The feminists are going through one of their periodic soul-searching psychological examinations of what the women’s liberation movement did or did not do for them, and why they are not happy with the result. Feminist dominance in newspapers, magazines, book publishers, television and academia makes it easy to command a full media rollout for their agonizing.
The media are glad to divert public attention from the failure of Barack Obama’s Stimulus to create jobs. So, we have ponderous discussions: Maria Shriver’s report (with help from a liberal think tank) called “A Woman’s Nation Changes Everything,” a Time Magazine cover story headlined with the double entendre “The State of the American Woman,” Gail Collins’ book When Everything Changed, and articles from all the feminist columnists.
We wonder if it’s just a coincidence that this torrent of words immediately preceded Halloween. The writers are scared of their own research because it contradicts much of their gender-neutral ideology.
These well-educated writers long ago identified the major goal of the women’s liberation movement as getting more wives out of the home and into the labor force. Carolyn Graglia’s landmark book, Domestic Tranquility: A Brief Against Feminism, explains that the chief purpose of the feminists was to make the role of fulltime homemaker economically untenable and socially disdained. She analyzed the writings of the feminist intellectuals and she documents their attempts to ostracize fulltime homemakers as childish “parasites.”
The feminists have been strikingly successful with this goal; women are now half the labor force, and 40% of women are essential family breadwinners.
In the current recession, the majority of workers laid off have been men (especially from construction and manufacturing). Jobs where women predominate have not been much affected.
Even so, the feminists demanded that the Obama Administration give half the Stimulus jobs to women rather than to the shovel-ready work that was the reason for passing the Stimulus funds. Whatever the feminists demand from the Demo
crats they get, and the Stimulus money was directed to jobs in education, health care, and social services. The feminists’ tactics to divert Stimulus jobs to women were described in the July 2009 Phyllis Schlafly Report.
So what are the feminists complaining about? Now that women are half the work force, they want workforce rules to be changed to be more female-friendly. (These are the same feminists who have been saying for years that there is no difference between male and female.) Feminists demand that the taxpayers provide high-quality daycare and paid family leave, that new laws prohibit employers from ordering women to work overtime (as men are often required to do), and probably that men should be forced to assume half the household and baby-care duties.
The feminists are still crying about President Richard Nixon vetoing a federal program to make daycare a middle-class entitlement. But Nixon’s action was popular then and still is, because the majority of Americans don’t want their tax dollars to pay for babysitters for other people’s children.
No doubt this will come as a shock to the feminists, but Time Magazine reports that “a majority of both men and women still say it is best for children to have a father working and a mother at home.”
Women’s percentage in the labor force keeps rising because of who is going to college and who drops out. Thirty years ago, the ratio of males to females on college campuses was 60-40; now it’s 40-60, and women receive the majority of college degrees.
But the feminists are griping because women students choose humanities majors that lead to lesser paid jobs than male students, who in larger numbers choose math, science and engineering. The feminists want government to remedy this gender difference by bribing women with taxpayers’ money to make other choices. (Feminists claim that there are no gender differences, but they demand government intervention to override women’s choices.)
The feminists push hard for what they call “Title-Nining,” using Title IX, which bans sex discrimination in schools and colleges, to force equal numbers of women in all athletic programs. Since this misuse of Title IX was initiated by radical feminists in Jimmy Carter’s Education Department, the feminists have forced colleges to eliminate thousands of men’s teams, including many championship teams and more than 450 wrestling teams. Now the feminists are Title-Nining science and math departments. Using phony charges of gender bias, they are directing millions of dollars of federal and university money to override women’s choices in order to increase the number of women in math and science at the expense of men.
Joanne Lipman, who has held several of the biggest jobs in publishing but still whines that “progress for women has stalled,” nevertheless makes a couple of sensible comments. She writes that feminists defined “progress for women too narrowly; we’ve focused primarily on numbers at the expense of attitudes.”
She’s right about that. Attitude is the problem with feminists; as long as they believe they are victims of an oppressive patriarchy, they will never be successful. Women won’t be happy as long as they believe the false slogan (repeated in most of these current articles) that women make only 77 cents on the dollar compared to men. The Equal Pay Law was passed in 1963, but requires equal pay only for equal work, and women in the labor force don’t work nearly as many hours per week as men do, and women voluntarily choose jobs that pay less.
Lipman also urges feminists to “have a sense of humor.” That’s a very constructive proposal. When I tell a joke during my college lectures, I can identify the feminists by the students who are not laughing.
Only one sentence in all these feminist articles confronts the fundamental reason why today’s women are not as happy as women were in 1972. Time Magazine wrote: “Among the most dramatic changes in the past generation is the detachment of marriage and motherhood.”
That’s what the feminist movement did to America. All those impressive statistics about women holding well-paying jobs and receiving college degrees will not produce happy women as long as 39% of children are born to unmarried mothers who lack a loving husband.
And one more glaring point: the lack of grandchildren isn’t mentioned in these exposés of women’s unhappiness. In rejecting marriage, most feminists also rejected the grandchildren who could have provided a significant measure of women’s happiness.
Feminists Are Still Unhappy
All this self-psychoanalyzing of women’s attitudes appears to have been triggered by a study released earlier this year by the National Bureau of Economic Research and published in the American Economic Journal. Called “The Paradox of Declining Female Happiness,” this report concluded that women’s happiness has measurably declined since 1970. Since this study covers the same time period as the rise of the so-called women’s liberation movement, the feminists recognized it as a challenge to the goals and alleged achievements of their movement.
The authors, University of Pennsylvania economists Betsey Stevenson and Justin Wolfers, advanced a theory that the women’s liberation movement “raised women’s expectations” (sold them a bill of goods), making them feel inadequate when they fail to have it all. The authors also presented a second theory that the demands on women who are both mothers and jobholders in the labor force are overwhelming.
A more realistic explanation is that the feminist movement taught women to see themselves as victims of an oppressive patriarchy in which their true worth will never be recognized and any success is beyond their reach. If you believe you can never succeed because you are a helpless victim of mean men, you are probably correct.
Feminist organizations such as the National Organization for Women held consciousness-raising sessions where they exchanged tales of how badly some man had treated them. Grievances are like flowers; if you water them, they will grow, and self-imposed victimhood is not a recipe for happiness.
Another explanation for women’s unhappiness could be the increase in easy divorce and illegitimacy (39% of American births are now born to single moms), which means that millions of women are raising kids without a husband and therefore expect Big Brother government to substitute as provider. The 2008 election returns showed that 70% of unmarried women voted for Barack Obama, perhaps hoping to be beneficiaries of his “spread the wealth around” policies.
In the pre-1970 era, when surveys showed women with higher levels of happiness, most men held jobs that enabled their wives to be fulltime homemakers. At the same time, the private enterprise system produced many products that make household work and kiddie care easier (such as dryers, dishwashers, and paper diapers).
Betty Friedan started the feminist movement in the late 1960s with her book The Feminine Mystique, which created the myth that suburban housewives were suffering from “a sense of dissatisfaction” with their alleged-to-be-boring lives. To liberate women from the home that Friedan labeled “a comfortable concentration camp,” the feminist movement worked tirelessly to make the fulltime homemaker dissatisfied with her role.
Economic need plays no role in the feminist argument that women should seek labor-force jobs. Feminists encourage wives to leave the home because marriage is allegedly archaic and oppressive to women. A job in the labor force is upheld as so much more fulfilling than tending babies and preparing dinner for a hard-working husband.
Women’s Studies courses require students to accept as an article of faith the silly notion that gender differences are not natural or biological but are social constructs created by the patriarchy and ancient stereotypes. This leads feminists to seek legislative corrections for problems that don’t exist.
A former editor of the Ladies’ Home Journal, Myrna Blyth, wrote in her book, Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness and Liberalism to the Women of America, that the anorexic blondes on television are every day selling the falsehood that women’s lives are full of misery and threats from men. Bernard Goldberg calls the mainstream media “one of America’s most pro-feminist institutions.”
According to feminist ideology, the only gender-specific characteristic is that men are naturally batterers who make all women victims. On that theory, the feminists conned Congress into passing the Violence Against Women Act (note the sex discriminatory title), which includes a handout of a billion dollars a year to finance the feminists’ political, legislative and judicial goals.
The feminists whine endlessly using their favorite word “choice” in matters of abortion, but they reject choice in gender roles. The Big Mama of feminist studies, Simone de Beauvoir, said, “We don’t believe that any woman should have this choice. No woman should be authorized to stay at home to raise her children . . . precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.”
The feminists have carried on a long-running campaign to make husbands and fathers irrelevant and unnecessary except to provide a paycheck. Most divorces are initiated by women. More women than men request same-sex marriage licenses in Massachusetts so that, with two affirmative-action jobs plus in vitro fertilization, they can create a “family” without husbands or fathers.
Despite the false messages of the colleges and the media, most American women are smart enough to reject the label feminist, and only 20% of mothers say they want full-time work in the labor force. Women suffering from unhappiness should look into how women are treated in the rest of the world, and then maybe American women would realize they are the most fortunate people on earth.
Feminist Attack on Marriage
While the gay lobby gets most of the blame for the assault on the institution of marriage, the modern feminist movement has always been virulently and effectively anti-marriage. When the movement marched onto the stage of the culture war in the late 1960s and early 1970s, they called themselves the women’s liberation movement. The buzz word was liberation, which specifically meant liberation from home, husband, family and children.
Harvard Professor Harvey Mansfield’s book entitled Manliness includes a most informative chapter called “Womanly Nihilism.” Mansfield rightly concludes that the 20th-century feminist intellectuals, such as Simone de Beauvoir, Betty Friedan, Kate Millett and Germaine Greer, wanted independence not only from men, but from morality and from human nature and motherhood.
The feminists’ first legislative triumph was to change the divorce laws of all 50 states to unilateral divorce, i.e., allowing one spouse to walk out of marriage without the consent of the other spouse, and without having to allege any fault or reason to sever the marriage contract. Big media eagerly cooperated to promote the notion that we have moved into an era of “serial” (rather than lifetime) marriages. “Ozzie and Harriet,” a then-popular sitcom featuring a traditional family, became a favorite epithet for feminists to scoff at traditional marriage and the role of the fulltime homemaker.
The feminists’ second victory was Roe v. Wade. Abortion has always been central to the feminist movement (proving there is no connection with the movement for women’s right to vote, whose leaders were very anti-abortion).
Their third victory (a Gloria Steinem favorite) was getting President Jimmy Carter to pluralize the name of his White House Conference on Families in order to popularize the notion that non-traditional families should be recognized and included.
The anti-marriage feminists stormed state capitols to repeal the laws designed to respect morality and preserve marriage, such as the laws against adultery, fornication, sodomy, and alienation of affection.
The only goal they failed to achieve was ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
Meanwhile, beginning with Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society in the late 1960s, the welfare system was working hard to dismantle marriage by channeling taxpayers’ money only to mothers, thereby making the husband and father irrelevant and unnecessary to the family’s economic well-being. Widespread illegitimacy and single moms were the predictable result, producing the matriarchy that the feminists sought.
Feminist solidarity with the gay rights movement was cemented at the International Women’s Year (IWY) Conference in Houston in 1977, following impassioned emotional entreaties by Betty Friedan and Eleanor Smeal. IWY resolutions proclaimed the feminists’ attack not only on traditional marriage, but also on motherhood. Feminists view society’s expectation that mothers should care for their own children as oppressive discrimination against women.
Marriage: One Man, One Woman
The institution of marriage as the union of one man and one woman has been fundamental to America ever since the founding of our nation. When the famous French commentator Alexis de Tocqueville traveled the United States in the early-19th century, he recognized the fact that respect for marriage is very American. He wrote: “There is certainly no country in the world where the tie of marriage is more respected than in America, or where conjugal happiness is more highly or worthily appreciated.”
Not only do American laws specifically recognize marriage as the union of one man and one woman, but many laws legislate special benefits to the institution of marriage. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) identified more than 1,000 federal laws that are based on the definition of marriage in its traditional meaning, including the tax laws that permit married couples the advantage of filing joint income tax returns and the Social Security benefits awarded to fulltime homemakers.
Attacks on the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman come from the gay lobby seeking social recognition of their lifestyle, from the feminist movement that opposes what they call the patriarchy (that supposedly makes women second-class citizens), and also from some libertarians who believe marriage should be merely a private affair and/or a religious contract, and that the terms of this union should be none of the government’s business. These libertarians want to deny government the right to define marriage, set its standards, or issue marriage licenses.
Government’s Role in Marriage
Government has and should have a very important role in defining who may get a license to marry. In America, it is and should be a criminal offense to marry more than one person at a time, or marry a child, or a close relative, even though such practices are common in some foreign countries.
If our government cannot define marriage as the union of one man and one woman, it follows that there can be no law against the union of a man and several women, which is totally demeaning and harmful to women.
The very first Platform adopted by the Republican Party, in 1856, condemned polygamy and slavery as the “twin relics of barbarism.” Always a stalwart defender of traditional marriage, the 2008 Republican Platform calls for “a constitutional amendment that fully protects marriage as a union of a man and a woman, so that judges cannot make other arrangements equivalent to it.” It’s vitally important that the Republican Party continue to be the standard-bearer for traditional marriage.
We thought our nation had definitely settled the polygamy issue a century and a half ago, but it recently raised its ugly head. The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is on record as supporting polygamy. The ACLU’s feminist president, Nadine Strossen, stated in a speech at Yale University in June 2005 that the ACLU defends “the right of individuals to engage in polygamy.” And on October 15, 2006, in a high-profile debate against Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, Strossen stated that the ACLU supports the right to polygamy.
Speaking to the Federalist Society on November 18, 2006, the ACLU’s executive director, Anthony Romero, confirmed his organization’s support of polygamy.
The massive immigration that the United States has accepted in recent years includes large numbers of immigrants from Third World countries that practice polygamy and marriage to children and close relatives. We wonder if polygamists have been allowed to immigrate and if they are continuing these customs in U.S. neighborhoods.
President Obama’s nominee for a commissioner of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), a lesbian law-school professor named Chai R. Feldblum, signed a radical manifesto that endorsed polygamous households (i.e., “in which there is more than one conjugal partner”). Signed in 2006, this manifesto, entitled “Beyond Same-Sex Marriage: A New Strategic Vision for All Our Families & Relationships,” argues that traditional marriage “should not be legally and economically privileged above all others.” The American people obviously think otherwise, and current laws reflect our wishes.
Feldblum is not the only pro-polygamy Obama appointee. His Regulatory Czar, Cass Sunstein, wrote a book in 2008 called Nudge: Improving Decisions About Health, Wealth and Happiness in which he urged that “the word marriage would no longer appear in any laws, and marriage licenses would no longer be offered or recognized by any level of government.”
Sunstein argues that traditional marriage discriminates against single people by imposing “serious economic and material disadvantages.” He asks, “Why not leave people’s relationships to their own choices, subject to the judgments of private organizations, religious and otherwise?”
Sunstein also suggests “routine removal” of human organs because “the state owns the rights to body parts of people who are dead or in certain hopeless conditions, and it can remove their organs without asking anyone’s permission.”
In Socialist Canada, which has already approved same-sex marriage, polygamy has suddenly become a live issue. In a current lawsuit, British Columbia’s Supreme Court is being asked to decide if polygamy should remain illegal.
Traditional marriage is essential to a stable society. We should maintain government’s proper role in defining it and protecting it.