Righty: Women are designed by nature to bear children and nurture them. You can’t fight anatomy, but the feminists like to think they know better than God. (Did it ever occur to them that most women are happy staying at home to raise their kids?) The women’s movement has been a disaster for Western societies: upsetting the natural division of labor that existed for thousands of years, creating a glut of qualified talent in the job marketplace, unleashing an endless wave of anger and contempt upon innocent men, and — worst of all — transforming women from charming, eager-to-please helpmates into bitchy, belligerent, foul-mouthed adversaries. The shrillness is deafening. No wonder so many American men are looking for Russian mail-order brides.
Lefty: We should all bow down and thank the farsighted sisters who had the cojones to stand up for women’s rights. For thousands of years women had been the slaves and playthings of male brutes: routinely forced into submission as domestics, denied basic human rights, kept barefoot and pregnant throughout their prime years, and cruelly deprived of meaningful careers. Women are able and entitled to perform any work that men can do, and they should sue if denied the opportunity. Women must take control of the educational process so that they can be steered into science, engineering and other traditionally male-dominated fields. We must radically reshape our patriarchal, phallocentric system so that women can prevail over the male power elite and its rapist mentality. The fight is not yet finished.
The New Moderate:
Feminism, like most other isms, is a good idea gone berserk. Who could deny, forty years ago, that women deserved to be taken seriously? That they needed to be liberated, at least a good part of the time, from mandatory domestic drudgery? That they were entitled to pursue distinguished and remunerative careers without having to choose between work and family?
So far, so good. Any man of civilized instincts would have been receptive to such a movement. Most of us hadn’t realized how systematically we had been taking women for granted as personal assistants and bedtime snuggle-bunnies. We simply needed to have our eyes opened.
The feminist leadership opened our eyes, all right — and then proceeded to gouge them out. As with most “progressive” movements, the extremists commandeered the vessel. What a shrill, venomous and repellent lot they were! What bilious, over-the-top hatred they spewed at the hapless male of the species! Men were oppressors, exploiters and rapists — from the cradle, of course. Gender differences were merely a patriarchal social construct imposed upon society by insecure males. (Of course, men were evil and oppressive — but other than that the sexes were identical.)
What did these man-eaters think they would gain by savaging the very people they needed to persuade? If they hoped to alienate an entire generation of men, they probably succeeded. The vituperative rhetoric droned on for upward of thirty years — enough to turn a reasonable moderate like me into a cranky adversary. I grew weary of the incessant man-bashing, the automatic denigration of everything male. I resented having to feel guilty about crimes I never committed.
The real revolution had already taken place during the late 1960s and early 1970s, as women enrolled at formerly male colleges, graduated from law and medical schools in vastly increased numbers, and routinely entered the workforce as well-compensated professionals. So why did we require another thirty years of divisive rhetoric? Why, even as we entered the new millennium, were overheated feminists still calling for the elimination of “sexist” words like history?
My theory is that some people thrive on anger, as long as it’s focused on an object outside themselves. The radical feminists essentially used men as lightning rods for their hostility; we absorbed their destructive energy and rendered it harmless. Harmless to the feminists, anyway. I have to wonder, as should most men, if serving as the recipient of all that negative energy has been hazardous to my health.
But men weren’t the only victims of the feministas. Women who chose to stay home and indulge their maternal instincts were derided as ninnies and counter-revolutionaries. (Amazing how a movement of, by, and for women habitually rained contempt on feminine traits and values.) And many of the women who manned the barricades to enter the workforce began to wonder if their brilliant careers were worth the price: ridiculous hours, grinding stress, estrangement from the home front, sacrifice of personal pleasures… in short, an empty emotional bank account. Women were beginning to hate their jobs as much as men always did.
It should always trouble a moderate soul when a good idea goes berserk. (Think of the French Revolution and its bloody excesses, or the abuses of Commie-hunters during the McCarthy era.) In the future, we New Moderates have to guard against the perversion of fundamentally sound principles by rabid ideologues. When the extremists take command of an otherwise worthy movement, we should make every effort to dump them overboard. We’re more important than we realize.
Summary: The women’s movement was a worthy cause dominated by strident ideologues, who led it astray and used it as an excuse for relentless man-bashing.