September 15, 2008


Was Feminism Necessary? (Harvey Mansfield 09.15.08, Forbes)

An obvious difference between the women's movement and the civil rights movement is the ease with which the former triumphed. Of course there was male chauvinism at the start, but it was complacent, passive and ineffective. No man could look a woman in the eye and say "you are not equal to me" once the issue was put. There was nothing like the "massive resistance" to racial desegregation in the South; instead, there was a massive movement of women into jobs and careers.

The early feminists were radicals inspired by Simone de Beauvoir, who thought it necessary to show that all sex differences were bourgeois conventions or stereotypes. They would show this not so much in regard to careers as in sex itself. They bought into the sexual revolution and decided that women could best show they are equal to men by becoming as predatory as the most wolfish men. This demonstration required the fallback assistance of ready abortion in case something should go wrong; and it gave new legitimacy to--this word is never used--spinsterhood. Single-parent families also gained respectability as women pressed their husbands with newly justifiable equality grievances, often leading to divorce.

As sex goes up in social estimation, love goes down. The trouble with love is that it narrows your options and endangers your independence. If you loved a man, you might actually want to put up with, or even admire, his ways. You may be sure that I am not the first one to notice that feminist women are unerotic.

If none of what I am saying were true, feminists would be welcoming Sarah Palin with embraces as warm as they are capable of. They should be happy that their cause has spread to conservatives and become bipartisan. In fact, they see the Palin choice as a gross deceit, and their response is close to fury. Doesn't this suggest that feminism is not in behalf of the women's movement--but rather to promote radical adventures above and beyond its concern for women?

...we have to note that a number of Hollywood feminists are responding not with fury but by dressing up in bikinis with guns or as naughty librarians. That too is a feminism we can get behind.

Posted by Orrin Judd at September 15, 2008 8:06 PM
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