International Women's Day Meditation: Feminism Is Bad For People

There are, according to Ms. Soraya Chemaly, at least 10 Reasons Feminism is Good For Men and Boys. They include "broader range of work and life options" (you could grow up to be a nurse), "more time with fathers" (because mom is working and dad's at home), and "greater academic success" (because boys who have an "entitled sense of power" don't do well academically).

Boys and girls, you know I'm no feminist. If you read Ms. Chemaly's article you'll find many points that I think are problematic because they are supported by underlying assumptions that feminize boys, which you know I would rejoice to attack. And although I'm sure that'll leak out a bit as I write this post, that is not the tack I'm going to take. Most of the gender/feminism debate revolves around "gender roles" and inequality, but they shouldn't at all.

The real problem with feminism is that it buys into our dehumanizing modern society.

Ms. Chemaly wants boys to think about girls and their roles in society, which is a laudable goal. According to her,
This isn't about "feminizing" men or about demonizing them as women-haters. It's about expanding the definition of human to include what is female and about working together to dismantle systematized biases in culture.

Dismantling systematized biases in our culture. Great idea. How about we dismantle the systematized bias toward identifying all human beings as workers? That's what our society does. It asks how well we fit into the economy. Ms. Chemaly quotes one Michael Kimmel as an enlightened man. The bulk of the quote is focused on the next great step in feminism being the work of men, but the quote starts with this:
In every arena -- in politics, the military, the workplace, professions and education -- the single greatest obstacle to women's equality is the behaviors and attitudes of men.

In every arena, politics, military, in the workplace...every arena clearly means the workplace (can there be a more hyper-masculine way of thinking?). That, ladies and gentlemen, is the problem with feminism. It claims that the only things that count are our contributions as workers. Feminism is an economic way of thinking; it is part of a world in which money (capitalism, communism) defines us.

[caption id="attachment_9761" align="aligncenter" width="330" caption="Look at all these workers! I mean, humans, humans! Now get started making them productive members of society!"][/caption]

Ms. Chemaly expresses frustration early in her article with the falling away from orthodox feminism of the recent generations of women. Fewer and fewer women identify themselves as "feminists". The problem for Ms. Chemaly and most other professed feminists is that they're not able to see why women are making the choices they are, i.e. having children, putting marriage and children before "career". They can't see because career, profession, is how they identify themselves; it is what they are.

Women don't want to be slaves to men. As Ms. Chemaly herself says, they want to be human. Well, to be human means to have a home. You don't need a job to be human. Don't get me wrong, you do need work, but work is not the same thing as a job.

These women want a family. It's more important than a job. And the way our society is constructed, both men and women need to make difficult choices when they decide to center themselves around their family. The family, not the individual, is the main economic unit for these people. Ms. Chemaly is sorely deceived if she thinks that mom working means more time with dad for the children. If dad is checked into our society's definitions of work as job, his identity will focus on that. He won't spend more time with the kids unless his identity focuses on the hearth.

We're having the wrong argument. Even talking about feminism is a mistake. We should be talking about economic models, humanizing work, and communal life. Instead, we argue about which philosophy makes us better slaves of capitalism. Feminism's not a bad choice for that.


  1. Here here, Joffre! Excellent comments on this difficult issue. Family is the fundamental building block of human society, as taught by philosophers dating back at least to Aristotle. My wife stays home with our children and considers that a much higher vocation than slaving away at a credit-card call center. She is taking a central role in forming the hearts and minds of our children - guiding them on their road to becoming members of the broader human society. It is not somehow demeaning to choose this vocation over a workaday job outside the home. This vocation is the highest one to which a woman might aspire, in my humble opinion. To hold otherwise is to reject not only the honor due to the vocation of motherhood, but it is to reject the family altogether. Bravo to you, Joffre.

  2. Coming from a human, woman, home-worker: thank you. This is great.


Post a Comment