Robert Stacey Stacy McCain has written a lot of articles lately concerning feminism, and he has been concentrating on the self-appointed feminist leadership, which is absolutely eaten up with radical professors, gender theorists and lesbians. (Do you think that I’ve included enough links? ) Mr McCain’s purpose is obvious, to separate the basic notions of feminism that I’d guess most women, and even most men, accept, that people ought to be paid equally when they do equal work, and that there should be no bars to school admissions or career opportunities based on sex, which are not absolutely essential,1 from the feminist “leadership.” Mr McCain’s position can be summed up quite briefly: the professional feminists are just plain nuts.
But that leaves the non-nuts part of feminism wide open: it isn’t nuts to think that people ought to have equal opportunities,2 and reap equal rewards, regardless of race or sex. In fact, I’d call that a basic part of capitalism, part of a system which rewards industry and hard work and stick-to-it-ivness; to throw in additional barriers for non-essential reasons is to harm the economy.
It was at this point that I was interested in what Mr McCain had to say:
Unthinking acceptance of simple slogans, a superficial discourse built around glittering generalities — “equality,” “choice,” etc. — is not an ideology, nor could this bland kind of feminism ever have been enough to inspire an enduring political movement. Even while they ignore the chasm between radical theory and their own feminism, however, women seem surprised to find that real life contradicts even the least controversial understanding of “sexual equality”:
I have always found it hard and confusing to be both a feminist and happily married. Why? Because in a good marriage, where both parties are equally happy, no one is keeping score. Feminists emphasize equality of roles, but in a real life marriage, this isn’t always realistic.
If women make equality the measure of their happiness, they are hopelessly doomed to misery in real life, if their ambitions include men, marriage and motherhood. Somewhere, there may be a perfect Feminist Man acceptable to the egalitarian ideal, but feminists generally mock that possibility.
The problem has been succinctly identified: people are keeping score, and, for the feminists, it seems that they must keep score on other people’s marriages.
So, if my wife and daughters are primarily the ones who do the dishes, and if I am exclusively the one who cuts the grass, are these things pretty well balanced out, or will they Offend A Feminist™ because the tasks are not only physically different (though not necessarily difficulty or time-wise different) but plain not identical? If I must wash the dishes exactly as often as the womenfolk, mustn’t they lawn the mow (a Picoism, not a typo) just as often as I do the dishes?
This is the inherent problem with Other People’s Feminism: since equivalent is not equal, and is much more of a judgement call, an adversely inclined judge is going to see these things as inherently unequal. Never mind the fact that God or evolution or Mother Nature decided to build me much taller and stronger than my wife and daughters, and that physical strength is an asset when pushing a mowlawner uphill, any sort of skills-conscious division of labor which does not parcel out tasks exactly identically is inherently cisheteronormatively patriarchal and wholly sexist.
And this is the beginning of where the where the Professional Feminists have veered off into the weeds. It was, I suppose, inevitable, because the Professional Feminists need to have a point of contention, need to pick the nit and blow it up into something monstrous and all-consuming and just plain wrong, or they lose their entire raison d’être, and, in effect, their jobs. If the Professional Feminist has nothing about which to complain, her next complain will be that she’s out of work.
This needs to be pointed out, because men and women are not enemies. We are meant to go together, and the survival of humanity depends upon men and women being together. The Professional Feminists see men as their enemies, because they have to see men as their enemies — something which would explain, as Mr McCain points out, the high concentration of lesbians among the Professional Feminists — but such is the complete opposite of what nature requires our society to be.
The unexceptional feminism, the feminism of common sense, isn’t enough, because those “battles” have already been won. Women no longer need — and I would argue, never needed — Affirmative Action to win collegiate admissions, and women have outnumbered men in college enrollment for decades. If women already outnumber men in collegiate admissions, earn more university degrees than do men, about what can the Professional Feminists complain?3
Conservatives have no objection to the feminism of common sense, and it’s pretty much the way married couples live their lives. Couples, at least happy couples, don’t keep score when it comes to doing the things around the house that need to be done; my wife doesn’t have to tell me to cut the grass, or shovel the snow, because I’m perfectly capable of seeing it myself, and just do it.
That, of course, is the problem for the Professional Feminists. They are losing, at least as far as votes for Republicans versus Democrats are concerned, with married women; it is only amongst unmarried women that the Democrats have an advantage in elections. Given how wedded — pun definitely intended — the Professional Feminists are to the Democrats and liberal politics, their efforts to make men appear to be the enemy of women is actually the least feminist thing that they could do, since marriage is the primary determinant of economic success. Virtually everything that the Professional Feminists do winds up hurting women. But anyone who thought that they were ever concerned with anybody but themselves has really fooled himself; the Professional Feminists would gladly throw every woman who wasn’t among their personal friends right under the bus, as long as it kept them in their positions.
- I am referring here to things such as the bar to women serving directly in the infantry, a prohibition which the Obama Administration is trying to end, but a restriction which is reasonable. I have argued previously that women should be allowed to serve in the infantry, as long as they are capable of meeting the standards impose on male infantrymen, something very few women can do. I would further argue that private institutions may retain sex discriminatory policies, such as the continuation of all male or all female colleges, and that religious institutions may have sexually segregated positions. There is enough variety of opportunity in this country that Bryn Mawr College, for example, can remain all female without imposing any unfair burden on males. ↩
- Note here that equal opportunities does not include special considerations, quotas, set asides or Affirmative Action, and that equal opportunity does not mean equal outcomes. ↩
- Naturally, they came up with something, a claim that when two drunk college students copulate, it’s actually the man raping the woman. A lot more could be written about that, and Mr McCain has, but that isn’t the purpose of this article. ↩