Friday, September 24, 2004
The Agony and the Ecstasy-- Feminism Revisited
Where did feminism go wrong?
Starting with the suffragette movement, feminism should have been one of the great human rights movements in our history. The empowerment of women to the equal status of men, had the potential of tremendous change for the good in out society.
Instead it has become one of the great divisive and explosive issues of our time.
To understand why it failed is to understand a confluence of events that conspired to result in a great divide in our society.
The origins of feminism are patently clear.
There was a time when a man was measured by how well he took care of his family. Who he was, as an individual was measured by that.
He left his abode in the morning and went to the fields to tend his crops or went to the forest to hunt. His job was to provide the necessities of life, to provide for his mate and children. His mate was responsible for the home and raising the family. It was a partnership, plain and simple. One could not exist without the other and have a family. The description, while simplistic and incomplete, is essentially accurate, for the purpose of this discussion.
The Industrial Revolution, in 1789, and a bit before, heralded a change.
A man was now measured by what he did for a living, rather than how well he took care of his family. His work defined him. His position within the partnership changed. That he no longer had to tend his fields or hunt, to take care of his family was a mark in status and resulted in a change of attitude. He became identified by his job title or career.
He was a somebody, contributing to society, he would say, and remind his mate that she wasn't. He was part of the new times and she was not-- and he never let her forget it. Her role was essentially unchanged. As time went on and the changing world made no room for her, she became even more disenfranchised.
She wanted to participate, as an equal. In truth, who could blame her? We men are as contributory to feminism as anyone else.
After almost 200 years of exclusion, she had enough and said, 'My turn, I want to contribute.'
So, she left the home and went to work, challenging and often besting men in their own environment. She became so adept at beating men and replacing them, she forgot who she was and she forgot the goal.
The goal wasn't to be a man, the goal was to be equal to a man. The goal wasn't to be men, with all their failings, but to excel and contribute to an higher ideal.
Proteins aren't the same as carbohydrates-- yet they both are calories and necessary nutrients. To negate that balance is to negate a chemical reality.
Women and men are inherently different-- a biological dictate. Neither is superior or inferior. To negate that reality is to negate a biological reality.
In negating those truths, feminism has failed miserably.
Instead of elevating women, feminism grafted onto the same failings as men. Rather than offer a higher ideal, women focused on being better men. Thus, they chose to be forever 'also rans,' in the attempt to negate themselves and their identities.
While feminists have achieved much for themselves to date, they have also lost much. Motherhood is still a second class endeavor. With a straight face, feminists will tell you that being home and raising children is of no consequence to the child's development. Men they say, are not needed to raise a child.
Their career, they say, is the path to 'fulfillment.' They choose not to discuss the legions of women who wanted it all, only to find out it was too late, to have a family- and are now bitter at having ignored their biological clock.
Feminists choose not to talk about the legions of children who desperately want a father figure in their lives- sons and daughters. Instead, they extol the anonymity of test tube 'donors.'
Feminists want talk about everything but matters of real substance. There is no position or focus on rights other than abortion- and that, in truth, is more about men than it is about anything else.
There are no higher moral ideals- where are the women standing up for women being raped in Darfur, for example? Where are the protests on the Washington Mall decrying equal rights for women in third world countries, suffering horribly at religious and cultural discrimination?
It is said there are 100 million women that have suffered from Female Genital Mutilation. Read that number again. Surprised? So was I. Apparently, it isn't an issue feminists really want to put on the front burner. However, 'Sex in the City' is praised as a breakthrough for women. I'm sure the irony of women basking in their sexuality is lost on the victims of FGM.
Feminists, apparently, are busy trying to gain membership in the Augusta National Golf Club.
What possible higher calling can a feminist have?
Human nature being what is, change does take time.
If feminists really want to regain any kind of moral high ground, they would be best served by addressing who they really are and striving toward those higher ideals, rather than choose to be identified by what they do in ' a man's world.'.
We men could learn a lot from that.
As proof that great minds do think alike, see Bittersweet for another perspective.