Are feminists our true heroes? Or are they really hypocrites? Feminists have always seen any different treatment on account of sex (unless it is to advance women in the workplace, of course) as harmful to women and all the laws that protected us making us were simply making us inferior to men. Feminists of the 1970s went around campaigning and demonstrating (often resorting to very ugly measures) for complete equality.
The premier feminist lawyer in the 1970s, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, then a professor at Columbia University Law School, argued that all such differences of treatment based on gender were sex discriminatory and should be abolished. She won several Supreme Court Cases on that theory. In state after state, as well as in Congress, feminist lawyers were able to persuade legislators to gender neutralize their laws.
As I have written before, the main thing that feminism did was liberate men from responsibility. There are, of course, many honorable men who support their wives and children and protect them (such as my own husband <3). In the past both men’s groups and women’s groups ganged up together to attack the traditional woman. In reality their attack was on all women in general (the most blatant example being the 1981 Supreme Court case of Rostker vs Goldberg). The goal was a complete androgynous society where both law and custom was blind to one’s sex.
Feminists had not only been attacking women, particularly traditional women, in their literature (think Betty Friedan’s “The Feminie Mystique” where she calls housewives a “parasite”) but they set out, though a series of legislation, to force women out of the home. As Mrs. Chancey writes for Ladies against Feminism:
All of this would be bad enough by itself, but the feminist movement of the 1960s and 1970s did not stop at verbal attacks against wives, homemakers, and mothers. They pushed relentlessly to change laws which both protected wives and mothers and which encouraged men to provide for their own families. They did not rest until they had triumphed through the elimination of the “family wage,” the reduction of tax benefits for single-earner households, and the passage of “no-fault” divorce laws. Sociologist Jessie Bernard (quoted above), remarked that the “very deprivation of assured support as long as they live may be one of the best things that could happen to women” ( The Future of Marriage, 1982). In other words, if men can walk away from marriage easily, leaving women with no support, women will be forced to take up careers whether or not they desire to do so.
This changing of traditional gender roles, sex-neutral laws and women joining the workforce in ever increasing numbers has led women to be deprived of the most precious rights a woman could ever have. Most notably, the right to not only keep her own children, but also the right to raise them. As I have often written, in the earliest days of American history women were not protected from their husbands abandoning them, garnishing their wages- if they did work for money- leaving them on the streets and taking custody of any children they had together. Many in our society still hold onto the belief that this is the way it was all the way up until the time of women’s liberation. Such a belief, however, is false. After the time of the Civil War, many things began to change for women. In the area of child custody, the Tender Years Doctrine was established to where mothers were always granted of custody of young children (save for certain circumstances). It was abolished however, with women’s liberation. It would seem that “in the best interests of the child” would be a victory all the way around. However, rarely is this reality. Taken from the National Organization of Women’s own website (for those that don’t know they were a feminist group established at the time of women’s liberation and fought fiercely for the Equal Rights Amendment as well as stripping women of many other protections and preferences they held under the law):
There is a national crisis for women and their children in the family law courts of this country. Affirmed by experts and leaders in the women’s movement, the existence of this crisis is verified by women in every state who report injustice in their family law cases, especially battered mothers trying to protect their children from abusive fathers who aggressively litigate against them, using family court to stalk, harass, punish, and impoverish their former partners and children. NOW recognizes this crisis for women and their children and seeks to address discrimination against women in family courts.
Also, Phyllis Chesler (you guessed it, a feminist) just published edition number two of her book “Mother’s on Trial: The Battle for Children and Custody;” a book which, in the first edition, Gloria Steinem herself proclaimed the book was “Sure to inspire anger, understanding and action.”
Of course, they are not wrong in their assessments. But, then again, didn’t the feminists go around campaigning for easy divorces and abolition of all the laws that protect women? Quoting Graglia:
“Yet, having been taken seriously by every state legislature in the country and with the divorce revolution accomplished, feminists seek to absolve themselves from the blame, as if society should have known better than to listen to them.”
And once again, Graglia:
The feminist quest for female fungibility with males has led the women’s movement to support the invalidation of laws benefiting and protecting women. This was the thrust, for example, of litigation directed by Ruth Bader Ginsburg when she was director of the Women’s Rights Project of the American Civil Liberties Union and , often using male plaintiffs, secured invalidation of laws that favored women. The theory was that obliteration of all legal sex distinctions would ultimately be in the best interests of working women; those women, including homemakers, who wished to retain the benefits of protective legislation were never the women with whose rights the Project was concerned. In the area of divorce reform, one of the benefits women have lost is the maternal preference which favored awarding custody to the mother. Almost all states now grant men and women a statutory equal right in custody… In order to secure custody, many women will drastically compromise their financial interests: ‘women who are scared to death of losing custody will trade away anything else- child support, property, alimony to keep it from happening.’
“Among the greatest harms done by contemporary feminism has been its support of no-fault divorce laws that enable men to abandon wives and children with minimum guilt and little monetary compensation. It may seem ironic that through its divorce policy a movement supposedly devoted to women’s interests disadvantages women who are homemakers and favors the interests of males who abjure responsibility for wives and children.”
Of course, when women become the breadwinners for the family men almost always use it to their advantage. For decades now, the more a woman makes compared to her husband, the higher the likelihood they will divorce -although currently only 19% of women make more money than their husbands (up from 4% in the 1970s). Many women not only feel the maternal bond pulling her away from the workforce, but many women breadwinners find that they also end up losing complete custody of their children:
… Julie Michaud, who ran her own business, which supported her family, while her unemployed husband cared for the couple’s 7-year-old son and 5-year-old daughter. As Abrahms writes:
Julie sat helpless as Mark’s lawyer argued that he was the one who arranged the playdates, took the kids to the pediatrician and volunteered at their schools. Affidavits from teachers and neighbors attested to his hands-on involvement in their daily lives. Meanwhile, Julie’s long hours at work meant that people in the community didn’t witness just how much parenting she did out of view. No one saw the lunches she packed every morning, the all-nighters she pulled when the kids were sick. “If I could have done things differently,” Julie says today, “I would have made myself supervisible.”
This story is all too common today. More and more mothers are losing custody of their children and forced to take up the traditional male role of supporting their families (which, before women’s liberation was a burden that only men would bear until feminists, as stated above, went state by state to gender neutralize laws and won Supreme Court cases such as Orr vs Orr to make the rest of the states, who hadn’t already conformed, to do so). Women’s liberation has allowed men to have rights with little to no responsibility. As we have gone over in our blogs and book reviews before, 82% of unwed mothers receive no financial support from the father at all. Most unwed fathers never even marry the mother of their child and never take responsibility until it is convenient for them to do so. Feminism has led women to be used and exploited and taught them that careers are the only source of fulfillment and more every day, our society even sees marriage itself as pointless.
“Our Judeo-Christian civilization has developed the law and custom that, since women bear the physical consequences of the sex act, men must be required to pay in other ways. These laws and customs decree that a man must carry his share by physical protection and financial support of his children and of the woman that bears his children, and also by a code of behavior that benefits and protects both the woman and the children.
This is accomplished by the institution of the family. Our respect for the family as the basic unit of society, which is ingrained in the laws and customs of our Judeo-Christian civilization, is the greatest single achievement in the history of women’s rights. It assures a woman the most precious and important right of all- the right to keep her own baby and to be supported and protected in the enjoyment of watching her baby grow and develop.”
1. Schlafly, P., Feminist Fantasies. Spence, 2003.
4. Graglia, C.F., Domestic Tranquility: a brief against feminism. Spence, 1998.
9.Schlafly, P., Feminist Fantasies. Spence, 2003.
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