Part 2

Reader Response to “Don’t Marry Career Women” – Part 2

Part 2
Regular Contributor
While there are many feminists out there who are most definitely not in step with the radical anti-male, anti-homemaking elements of the movement, they still need to understand that when they continue to use the word “feminism” to describe their beliefs, they are bringing along the historical and legal baggage that comes with the term. They should not be surprised when perfectly sane, intelligent women choose to reject feminism (even in its noblest forms). Yes, feminists have, indeed, pointed out real ills in the past (drunkenness, abuse, abandonment–particularly at the beginnings of the movement in the 19th century), but that does not mean the feminists of the 1960s or today have the cure for the disease. Asking a radical feminist to help put a stop to divorce laws that trample innocent women and children would be a little like asking an arsonist to help put out a raging house fire. Yes, there might be token “buckets of water” in the form of platitudes like, “We’re not against women choosing to stay at home; we just want to be allowed to choose careers if we want” — but that does nothing to alter the fact that the feminist movement (on the whole — again, we aren’t painting all feminists with the same brush) has harmed women, especially those who would prefer to remain at home as the primary caregivers for their children or even as help mates to their husbands when there are no children.

Today any woman who claims to oppose feminism is quickly stereotyped as narrow-minded, uneducated, and backwards. Feminists do not all wish to be lumped together, yet it seems to be kosher to force all non-career women into a suffocating “Stepford Wife” stereotype. Once again, Carolyn Graglia hits the nail on the head:

“Those who would defend anti-feminist traditionalism today are like heretics fighting a regnant Inquisition. To become a homemaker, a woman may need the courage of a heretic. This is one reason that the defense of traditional women is often grounded in religious teachings, for the heretic’s courage usually rests on faith. The source of courage I offer is the conviction, based upon my own experience, that contemporary feminism’s stereotypical caricature of the housewife did not reflect reality when Frieden popularized it, does not reflect reality today, and need not govern reality. Feminists claimed a woman can find identity and fulfillment only in a career; they are wrong. They claimed a woman can, in that popular expression, ‘have it all’; they are wrong–she can have only some. The experience of being a mother at home is a different experience from being a full-time market producer who is also a mother. A woman can have one or the other experience, but not both at the same time. Combining a career with motherhood requires a woman to compromise by diminishing her commitment and exertions with respect to one role or the other, or usually, to both. Rarely, if ever, can a woman adequately perform in a full-time career if she diminishes her commitment to it sufficiently to replicate the experience of being a mother at home.” (Domestic Tranquility, pp. 369-370)

Christopher Lasch has noted that, if the feminist movement was truly fair to all women and open-minded about the choices they make, it would not seek to marginalize wives and mothers: “A feminist movement that respected the achievements of women in the past would not disparage housework, motherhood or unpaid civic and neighborly services. It would not make a paycheck the only symbol of accomplishment…. It would insist that people need self-respecting honorable callings, not glamorous careers that carry high salaries but take them away from their families” (quoted in Forced Labor, p. 33). Our materialistic society today is so focused upon how much we are “worth” in terms of a paycheck that we have lost sight of what we are worth as human beings. Ironically, this is exactly what many early feminists wanted society to acknowledge: that women are just as important and just as vital to the human race as men. This is no breakthrough epiphany; it is a simple statement of fact: “So God created man in His own image; in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them” (Genesis 1:27).

Both male and female together make up the image of God. Humanity is not complete without one or the other. Both are needed to display the full-orbed beauty of God’s design. “He created them male and female, and blessed them and called them Mankind in the day they were created” (Gen. 5:2). It’s that simple. “Mankind” is male and female. You don’t have to be a feminist to affirm this. To then proclaim that man and woman were designed for complementary roles–not competing roles or overlapping roles–is not to say that one role is less important than or inferior to the other. We aren’t talking about “yin and yang” here — opposites locked in an eternal struggle. We are talking about mankind, male and female working in a beautiful union and communion that creates nourishing families, hospitable homes, genuine care for the poor, help for the widow and the orphan, justice for the truly oppressed. We cannot achieve this if we build upon socialistic foundations that insist all human beings must be treated the same no matter what. That kind of “equality” always tramples underfoot those who cannot keep up and ends up supporting the very tyrants who claim to want the best for the rest of us.

Feminism isn’t the answer. It never was. Occasionally it has pointed out real evils. Every now and again it has done noble things. But, on the whole, it is built upon a foundation of radicalism that hurts the very women it claims to want to help. This doesn’t mean every feminist is an evil man-hater. We’ve never painted feminists with that broad brush. But it would behoove those who want to claim the title of “feminist” to look carefully into the history of a movement that has done real damage to women and families in the name of “equality.” It also wouldn’t hurt to consider that the woman who chooses to reject feminism and remain at home is not a mindless doormat who has been robbed of her “core of self.” I’ll close with a quote from Jennifer Roback-Morse:

“Some women assume that child care is mind-numbing, spirit-killing drudgery, and that only work outside the home is fulfilling. These are not necessarily statements that women would come up with spontaneously, in the absence of feminist tutoring….It took me an embarrassingly long time to realize that my two children needed me at home more than they needed anything my income would buy for them. It took even longer for me to realize that placing my intellect at the service of my family was a greater challenge than my ordinary life as a university professor. I had accepted far more feminist premises than I had realized.” (“Why the Market Can’t Raise Our Children for Us,” The American Enterprise, May/June 1998)

11-05-2006 01:41 PM

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