Tuesday, March 19, 2013

As Feminism Fizzles

Some insist that that it’s a “fake trend,” but feminism seems to be breathing its last.

I’ve been following this trend for some time now, so I am heartened to see others joining the conversation. Yesterday, New York Magazine ran a long cover article about the decline and fall of feminism.

The magazine’s editor, Adam Moss is among the best at spotting trends, so people around town took notice.

Obviously, it’s going to take some time to undo four decades of feminism. Still, people are speaking about feminism differently than they weres. They are feeling freer to detach themselves from its dogmas, even to the point of refusing to follow its life plan.

At the same time, many women insist on calling themselves feminists and many young men still say that they want egalitarian marriages. More and more it's feeling like lip service.

Ostensibly, Lisa Miller’s New York Magazine article tells the story of Kelly Makino, a woman who chose to quit her job and stay home to care for her home and her children. Makino chose to be a full time housewife and homemaker.

Naturally, she still calls herself a feminist and insists that she is furthering the cause, but that really suggests that in a world that respects diversity of opinion, people in certain neighborhoods feel too threatened to deviate from the party line.

Regardless of how many women are giving up their jobs in order to become full time housewives and homemakers, the important point about Miller’s article is this: it destigmatizes homemaking.

You may not remember, but once upon a time feminists decided that “wife” was the worst thing you could call a woman. No self-respecting woman would ever suggest that she wanted to be a homemaker.

Both roles were stigmatized because their bearers were colluding with patriarchal oppression.

Women were told, and in many cases are still told to defer marriage to develop their careers. No one really cared whether that was what women really wanted. It was what feminists wanted for women, and that was all that mattered.

In many ways these dogmas continue to exercise their nefarious influence. Most women in college today will insist that they place career ahead of family. Of course, if they say otherwise they will be quickly ostracized.

Thus, it is noteworthy to read these words in New York Magazine.

Lisa Miller writes:

Feminism has fizzled, its promise only half-fulfilled. This is the revelation of the moment, hashed and rehashed on blogs and talk shows, a cause of grief for some, fury for others. American women are better educated than they’ve ever been, better educated now than men, but they get distracted during their prime earning years by the urge to procreate. As they mature, they earn less than men and are granted fewer responsibilities at work. 

And Miller has revised her view of the revolution that Betty Friedan incited:

Reading The Feminine Mystique now, one is struck by the white-hot flame of Betty Friedan’s professional hunger, which made her into a prophet and a pioneer. But it blinded her as well: She presumed that all her suburban-housewife sisters felt as imprisoned as she did and that the gratification she found in her work was attainable for all. That was never true, of course; the revolution that Friedan helped to spark both liberated women and allowed countless numbers of them to experience financial pressure and the profound dissatisfactions of the workaday grind. More women than ever earn some or all of the money their family lives on. But today, in the tumultuous 21st-century economy, depending on a career as a path to self-actualization can seem like a sucker’s bet.

The feminist life plan as “sucker’s bet.” That is radical indeed.

The reasoning behind the decision shows how far women have deviated from feminist orthodoxy. Kelly Makino, the subject of Miller’s article, explains that perhaps women do not have to be both boys and girls. Perhaps it’s good enough just to be girls.

Miller reports:

“The feminist revolution started in the workplace, and now it’s happening at home,” says Makino. “I feel like in today’s society, women who don’t work are bucking the convention we were raised with … Why can’t we just be girls? Why do we have to be boys and girls at the same time?” She and the legions like her offer a silent rejoinder to Sandberg’s manifesto, raising the possibility that the best way for some mothers (and their loved ones) to have a happy life is to make home their highest achievement.

She continues:

Now Kelly is 33, and if dreams were winds, you might say that hers have shifted. She believes that every household needs one primary caretaker, that women are, broadly speaking, better at that job than men, and that no amount of professional success could possibly console her if she felt her two young children—­Connor, 5, and Lillie, 4—were not being looked after the right way. The maternal instinct is a real thing, Kelly argues: Girls play with dolls from childhood, so “women are raised from the get-go to raise children successfully. When we are moms, we have a better toolbox.” Women, she believes, are conditioned to be more patient with children, to be better multitaskers, to be more tolerant of the quotidian grind of playdates and temper tantrums; “women,” she says, “keep it together better than guys do.” 

It looks as though biology has won out over ideology.

As for egalitarian marriage, we now know that it does not work. When couples divide housework equally the chances of divorce increase by 50%.

Moreover, splitting chores does not work because it is economically inefficient. It is taxing and draining to have to discuss and debate and renegotiate the myriad of chores that need to be done in a household.

Miller makes the salient point:

In an egalitarian marriage, every aspect of home life is open to renegotiation. When two people need to leave the house at 6 a.m., who gets the children ready for school? When two people have to work late, who will meet that inflexible day-care pickup time? And who, finally, has the energy for those constant transactions?


Sam L. said...

Feminists will fight a rear-guard action for years. All true believers do.

vanderleun said...

Feminism? Over? Hah! The toads will crank it up right after they play the gay card as heavily as possible. Meet the new victims, same as the old victims.

rogue wolf1 said...

Utter nonsense. Kelly is definitely a feminist. She'll wax lyrical about how women are better caretakers, blah, blah, blah. But let's put that into practice then. If women are better caretakers, men are better leaders, innovators, and statesmen. Lets end all preferential treatment for women in work and school. Let's really pay men more for the same work, since they'll have a family to support.

Feminism over, ha! This is just women realizing that working a real job in a crap economy is nothing like a Sex in the City episode and wanting out. Men of course have to pick up the tab. Second verse same as the first.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

Patience... it's a step in the right direction... remember, Rome wasn't built in a day, or even a year.

n.n said...

It was an insane conception to divide men and women in the first place. There were real and manufactured issues which needed to be addressed; but, it was always a minority issue, and there was never justification to marginalize half the human population in the process.

The end of feminism as a movement marks the return of reason to reasonable men and women. It will be a welcome departure from a reactive ideology.

The obstacle to peace will be politicians, activists, and others who profit from exploiting differentials and gradients to advance their political, economic, and social standing.

Still, the emergence of reason following a dark age is cause for optimism that we may, once again, pursue an enlightened reconciliation between natural imperatives and human dignity (and ego).

JP said...

This is pretty much what you expect in a Fourth Turning/K-cycle winter/Post-Peak Credit era.

What that basically means is that the Free Money Extravaganza is over and now the bill is due.

And one of the methods of payment is to stop funding (culturally or otherwise) those aspects of the last Spiritual Awakening that aren't consistent with reality.

Like clockwork.

I think that the debate is pretty much over and I think there is general agreement (over on the turning forums) that the Crisis Era has begun as the demand for Social Order begins to rise.

Anonymous said...

And it is definitely dividing men and women.
So many blogs you can find for either...
Women blasting men as an entirety...
Men blasting men as an entirety...
I come across so many, and am intriqued by the titles so often.
Then I read the entries by the extremists (I am not talking about this blog - this blog is usually mild by these standards)
It seems like every day I come across a new blog either hating on men or hating on women, and one that is soooo full of contempt and disdain that I wonder how the two sexes can coexist in these instances...
I am looking forward to the day that the movement loses momentum, and the throngs of women that hate on men "stop."
And the throngs of men that hate on women "stop."
Boy, oh boy!! I can't wait!

Dennis said...

This should come as no surprise if one considers the fact that only a prosperous society with a growing economy can afford distractions like modern day feminism, studies, anti culture groups, et al. The fact that most start out addressing a problem that needs to be addresses does not make up for its eventual radicalization and marginalization.
It is because of this radicalization that these groups begin to undermine the society, the family, the economy, and themselves, et al that contributes to its own demise as a power broker in that culture. The more one divides people into interest groups whose only real goal is power over the other groups all using government to achieve its desires for that power the more one destroys the cohesiveness needed in order to survive as a country. Governments all seek power and they don't care who they use to garner it.
Feminism, as it is presently constituted is a symptom of a society in decline. Like other groups of its ilk it needs an enemy to blame all of its failures on. It also needs a government, who buys them off for a very cheap price, to maintain its status because it no longer has the intellectual foundation for much of it now religious tenets. Words like responsibility, respect, and courtesy for others are an anathema to its adherents. The more they run from these words the more they degrade themselves and the society that they infect.
This does not only apply to feminism, but to almost all that the 60s generation held as their guiding principles. Those principles are what is driving this society and culture to ruin.
Until we deal with effectively deal with this disease we will not prosper as a truly American culture.

Bobbye said...

If feminism is over it is only because "they" have achieved total victory. In our culture a woman's point of view always trumps a man. My daughter and I recently had an argument when she flatly stated what everyone knows to be true," a mother loves her children more than a man ever could. We argued. I personally do not know any persons who would have challenged that statement. Even if men diagree, they keep thier mouths shut. Women rule and men grovel. That seems like total victory to me.

Dennis said...


Cannot say that I relate. I have a number of daughters and granddaughters and never have I dealt with that kind of disrespect. One thing I don't do is keep my mouth shut or grovel.
It is not about winning. It is about living a good life with people who love you and that you love. Plain and simple. We can only be disrespected if we allow it.
For a philosophy that has achieved total victory they sure seem to be quite miserable and unhappy. I guess winning is not what it is cracked up to be???????

Bobbye said...


thanks for yor comment. I did not intend to make it sound as though respect was the issue. The fact that my daughter and I can argue ideas shows what great respect we have for each other. The word argue seems to mean "fight" to many people. Perhaps I should have used the term " spirited debate" instead. The point was a cultural belief system that grants moral superiority to its victim groups as an axiom. Feminism is built upon victimology, with all women being by definition victims. Avictem is always morally superior to a victimizer. Our culture has accepted the model of women as victim so completely that it is almost never challenged. This results in women( victims) believing and acting as morally superior to the victimizers. This culture of the superiority of women is what I seldom see challenged. Suger and spice, and everything nice.

Dennis said...


We would not be having these commentaries challenging feminism, even by those who profess to be feminists, if the culture had accepted it. We go through wild swings of the pendulum, but we almost always wind up some where near the middle. The sadness is that a lot of people get hurt in those swings to the extremes.
The victim card is much like the race card, it has been used so much that it no longer has real currency and/or credibility. One can only cry wolf so many times before one is no longer believed.
There are, as demonstrated by this blog and many other forms of communication, a growing number of us who challenges the tenets of modern feminism. Not because we dislike women, but because of the damage feminism does to women and the people who would love them and those who these women would love.
Getting the idea that one is superior because of their gender is a recipe for disaster and asking for being hoisted on ones petard. We both have our strengths and weaknesses and we are meant to complement each other and take advantage of the synergy that is inherent in that complementation. If one seeks to deceive then the only person they deceive is themselves.
Sorry if I misunderstood, but a comment that a father is less capable of loving his children does not sound like respect and is not born out by life. We may, in some cases, show that love in a different way, but that does not make it in less passionate or loving. Too many of us has suffered to ensure that our families, friends, and others can have a place where they can be all they can be to be disrespected by anybody.