June 15th 2019

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY Anthony Albanese: NSW left factional warlord takes charge

EDITORIAL Religious freedom: the political and legislative challenges

CANBERRA OBSERVED Will Bill Shorten emerge from the shadows again?

FEDERAL ELECTION Queensland voted for jobs, life and country

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Keating's 'nutters': Don't blame the messenger

ECONOMICS AND SOCIETY Health policy is not immune from neoliberal infection

HUMAN RIGHTS Canada accepts Asia Bibi and family as refugees

FAMILY AND SOCIETY Families keeping the faith: the Benedict and other options

IDEOLOGY Feminist claims for equality, Part 1: The context

HISTORY OF SCIENCE Faith and reason and Father Stanley Jaki, Part 3: More on science and ancient cultures

LIFE ISSUES Families, youth boost crowd at WA Rally for Life

MUSIC Muse of delight: The laugh ascending

CINEMA Asterix: The Secret of the Magic Potion

BOOK REVIEW Pioneering aviator's flights and fancies

BOOK REVIEW Catholic resistance in a forgotten war

BOOK REVIEW AFA patron's long life of public service


NATIONAL AFFAIRS Cardinal Pell's appeal, June 5-6, 2019: An account from the live streaming

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Feminist claims for equality, Part 1: The context

by Michael Ord

News Weekly, June 15, 2019

Feminists demand gender equality in public roles in society. In this two-part review, Michael Ord seeks to understand these demands. Are they genuine claims seeking the common good? Or are they an ideological caricature seeking personal interest and privilege for a select few?

The Office for Women in the Department of the Prime Min­ister and Cabinet was set up to advance gender equality and improve the lives of Australian women. Its aims are to strengthen women’s economic security, including workforce participation, support more women into leadership positions, and ensure that women and their children are safe from violence.

In response, corporations in which men predominate are implementing initiatives to deal with the perceived wrongs of gender imbalance. Corporate leaders are required to report on the prog­ress of the initiatives. Typically, a corporate leader’s performance indicators and hence remuneration and bonuses are tied to the initiatives.

In another response, a Christian men’s group presented to men on International Men’s Day a couple of years ago, about domestic violence and what men needed to do to end violence towards women.

In a third response, at a church-run university accommodation college, at its 2018 commencement dinner, the invited woman guest speaker told the young men present of the importance of men being feminists.

Fourth, in Brisbane on April 6-8, 2018, a Women of the World (WOW) Festival was held, “Celebrating the Women of the Commonwealth”. The Queensland Government supported this event, which was part of the Gold Coast 2018 Commonwealth Games. The games made history as the most inclusive games of all time, with an equal number of events for female and male athletes. WOW celebrated this defining moment, placing Brisbane at the centre of global discussions around gender equality.

The WOW program included brainstorming workshops in which participants were required to complete the sentence, “Women and men will have gender equality when …”.

The program also included a session for children entitled, “Under 10’s Feminist Corner”. Girls and boys were separated. The girls’ task was to unpick society’s gender rules and imagine a world without them. The boys’ task was to explore how the rules might be different for girls, what that means for girls’ lives and what boys can do to help build gender equality.

So, what is the motivation for feminists to push for so-called gender equality? By default, it appears to be wrong for men to dominate in industry sectors or public roles. Conversely, is it also wrong for women to dominate in industry sectors or public roles?

Can “gender rules” in society be explained by nature, or has society constructed these rules? Is it proper for feminists to target children to rewrite these supposedly “constructed rules”? How is it that feminists engage some men to champion feminists claims? Why are government programs and initiatives overwhelmingly given to women rather than to men?

The reality of feminism

To appreciate the activism for so-called gender equality, an understanding of feminism is needed. The objective of feminism is “emancipation”, meaning the liberation of women from men and the family, which is viewed as patriarchal (that is, male controlled).

So, what are the features of feminism? The male organiser of the above-mentioned college commencement dinner explained “that feminism has a legitimate goal of an equitable and equal respect for the female experience of humanity that it requires of the male experience”. It seems many believe that feminism has legitimate goals.

We can best understand what is behind feminist campaigns for equality by listening to two women. The first championed feminism but became disillusioned and turned to Christianity; the second became aware of the massive downside of feminism and utilises Christianity to help women harmed by abortion.

(A third insight is provided by a male academic and author who understands the consequences of feminism for men, women and children.)

Elizabeth Fox-Genovese (1941–2007), an American academic, wrote: “It has not been easy to acknowledge that feminism has promoted the unravelling of the most binding and important social bonds. Not easy, but unavoidable.

“Like countless other women who cherish improvement in the situation of women throughout the world, I was initially quick to embrace feminism as the best way to secure our ‘rights’ and our dignity as persons. Like countless others, I was seriously misled.”

Beginning in the 1960s, the feminist movement seemed to offer an appropriate strategy for promoting full social participation for women. Fox-Genovese assumed that she would be blessed with many children and a loving and enduring marriage. It did not cross her mind that feminism would require the sacrifice of marriage and children – and any binding connection to other persons.

Having a Christian background, she found no appeal in the rhetoric and goals of “liberation, in particular sexual liberation”. But for the movement as a whole, sexual liberation quickly became the highest priority.

Fox-Genovese explains that, in the early 1970s, most of us knew much less about abortion than we do in the 21st century and that she, among the many, did not grasp its ominous implications. She was suspicious of abortion because she mistrusted the language of “rights” in which it was couched.

Feminism had declared that no woman should ever suffer the burden of an undesired pregnancy, a position that feminists translate into the platitude that each child must be “wanted”.

But children are not convinced by platitudes. A mother’s right to bear only the children she chooses puts her children on a very short leash: wanted one moment, they can never be sure of still being wanted the next.

Even over a decade ago, Fox-Genovese highlighted that many women remained dissatisfied with the results of women’s independent access to public life: these usually claimed that formal equality with men had not netted women an equal share of wealth, power, and prestige. But the reality is that the change – the improvement – in women’s situation has been revolutionary.

Feminism rests upon the conviction that no one has the right to tell a woman what to do – to abridge her right to self-determination – or to compromise her absolute equality with men. All the variants on feminism are thus united by a fierce commitment to individualism and equality, and all fundamentally reject the notion of legitimate authority.

Fox-Genovese also identifies the connection of feminism with the decline of society. By destroying the stigma that condemned women for sexual activity outside of marriage, the ethos of sexual liberation, combined with the feminist campaign against marriage and motherhood, has directly contributed to Western society’s declining birth rate, the proliferation of single parents, and the growth in the number of children born outside of marriage.

The economic forces and systems that have come to dominate global life today systematically erode family life. Multinational economic giants have no need for stable families, which may interfere with their ability to manage workers and sell goods.

Contributor to News Weekly Anne Lastman, a qualified post-abortion and sexual-abuse counsellor, and author of Redeeming Grief, highlights how feminism has contributed to the loss of dignity of the feminine and the feminisation of the male, and erosion of the male identity, leading to a confusion of roles.

The loss of dignity of the male has in turn led to the weakening of fatherhood, where today a father can actually insist and take his pre-born child to be killed.

The ascendency of the feminist movement through the powerful women’s lobby has led to a diminishing respect for the male. The female’s march towards self-reliance and autonomy, combined with the Sexual Revolution and the contraceptive device, have liberated the female from the fear of pregnancy and turned her into a womb-less predator (like the male), freed from commitment.

Like the new male, the modern woman need not commit herself to a lifetime spouse/partner, but is free to roam until she determines that “this” is the right person.

Lastman explains that the feminist movement has been one of the powers and strengths behind the demand for liberalised abortion and has fought hard and achieved most of its goals. However, abortion results in traumatised, wounded, abandoned and broken people who can parent only in the style known to them. It seems that males have lost their sense of being strong, masculine and protective, while modern women have been wooed and seduced by the notion that empowerment comes from denying their design.

Of the future, Lastman indicates that women’s rights have led to lobbying for changes in the moral order to accommodate the “new rights”. Women’s rights have ultimately meant and will conti­nue to mean the “rights of a select few”, and enslavement to pain for the rest of womanhood.

American academic Stephen Baskerville, author of Taken into Custody: The War Against Fathers, Marriage and the Family, highlights the invasiveness of government-enforced feminism in the family law system.

The first targets of the feminist terror have been fathers, the living embodiments, after all, of the hated “patriarchy”. Like feminism itself, “family law has been driven for at least 30 years by a specific animus against marriage and against men”.

Baskerville highlights that feminists make claims about gender equality and the need to improve society. However, overwhelmingly, the professional watchers in the family law system are female, and their agenda is avowedly feminist. “Female professionals dominate the maternal and child-health, family-support, and income-security systems,” observe fatherhood advocates.

Many feminist writings express hostility to the family in general and fathers in particular. The divorce revolution itself was driven largely by feminists. And who suffers the most from the hostility to the family and from the divorce revolution? Children. But does this stop the relentless drive of feminism towards their goals?

All you need to know about
the wider impact of transgenderism on society.
TRANSGENDER: one shade of grey, 353pp, $39.99

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