Recently, Time conducted a poll in which it asked its readers to decide which words should be banned during the upcoming year. Surprisingly, the poll included the word “feminist” as an option. Also surprisingly- or not- “feminist” led the poll. Quite a few articles were written in response to this, many of which were written by feminists dismayed at Time’s insensitivity. These writers argue that our world is not yet steeped in enough feminism, that there is a sort of exhaustion about this word because its opponents have truly sought to undermine its message.
I have never been in favor of censorship, nor do I hate women. In fact, I truly appreciate John Paul II’s efforts to praise the feminine genius. I cannot count how many times I have read his Letter to Women or been awed by Mulieris Dignitatem: documents that so beautifully praise our feminine nature, understand the purpose for which we are created, and truly see our dignity and potentiality without ignoring the great value of that which sets us apart from men. I find John Paul II’s feminism much more convincing and much more concerned with our true well-being than the sort of feminism which argues that we should play-pretend (pardon the coinage) to be men.
I do not mean to discuss whether Time’s insensitivity offended many feminists, nor do I mean to offend them myself. I understand that there is a wide range of views within feminism. Yet as I read the responses to the poll, I couldn’t help but wonder whether it really is surprising that many today would be tired of the word ‘”feminist.”
I specifically want to address the kind of feminism that seeks to steal women’s femininity and presents a liberated masculine woman as the model to follow for all women. Many who wrote against the poll don’t think that the ideology’s influence has been effective enough. A woman writing for The Washington Post states that she “keep[s] trying to imagine a universe in which too many public figures declaring themselves feminists would be a bad thing.” Of course, she goes on to argue, this universe would have to be one in which Feminism has already triumphed and is unnecessary. A world
…where women enjoy unlegislated reproductive freedom and have easy, affordable access to birth control. Women who miscarry wouldn’t be charged with homicide, as was an Iowa woman who fell down the stairs while pregnant. Women would be paid the same as men. They would be free from the threat of violence, harassment and sexual assault while going about their lives. Women would be able to rebuff a man’s advances without getting killed, as 27-year-old Detroit resident Mary Spears was last month. They would be able to participate in intellectual debates without disagreement being couched in terms of their looks or sexuality. In this universe, where women would be free to simply live their lives, “feminist” would become an antiquated term. I’d be tired of hearing it, too.”
One of the things that has baffled me about feminism is its apparent desire to cure all evils in this world-for women that is- as if it could. It seems silly to me to say that we can eradicate all violence and all misjudgment with an ideology; we don’t live in a perfect world, but I wouldn’t say that these evils happen simply because feminism has not been very successful in permeating and shaping the general consciousness of our society. Aside from the sad reality of sin, which targets both men and women equally, her strand of feminism has obtained much of what the author claims it seeks. We have easy access to birth-control, abortion, many academics who are women, and the freedom to simply live our lives.
When I look around me, I see this kind of feminism everywhere. All I have to do to find its message is open a magazine or turn the TV on. In libraries one can easily find children’s books in which princesses turn princes into toads because they don’t want to marry them, books in which all men are depicted as pigs with curly little tails, and books in which women get told time and time again that they can do it all better than men can! If I open my eyes I can see the manner in which women carry themselves, the governmental efforts to push birth control and abortion at the expense of our religious freedom, and let us not forget our president’s recent comment that being a stay at home mother is not a choice we want women to make in this country… feminism which seeks to take femininity away from women really is everywhere.
Turn on the TV and look at family comedy. Men, especially fathers, are depicted as dumb, optional figures who cannot do a single thing right and who need their smarter wives and daughters to get through everyday life. Look at other shows which center around the attractive young professional woman who is divorced and does it all. Look at the toys and articles sold to little girls. I am thinking even to my own childhood in which “girl power” school supplies were the thing to have. Look at how many more women are attending higher education institutions than men; see how much better they are doing academically than their male counterparts.
The message of this kind of feminism is everywhere, but it is not only its message that we often encounter. We also often see its effects. The Washington Post had another opinion article posted the same day. This one discussed the fact that 40% of new marriages today are re-marriages. The author claims that this is “a phenomenon driven by an aging society where traditional patterns of marriage have shifted dramatically in recent decades.” The articles cites a John Hopkins professor who states that because of the high divorce rate, there are now more people who are in a position to get remarried than ever before, especially the baby-boomers, whom he states, “experienced more divorce than any generation in history.” The first generation who truly bought anti-femininity-feminism has seen the highest divorce rates in history! This is only another of the long list of statistics showing the effects that feminism and the sexual revolution have already had in our society.
The baby boomers had children, many of whom they raised according to the principles of feminism and sexual freedom. Hymowitz, in her book Manning Up, states that modern women are not all radical feminists, but many of them grew up wanting “it known that they are first and foremost capable, self-contained units. Career and independence required. Love, marriage, husbands, and children entirely optional.” (p.72) These women were raised with the principles of feminism all around them which their parents’ generation embraced.
Today, there is a significant drop in the percentage of people who choose to get married and of those who decide to tie the knot, most decide to do it later in life than they used to; there is a significant increase in the rate of cohabitation, and there are more and more children being born into fatherless homes. Often times this is because men don’t want to commit; they don’t have to! Woman has told man that she can do it all alone and released him from the responsibility of caring for her and for her children. In 2013, The Wall Street Journal reported that the leading group of births is actually single-women in their 20’s and that today about two-thirds of all American women have had a child out-of-wedlock by the time they turn 30. There is so much evidence of the heartache that broken families and absent fathers cause to children and to women. The effects are felt also in our society as a whole. It is tremendously sad that this is caused in a great way by the very same philosophy that meant to liberate women and to let them “simply live their lives” as the author of The Washington Post article claims.
It is absolutely true that the efforts to help women’s true interest are commendable and even noble, but after seeing the aggressive campaign of a feminism that claims we need more sexual freedom and radical autonomy, is it any wonder that maybe, just maybe, a part of the population may be tired of the word “feminist”?
The opinions expressed by the DPS blog authors and those providing comments are theirs alone; they are not necessarily the expressions or beliefs of either the Dead Philosophers Society or Holy Apostles College & Seminary.