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Women And The Feminist’S Fight For Equality Essay, Research Paper
Women and the Feminist’s Fight for Equality
Tara Leigh Matthews
“People who are liberal thinkers have been enslaved by these poseurs, these racketeers, people who are pretending to be liberal but who are in fact just na?ve politically. I have been congratulated by women…who are so sick of being bullied by these sanctimonious puritans who call themselves feminists.” –Camille Paglia
Society has always retained deeply rooted stereotypes in all aspects of life. Whether it is prejudice due to color, creed, or gender, we cannot ignore the differential treatment of specific groups that occurs daily in our world. Although much has been done to alter our views on such matters, can we really suggest that society as a whole has undergone a true metamorphosis and emerged a completely unbiased community? When discussing the topic of gender, we can clearly see a major change in recent history concerning feminist issues. One could say that the idea of feminism began with the women’s suffrage movement. This enduring battle for equal rights ended with the addition of the nineteenth amendment granting women the right to vote. Since then, major strides have been made by women striving to prove themselves equal to their male counterpart. When we look at the role women play in the 21st century, it is hard to imagine the world as it was in centuries past. But how much have we as women truly gained? Are we really equal to men? Do we completely benefit from this feminist movement and lose nothing in the process? I am of the opinion that, while its fundamental goals were of good intent, feminism has created several major problems in today’s society. I believe feminism has reached a stand still and the movement is doing far more to retard its own progress than all of its attackers could ever hope. In its pursuit for fairness and justice, feminism has managed to 1. disrupt stable family lives, 2. alienate men and destruct relations, and finally, 3. discourage true empowerment for women.
There are roles played out by the male and the female that have remained stable and consistent throughout all walks of life for most of our existence. When we study almost any species of being, we see distinctly different jobs carried out by each member of a family. While our text would cite otherwise, I still believe the practical aspects of gender is universal. There are exceptions to every rule in nature and every culture will vary in it’s beliefs and traditions, which would allow for the findings of Ms. Mead in her study of New Guinea. Our text does acknowledge that “men are favored in all of the world’s societies,” which would show the need for change. However, when we truly examine what it is the feminists are trying to accomplish, we can link the feminist movement to the disintegration of the family unit as it is known to be. The proper functioning of a family relies greatly on the division of responsibility. In general, most societies have relied on the male to take on the figure of authority, while the female would tend to the raising of the children and domestic matters. To some this might seem a repressive role for a woman to place herself in, yet it is her role that keeps the family intact. These role distinctions are rooted in biology and remain present and unchanged in almost all primitive societies. It is only our “sophisticated” way of life that has seen fit to make changes in the basic makeup of the family unit.
When the feminist movement began, the woman’s role in her family was not conducive to achieving the goals the founders had envisioned for her. To the feminist, the idea of a weakened family life is inconsequential when compared to the great strides women have made in the world beyond her family. Many feminists are quick to abandon the natural and customary structure of a family in order to seek out what she believes to be a more prominent position in society. I would in no way criticize a woman for seeking to fulfill the potential of her own life. It is when those that think they know right from wrong decide to “protect” their fellow females and force their views upon them that I see a great injustice being carried out.
David Gelernter (1997) states:
They had jobs, but feminists weren’t satisfied; every other woman had to get one too. So they opened fire on homemakers with a savagery that still echoes throughout our culture. A housewife is a “parasite,” [Betty] Frieden writes; such women are “less than fully human” insofar as they “have never known a commitment to an idea.” -Drawing Life, Surviving the Unabomber, Free Press, p. 95
When women are all but forced to enter the workforce to meet feminist ideals, who is at home with their children? Do we not see a correlation between the lack of maternal influence and the path down which our children appear to be headed? Who is teaching the children of our society the difference between right and wrong when neither parent is in the home to guide them? The role of a woman as a nurturer to her children has been replaced by a woman who hurries her children off to a day care facility or a babysitter to make it to work by nine. I can’t imagine that these strangers we are allowing to raise our children have the same vested interest in our children that we as mothers have. A child should be raised in a loving stable environment. Childcare facilities provide neither stability nor love. The only thing constant about daycare facilities is the constant need for new staff due to extraordinarily high turnover rates. The bonding that is imperative for the mental health of a child becomes impossible in such situations.
It used to be that being a mother was a cherished role in society. Today it is apparently nothing more than a burden. It used to be that we made sacrifices for our children. Now it seems that our children are the ones that are being sacrificed. When we denounce our roles as mothers and wives to pursue careers outside the home, we disrupt the family unit. This is not to say that a woman should be denied a career outside the home. I only wish that when one decides to become a mother and a wife, it should be something that is taken seriously and looked upon with respect. By acknowledging the important role a woman plays in her family, we can begin to dispel the idea that the job of a mother and wife puts constraints on her individuality and personal fulfillment.
Feminism strongly suggests that males and females are fundamentally the same. Gloria Steinem, who has obviously never taken Bio 100, would insist that there are no differences between men and women. However, it is clear to most that men and women are distinctly different. Why then are we going to extremes to prove otherwise? Women’s recent economic independence is taking its toll on relationships between men and women. The bond between a man and a woman must be based on trust, mutual respect and sacrifice. When we confuse the relationship with arguments on role and gender, we are adding to an already complicated situation. Men admire and respect accomplishment in the workplace. However, when it comes to personal relationships, we must consider a man’s extremely fragile ego. When a woman becomes a competitor in the workplace, it causes tension in the partnership. There is no question wether or not a woman is capable of excelling in her career. She has proven herself worthy time and time again. Why then do we insist on fighting a battle we have clearly already won? This constant name calling and bickering on the part of the feminist is building a barrier between men and women. Instead of focusing on anger and bitterness, why don’t we work together both in the workplace and at home to better society as a whole? We can succeed in both worlds if that is what we desire. Just let us not forget where our priorities lie.
Another crisis created by feminism is the need to convince women that men are not necessary components of a family. This surely disrupts relations between men and women. When we don’t feel we need men in our lives, we don’t see the danger in creating families without them. When we look at Andrea, the example of a working mother used in our textbook. We see a truly desperate situation. While I genuinely feel for her hardship, I can’t help but wonder why someone in her situation would have three children without the means to support them. While the text points to the societal conditions that lead to her choice, it was still her choice. I’m afraid I don’t agree with the argument that it is the fact that she is a woman that puts her at a disadvantage. I think it is the fact that she made the choice to have a family with an important part of the family unit missing, a father.
The feminist idea that a woman is a constant victim will only hold her back in her accomplishments. By convincing men and our fellow females that we are a group that needs protection and guidance, we do little to improve our position in society. How can we advance in our careers and improve relations by portraying ourselves as helpless victims? I also tend to question the textbooks findings on the gender pay gap. While I am aware of the earnings differences between men and women in the workplace, I don’t think it is quite as high as cited by the text. You can find studies that would state otherwise, it just depends on the results you are looking to get. We would do much more to convince the world of our influence by working together to bring back values in our families and our schools. Our children learn from our example. Is the feminist ideal something we want to pass on to the next generation? We hold our children’s futures in our hands and that is not something to be taken lightly. While we are spending our days fighting a never ending battle to prove ourselves equal to men, our attention is being taken away from those that really require it, our children. Perhaps we would do better by focusing on the future, the men and women of tomorrow, and putting aside the battle that others have encouraged us to fight. We can’t convince a world to have faith in our abilities while feminists control our every move. By acknowledging the need for their guidance and allowing them to regulate our roles in society, we are encouraging the world to see us as helpless and fragile. Let us improve the future not by fighting with men, but by returning our focus to what will truly empower the next generation of women, our sons and daughters. By teaching them the value of a woman’s role in the family and in the workplace, we can be assured of her success in all aspects of society.
I’ve often wondered what life would have been like had I been born a few centuries earlier. I would not have had the opportunity to take part in our country’s elections. I more than likely would never have had the opportunity to continue my education. I certainly would not have had the choice of pursuing any field of interest in my studies, as I would have been very limited in my choices as a woman. For these and many other opportunities, I am thankful for the changes that have taken place. Unfortunately, I feel we have lost a great deal in the process. I think we often confuse the desire to have equal rights with the view that gender differentiation is an oppressive concept that should be abolished. The feminists of today do little more than dissolve the family unit, confuse relationships, and weaken a woman’s role in society. In reality, men and women are very different and instead of trying to completely erase the differences between us, we should embrace them. By acknowledging our separate identities, rather than ignoring them, we would be better able to work together and improve society as a whole.
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