The Feminist Movement is Failing Women
It would be folly to maintain that change is not sorely needed to improve the lives of many women around the world. Clearly the West has long been in the forefront of fundamental change. In 1792 Mary Wollstonecraft penned A Vindication of the Rights of Woman arguing that "middle-class women's oppression was largely due to their deficient education." Thus,
Girls who have been thus weakly educated, are often cruelly left by their parents without any provision; and, of course, are dependent on, not only the reason, but the bounty of their brothers [.] But, when the brother marries, . . . [his sister] is viewed with averted looks as an intruder, an unnecessary burden on the benevolence of the master of the house, and his new partner.
Yet, in 2014 in Saudi Arabia, a young woman named Nadia who was not permitted to drive had to rely on her brother to take her to work. Often he refused to take her, thus making her late and at risk of losing her position.
Nineteenth century Victorian England long treated women as subordinate and disempowered. In 1869 when John Stuart Mill published his book The Subjection of Women, he shed light on Victorian culture and argued that women should be granted more political, legal, social and economic opportunities.
Nonetheless, in modern-day Pakistan "even though [women] are legally equal to men, it is common for decisions to be taken by male heads of households or male tribal chiefs [.] Traditionally, women have fewer, if any, rights of inheritance . . . resulting in difficulties accessing land or finances."
In America "under the leadership of Lucretia Mott and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, a convention for the rights of women was held in Seneca Falls, New York in 1848." The participants wrote the Seneca Falls Declaration of Sentiments and Resolutions, patterned after the Declaration of Independence. It "specifically asked for voting rights and for reforms in laws governing marital status." Finally in 1920, the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution granted American women the right to vote.
According "to the 2015 World Economic Forum Gender Gap Report, Yemen, has the biggest average gender gap of the 145 countries surveyed. It has the largest disparities in economic participation and opportunities for men and women, and one of the greatest differences in literacy rates between genders — with 55% of women considered literate as compared to 85% of men." Moreover, "Yemeni women . . . cannot marry or receive health care without the permission of their male guardian (usually their father) and do not have equal rights to divorce or child custody. And the legal system has few provisions for the protection of women who experience domestic and sexual violence — leaving some women vulnerable to becoming the victims of honor killings. Around 52% of girls in Yemen are married before the age of 18 [.]"
South of the border finds Honduras as the "femicide capital of the world" where "[o]n average, one woman is murdered every 18 hours in Honduras [.] With a femicide impunity rate of 90%, most of these women’s murderers are getting away with it. The lack of accountability and prosecution of perpetrators of violence against women mean that women can’t live safe, successful lives and reach their full potential."
In contrast to the global situation of women, American women would have appeared to have reached untold success. But the silence is deafening from Western feminists as they ignore the ongoing gender apartheid that their sisters struggle with in the Muslim world. It would appear that these feminists have "lost touch with the reality of women's lives and have become part of the problem, not the solution" as Phyllis Chesler notes in The Death of Feminism. In fact, "[t]he multicultural feminist canon has not led to independent, tolerant diverse, or objectives ways of thinking. On the contrary; It has led to conformity, totalitarian thinking, and political passivity."
"Politically correct passivity" reigns supreme as feminist academics and journalists are now so left-wing in orientation that they are blind to the debilitating effects of face veils, child marriages, forced marriage, polygamy and female genital mutilation on women across the world.
In The Feminist Lie, Bob Lewis discusses “intersectional” feminism, first coined in 1989 as a means to "incorporate feminism into the civil rights movement by creating a type of hierarchy of oppression. Thus a black male feminist may be considered more oppressed than a rich white female feminist, especially if that black male feminist is disabled." Such identity politics cubbyholes women as perpetual victims. Bruce Thornton notes that despite the fact that in America we are "faced with the spectacle of the richest, freest, healthiest, best educated, most independent, longest living women in world history" feminists are predicating their identity based on "petty slights and wounded self-esteem." Consequently today's feminists have "embraced childish demands" as well as meting out punishment to anyone who is "insensitive to their pain."
Katy Grimes and Megan Barth maintain that ". . . radical feminism focuses on destroying traditional relationships." Linda Gordon, a radical feminist, has stated that "the nuclear family must be destroyed [.]" It appears that "radical feminists have all but destroyed the family structure in America in their quest to marginalize men and boys." They assert that "man-hating is an honourable and viable political act" and "the nuclear family must be destroyed." Furthermore, "men who are unjustly accused of rape can sometimes gain from the experience."
Christina Hoff Sommers, in Who Stole Feminism? How Women Have Betrayed Women, asserts that "the large majority of women, including the majority of college women, are distancing themselves from this anger and resentfulness [of the radical feminist]."
Set against the backdrop of the "mean-spirited, male-bashing falsehoods" versus the extraordinary and laudable efforts to break through the glass ceiling, Hoff Summers has exposed a glaring challenge -- the cradle has been left to fend for itself. The effect on children when both parents are expected to work outside the home is an aspect which has been virtually ignored. Often after a short three month FMLA period, women return to work and (a) put their infants in daycare and/or (b) grandparents are now asked to stand in as parents for their grandchildren.
Noel Black writes that "it has been a mystery [to him] why so many mothers now choose to work rather than to be at home with their children, as they were when [he] was young before World War II." Mr. Black reviews Brian Robertson' s book Forced Labor and highlights how Robertson "makes clear that most mothers don't choose to work." He cites a 2001 National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) survey which showed a "direct correlation between the number of hours children spend away from their mothers and increased levels of aggressiveness [.]" Consequently, "the more time children spend in nonmaternal care, the more likely their behavior is to be aggressive both at 54 months and kindergarten age."
Black explains that "greater involvement in the paid workforce is of very recent vintage" because "it entirely ignores the fact that for most of our history as a nation, the 'advancement of women' was identified with protecting them from the necessity of involvement in the paid workforce precisely with the aim of freeing them to devote their full time and energy to what was traditionally regarded as the superior calling of home and family."
Over the years, the combination of government intervention and politically active women's organizations resulted in "a reaction against the old exaltation of motherhood ... which has endured to this day."
More often that not, "the anti-maternal agenda of the new feminists" coupled with the belief that "work outside the home is the best opportunity our culture offers for self-fulfillment and self-expression" has markedly changed the issue for the latest generation of married women who find themselves wanting to begin a family or for those whose juggling of work and family has become a Herculean task.
Sue Ellen Browder recounts how in 1969, she was fired from her newspaper job for being pregnant. In addition, she reminds the reader that medical and law schools were often closed to women at that time and in some states, women were not even allowed to serve on a jury. Thus, it was with hope that she attended the November 18, 1967 National Organization for Women's (NOW) second national conference.
Many in attendance at the NOW convention were looking to fight for a married woman's right to get credit in her own name and to end pregnancy discrimination. But the meeting was overshadowed by those who wanted to ram through the idea that abortion was a "woman's right." As a result, one-third of the feminists resigned from NOW over the abortion vote.
In essence, Browder asserts that "the fierce abortion debate [presently] dividing our nation represents not a war against women but a war between women." She believes that inserting the abortion right into the feminist movement has injured it. She resents the attitude of those who refuse to see March for Life as a legitimate branch of feminism. And, although once a fervent pro-abortion activist, Browder has made a 180 degree change in her beliefs. She even cites Betty Friedan who wrote in 2001 that "[i]deologically, I was never for abortion. Motherhood is a value to me, and even today abortion is not. I believed passionately in 1967. . . that women should have the right of chosen motherhood. For me, the matter of choice has never been primarily the choice of abortion, but that you can choose to be a mother [.]"
In fact, the social pressure to work outside one's home has many post-Millenial women dreaming of a world "in which men work and women make a home for the family."
Bookworm Room highlights the different waves of feminism and maintains that the present day feminism on college campuses is "the feminism that speaks of 'toxic masculinity.' This is the feminism that proclaims that every man is a rapist and every woman an avatar of honesty." And it is an alleged liberation that speaks of "sex, endless, endless 'consequence-free' (i.e., baby free sex, powered by drugs and alcohol [.]"
Thus, it would appear that the most recent Women's March on Washington still has "everyone trying to figure out what their actual grievances were." It turns out that it was ". . . an anti-Trump protest in pink clothing."
And so we come full circle; there are genuine issues for American women i.e., the integrity of the home and recognition of mothering as a real vocation and how to do it without being punished financially. Then there is oppression of women worldwide, i.e., honor violence, sexual slavery, female genital mutilation, human trafficking, domestic violence, and exploitation.
But women using sexual curses and ranting about bodily functions or a desire to blow up the White House do a real disservice to women who could use their collective voices. In essence, it "epitomizes the failure of the latest feminist movement."
Eileen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org