during a time when the Jewish leaders had clear power in the community, as evidenced by their ability to browbeat the Roman official overseeing their area into crucifying someone he figured was innocent!

Basically, there is a lot of evidence that women inheriting property was not terribly unusual, and women owning property was definitely normal within the society, with tons of examples from the Bible and other documents.

Elusive Wapiti said...

"We are partners, equals, and answer to one another."

So tell me Tammy, when you and your SO have a disagreement and can't resolve it, who has the final say? Is one of you more equal than the other?

"...but I prefer this situation to the one where only men had the privilege for free amour"

Bzzzt! Proof by assertion. Evidence, my dear?

Let's take your assertion as true for a moment. Suppose also that women were given the privilege of free lovin on/about the onset of feminism.

What about female promiscuity has had anything but deleterious effects on the fabric on our society? Can you cite a single metric by which we are better off now socially than we were, say, before feminism reared its ugly head?

Analytical Adam said...

Mrs. Anna, all I have to say if J-Date is better then Frumster then I think that shows how feminism is such a big problem in Orthodoxy even bigger then among secular Jews. Frumster is considered fairly Orthodox while J-Date is secular. I was kicked off Saw You at Sinai by the way which is suppose to be another Orthodox site because they didn't like my reason when I declined certain matches and the women who made this decision is an unmarried woman who was part of a panalist of an event called Sex and the City HOw to have it All which was advertized for Orthodox women as well and nobody cared and many Orthodox newspapers covered this up. I was thrown off because a number of matchmakers didn't like me becaues they were feminists although some matchmakers did want to work with me but they had no problems with at the drop of a hat throwing me off of the site when I actually had 2 approved matches and I couldn't even contact a matchmaker I was getting along with.

It is not Frumster's fault that so many Jewish Orthodox women act and talk like they are victim feminists all the time and blame Jewish men for everything and never take responsibility for things that the ball is in their court and they have some control of the decisions they make. Many Rabbi's are teaching Jewish women this as well that Jewish men are the lowest of the low and they as the Rabbi is the only good man but rank and file Jewish men can't be trusted.

I also wanted to add that men could be doing their best but women just like men have an evil inclination and start to want the forbidden fruit and think the grass is greener on the other side and this has nothing to do with men acting inappropriately other then if women are becoming greedy men should tell them that what they are doing is wrong. G-d gave both genders an evil inclination to want more power and I think to blame someone else for someone's selfish desire weather it be a man or a woman is actually in some way what feminism is.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting discussion!To tell you the truth,I don't understand people who defend feminism,even though it's pretty obvious by now how much damage this movement caused to men, women ,family and society in general. I'm sorry, but to me it seems like people fail to grasp connection between cause and effect.
I agree, that intention of feminism were probably noble, but as Russian proverb says:"The road of noble intention will lead you right to hell".

Machelle says:
"Also, I'd like to say my overall view of ANY kind of feminism, is that it's taken more away from me than it could EVER give back. I'm sorry, but getting to jot my name down on a ballot once every four years does NOT compensate for all the stigma I have to push through to do what God CREATED me to do."
and Pendragon replies:
"Machelle, this is a point of view I have been struggling to understand."
Why? What so hard to understand here? Especially after,that even Pendragon agree that Machelle has a point. Of course,it's very nice of Pendragon to think that all disagreement should be held in philosophical level,but that's not what's happens in reality. The problem is, that many ideas that seems wonderful in theory,when they are just discussed during polite conversation on philosophical level,or even put to practice by small community of people,turns out to be pretty disastrous(sp?) when pushed on the whole society.Communism and feminism,I think,are good examples of those.

"And while I understand that judgment of your lifestyle is intrusive and painful".
The problem is much deeper than somebody's hurt feelings over judgement of their choice. The problem is that most women, at least not in religious circles,have no choice at all. Go to any discussion regarding that matter and notice how many mothers say that would love not to work,but have no choice. And no,I don't buy that the reason for this is not feminism, but economy. First of all, even though I'm not big fan of our friend Mark, I agree with him that economy was greatly influenced by feminism,and the more two-income families are out there,the harder things economically for one-income families.Second,I believe that biggest reason for this most of the times is not financial,but social. If a young man grow up in family where mother worked, if most females that he knows work,than it seems strange and unreasonable for him to let his wife to stay home, even when they can live comfortably on one income. "Yes,to work and take care of family may be hard,but what about Jane,Kim and Mary? If they can do it,why cannot she? Besides,what was the point to spend all these years in college?" and so on along these lines.

"I do think that feminism (especially the radical stream) made a mistake when it mocked domesticity as inferior."
In my opinion, contempt for domesticity that prevailing attitude in our society today,was not so much mistake of feminism as logical consequence of feminism.
If women marching around howling "Why can't we have it all?", then when they have it all,they shouldn't whine that having it all is just too much.
I want to write much more: about huge illegitimacy rates here in States, increased number of divorces and consequently, huge number of single mothers. And no, don't kid yourself, their situation now is not much better than situation of Bethany's grandmother. I know,because I was one of them.
Helena

Anonymous said...

Wapiti - when my husband and I have a disagreement, we COMPROMISE. Sometimes I give in to his way (especially if he cares more about a particular issue than I do), sometimes he gives in to my ideas. Sometimes we come up with a creative compromise. Or we decide that he can have the final say about one issue, if I get to decide on something else important that has just come up.

Usually, one of us manages to convince the other without too much difficulty.

Yes, it sometimes requires hard work and lots of talking things through, particularly when there's lots at stake. That's marriage. We actually come from very different backgrounds; it may be easier for those with similar mentalities.

It's called sensitivity to one another's wants and desires, and knowing when to compromise and when to give in. It requires mutual work, which is what marriage is all about in my opinion. It's worked for me, my parents, my in-laws, my aunts and uncles...none of these are submissive marriages, and they've held up for 20-50 yrs, so I guess they're doing something right.

As for why the eradication of the double standard is a good thing - I would think it's obvious. It always irked me as a girl to hear society tell me I 'should stay pure' whereas my brother was getting the 'sow your wild oats' approach. (Not from my parents, mind you). Read classic literature written before feminism. Note the plethora of whorehouses and how acceptable it was for even boys to partake. Look at history, note the number of men who fathered children on the side or kept mistresses. It was not considered a cardinal sin. Compare this to girls, who were placed on the pedestal of virtuous asexuality. It went so far that many women couldn't even enjoy sex, they felt so guilty about it.
Feminism perhaps brought us to the other extreme, but I am happy to see that women are no longer ashamed or hiding their sexuality. Personally, I am kind of conservative in that I think both sexes should be more restrained in spreading around their intimacy; but I think something was inherently wrong, unfair, warped and unhealthy when men were given laissez-faire to sleep around (discreetely, of course, once married) while women were barely supposed to have sex once married.

(I am comparing the current situation with that before feminism. I am not comparing it to the Biblical approach, which in Judaism actually celebrates monogamous female and male sexuality).


As for how society is better off with feminism in general, that has been discussed in depth above.
Tammy

Anonymous said...

Gothelittlerose - I confess I am not so learned that I am familiar with all the texts you site above.
However, the general rule in Biblical times was that women did not inherit their father's land if they had brothers. Tzlofached's daughters were a landmark case, and established that girls could inherit if there were no sons. However, it also shows us that they did not inherit when there were male siblings.
I'm sure there were exceptions to the rule, but that's the main priniciple. Wives perhaps did inherit their husband's property; not sure about that, would have to look it up.
But really, we are comparing today's situation to that before feminism, not to Biblical times. In England in the 19th century, for example, women did not inherit, usually; and when they divorced, the father could easily get all custody and all rights. That's why feminism came along.

Finally, I just want to give an example to Wapiti and others as to how a non-submissive marriage can work. A good friend of mine and her husband had a disagreement. He wanted to leave their sleepy town and move to the big city, a 2 hr drive away. She was perfectly happy where she was, in her lovely decorated home, close to her family. Although she yearned to have just one more child before her child-bearing years were over, whereas her husband refused, thinking it would be too much of a hassle and drain at this stage of their lives.

What did they do in the end? They moved to the big city, and they had one more child. She compromised on something significant, as did he. They are very happy; he loves his new baby, probably because of his good frame of mind as he is blooming in the new location. She has learned to love her new hometown, likely helped by the fact she has a wonderful newborn to coddle.

And if she had been a submissive wife??? After a year of pressure to move, she would have moved, and she never would have had that last baby, submitting to her husband's wishes (which he stated over and over again). She would be miserable. Or she would force herself to be 'happy' because that's what she's supposed to be, and she would repress all that misery. And I doubt her hubby would be happy with such a mate.
Compromise is the key to happiness, not submission.
Tammy

Anonymous said...

Pendragon here. This has been a really interesting discussion. Elusive Wapti asked what happens in an egalitarian marriage when you can't agree.

Tammy is of course correct that communication and compromise are important. But I would also note that there are some issues that are not necessarily subject to compromise. I think in "wife submits" marriages, the husband will sometimes make decisions about the wife's conduct in which her decision SHOULD trump any disagreement he may have.

To me, the question is: Does this issue affect the other spouse? If not, then the spouse who IS affected gets to decide.

For example, I recently testified before my state legislature in support of a new law. My husband disagrees with the law and tried to talk me out of publicly supporting it. I listened to his points and explained my point view. But ultimately, we both understood that it is my decision what political positions to take. We don't have the right to dictate to each other our respective relationships to our government, our employers, or our spirituality/God. We may influence each other, but these are ultimately our choices to make as individuals.

On the other hand, if I suddenly wanted to redecorate the whole house or move to a new part of the country, then my husband would definitely have to be on board too because those decisions affect him as much as me.

But neither of us would dream of dictating to the other how to dress, how to pray, how to vote, how to spend our free time when we aren't together, or even what employment to take (as long as the bills get paid).

--Pendragon

Anonymous said...

With regard to the stigma of domesticity, Helena says:

The problem is much deeper than somebody's hurt feelings over judgement of their choice. The problem is that most women, at least not in religious circles,have no choice at all. Go to any discussion regarding that matter and notice how many mothers say that would love not to work,but have no choice. And no,I don't buy that the reason for this is not feminism, but economy. First of all, even though I'm not big fan of our friend Mark, I agree with him that economy was greatly influenced by feminism,and the more two-income families are out there,the harder things economically for one-income families.Second,I believe that biggest reason for this most of the times is not financial,but social. If a young man grow up in family where mother worked, if most females that he knows work,than it seems strange and unreasonable for him to let his wife to stay home, even when they can live comfortably on one income.

Yeah, this is really an issue I can't understand. I can't wrap my head around the belief that an entire class of people (women) should have the right or expectation NOT to have to scrap for an income like everyone else. To me, not having to work for a living seems like a luxury****, not something any grown-up should have the right to expect.

I suspect that history bears me out. Even the Proverbs 31 woman brought in an income! Even in the Victorian era or in the 50s, a wife who didn't work for a living was a privilege of the upper classes. Women have ALWAYS had to earn a living, just like men. (All those secretaries, school teachers, nurses, mill girls, and prostitutes from those eras were women, remember?)

The real difference is that it is harder than in past centuries to earn a living from the home. We are no longer an agrarian economy, or an economy where it is easy to weave some things at home that you can sell at the market (though many people run viable home businesses). The real issue is INDUSTRIALIZATION and the resulting SPECIALIZATION, AND MASS PRODUCTION. These issues have forced workers out of the home. Of course, that need to leave home to work in an office or a factory would affect women as well as men.

Feminism has also made a difference. As I said, women always had to earn a living. But now instead of being confined to the lowest paying jobs, we can compete on a more even-playing field. Before many women had the worst of both worlds; they had to earn a living but only had a choice of the lowest-paying, lowest-status jobs.

Now what about the social expectations of prospective husbands? You blame feminism for men expecting their wives to earn an income. And I blame traditionalism for men expecting their wives to ALSO do all the work of housecleaning and child care! Men need to understand (and yes, many of them are starting to get it) that you can't have a fat paycheck from your wife AND also expect your laundry done and your kids bathed while you are waited on. Either you are the sole breadwinner and get all that support from your wife OR you share the income-earning and household duties. This, to me, is an area where feminism is super-important today. We have made huge strides in the workplace and then we go home and face cultural expectations of bearing an entire load at home. That is where a lot of feminist work still needs to be done on behalf of western women.

**** By the way, when I characterize staying home without an income as a luxury, I also view it as a luxury with a steep price for women in terms of submission, dependence, and economic vulnerability. That having been said, if those are prices you are willing to pay, more power to you IF you can make it work with a willing spouse.

-- Pendragon

Anonymous said...

Pendragon here again.

I also question the assumption that feminism causes "broken homes." See this link:

http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2007/09/30/why-feminism-is-good-for-everybody-part-2954/

From where I sit, feminism correlates with happier and more stable marriages. The data seems to back me up too, as (at least in the U.S.) the divorce rate peaked and then began declining in 1979. Personally, I am almost 40 and I have only ONE friend who is divorced.

The data makes sense too. All the pre-Second Wave couples who got married because they felt they had to went crazy getting divorces in the 60s and 70s. Now that people get married because they WANT to, the divorce rate is declining.

-- Pendragon

Machelle said...

To Pendragon-

Let me elaborate a little more; I don't hold feminism to me because it has done nothing for me. I don't want to vote, I hated college, and I absolutely do not believe half the statstics I hear about pay and abuse and whatnot

(Example from The War AgInst Boys- a woman who wrote booklets for schools about abuse claimed that 4 million US women died every year from being murdered by their husbands...interesting, considering the year that statistic was taken from,only ONE million American women died from ALL causes. Also, the whole Superbowl SUnday myth? nothing more than that. It has NEVER been traced to a reliable root source. But feminists refuse to believe it)

I have no use for a degree where I live. I have no desire to move away, get a career. All these "blessings" feminism gave me are meaningless to me, and yet it still took away the chance for me to have what i TRULY wanted; everyone ASSUMES that I'm gonna go back to school, get my degree in art, become a famous artist, then maybe have a kid or two. Wrong. I want just the opposite, but thanks to feminism, I'm scroned at for wanting this. You can cheer feminism to the high heavens, but it's made my life a hell. I WAS a feminist for years, and was miserable. I didn't find all the "GRRRRL! power" jokes funny at all, and hated how all the girls at school could band up against the boys and beat'em up, and the teachers thought it was cute. That's NOT cute. I've read stories about ELEMENTARY school boys being arrested for "aggravated sexual assault" for brushing up against a girl in the lunch line, after all the girls had been taught to "recognize" sexual assault. I didn't even know what sex was in elementary school! How is this helping society? It's only destroying it. Maybe your generation's feminism was tamer, ore noble, but mine? These teenage girls? we're taught that men are useless. Radical Feminazi's teach our classes.

Also you are forgetting one thing in your tyranny rant; tyrants rule out of desire to rule, to oppress, to control. A godly husband leads out of love and caring. But then, of course, some feminists tend to believe that marriage in and of itself is slavery.

Bhanu Prasad said...

Feminism is a cult espoused by militant women. Feminism is the most deleterious offshoot of liberal orthodoxy. Feminism is a glorification of female individualism, at great loss to the society.

It is laughable that Ms.Sommers found a advantageous streak in modern feminism.

Bethany Hudson said...

Tammy - I don't know if you've ever read any of C.S. (Clive Staples) Lewis' works. I'm guessing you might not have, as he is a British Christian. His book "Mere Christianity" has one of the best explanations of the issue of marital authority I've ever read--probably because he was a very moderate man, and I tend to like moderation. He talks about the fact that when two people are married, they become "one flesh". He doesn't advocate that the Bible calls women to vote the way their husbands wish or follow their every lead and whim. Rather he points out that, sometimes, a married couple reaches a stalemate. In that situation, after a husband has given his wife's point of view much consideration and prayed, he is given godly authority to make the final decision (which may, incidentally, be yielding to his wife's choice). This makes a lot of sense to me. If I wanted to move to Boston and my husband wanted to move to Los Angeles, we'd eventually have to come to some sort of decision (and we might never come to mutual agreement) or we'd end up living 3500 miles away from each other! Of course, I'm partially being facetious here, but I hope you understand my point. I don't think this is necessarily the same sort of wifely submission that Anna has spoken about here on her blog, but it is another (as I said, more moderate) approach to the same principles. Hope it gives you something to ponder. It's the sort of thing that happens when compromise simply cannot be reached or the same issue keeps cropping up again and again and again with no resolution.
~Bethany

Webfoot said...

I'm so glad to read your posts. You are a very good writer, and the points you are making very clear.

thank you for recommending this article. I agree that radicial feminism is Marxist in its foundation.

Have you ever read Rules for Radicals? It is quite enlightening.

It's good to hear about some independent minded feminists out there.

God bless,
Mrs. Webfoot

Kelly said...

I do not know of very many positive things that feminism has accomplished, but as I see it, feminism has created many problems for women who want to be wives, mothers and homemakers.

I personally love taking care of my two boys and schooling them at home and taking care of my house and cooking good, healthy meals for my family. It makes me feel good to be able to do these things.

Anonymous said...

Bethany, I have heard of Lewis although have never read any of his works. I also prefer the moderate path where possible, the golden mean.

However, I can't condone his approach. In essence, the husband is still the top tier in the marital hierarchy.

I understand that Lewis advocates using this status only in extreme cases, when much is at stake and there is a stalemate. I object on two counts. First, usually one can still find a creative solution which allows the other spouse to make an equally loaded decision (see my example in the previous post). Second, if absolutely no agreement can be reached, if neither spouse is willing to give in to make the other happy, if the decision is so far-reaching that it will make one of them utterly miserable.....allowing the husband to make the choice will solve absolutely nothing. You will end up with a resentful wife (even if she denies it) and that's a recipe for a bad marriage.

Finally, I see in essence no reason why the husband should be the one to force the issue rather than the wife. If you can't come to an agreement on a major issue (not talking about picking up one's socks) then your marriage is in dire trouble, trouble that will only be intensified if one spouse forces his path on the other.
Tammy

Anonymous said...

I want to add that compromise is also often a personality issue. In other words, in some couples the husband will be more flexible and easy-going, in other marriages it will be the wife.

Also, so much depends on personal circumstance. If a woman gives up a career she loves to marry a man and moves across the world to a foreign country, to live next to his family....well, it should be only expected that he will compromise on A LOT of other issues to make up for that. How happy will she be if she becomes a submissive wife in such a situation? She will virtually erase her own self.

Marriage is two beings forming one, not one being dominating or overshadowing. If the husband can override his wife on stalemates, that's domination.
Tammy

Anonymous said...

Machelle,

Thanks for your comment in response to mine. I mainly just wanted to let you know I read it and appreciated the insight into your experience. It does seem like a lot of the objections to feminism come down to the notion that being a housewife is not as culturally accepted a choice anymore. But I am not sure that being culturally required in certain circles to become a housewife ever meant that housewives were actually respected. My mother and grandmother certainly don't recall being recipients of great respect as pre-feminist-era housewives.


To others,

As for the whole issue of what happens when there is a stalemate, I agree with Tammy. I also question the degree to which this ever comes up -- a stalemate in which both spouses feel equally strongly about an issue that affects each of them equally. I have been married for many years and have never had a disagreement like that. For the most part, people should resolve big issues before marriage.

-- Pendragon

Bethany Hudson said...

Tammy - I completely understand your challenges to Lewis' point of view. As a Christian, he draws heavily on Chapter 5 of the Book of Ephesians for why the husband is the ultimate "head" of the family. As you're not a Christian, this passage would have no authority with you, so it makes sense to ignore it in your case. Just thought I'd mention one of the more moderate approaches out there to the concept of husbandly headship/wifely submission :)
~Bethany

Anonymous said...

Pendragon, thank you for responding to my comment. Really wanted to chat,but didn't have time until now.

You wrote;

'Yeah, this is really an issue I can't understand. I can't wrap my head around the belief that an entire class of people (women) should have the right or expectation NOT to have to scrap for an income like everyone else. To me, not having to work for a living seems like a luxury****, not something any grown-up should have the right to expect.'

Then you wrote:
I feel very strongly that women’s labor at home has economic value. All that stuff that wives do ain’t nothin’ – it adds up to VALUABLE work. If a person’s job depends on long hours, then the worker who has someone doing all the work at home will have a competitive advantage over someone who doesn’t have that kind of support. (I know because I am competing against men who have wives at home who do everything for them, whereas I have to do some of my own errands and chores.)


It seems to me, contrary to your first statement, that you do understand this issue very well. I hope you understand that by not working I didn't mean for woman to sit home doing nothing. I think common modern situation where both spouses have high pressure careers causes huge stress and decline in quality of life for the whole family and negatively impacts society. Unfortunately, in present situation for woman to stay home and to take care of her family, indeed, became a luxury. There are a lot of other things that became luxury for this reason. Things like slow and not rushed pace of life, home cooked meals, orderly homes,manners, chivalry,respectful kids, close communities where neighbors know one another, safe streets and so on.

Next you wrote:
"I suspect that history bears me out. Even the Proverbs 31 woman brought in an income! Even in the Victorian era or in the 50s, a wife who didn't work for a living was a privilege of the upper classes. Women have ALWAYS had to earn a living, just like men. (All those secretaries, school teachers, nurses, mill girls, and prostitutes from those eras were women, remember?)"

Sorry, it's just false. Most married women in 50s didn't have to work for a living. By nature of my work I worked for a long time with elder population, mostly women. I think over years I worked with more than thousand people whose young years felt on 20s, 30s ,40s and 50s. Approximately 90-95% of these women were homemakers and none belonged to the upper class.( And it was after industrialization and mass production, so no, I don't think we can blame that for forcing us out of homes )These ladies belonged to what we call lower-middle and middle-middle class, in other words, were regular folks like you and me. Some of them told me that sometimes they were helping their husbands with their business 'from time to time here and there'. Apparently helping out 'here and there' is not the same as having full-time job 40-60 hrs/wk.
Also, reading books that describe life in USA before 60s seems to prove it's true. 'The gift of the Magi' by O'Henry and 'Sister Carry' by Theodor Drayther(sp?) first come to mind.
In 'The gift of the Magi' described quite poor couple, and even though Della was 'bulldozing grocer and butcher and milkman' in order to save money, she didn't work. And they were childless couple. In 'Sister Carry' when Carry comes to Chicago and stays with her sister and brother-in-law, they expected her to work, but her sister , who is married stays home, even though again, they are very poor folks.

Regarding Proverb 31 woman,well, I didn't read Bible, so correct me if I'm wrong:
1. She has servants (who knows how many).
2.Her children were grown by the time described in Proverb
3.Even though she brought income for her family, my understanding was it wasn't required of her.
But anyway, when I was talking about before feminism I was talking about 50s USA, not ancient Israel, not serf Russia or any other places and periods.

Next, you write:
" Men need to understand (and yes, many of them are starting to get it) that you can't have a fat paycheck from your wife AND also expect your laundry done and your kids bathed while you are waited on. Either you are the sole breadwinner and get all that support from your wife OR you share the income-earning and household duties."

I totally agree with you, but you are right, it's not like this in most families.

" This, to me, is an area where feminism is super-important today. We have made huge strides in the workplace and then we go home and face cultural expectations of bearing an entire load at home. That is where a lot of feminist work still needs to be done on behalf of western women."
I'm not sure what work can be done here. it's kind of different issue than workforce. In workforce you can enact laws and regulations, but family life is a private business of each person, so basically besides some propaganda I don't know what can be done.
I,myself,personally, hope nothing will be done,because whatever feminists do, they make matters much worse than they were to begin with.

"**** By the way, when I characterize staying home without an income as a luxury, I also view it as a luxury with a steep price for women in terms of submission, dependence, and economic vulnerability."

OK, let's review the price.
Submission- I try to practice it, even though I work and even get more money than my husband. I think it's preferable in most marriages,at least for me it works.
Dependance- when you stay home, yes, you dependent on your husband. But let's say you are working mother with little kids: you dependent on: your boss to be reasonable and fair (not always the case), on your coworkers not to be jerks and know what they are doing, on babysitter not to get sick for long period of time and not abuse your child, and you still dependent on your husband to bring his money and/or to help you with childcare and house work. So who dependent more? Is it better to be dependent on your husband that you choose yourself or him and on top of it on bunch of strangers you that in most cases you didn't choose but have to deal with? To me the answer is obvious.
Economic vulnerability- here you have a point, but it's not all clear also. On the one hand, one income family more vulnerable, but as you and Anna said there are also economic advantages for such families. Besides, if things going to get really bad,like in present recession, both spouses have big chance to loose their jobs, so working wife not will help situation. Besides, there is price for everything , for not working, yes, but also for working to. Price as your health, time with kids when they are little and need you and other good things I listed above.

" That having been said, if those are prices you are willing to pay, more power to you IF you can make it work with a willing spouse."

Thanks to feminism, it's very hard to find now willing spouse, and that was point of my first post
Thank you, Helena