FEMINISM V. MANKIND: Selected Essays
(Family Publications, 1990, 74pp, $7.50.
Available from Freedom Publishing)
In reading the ten essays contained in this compilation, several interesting facts are brought to light regarding feminism. The most interesting, and ironic, is that feminism, in manifesting itself in the 20th century as a form of socialism, was based on communist theories, and therefore the ideals it espoused about equality between the sexes were originally formulated by men, not women.
Even before Simone de Beauvoir had written The Second Sex in 1949 and Betty Friedan The Feminine Mystique in 1963, the communist Friedrich Engels had written in 1884 that 'the reintegration of the whole female sex into the public industrial sector, with children being raised by the state' was a necessary condition for the liberation of women.
Cornelia Ferreira makes this point in her essay, 'The Destructive Forces Behind Religious Feminism', namely that both De Beauvoir and Friedan drew heavily on socialist and communist theories in their writings.
Engels' views on women and the denigration of motherhood are echoed in the arguments of feminists today, and, indeed, can perhaps be sensed in the policies of governments which concentrate on helping parents access child care but do not offer financial support to mothers who stay at home to care for their children themselves.
Such policies normalise the institutionalisation of child care in an effort to get as many women as possible into the paid workface.
Ferreira points out that Karl Marx 'wanted to abolish the family and make women the property of state,' while Frederick Engels 'lured women' into accepting the 'Marxist design for women.' Simone de Beauvoir's The Second Sex is strongly Marxist and later became the 'bible' of the feminist movement.
As Mary Kenny writes in 'Feminism and the Psychologically Masculine,' Simone de Beauvoir viewed femininity as weak and inferior and masculinity as powerful and liberating. Therefore she envisaged the emancipation of women through their adoption of male characteristics, values and pursuits with traditional women's values of marriage, family and home life being denigrated. Kenny is correct in asserting that much of feminism is 'masculinist.'
In a sad portrait of a society in which feminism has conquered utterly, Katarina Runske writes in 'Empty Hearts and Empty Homes' of the implementation of socialist and feminist policy at all levels of Swedish society. This is a society where the majority of children are in state care from the time they are very young and the majority of women are in the full time workforce. The woman who chooses to stay at home to look after her children is 'regarded as an idiot.'
All discrimination is eliminated, but with a few exceptions: you can discriminate against men, and you can discriminate against women who want to stay home to care for their family.
Employers must have equal numbers of male and female workers and therefore to fill quotas a woman who is not qualified for a position will be chosen over a man who is qualified.
All citizens must pay for the state-run child care centres through their taxes, even those who don't use their services. Meanwhile, the mother who stays at home is offered no financial support whatsoever.
There is an eerie similarity between the description in Runske's essay of the socialist system of institutionalised child care in Sweden and the Australian Federal Government's recent proposal of centralised 'Parent and Child' centres: 'The socialist plan worked and the State provided more and more day-care centres for children ... These centres were equipped with the 'right' toys and the 'right' food ... Doctors or other specialists are called whenever they are needed so that a mother feels confident that her child is receiving the very best care. Indeed young mothers are persuaded that it is better care than they themselves could give their children at home.'
Such a system makes women who care for their children at home feel as if they are putting their own children at a disadvantage by not putting them into state care.
This anti-woman stance is perhaps being sensed by the younger generations of women. In 'The Story of Miss Teen Canada' Betty Steele recounts how young women publicly rejected feminist ideals during the Miss Teen Canada competition in 1990 to the astonishment and dissatisfaction of the media and prominent feminists.
When criticised by the media for their views the contestants responded: 'If that is the kind of world the old feminists would hand down to us [condemning] us to divorce, single parenthood and lonely old age, well, then, are you surprised that we say NO, NO, NO, to feminism and try to reverse the trends? We think Women's Lib has produced many of those miserable conditions ... driving a wedge between men and women.'
Unfortunately it seems that feminism has become so entrenched in our governments, laws, institutions and economic structures, that there is little support for such young women who do not wish to become merely cogs in the socialist economic wheel.
Feminism Vs Mankind provides a good summary of the history and evolution of feminism and also of the many logical and ethical flaws and contradictions it contains.
Perhaps if the history and ideology of feminism was studied more closely, objectively and critically by young women and by feminists today its tenets might not be so blindly accepted, especially in light of the many negative social outcomes it has produced. It is clear that feminism has by and large made life far worse for men, women and children, but those who have paid the highest price for its success are women.
Catherine Sheehan is a research officer with the Thomas More Centre.