Tuesday, January 4, 2011

What is Feminism? Even Feminists Don't Seem to Know

Christine Odone reports on her Daily Telegraph blog on a new study by London School of Economics economist Cathrine Hakim. Her post is entitled: "So the feminist man-haters and victim-mongers were wrong all along." Here is how she begins:
"Lock up your daughters, here come the feminists! Or rather, the so-called feminists. Because what is “feminist” about teaching generations of women that men are the enemy, all-powerful, oppressive and malevolent? What is feminist about the message that women are victims, passive and powerless?

Absolutely nothing. And finally, after 50 years of this wrong-headed orthodoxy being dressed up as liberating and empowering, a report exposes it as nothing but a big fat myth. Published today, international research by LSE economist Catherine Hakim shows that, far from hating men, women see them as allies in building a family, and want to rely on them as the main breadwinners. Far from being barred from the top jobs by an oppressive patriarchy, women are choosing lower-rung jobs in order to have more time to bring up children and care for elderly parents.

Women are not passive victims of an all-male professional structure designed to catch them out and keep them down. Women are free agents who – surprise, surprise – choose the way their work to suit their lifestyle. I found this out last year when I did some research into working women in Britain. Hakim’s study shows that the same is true across the world. Her research includes countries as different as Britain, Sweden, and Spain, that women around the world prioritise family above career, husbands above autonomy. It must come as a horrible shock to the “feminists” who preached that only a fat salary can fulfill you and only a big title can make you happy.

Read the rest here.

It is interesting to note the use of the word, "feminist," by Odone, who is clearly (and understandably) conflicted over whether the word should be a term of derision (as she uses it in the title) or whether the word should be reclaimed by saying that the so-called "feminism" of the past 50 years (i.e. Second Wave Feminism rooted in the thought of Betty Frieden, Simone de Bouvoir, Gloria Steinham etc.) is only "so-called feminism," presumably as opposed to "real feminism."

What Odone fails to specify (and I don't blame her - I find myself doing the same thing sometimes) is what exactly about recent feminism needs to be rejected. Is it a good thing that some people just take too far? Does that mean women should merely dislike, rather than hating men? Or is feminism good in theory but bad in practice? How can that seriously be maintained? Or is it the cultural Marxism that makes income equality the measure of all things that should be purged? What would be left of Second Wave Feminism if the cultural Marxism were removed?

Until we get these questions clarified, public discourse about feminism will be fraught with confusion and contradictions. Somehow, I think that the agenda of Second Wave Feminism is advanced by this kind of confusion and they have no incentive to clarify anything. This is part of the reason why I think the word itself should be rejected by Christians and the concept of Second Wave Feminism should be allowed to define Feminism. Words do sometimes just die and cannot be revived. Maybe it is time to treat Feminism as the enemy of women, children, the family, Christianity and cultural sanity in general.

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