Failures of the women’s movement

In my post about marital names the subject of the women’s movement and feminists came up.  Since it was a topic that was quickly diverging from the topic being discussed I decided to make a new post on the subject.  Here are the relevent comments:

Me: “There is plenty that is good about the women’s movement. Unfortunately there was one unintended consequences: a general negativity towards men, marriage and children. … Both the groom and bride need to be able to answer yes to all of those questions (not quoted) to give a marriage a fighting chance. What the women’s movement failed to realize is that it should be fighting to ensure that men answered yes to those questions, not that women should answer no.”

Sarah: “As far as the women’s movement being anti-children, marriage and men, nothing could be further from the truth. At the heart of feminism is the simply belief that men and women should be treated as equals in our society. And despite some radical ideas, this is what most feminists believe.”

For starters this is yet another case where Sarah completely mis-understands my point.  She’s right about the heart of feminism and what most feminists believe.  That’s why I used the critically important phrase “unintended consequences”.

Unintended as in that’s not what was in their heart and not what they believe.

Unintended or otherwise, I think the case is pretty convincing that is indeed what has happened:

  1. One of the first significant points of the women’s movement was that being pregnant keeps women from being successful in their careers.  If that’s not anti-children I don’t know what is.  What they should have done instead (and in fairness started fighting for about a decade too late) was fight for better maternity benefits and career environments that were supportive of raising children.
  2. Along the same lines, a big part of the women’s movement was abortion rights.  Even putting aside the murder of unborn children, which I view as scientific fact, abortion has still fostered the mindset that children aren’t a gift but a burden.
  3. The other early significant portion of the women’s right movement was no-fault divorce.  I’m sorry, nothing says anti-marriage than making it easier to end them.  What they should have been doing is making the consequences of men who abuse their wives much more stringent.  Instead they created an environment where not only is marriage denigrated, but the same asshole men that were emotionally abusing their wives before can now do it until something better comes along and bolt “without fault”.  At least before the women in those cases got 100% of the assets not 50%.
  4. Finally, the body of work of women who have called all men pigs in the name of feminism is so comprehensive that anyone who would doubt it is just being foolish.  While I don’t think most women buy into it, thankfully, I do think that it’s pervasive enough it creeps into the subconscious of too many women and makes them very wary of men, even very good men.

Notice that in all cases besides #4 the motives of the ones pursuing the goals was noble but the results were disasterous.  Personally I think women are in a worse situation as a whole today than they were 50 years ago.  More women are being raped.  More women are being abandoned by their spouse and just as frequently with children.  More women are being treated as sex objects through pornography and other sexual deviencies.  More women are being asked to not only do housework and raise children but at the same time are asked to have a full-time career.  More women are being pushed to the brink resulting in higher suicide rates for women than ever before.

In fact, the only area in which the women’s movement was a success was in getting access to more professional career and educational opportunities.  Heck, even that hasn’t been the success that the women’s movement was hoping.

Overall, while I think the original goals were noble, the result has been a disaster for women.  Women deserve better.

One Response to “Failures of the women’s movement”

  1. Sara Says:

    Hi Ken,
    I’m Sarah’s friend–Sara. For some reason I had a link in an email that led me to your post about name-changing. That, in turn, led me to this post.

    1. I totally agree with you on this. I think the women’s movement has made life more difficult for some women, who are now expected to “do it all.” They want to have a career, but they want to be mothers, too, but they haven’t figured out how to do it. Men have been able to have both forever, because they’ve had someone to take care of the kids while they pursue their career. Thus, fatherhood defines many men, but it’s not the ONLY thing that defines them. Women want that same opportunity. Pre-women’s movement, women didn’t have choices for careers. My mother got to choose from three options: nurse, secretary or teacher. The women’s movement was about providing the same choices for women that men have always had. But I agree, fighting for better maternity benefits and more supportive work environments would have been a great addition to the movement, because then women could choose their careers AND they would be able to balance motherhood, too. However, I’m not inclined to believe that the women’s movement is a thing of the past–I think it’s still developing, and maternity benefits are should definitely be a top priority.

    2. I see where you’re coming from about the mindset being that children are seen as a burden rather than a gift. I personally believe that a woman should have the right to choose what happens to her own body, however. I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree on this subject, because I REALLY do not want to get into a debate about reproductive rights.

    3. I find this interesting. I thought I knew a lot about the feminist movement, but I’ll admit I’d never knew about the link between feminism and no-fault divorce. After reading a bit about it, I definitely see why it’s necessary to make it possible to get a divorce without the permission of both parties. It would be great if we could live in a world where it’s easy to prove abuse–but we don’t. I worked at a victim’s services clinic for domestic violence for two years. It’s a very, very complicated issue. To say that the consequences for abuse should be more stringent is obvious, but it’s not exactly a simple thing to do, either. Sometimes the safest way to deal with these situations is to get out of them as quickly as possible. I’ve seen women deal with some horrible, horrible things. The idea that they should have to spend years compiling evidence against their husbands when they have no freedom and no resources is unrealistic. So yeah, in theory, I hear where you’re coming from–in reality, though, it just won’t work.

    4. When was the last time you went on a date with a man, Ken? I’ve done a lot of dating in my day, and I can honestly tell you, a lot of them are pigs. I’m not saying that because of anything I’ve read or heard. I’m telling you this from experience–it’s VERY SCARY to be a woman. We are wary of all men for good reason. I’ve had men grope me, objectify me and refuse to take no for an answer–then follow me when I tried to leave. If that’s not a “pig” in the terms we’re talking about here, I don’t know what is. And yes, we’re wary of good men, too…not because of feminist writings, but because it’s hard to tell the good men from the bad men sometimes. As a result, I’m wary of all men until they prove to me that they’re good. To me, that’s just being smart. Am I wrong? I think you need to be pointing the finger at the jerks who share your anatomy, not at feminist writings. Because there are some real jerks out there.

    Moving along…what evidence do you have that supports your argument that women are being raped more now than they used to be? Just as children didn’t used to report molestation, women didn’t used to report rape. We now live in a culture where these victims are no longer vilified and blamed for what was done to them. Thus, you hear more about it than you used to.

    We also live in a very sick society, so I’ll agree with you on the pornography and objectification. We are not open to healthy sexuality, but for some reason we’re open to violence and sick objectification. I don’t understand that at all, so in that way I totally agree with you. Oddly enough, I see a lot of women participating in this sort of thing–there’s a book called “Female Chauvinist Pigs” that Sarah gave me, which actually talks about that a lot. It’s an interesting read.

    On your overall point with this post, however, I have to disagree with you. Where are the statistics to support your argument that life is harder now for women than it used to be? I totally disagree with you that women are worse off now than they were 50 years ago. Thanks to the women who fought for equal rights, I now have the same choices that my male friends do regarding what to do with my life.

    The women’s movement is a work-in-progress. There are things that need to be fixed. It’s obviously not perfect now. But it’s a whole lot better than it used to be.