January 17, 2008
Does Big Government Help Women?By Christopher Chantrill
When the first woman to be a major party candidate for president wins her first presidential primary by playing the gender card it tells you something. The Romantics were right and the rationalists were wrong. Life really is all about feelings and not about reason.
That was a week ago. Now the first woman candidate for president is trading racial smears with her chief rival for the Democratic nomination.
The question that I would like to ask our women friends is this. Was it for this that women, inspired by Simone de Beauvoir, boldly emerged into the public square from out of the darkness of endless ages of oppression?
If so, what's the point?
I say this because there is much for a woman president to do. In many ways women are as oppressed and as marginalized today as they ever were in the Dark Ages of the patriarchy.
Today in our government schools little girls are forced to learn their lessons according to a unisex curriculum imposed and enforced by activist feminists. Mothers who would prefer a little less feminism and a little more education are out of luck.
Today in our society teenaged girls are encouraged to experiment with sex by educators and pressured to have sex by teenaged boys. Nobody seems to have the courage to tell the girls that they don't have to put up with this abuse.
Today in our society women in their twenties live under heavy social pressure to devote themselves to a career and un-devote themselves to marriage. The result is that in the prime of their sexuality and fertility they give away their favors to men for nothing. For this their grandmothers chained themselves to railings?
Today in our society thirtysomething women are frantically trying to get pregnant in their few remaining years of fertility. And that's if they're lucky and haven't got divorced.
Today in our society women of all ages are encouraged to divorce if their marriages aren't up to snuff. Divorced women, of course, often don't get to have the number of children they want. They usually suffer significant economic hardship. And they don't really improve their lives through divorce.
Today in our society women of all ages are encouraged to channel their energies away from home and family in paid employment or in a career. But for most women the most important things in their lives are their relationships and their children.
Today when women get old they get bustled off into institutions. Their daughters are encouraged to fill their mature middle years with jobs and careers, and have been socialized to be too busy to care for their enfeebled parents. Older women, surviving often into their nineties, are very weak and very feeble. And very often they are very frightened.
Two words best describe the society that has marginalized its women in this way. Cruel and unjust.
In the name of womens' liberation our society has chivvied women out of their homes and neighborhoods and the life that many women prefer: family, children and cooperative relationships with other women. Above all it has bullied them out of their instinctive culture of giving and helping and into full-time paid (and taxable) employment.
Meanwhile the first woman candidate for president is busy trading racial barbs with the first black candidate for president.
The odd thing is that the political party that has created this unjust world for women gets most of their support. The "gender gap" means that more women support the big government party than the limited government party.
John R. Lott has explained how this works in "Women's suffrage over time," excerpted from his book Freedomnomics. Women are more risk averse than men, he writes, and since they have gotten the vote they have expressed their preference by voting for more government programs. Federal government spending started increasing in the 1920s when women got the vote and it has kept increasing ever since.
Women voted for big government because they were told that big government gave them security. But did it? Is it really true that big bureaucratic government with its one-size-fits-all top-down model can really provide better security and freedom from risk than a conservative society of family, church, neighborhood association, and mutual aid?
Conservatives would say: No. Big government creates big dependency. Women today face uncertainty and risks in their lives that they never faced when they created security for themselves in marriages that could not be easily terminated and when they controlled the social services of their communities because they were the social services of their communities.
Of course, women today do not face the privations that their grandmothers faced a century ago. But the biggest cause of poverty in women is still single parenthood.
The challenge to conservatives is clear. If we want to succeed in reforming big government we have to persuade women that big government means big risks for women.