Feminism’s Goal

It was obvious to all with eyes to see that when feminism arose as a social and political force in the 1960s it was only tangentially about equal pay for equal work or anything like that. Of course seeking equality for women in the workplace was useful as an issue for enlisting the support of ordinary women, whether they worked outside the home or not.

It was much the same with feminism’s proclaimed goal of eliminating from society a supposed notion of men as superior to women. That wasn’t serious since no one seriously held the notion. It would be like trying to argue that mountains are always superior to the seashore as a place to vacation when it simply depends on whether a person prefers skiing and hiking to swimming and surfing.

To be sure, there had been eruptions of feminism before the 1960s. In the U.S. and England in the early twentieth century, organized women campaigned for the right to vote and were successful, a good thing to those who believe: 1) society should be governed according to the will of the people instead of God’s; and 2) the will of the people is to be determined by majority vote, usually cast by supposed representatives. (Once upon a time Catholics did not believe it. Their view was expressed by the great Bishop Bossuet: “Since the day a popular assembly condemned Jesus Christ to death the Church has known that the rule of the majority can lead to any crime.”)

A little later, in the U.S., feminists joined with other “reformers” to enact Prohibition, another good thing to those who believe drinking alcohol is an evil, as a majority evidently did, at least at the time of enactment. (It’s funny how the “will of the people” changes and God’s never does.)

Voting rights and Prohibition were limited goals. What the feminism born in the 1960s has really been about, in its easily foreseeable result if not in the fully-formed intention of all the ideology’s adherents, is much more consequential. It is nothing less than dissolving the differences between the sexes. This is not to speak of any difference delineated by the old middle-class division of the sexes into femina domestica (the woman at home caring for the children, cleaning house, cooking meals) and homo economicus (the man going out from the home to office or factory to earn the money to support the woman and children). Women, after all, have held down jobs outside the home for as long as such jobs have existed, and men can cook. Indeed, most notable chefs have been and are men.

The fact gets us closer to the differences between the sexes that matter. Have you ever looked at the hands of a professional chef and seen the cuts and burn scars? You may also see a finger, or part of one, missing. The chef’s hands testify to the professional kitchen being a place filled with sharp objects and open fire where much heavy lifting is done and a person is apt to be burned by scalding liquids. It is also noisy, and not simply with the clanging of pots and pans. The air will be thick with the kind of language associated with a military barracks. In a word, a restaurant kitchen is not a place for most women.

There are others that are even less so. Who would hire an all-women moving company? How many women can charge up three flights of stairs in a burning building with a firehose coiled on their shoulder? Is it easy to imagine women on the Seal team sent into Pakistan to kill Osama bin Laden? (There aren’t many men who would be up to it, or the training to make them so.)

What feminists have done, invoking all the while liberal democracy’s twin gods of freedom and equality, is demand the “right” of women to work or serve as furniture movers, firefighters, Navy Seals or anything else, and even if there is only one hypothetical amazon in the land more or less capable of doing the job, and even if selection and performance standards have to be lowered in order to accommodate her. By and large the demand has been met.

The secret of the feminists’ success has been the relentlessness with which they have pressed their demands. A husband may finally give in to his wife’s demands in order to secure a little respite from her nagging. If the nag has wrecked the marriage in the process, what does she care? She gets her way. So it is that society in the formerly Christian West, unmoored from objective truth, has caved in to the feminists’ demands. If they wreck relations between the sexes in the process, what do the feminists care as long as they get their way?

I should say normal relations between the sexes, the kind where a young man is attracted to a young woman, she finds him attractive, and they marry and take great pleasure in each other with children as the result.

(In their relentless nagging feminists do not scruple even to invoke, and misrepresent, the saints. This past Easter Sunday Washington Post columnist Petula Dvorak told readers that “Mary Magdalene’s story is the story of modern women everywhere.” You see, what the “story’s” portrayal of the Apostle to the Apostles as a former prostitute really tells us is how “women who dare to work among men as equals get sexualized and marginalized.”)

Let’s not dwell on it that if anyone is marginalized in society in our day, it is the seriously practicing Christian. Instead, we see as a measure of how far feminism has led us from natural relations between the sexes that the practice of sodomy is now legally recognized as a basis for marriage. Of course that’s not only in the U.S. If polls are correct, the openly gay “husband” of a same-sex partner is poised to become the next prime minister of formerly Catholic Ireland. He will be the second such head of government in Europe following the prime minister of formerly Catholic Luxembourg.

Some readers may object that the social acceptance of homosexuality characteristic of our day is the result of contraception with its reduction of sexual relations to physical sensation, the Pill having obliterated their procreative dimension. That’s true enough, but when the Pill was developed in the 1960s, what gave it social traction was its embrace by women wishing to be “liberated” from having to bear the natural fruits of pleasure, thus making them “equal” with men who could already enjoy the pleasure without the possible consequence of pregnancy.

Be that as it may, little lately has been more illustrative of feminism’s end than the March 27 Time magazine cover article, “Beyond He or She; How a new generation is redefining the meaning of gender.” The cover photo was of an individual who “identifies as queer and gender nonconforming.”

The article itself cited a recent poll showing “20% of millennials identify as something other than strictly straight and cisgender (someone whose gender is in line with the sex they were assigned at birth), compared with 7% of boomers.”

A number of individuals besides the one on the magazine cover were also profiled in the article. One of them refers to himself with the personal pronoun “they.”

This is what happens when the differences between the sexes are dissolved. You get a young man referring to himself as “they.”

Should it be “it”?

At this time it is difficult to imagine what can prevent the final disappearance of the last vestiges of all that formerly constituted the Christian West except a cataclysmic event compelling men and women to see themselves again as God made them. This doesn’t mean remaining Christians — remaining normal men and women — should sit back and wait for it to happen. We need to defend ourselves, and it may have to be by means besides voting for some political candidate we think might save the situation (or make us great again).

“When I sent you without purse, and scrip, and shoes, did you want anything? But they said: Nothing. Then he said to them: But now he that hath a purse, let him take it, and likewise a scrip; and he that hath not, let him sell his coat, and buy a sword.” (Luke 22: 35-36)