Here's a question Buffy asked me:
Do I take it that you do not support feminism but you do support women's rights? I was wondering what you thought the difference was as most people seem to be unclear about the definition of either.
What a great question, Buffy! Very often, when people hear I stopped supporting feminism, they assume I'm against women's rights. The reason of this misjudged concept is automatically associating feminism with women's rights and benefits, and everything that goes against it with oppression and belittling of women – which is imprecise, to say the least.
To help you understand why I think so, let me first give a brief introduction of these two terms – feminism and women's rights.
What in my opinion constitutes women's rights? Here's a summary of the basics:
1. Physical protection and safety – this means no one has the right to abuse, harass, threaten a woman, or put a woman in a situation that endangers her physical well-being. A woman is to have a feeling of being physically protected.
2. Emotional protection and safety – no one has the right to emotionally abuse or torture a woman, cause her distress, endanger her spiritual well-being or undermine her feeling of emotional security. A woman is to have a feeling of being emotionally protected.
3. Appreciation – a woman should be appreciated for her being a unique human being, created in God's image, and for her role as a woman, helpmeet, wife, and mother – which is also God-given.
4. Respect – a woman has the right to be respected. She has the right to express her opinions, which should be taken seriously. No one has the right to belittle a woman, deny her importance or boss her around.
Anything important that I might have forgotten can be considered as a part of physical or emotional well-being. You will also notice, of course, that everything I listed can be applied to all human beings, men as well as women – except that in number 3, 'role of woman, helpmeet, wife and mother' should be replaced with 'role of man, leader, husband and father'.
Now let's say a few words about feminism. Feminism is meekly defined as 'The name of a number of social, cultural and political movements, theories and moral philosophies that are concerned with cultural, political and economic practices and inequalities that discriminate against women.'
Some defenders of feminism claim that 'feminism is not against homemakers; it's all about choice" – is that so?
"A parasite sucking out the living strength of another organism...the [housewife's] labor does not even tend toward the creation of anything durable.... [W]oman's work within the home [is] not directly useful to society, produces nothing. [The housewife] is subordinate, secondary, parasitic. It is for their common welfare that the situation must be altered by prohibiting marriage as a 'career' for woman." ~ Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex, 1949.
"[A]s long as the family and the myth of the family and the myth of maternity and the maternal instinct are not destroyed, women will still be oppressed.... No woman should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one. It is a way of forcing women in a certain direction." ~ Simone de Beauvoir, "Sex, Society, and the Female Dilemma," Saturday Review, June 14, 1975.
"Feminism was profoundly opposed to traditional conceptions of how families should be organized, [since] the very existence of full-time homemakers was incompatible with the women's movement.... [I]f even 10 percent of American women remain full-time homemakers, this will reinforce traditional views of what women ought to do and encourage other women to become full-time homemakers at least while their children are very young.... If women disproportionately take time off from their careers to have children, or if they work less hard than men at their careers while their children are young, this will put them at a competitive disadvantage vis-a-vis men, particularly men whose wives do all the homemaking and child care.... This means that no matter how any individual feminist might feel about child care and housework, the movement as a whole had reasons to discourage full-time homemaking." ~ Jane J. Mansbridge, Why We Lost the ERA, 1986.
(Quotes taken from LAF article "You Don't Know Feminism")
Now let's have a look at the consequences of feminism and see if it provided women with the basic rights I mentioned in the earlier part of my post.
Over 40 years after the beginning of the modern feminist movement of the 1960's, we have unrestricted sex, the Pill, abortion on demand, an astronomically increased number of single mothers, teenage mothers and women in their 40's struggling with infertility; we have a fatherless generation who hasn't seen a better example; chastity is mocked, women are sexualized and coerced into selling themselves cheap; we have no-fault divorce, deterioration of family values – and I could go on and on. Tell me, how exactly does it provide women with a sense of physical and emotional security?
A woman is no longer appreciated and respected for being a woman – on the contrary, she is expected to be as masculine as possible, and every suggestion that there is, in fact, a difference in the way a men's and women's minds work meets vehement denial (even an innocent statement such as 'a research has found a higher percent of women have talent for studying languages, while men are more inclined to mathematics'). Motherhood is regarded as 'just one out of many options', and being a helpmeet is perceived as slavery.
A daughter can no longer expect to be protected by her father; a woman finds it hard to trust her husband's leadership and feel secure in her marriage, with the divorce rates so ridiculously high; a lady cannot expect chivalry anymore.
Feminism claims that before its onset, women were a faceless, abused, uneducated mass. Nothing could be further from the truth. Biblical laws have protected women for many centuries before feminism came into the picture. Take for example Deuteronomy 22:28-29. I've heard various opinions about this verse, but the bottom line is that a man cannot take a maiden's virginity and get away with it. What did feminism give us instead of defending a woman's honor and chastity? The preposterous claim that it has no importance and is more of a hindrance to a woman's 'liberation'.
Women's education is another myth. If you listen to feminists, women were nearly illiterate before the start of feminist movement. I wish they knew my great-grandmother, who was home educated and had wide knowledge of fine literature, music, arts, history and management of the home; she was accomplished in the domestic arts; she was an honored wife and the delighted mother of seven children. My grandmother did go to a women's college back in 1934, but it wasn't like today. She stayed with two respectable old ladies and helped them look after their home, and the ladies in turn looked after her and made sure no unworthy man gets near her.
Yes, feminism has provided us with 'freedom of choice' – but only for women who make a certain choice. What about women who want to fulfill their God-given role as helpmeets, wives, keepers of the home, mothers, and who see it as a satisfying, challenging, full-time work? But ah, they are mindless slaves! Oppressed! Brainwashed! They should be educated and forced – by legislations and campaigns – to make the right 'choice'.
If feminism is a movement for women's rights and for improving the position of women, its ultimate test should be a reality check of women's well-being, security and happiness. After doing such a check, isn't it obvious that feminism miserably failed?
I'm not saying the times before feminism were all of a rose garden; but I'm very much against feminism being portrayed as some sort of kind fairy who raised women from the dust and saved them from meaningless slavery. Do you now understand why?