Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Women Lose, Part 3

Photo by La FruU via Flickr

Women, in our culture, are losing. Terribly. And a large part is due to the feminist movement.

In her Radical Womanhood: Feminine Faith in a Feminist World, author Carolyn McCulley discusses third-wave feminism.

So if you are wondering why young girls wear "porn star" T-shirts, why the paparazzi offer twenty-four-hour coverage of the latest sex scandals of the "train-wreck" stars, why a local gym offers "strip aerobics"... you are experiencing the effects, in large part, of third-wave feminism. "Sex-positive" or "porn-positive" theories are a large part of third-wave feminism. Third wave feminists did an about-face, dismantling the opposition to pornography and sex work of the second wave by claiming participants in pornography and sex work can be "empowered." Third-wave feminists have also embraced a fluid concept of gender and rejected any universal definition of femininity." (165)

Indeed, the raunch-culture of third-wave feminism is only possible in a world where women have been stripped of historic femininity.

From the time the first woman walked the earth, humanity has recognized an intrinsic connection between femininity and the ability to nurture life. In the Judeo-Christian tradition, the first woman was given the Hebrew name ḥawwâ (translated Eve) -- which literally means life -- because "she was the mother of all the living" (Genesis 3:20 ESV). In Pagan traditions, the feminine has long been connected with the life and fertility of the earth itself.

Because of this deep connection, throughout history infertility has been considered a tragedy. In the Biblical narrative, women such as Sarah, Rachel, and Hannah were emotionally afflicted by their infertility until God, through His mercy, opened their wombs.

While it is a terrible mistake to identify a woman's value with her ability to bear children (Rachel and Hannah were the favored wives of their husbands, though they were barren), I think we can learn something from our ancestors attitude toward femininity. They recognized that women were designed to nurture life, that in this way, femininity is distinct from masculinity. For this reason, women almost universally have functioned as the nurturers in society, while it has always been the men who risked themselves in war to protect the children and women -- the life, if you will -- of the society.

The whole world turned upside-down in the twentieth century. Femininity was redefined -- not by men, but by women whose latent misogyny drove them to hate that which made them separate from the masculine.

In 1949, Simone de Beauvoir published The Second Sex. Writing on Beauvoir's work, McCulley stated that it "is said to be the seminal work of modern feminism ... Beauvoir argued that women were 'imprisoned' by the roles of wife, mother, and sweetheart; therefore, she maintained that 'all forms of socialism, wresting woman away from the family, favor her liberation.'"

Women were "liberated" en masse -- liberated from all that was distinctively feminine.

They were liberated from the home -- in 1950, 33.9 percent of women participated in the civilian labor force. By 2008, this number had risen to 59.5 percent.

They were liberated from the role of wife -- in 1950, 2.4 percent of women had been divorced. In 2000, 10.7 percent had been divorced. As of 2009, 44 percent of adult women in the U.S. were unmarried.

They were liberated from the role of mother -- in 1950, the pill burst onto the scene. According to one source, 62 percent of U.S. women of childbearing age are using contraceptives.

Indeed, feminists have succeeded in liberating women from femininity itself. And in doing so, feminists have created a culture where women feel pressured to objectify and debase themselves in search of what is missing.

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