Sunday, October 30, 2011

Feminism, unprofessional thoughts

"I have recently been debating feminism with a few women who claim that it has done great things for people, especially in protecting women from abuse. 

However, I am an anti-feminist, who does not see any good in the feminist movement. 

Do you have any insights? Perhaps you've read books by feminists or books on the feminist movement that would be helpful in exposing the real agenda and history behind the movement."

Thank you for your thought-provoking question!

Now, I'm not an expert on the origins of the feminist movement; I'm not a sociologist, I haven't read a whole lot of serious literature on the development of feminism. I'm just like you - gathering thoughts and insight simply from living in a world where feminism has already won its battle. 

So, what has the feminist movement done for us? How has it improved our lives? Has it, upon the whole, made women happier?

True, we now have more professional options open in front of us. We can choose to be anything we want to... or almost anything, except the obvious, natural, all common trait of women all over the globe: wives and mothers, which is more than a full-time job. Now that we can do "anything", being "just" a wife and mother somehow isn't a valid choice anymore.

The way I see it, the feminist movement wasn't started and promoted by the normal, busy, hard-working, sometimes frustrated but upon the whole pretty much satisfied family-centered women. Rather it was the movement of unmarried, childless, brilliantly educated, slightly rebellious and very well-off women who did not fit the mold and who felt frustrated because whenever they tried going somewhere in life that wasn't the traditional marriage-and-children route, their heads hit the infamous glass ceiling. 

Perhaps this sounds simplistic, but again, if you want to get a professional survey, you're asking the wrong person. It just seems to me that for a woman to have the possibility to lead a social movement such as feminism, she must have both freedom from family ties, and enough money so she can think about more than how to make ends meet. She must also be a bit of a snob, in order to be able to talk about "career", "fulfillment" and "self-growth", and gloss over the fact that most people, men included, work at simple jobs and are mostly concerned about putting bread on the table. My conclusion is that feminism is a movement of upper middle to high class women. 

So, in our days such women can be happier because if they aren't inclined to marry, well, they can do pretty much all they want, to general applause. The problem is, women in general are just as domestically inclined as they were 150 years ago, and in their heart of hearts what they truly want is to settle down with a husband and children in a nice home of their own. However, today's education practically robs them of the knowledge of how to do that, so many commit themselves to a demanding career without a second thought when they are young, and then feel lonely and miserable, and when they finally have a family of their own they are torn between the need to be with their children, and the pull to prove that they are "worthy", in the modern terms of feminine fulfillment. Which means having it "all", and that as a general rule means really having nothing because your resources are limited. 

I've heard so many women at work, or on the way to or from work, frantically trying to solve their children's problems over the phone, break up fights, tell how to re-heat a refrigerated meal... that's not "having it all". That's trying to sit on both chairs, and doing a very mediocre job of it. I'm sorry if I'm not being very coherent, but that is how I feel. There is blessed peace and true freedom in embracing the thought that it is alright, that it is even good and worthy to be "just" a wife and mother.

Bottom line, the way I see it, feminism has paved a road to career which is smooth for the few who do not have the urge to marry and settle down, and which feels rough and pebbled to the normal, mainstream woman who deep down yearns for a peaceful life with her husband and children, without juggling too many responsibilities in addition to those which naturally fall to her lot. The pebbles are those parts of womanly calling - pregnancy, nursing, caring for young children, domesticity - which make the career progress for family women slow and painful. So slow and painful that many stop to re-consider whether they truly want to continue going down that road.

Right now I'm not at leisure to even begin touching upon a vast number of other issues, such as the religious aspect of feminism and the different G-d-given roles of men and women, feminism and its correlation to the soaring divorce, promiscuity and abortion rate, feminism and the break-up of a family, feminism and fatherlessness, and many other matters which time simply does not allow me to cover right now. If any of you feels like adding your own thougts, it will be most welcome. 


Heather said...

I am fortunate where I live it is "normal" to be a stay at home mom and wife, at least while the kids are little. Once they hit school age many get part time jobs while the kids are at school then they are home when the kids get home.

Gothelittle Rose said...

It is true that early feminists helped make some strides in awareness of (and protection against) domestic violence.

However, modern feminism, by portraying the average man as an abuser and the average woman as being able to give as well as she gets, exacerbates the domestic violence situation. They are projecting the image that it is normal for men to beat up women and women can handle it.

As for the early feminists and their strides against domestic abuse... well, I only have this to say: Scientists are discovering that the herpes virus can, under the right circumstances, target cancer cells. However, how many of you here, show of hands, want to go out and get herpes so that you *might* be able to combat any cancers that you might develop?

Stephanie said...

I agree with a lot of this. Many people my age, I am in college, view being a stay at home mother/wife as oppressive. I can't tell you how many times I have heard "I am not a feminist but I think women should not be encouraged to stay home" Then when I try to suggest some reasons why traditional roles aren't all that bad they tell me "I don't understand the history of women's oppression." The last paragraph is something I touched on in one of my blog posts and I don't think that could have been more accurate.

spastikbandanna said...

I'd like to add that the saved from abuse thing and a complete lie. I grew up in an abusive home and not surprisingly ended up in an abusive relationship with a guy. With now weher to turn I talked to a help line. they basically told me that I needed to be powerful, that I didn't have to take it. I listened to women say things like "well if a man ever hit me..." I listened to men that told it was my fault for taking it This made me feel even more powerless and worthless. If other women were capable of that strength why wasn't I?

After I met my husband I recognized that these were lies. I need to be built up and protected. There was a time when men might have stood up for me. Feminism said I had to stand on my own, all alone. God says I can lean on him andhis people in my weakness.

a housewife AND a feminist said...

"However, modern feminism, by portraying the average man as an abuser and the average woman as being able to give as well as she gets, exacerbates the domestic violence situation. They are projecting the image that it is normal for men to beat up women and women can handle it."

I'm sorry, but you've got me absolutely floored by your comment, Gothelittle Rose.

I am just flabbergasted that you would interpret (twist?) feminism as saying that it's normal for men to beat women and that women should just deal. Where on Earth did you get such an idea?

I apologize for my strident tone, but I am stunned and angry that feminism would be portrayed in such a way. Agree with feminism, disagree with it, that's one thing. But your idea of woman-hating violence is the utter antithesis of feminism.

Holly Days Closet said...

I have recently read two wonderful books that have helped me on my journey back to what it means to be a women after G-D's own heart. Maybe they might help you,
The Way Home By Mary Pride and
To Be A Jewish Women by Lisa Aiken
I can tell you how much they have help me when confronted with the way the world thinks we should be.

Joluise said...

I studied feminism as part of my Sociology degree - it is a complex issue of why women decided to make changes, it didn't happen over night but over a long period where women wanted to do things but found themselves barred eg divorce, going to university, certain types of work. This isn't the forum to cover all the issues, most were not "bad" at all and many of the changes that came about made huge improvements to women. It was in the 1970s that we see the dramatic changes and the "burn the bra" type radical movement that has given feminism a bad name - Germaine Geer did nothing to the cause.

Thanks to the feminism I can now earn the same pay as my male colleagues. I can take carers leave, I can take maternity leave. I can get divorced and not loose my children, I can vote, I can join parliament, I can own land etc... Many women paint feminism as evil, however what came about in those early years is important - there is no way I want to go back to have no rights and no voice. What happened from the 1970s is where the problems began.

Also World War 1 and 2 had a massive affect on women and worth reading about - in Britain alone over a million women couldn't find husbands after WW1 (too many women to men), they had little choice but to work. Also all the ordinary women who tasted life outside of the home and loved it. Not everyone is cut out to remain at home and these women wanted choice. Women are entitled to choice how they spend their lives, some stay at home, some work and some do a combination of both and isn't that the way it should be.

As to women and domestic violence - allowing women to divorce and not loose their children did allowed them to escape domestic violence - but this was still very difficult. Another complex issue and not enough space or time.

Anonymous said...

i think that tha ability to choose what you want to do with your life as a woman, instead of being told that you "have to" have a traditional role was the original intent of the feminist movement. which is what i and my family adhere to. in our location, i had a great-paying job before he and i even met, so when having kids came into play, he is the one who volunteered to stay at home with the kidlets so they could have a home/family influence instead of the more impersonal daycare. it works for us.

Anonymous said...

I have ben reading articles from Christina Hoff Sommers and think her findings are very good: she exposes gender feminism for what it is and is not afraid to debate its anti-homemaker and anti-male bashings. 

It is not suprising to know that many feminists who started the 60's movement came from a dysfunctional upbringing and therefore started to spread the lie that mothers at home are not good for children. I think many feminists sought power and used feminism in order to achieve it. I do not like how they use censorship on anyone who offers constructive criticism on feminism. I can think for myself and lead my own life based on my values.

I also think that we don't have to call ourselves feminists in order to fight abuse. We can be pro-woman! The career choices we have today are also a result of the Industrial Revolution, which took out a lot of hard physical jobs men would do and in place we have comfortable offices with computers. Many men of the past were not rich by any stretch and had their share of oppression by the upper class.

To conclude, I wish to add that feminists should spend more time getting to know homemakers that lived before the 60's. They were not all unhappy and abused! My grandmothers certainly were not

not a feminist, but not anti-feminist -- somewhere in between. said...

I'm usually understanding (if not always in agreement with) your views, but I have to tell you, to say modern feminism was started by "unmarried, childless..." women is patently false.

Betty Friedan, largely considered the matriarch of the movement, was a wife and mother. Her book, The Feminine Mystique, is an amateur survey of the women of her college class-- overwhelmingly consisting of wives and mothers. They were unhappy -- for better or worse, whatever the cause, these wives and mothers were unhappy.

I respect your right to your views, and I respect the right of feminists to theirs. But just like I suspect you wouldn't want them misstating the basis for your views, I suggest you don't misstate their basis for theirs.

Madeline said...

I'm a new follower here, but I felt the need to comment since I was once a very outspoken feminist.

To the commenter above, "not a feminist, etc", Betty Friedan didn't come along in the movement until the 1960's during the second wave of the feminist movement. The actual feminist movement started in the early 1900's.

There was only one main figure in the beginning of the movement who wasn't married, Susan B Anthony.

Honestly, modern feminism does exacerbate domestic violence. But it's not the only thing that does!

While, I'm no longer an outspoken feminist, I can respect both views, although I no longer agree with modern feminism.

Modern feminism is very dangerous to families, and I honestly believe it's one of the reasons why the divorce rate is so very high!

Upper West Side Mom said...

There are Feminist and there are Radical Feminist and I think that bot types are being grouped together by many. The feminist movement was responsible for women getting equal pay, equal access to education and rights when getting divorced amongst other things.

Radical Feminists are the ones who came up with the more far out ideas such as Superbowl day is the day when more women are beaten than any other day of the year. Feminism just means for women and I think that as women we should all be for each other, no matter what choices we make.

Whether we one likes it or not we have all benefited by feminism in one way or another even if you make the choice to stay home (which I have done).

Gothelittle Rose said...

Housewife and Feminist:

Read two comments below mine and you'll see someone giving her personal story of feminism responding in the exact same way I just described.

What I was referring to specifically, when I mention the "women can take it" mentality, are the more recent movies and television shows praised by feminists that show all women as tough-girl combat specialists. There's even an entire movie about nothing more than a woman engaging in physical training and beating up the guy who used to abuse her.

I don't think they realize what kind of picture this portrays for young women facing domestic violence, of the expectations placed on them as the victim.

I, as a housewife who is *not* a feminist, would not respond to an abused woman by saying "Be strong". I would say, "Let me help you get out." The rescue has to come first. The strength can come later, when the healing is well on its way.

Anonymous said...

I think that as others have said, this is a complex issue. However, feminism has done women far, far more harm than good.

Let's think about the emblem of feminism: the Pill. What good has it done women? Well, you could argue that it has allowed them to pursue careers and livelihoods without the constant worry about the results of their sexual activity. I'd argue that this is actually a bad thing, as it means that the natural results of sexual activity -- conceiving and bearing children, fierce loyalty to their inconvenient needs, bonding to their father -- have by and large come to be viewed as traps, rather than blessings. Furthermore, the Pill comes with a whole host of side effects that any honest person has to admit are not that great for women's health or relationships. Finally, the Pill falsifies sexual expression, leading even us women to think that our bodies are for pleasure alone, and that it's pointless or bad to restrict such pleasure. This ultimately has led our culture as a whole to much more objectification of women.

Feminism, further, artificially separates simple justice (equal pay for equal work) from a clear understanding of the distinctions between the sexes. Surely it was unjust for a female teacher of the 1800s to be paid less than her male counterpart. However, it really isn't unjust that women for a long time were barred from the physically dangerous professions, such as firefighting. Women are different psychologically and physically from men. Some jobs are better done by those with the right makeup. To kick against this is not only silly, it's deliberately blind.

Pendragon said...

I am a feminist who has actually worked with domestic violence victims, and victim advocates, in the course of prosecuting domestic abusers. I can't even fathom when or where a feminist would tell a domestic violence victim that she should just handle the problem on her own. That is just completely contrary to anything someone in the field would ever in a million years say.

Spastikbandana mentions a help line worker who told her that she didn't have to take it. I think she has misinterpreted the implications of that statement. I think it is VERY important to tell victims they don't have to take it, a statement that in no way implies they have to just handle it on their own. I have met a lot of women who think they do have to take it, who make excuses for abusive husbands or who blame themselves for the abuse. On a moral level, no woman has to take abuse and I think that's what the help line worker was getting at. I am surprised that she didn't give Spastik more information on what she could do -- such as getting a restraining order, or going to a shelter, etc. NOTE: I am well aware that none of these options is perfect, but having come from an abusive family myself going back generations I can tell you that there are more options now and definitely more protection for women than before feminism. (Hell, marital rape wasn't even a crime in many U.S. states within my lifetime and I'm only 40.) Those white knights you imagine protecting wives from abusive husbands? They were generally busy making excuses for the men and treating the wives as though they were overwrought hysterics.

Yes, there are some women who will say, "Well, if a man ever hit me, I'd . . ." That response generally doesn't come from women educated in the field of domestic violence. That response isn't especially feminist, but rather a function of ignorance of the circumstances faced by victims that often makes it very difficult to leave, press charges, fight back, etc. Women say this to make themselves feel more secure. It's completely ridiculous to blame feminism every time a woman says something ignorant that you don't like.

Pendragon said...

My experience of feminism is completely opposite of what is portrayed here. I credit the feminist movement with allowing me to marry for love (rather than worrying about finding a good provider). I also credit feminism with the happiness of my long marriage, happiness that would have been impossible if I were my husband's subordinate. Lastly, I also credit feminism with allowing me to contemplate having children without jeopardizing my professional life, and with creating a culture in which my husband would likely have much more involvement with our children than my father's generation ever did. Without feminism, I would probably be a single librarian somewhere, scraping out a meager living and pitied by all as a pathetic spinster, or unhappily married to some guy with a good paycheck and a superiority complex. With feminism, I am a happily married woman!

Anonymous said...

I like voting. I like being able to own and inherit money, property, and land. I like being able to to choose who I marry. I like being allowed to work if I need to. I like being able to drive a car. I like not having my clothing mandated by law. I like being able to get an education in the field that I choose if I want to. I like being equal (not the same, just equal). Feminism did that.

Joluise said...

I just want to comment on the equal pay for equal work as it appears to be mis-understood. What it means is that I am paid the same amount ($$) as the man I sit next to at work. We are at the same level, doing the same work with the same university qualifications. As a teacher I should be paid the same as a male teacher with the same qualifications. However if I am in my first year and the male is in his 10th year, our pays will be different as would be expected.

If I am a firefighter (as the example is given) and I have demonstrated my strength against all the same tests as the males, I should be paid the same - no reason why not. However if I don't pass the tests I don't become a firefighter - its that simple. The same goes for the defense forces and this is what happens. Even though most women would not want to fight on the front line, doesn't mean that a few may be able to if they meet the requirements - and women go into these things understanding this.

Equal pay isn't about gender it is about skill level, level of strength and qualifications. I am very thankful that I am paid the same as my males colleagues - however if I work less hours I would expect to be paid less.

Anonymous said...

In my country, we have a 17% unemployment rate. What would happen if the women out there in the market place, came home, and gave way to the unemployed husbands and fathers to become employed??? We have women in our society that earn huge salaries along with their husbands, and then there are families that do not have food on their tables because the father is unemployed....

Carol said...

I agree with your description of the origins of feminism--well educated women with the means to pursue social issues.

One of the great ironies is that as feminists pursued more opportunities for women, they left childbearing to a new profession directed by men. The midwife and her skills were forgotten as male obstetricians became the providers of care.

The support that immigrant women needed as they raised families came from immigrant midwives. The feminists saw the problems of the immigrant families and decided that the solution was to provide family planning centers.

Instead of promoting life . . . instead of supporting midwifery . . . instead of recognizing that the family is the key unit to our society . . .