Nature provides some animals with weapons with which to fight their enemies – horns, claws, teeth, etc. Other animals and plants she provides with alternative defences which dissuade their would-be-predators from attacking, defences such as colours and smells which tell the would-be predator not to waste its time. Sometimes these colours or smells indicate that the life-form is poisonous and inedible. Other life-forms have colour defences that are a bit more sneaky, such as spots which mimic the appearance of eyes to make it seem to the predator that it is being looked at when it is not.
Feminism, one of the most prominent errors of the modern age, is an ideology with a built-in defence that is similar to that of plant and animals with colour defences. The natural enemy of feminism is the traditional social order built upon the patriarchal family. Since feminism is a movement which purports to speak for women, to champion their rights and demand justice for them, however, an attack upon that movement often bears the appearance of an attack on the fairer sex. To attack women runs contrary to the principles of those who believe in, defend, and uphold the traditional order, particularly those principles enshrined in the laudable system of courtly behaviour that we call chivalry.
Yet attack feminism we must. All around us we see the deleterious effects which feminism has had upon our families, communities, and societies. Marriages which are less binding than business contracts and divorces which are easy to come by. Children being raised without the presence, protection, and provision of a father even though their father is living and might desperately wish to be a father to his children. Thousands of unborn human lives being terminated each year in the name of a woman’s “right to choose”. These outrages and countless others have been caused in whole or in part by the feminist movement. (1)
How can we criticize and challenge this movement while being true to the principles of chivalry?
To do so we must be aware that while feminism calls itself “the women’s movement” it is at its core an extremely misogynistic movement. (2)
Now to many that might seem to be strange accusation. The misandry of the feminist movement is plain to see in its use of rhetoric that equates all men with rapists and wife-beaters, in its support for sexual harassment accusations against men for nothing more than complimenting a woman on her looks, and in the countless humiliations that it demands men undergo in the name of “gender sensitivity”. It is not unusual to hear feminism being spoken of as anti-male. We don’t often hear it accused of being anti-female.
Yet the accusation is true.
The institutions that feminism has attacked, such as marriage and the traditional family, exist for the good of both men and women and the attack on these institutions hurts both men and women. Yet if one of the sexes benefits more than the other from these institutions and is hurt more than the other when they are weakened and collapse, surely it is the female sex rather than the male sex. By attacking these institutions, then, feminism hurts women even more than it hurts men.
This is true even without taking into consideration the trauma many women undergo as the result of having an abortion or the heartbreak others face when they find that they can no longer conceive a child because they allowed themselves to be convinced by feminist rhetoric that a career is more important than motherhood and so spent their optimal child-bearing years climbing the corporate ladder.
Feminism is also misogynistic in a deeper, more fundamental way, than in the harmful effects it has on women. Feminism, in its most basic ideas, is a hatred of women qua women, and a desire to replace both women and men with “individuals” whose biological sex is among their secondary, accidental properties rather than their primary, essential, characteristics. The female characteristics which define women as women are particularly hateful to the feminist movement because they stand in the way of its achieving this goal.
Let us consider what those characteristics are and how feminism hates them.
The human species is divided into two sexes, male and female. This division of mankind into man and woman is more basic, more fundamental, more important than any other distinctions, biological or cultural. It is the nature of sex that the two sexes have a complementary relationship with each other. Men are inwardly drawn towards forming a sexual union with women, and vice versa, and it is out of this union of the sexes that the species is propagated. Thus the survival of the family, the community, the society, the nation, the country, the race, and the species all depend upon the union of the sexes.
Human beings are not the only sexual species, and biologically the definition of female that applies across the board, is that the female is the sex which produces the larger gamete. Genetically, we can distinguish the human sexes by a single chromosome pair. The female has a pair of X chromosomes, whereas the male has one X chromosome paired with a Y chromosome. Even without the help of such scientifically precise definitions, however, people know how to distinguish between men and women.
The most important differences between men and women have to do with reproduction. Men have an external sexual organ which is placed inside the complementary female sexual organ in the act of copulation. During this act the male gamete is transferred to the woman’s body where it fertilizes the female gamete. Conception takes place within the woman’s body, the fertilized egg implants itself in the woman’s womb, and she becomes pregnant. She then bears the child for a period of nine months as it grows inside her, drawing its nourishment from her body. Then she gives birth to the baby. The child is born helpless to survive on its own and unable at first to consume solid food. The woman’s mammary glands secrete a milk that nourishes the baby until it can be weaned off of its mother’s milk.
So far these are the plain facts and are, as such, indisputable. There is also an inescapable conclusion to be drawn from these facts – that pregnancy, childbirth, and the raising of children necessarily involve a larger investment on the part of women than on the part of men. There is one other conclusion which logically follows from this:
Since women have a larger biological role in the production and raising of children then men it follows that in the internal inclinations which influence thought patterns and behavior women will have a corresponding bent towards motherhood.
That this is not only a logical conclusion but actual fact, all normal people acknowledge. It is a problem for feminists, however, because it interferes with their vision of an egalitarian society, free of prescribed gender roles. (3) If women are themselves naturally inclined to make choices that prioritize motherhood and childrearing then a society in which women occupy half the seats in parliament, are half of the corporate CEOs, and half of every other position down the ladder, will never be chosen freely by either sex. Thus an important feminist writer said:
No women should be authorized to stay at home and raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one. (4)
This is the conclusion that feminism logically points to. Feminism’s goals cannot be achieved if women choose to become mothers and make the raising of their children their priority. Women’s own nature inclines them towards this choice, therefore feminism, to progress towards its goals, must take that choice away.
Not all feminists were willing to take their doctrine to that natural conclusion. Betty Friedan, for example, the author of The Feminine Mystique, the founder and first president of NOW, and the person who took the interview with Simone de Beauvoir from which the above quotation was taken, famously disagreed and indeed, wrote an entire book in which she expressed her disagreement.(5) Note however that while Friedan was gracious enough to concede that women could be wives and mothers if that was their own choice she continued to rank the pursuit of a career outside the home as more important than motherhood and remained for the rest of her life a leader in the movement which demanded free, accessible, and legal abortion and free daycare, paid for by the taxpayer, to make it easier for women to put such careers first.
To de Beauvoir, motherhood was an unacceptable choice which should be taken away from women. To Friedan, motherhood was an acceptable choice, but an inferior one to a career in the business world. Neither was happy with women as they were naturally – biologically made to bear and raise children and psychologically inclined so to do. In this we see the deep misogynistic nature of feminism.
Opponents of feminism are often accused of making the mistake of treating the social norms of the 1940’s and 1950’s as set-in-stone universals. There is a degree of justice to this accusation. The 1950’s ideal, of the husband/father earning the family’s bread in an office or factory, while the wife/mother stays at home and cleans and cooks while raising the children, was a quite recent development. In the early days of industrial capitalism women frequently had to work in factories out of necessity – one set of wages alone was not sufficient to keep a family sheltered, clothed, and fed. In the early 1900’s, the achievement of the family wage, whereby a husband was able to support a stay at home wife and children on a single paycheck, was considered to be a sign of social progress. Ironically, the earlier women’s movement, which the women’s liberation movement of the 1960’s and subsequent feminists lay claim to being the successors to, campaigned for this wage.
While the 1950’s ideal family is not a universal model for all mankind it does reflect social universals which are based upon the intrinsic nature of men and women. The primary role of women in any society is to bear and raise children and whatever else they do, in the home or out of it, tends to be subservient to this role. Men, on the other hand, are expected to protect their wives and children, to provide for their material needs, and to be the voice of law and authority. These are the core essentials of the male and female roles – the way they look in practice will vary from society to society, and will also change within a society as economic and other factors change. The division of labour between male and female that is appropriate to a hunter-gatherer society will not be appropriate to an advanced agricultural society, nor will the division of labour appropriate to an agrarian society be appropriate to an industrial society. In whatever form the roles for male and female occur, however, the more they conform to the essentials given above, the better off the society will be, and the further from those essentials they get, the worse off the society will be.
In noting that the specifics of what is expected of men and women change while the core essentials – hopefully – remain intact, because the nature upon which they are based does not change, an interesting observation can be made about how the labour expected of men has changed which sheds some interesting light on the nature of feminism.
Modernism has turned work into a necessary evil for most men. While an argument can be made that work has always been a necessary evil and that this fact was recognized in such ancient texts as Genesis 3:17-19, what I mean here is that a mitigating factor has been removed by modernism. That factor is the sense of vocation.
A “vocation” is the sense that one has been called to or assigned one’s labour by God, the universe, and/or nature and that in performing one’s work one is therefore fulfilling the purpose for which one exists. A sense of vocation allows a man to perform his work as a good in and of itself rather than merely as a means towards a good end. Modernism has, for most men, eroded this sense of vocation. The modern age is an age of materialism. The message of materialism is that the physical world, immediately available to the senses, is either all that there is, or all that we can be sure of, and that therefore we must orient our lives entirely towards the physical world, finding the good and happiness, if they are to be found, in the physical world. This message has become ubiquitous throughout the Western world in the modern age and the economic systems that have developed in the Western world in that era – including both capitalism and socialism – developed to reflect that materialism.
This has had devastating consequences for men’s sense of vocation. If the material world is all that exists – or must be practically treated as such – then the end or purpose for work must be contained within the physical world. The result is that work is no longer something which a person is called to do by a higher Being or to fill a higher purpose but something which is performed solely for the end of obtaining the money needed to sustain one’s existence and support one’s family. There are a few exceptions, such as the clergy, where a sense of vocation remains but otherwise, for most men in the modern economy work has become “the old grind”.
Nature abhors a vacuum, and one way in which many have sought to fill the vacuum left by the absence of vocation is with careerism. A career is not just a job but a way of systematically organizing one’s employment over the course of one’s life so as to rise the economic and social ladders and achieve a place of relative wealth and power. A career is a poor substitute for a vocation. It easily becomes an idol and many are the men who have sacrificed the things which make work bearable in the modern economy – marriage, wife, and family – for their careers, only to realize that the rewards of wealth and power are no compensation for these losses.
What modernism has taken away from most men it cannot take away from women. Motherhood is intrinsic to women in such a way that no amount of materialistic dogma can strip that sense of vocation from it. This is why if you wish to find someone on this planet who displays genuine happiness, contentment, satisfaction and fulfillment, your best bet is to look for a woman who has just given birth, and if you wish to find someone who loudly proclaims that they possess those things while all other indicators suggest otherwise, you look for a woman has chosen an ambitious career over motherhood.
Feminism tells women that they need to be independent individuals, who ignore what society traditionally expects of them, who do not allow themselves to be defined by their biology, and who determine for themselves “what it means to be a woman”, recommending that they do the latter by opting for an ambitious career in aggressive competition with men rather than being a mother. It tells women that they should voluntarily abandon a natural, fulfilling vocation in favour of something that is an unsatisfactory substitute for vocation in the lives of most men.
Surely only an intense hatred of women qua women could be behind such a suggestion.
With feminism’s true anti-woman nature exposed, the call can now go forth to those knights-errant in whose chest the flame of chivalry still burns, if indeed any still exist in this cold, materialist, age, to take up arms and rescue the damsels in distress from the misogynistic dragon of feminism. (6) We will now wrap up this essay up by considering two of the many lies with which this subtle serpent hopes to deceive the Eves of our present day to their own destruction and in so doing bring ruin to our societies and civilization.
The first is the lie that traditional sexual morality was unfair to women, that the overthrow of that morality in the sexual revolution has benefitted women, and that women should embrace promiscuity and experimentation. (7)
At first it seems incredible that anyone could actually believe this. Traditional sexual morality declared that sexual intercourse was to be reserved for the marriage bed and was wrong outside of wedlock for male and female alike. These rules could hardly be considered unfair to women. If anything, they were drawn up explicitly to ensure that women are treated fairly. By restricting sexual intercourse to marriage, in which a man and woman have pledged themselves to each other for life, the rules declare that men are not to take advantage of women by sleeping with them if they are not willing and committed to helping raise the children that may result.
This is not where feminism claims to find the unfairness. The traditional code of sexual behaviour included more than just the “no sex outside marriage” rule. There were prescribed roles for men and women – men were to woo women and women were to accept or reject their advances. They were not supposed to accept men’s attentions too quickly, much less be the first to show interest. The importance of pre-marital chastity was more impressed upon women then upon men, women were more harshly judged for breaking the rules than men, and the burden of responsibility for waiting until marriage was made to weigh more upon women then upon men.
This is what feminists call “the double standard”. They have frequently exaggerated it, (8) but more importantly they have missed the whole point. If society traditionally treated female observance of the rules of sexual conduct as being more important than male observance of such rules it was not in order to deny girls a privilege of “having fun” given to boys. It was because the natural consequences of disobeying the rules are harder on women than on men. It is women, not men, who get pregnant. It is therefore, more important for a woman, that the man she allows to potentially impregnate her be bonded to her in a life-time agreement to live and raise their children together, than it is important for a man, that the woman he sleeps with be in such a relationship with him. This does not mean that it is not important for a man at all – it is better for a man to have all his children with his wife than for him to have them with multiple women scattered all over town – just that it is more important for a woman. Whatever the feminists might say about the so-called “double standard” it existed for the benefit of women and not for the benefit of men at the expense of women.
The leaders of the feminist movement insisted that traditional sexual ethics and the “double standard” be done away with. In its place, they supported the sexual revolution and its idea that so long as it is mutually consensual and between adults, all sexual intercourse should be not only legal, but also free from social and moral judgement. Women, the feminists declared, should not only be free to, but should be encouraged, to be sexually aggressive, to initiate relationships, and to have multiple partners outside of marriage. To ensure that their ability to do so is not impeded by practical considerations, the feminist movement demanded cheap and effective birth control, legal and easily attainable abortion, and government daycare centres.
How has all that worked out?
The sexual revolution has damaged society and harmed women in particular. The removal of the stigma from single motherhood has not removed the hardships of single motherhood which the stigma existed to warn women against in the first place. Open female promiscuity has not led to a greater respect for women on the part of men – quite the opposite. Now that cohabiting with unmarried lovers has become socially acceptable women have discovered that live-in boyfriends are far more likely to abuse them than husbands.
One of the most observable results of the sexual revolution is that sex has become a very big business. Prostitution and pornography have been around since the beginning of time but since the sexual revolution the line between them and mainstream commerce seems to have been erased. Simone de Beauvoir had written that women were historically treated as “the second sex.” What she meant by that was that everything was defined from a male perspective, in which men were the default, the norm, and women were “the other”. Men were the subject, women the object. In this brave new world of big business sex which feminism and the sexual revolution have opened up for us, however, women are not so much objects as commodities.
There is a very real sense in which we can say that the exploitation of women did not truly begin until the sexual revolution opened the door for it.
The second feminist lie is the idea that for women to be excluded from any profession is unjust discrimination which denies women their due rights. An inevitable conclusion, if this idea is accepted, is that women should be allowed to serve in the armed forces in combat situations. Indeed, the feminist would even go further and say that it is not so much a matter of women “being allowed” to do so, as that it is their natural right to do so. If it is women’s natural right to fight as combat soldiers, the reasoning continues, the only reason they would be denied this right is to deny them career opportunities which they need to be fully equally with men.
As logical as that line of reasoning is, it not the reason why most societies throughout history have found the idea of sending women into combat repugnant. Women have been assigned by nature the role of growing new lives in their bodies, giving birth to them, then nurturing them with their milk. War, which deals in death and destruction, is the exact opposite of that. To send women out to fight in war is like ordering a doctor to spread illness or hiring a teacher to promote ignorance. Furthermore, to send women out to fight is to deliberately place them in harm’s way, and to do that is to do the opposite of the role nature has assigned men – to protect and provide for their women and children.
Those few of us who still believe in the old order of things and in the principles of chivalry are opposed to the idea of placing women in harm’s way by sending them out to fight in battle. Feminists insist that for women to have equal rights they must be so sent into the midst of gunfire and explosions. It is a sad commentary, on the modern ideal of equality, that it can make people so foolish as to believe that it is the feminists who have the best interests of women at heart.
(1) “To be blunt, feminism ranks as the most radical and potentially corrosive movement of our time—one that, not unlike a virulent computer virus, is steadily erasing all of our accumulated thoughts and knowledge.” This statement was made by the late Dr. Elizabeth Fox-Genovese in the entry entitled “feminism” found on pages 306-307 American Conservatism: An Encyclopedia, (Wilmington, Delaware: ISI Books, 2006). Dr. Fox-Genovese was at one time a feminist herself, and the author of an interesting inside critique of feminism, Feminism Without Illusions: A Critique of Individualism (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1991). As the subtitle indicates she was unhappy with the strain of liberal individualism which pervaded much of feminism. A few years after that she joined the Roman Catholic Church and became a social and political conservative. Roughly around that time she published a book entitled Feminism Is Not the Story of My Life": How Today's Feminist Elite Has Lost Touch with the Real Concerns of Women (New York: Nan A. Talese, 1996) which criticized the leadership of the feminist movement for, among other things, speaking only for the interests of white, middle-class, suburban women and interpreting their interests as being those of all women. This was published ten years before she wrote the entry on feminism quoted above, which can be taken as her final word on the subject, as she died the year after it was published.
(2) As Svein Sellanraa has recently put it: “In a word – and this is the central paradox of an ideology that has now become so closely intertwined with womanhood that those who oppose it are often said to be “against women” – feminists hate femininity” http://orthosphere.org/2012/02/19/sluts-and-double-standards/
(3) In the 1960’s and 1970’s, feminists adamantly denied that there were any essential differences between the male and the female mind and personality and that such differences as were observable were the result of social conditioning. One still hears this position today, although studies in how the male and female brain develop differently have made it much less tenable. Different forms of feminism have also emerged which differ from each other on this matter. Carol Gilligan, in In A Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women’s Development (Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard University Press, 1982) wrote “At a time when efforts are being made to eradicate discrimination between the sexes in the search for social equality and justice, the differences between the sexes are being rediscovered in the social sciences”. (p. 6) In this book, Gilligan argued that psychological theory, especially that of Sigmund Freud and Lawrence Kohlberg, displays a sexual bias which she also finds in literature, religion, and mythology, in defining the male as the norm. Doing so, she argued, makes the female into the deviant, and this is an injustice that can only be rectified by recognizing that men and women look at things differently and that both ways are equally valid. While this might sound at first, like an affirmation of the different innate natures of male and female, which the traditional social order was built upon, it is in fact something quite different, a denial of the universal and the objective in reason and science. Gilligan’s book became a foundational text for “difference feminism”, i.e., the kind of feminism which argues that yes, men and women are different, but that science, reason, literature, the arts, politics, and religion have all been unfairly slanted towards the male, and must now be reconstructed to include and reflect the female. This kind of feminism is quite postmodern in its subjectivity as well as totalitarian in its social engineering and has thus found itself an enemy within the feminist camp, in such feminists as Christina Hoff Sommers, Cathy Young, and Camille Paglia, who believe in classical liberalism, which is based upon the idea that universal and objective truth is available through the pursuit of reason and science. Both versions of feminism are, of course, hostile to the idea that the traditional social order, with distinct roles for men and women, is reflective of innate differences between the sexes, which universal and therefore part of objective truth. It is noteworthy that Gilligan left open the question of the origin of the different voices she was hearing, suggesting, in a kind of anti-Nietzschean way that female voice has added value because of the injustices women have experienced in the past.
(3) Simone de Beauvoir, interview in Saturday Review, June 14, 1975. Simone de Beauvoir was the author of many books including the feminist The Second Sex, first published in 1949. She was an existentialist, atheist, leftist, and the live-in girlfriend and doormat of Jean Paul Sartre.
(4) The Second Stage, (New York: Abacus, 1983). Note the similarity between the title and that of the book mentioned in the preceding footnote. It is probably not a coincidence.
(5) In reality, in the oppressive thought climate of the day, dominated by a rigid left-wing orthodoxy, the strongest challenges to feminism are most likely to come from women, just as the most poignant critiques of liberal immigration policies seem to come from people who are themselves immigrants. An example of such a challenge can be found in F. Carolyn Graglia’s Domestic Tranquility: A Brief Against Feminism (Dallas: Spence Publishing Company, 1998).
(6) By “traditional sexual morality”, I mean, of course the traditional sexual ethics of the Western world before the sexual revolution, i.e., those derived from the teachings of the Christian faith and classical philosophy.
(7) There is the claim, for example, that before feminism and the sexual revolution, promiscuity was condemned in women while celebrated and cheered among men. This claim is only valid if conversations in the locker rooms of adolescent male athletes are regarded as being indicative of the normative values of a society. Some feminists have claimed that the Western literary canon is full of male characters who are admired for their multiple seductions of women. While there are some characters who seem to fit this description, such as Ian Fleming’s James Bond, this character type seems to be more often used as an example of what not to do than as a role model to follow. This is certainly the case for Lothario in “The Fair Penitent”. Perhaps the most obvious example is of Don Juan. Like Lothario, and Casanova who was a real person, Don Juan’s name has become synonymous with womanizer. It is difficult to argue that he is portrayed as an admirable role model when every version of his story ends with him being dragged down to hell. The most famous version is the opera Don Giovanni with a libretto by Lorenzo Da Ponte set to music by W. A. Mozart. Leporello in his aria, “Madamina, il catalogo è questo” may sound like he is boasting of his master’s conquests, but this is only if you listen to it by itself, out of context. In context, he is trying to convince Donna Elvira that Giovanni is not worthy of her.
The Sixties: the Great Unraveling
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