Feminism Q&A

Posted By on November 30, 2010

The following article was written in response to several questions I received by email from a young lady who is currently attending college. I wrote about feminism numerous times, and, however I look at it, the conclusion that is reached is always the same: feminism is not what it claims to be.

“So what, in your opinion, is feminism?”

Before I get to answer this rather complex question, you must keep in mind that I’m an Orthodox Jew, and therefore believe men and women are inherently different, and have different roles as outlined in the Bible. These roles are easy and natural for most men and women to assume, and, indeed, throughout history men have been doing most of the outside pursuits, leading their families and providing for their wives and children, while women were centered on their role as wives and mothers, took care of the practical and spiritual aspects of family and home and leaned on their husband as leader and provider.

Now, I know feminism is a vast movement, and not all of it can be tarred with the same brush. Some feminists accept the fact that men and women have different inclinations and capabilities in various fields (though I must say most do not realize the extent of the difference) and claim their only goal is equal opportunities for people of equal capabilities, disregarding their gender. Some are egalitarians and deny that men and women have any inherent differences at all, claiming that the different inclinations we see in men and women are merely the product of social stereotypes (I do have to say I find it striking that some people actually think the dramatic differences in our biological structure bear no influence on our minds).

Some are radicals, such as a certain group of Israeli feminists who infiltrated the army and conducted biased research, on the basis of which women were entered into combat units which were previously men-only. The fact that combat training did irreversible damage to the health and fertility of some of those young women, and that the presence of women acted towards the lowering of standards and the detriment of military performance, was apparently of no concern to them. They didn’t care that they are basically putting their own country at risk, as long as their ideals were promoted. Fortunately some sane people woke up and spoke against it.

For the sake of the discussion, I’ll say that feminism is any movement that distracts a woman from her natural role as a wife, mother, nurturer, and guardian of the home. Even those movements that claim they only speak about the creation of “equal opportunities” practically continue the damage to the social structure which was caused by feminism. For example, once efforts are done to make entering the work force more feasible for mothers (such as, by lowering the cost of daycare), it becomes expected of women to take advantage of this marvelous “opportunity.”

“Where did you learn about feminism?”

You don’t have to take a special course in feminism to know about it. All you have to do is observe how things are done in all aspects of life today, compared with past generations. I’m 25 years old; for me, feminism was the norm – I grew right into it, thinking women should go into battle and sad and furious when I heard a woman gave up her career for the sake of her family, without even thinking it was feminism. For me, it was simply the right direction in which “women’s rights” were evolving. It was not until later that I realized just how different men and women are and how beautiful and harmonious is the plan of G-d, which includes men and women complementing each other in their different roles. So I suppose you could say I didn’t learn about feminism, but, rather, I un-learned it (still in the process of it) later.

“Do you think a young girl could benefit from some aspects of feminism these days?”

I think the key here is to look at what feminism has actually done. Has it promoted the overall happiness of women, stabilized the social structure of families, created a healthier (both physically and mentally) generation of children, contributed to economy, reduced the levels of stress and anxiety for both men and women? No, no, and, again, no. Feminism robbed countless women of the fulfillment they could easily and naturally have had as wives and mothers, leading them to the false belief they must do something “greater” to be happy, and causing the average “modern” human being to believe that the existence of a woman as “just” a wife and mother is illegitimate. This is now ingrained very deeply in us. Even many of the women who do stay behind to guard the hearth and home, often fret about proving they are “doing enough” at home in order to justify their presence as homemakers.

Of course, I realize that feminism as a social movement did not spring out of nowhere. There was a deep grain of social injustice and therefore dissatisfaction, but was it because there were flaws in G-d’s design for men and women? No, rather, it was because faulty human beings failed to keep up with what was so beautifully outlined for them. I firmly believe that, had all husbands treated their wives in the fair and kind way they were supposed to, the utter concept of feminism would seem laughable. And I must say that at least in the Jewish tradition, men were never permitted to abuse their wives and were required to treat their wives with respect and affection, and provide for their wife to the best extent of their abilities.

I often hear, “but there were always some who did not feel inclined to marry, and they found themselves in a terrible situation because there were no other options for them. Isn’t it so much better now, when a woman can do meaningful things such as work or study, and support herself in the absence of a husband?” and to this, I’ll say that humans are complex and lives are complex, and I cannot attempt to cover any and every scenario here – but overall, I’m speaking of social trends. Staying single was not a trend, it was more of an oddity. With the onset of feminism, what happened was not that going into the man’s world of academic competition and work was secured as a valid option for the few women who didn’t marry. Rather, it was turned into the expected path for the many, many, many more who wanted to, and did marry and have children, and were then expected to juggle it all so as to “enjoy the best of both worlds” (side note: without truly being able to fully dedicate themselves to either path, as human resources are limited after all).

So, when a young girl today enters university or starts a promising career, it may be said that she is “taking advantage” of the opportunities feminism provided for her, but we mustn’t forget that she is also doing what is now expected of her – again, thanks to feminism. Academics and career are not a “treat;” they are now an obligation, and the reason why this is not fair to women is easy to see when you observe women juggling career with marriage, motherhood, and homemaking.

It goes without saying that not all women have “careers,” just as most men do not have careers, but simply jobs aimed at putting bread on the table. (And many feminists who hold themselves aloof don’t realize just how snobby and elitist it is to talk about “self-fulfillment” and “self-realization” and “empowerment.” Only a select few can afford that!). Many just work because it is now the expected norm for a woman to be doing “at least something” outside the home, and also because the flooding of the market with female labor force caused a sharp drop in salaries, so that living on one income immediately became much less comfortable than before (though certainly still feasible). Husbands began to feel that it is their right to expect the wife to generate an additional income, forgetting that it is their obligation to provide (again, in the Jewish tradition). All of this created a vicious cycle, the breaking of which requires conscious decision and quite a leap of faith.

All of this is just the tip of the iceberg and in no way a full account of why I see feminism as nothing short of a tremendous social disaster and the cause of terrible tragedies in countless families and society as a whole. Truly, I could continue talking on and on about rampant divorce, promiscuity, abortions, the downfall of the father’s authority, and general confusion and misery that sadly, now plague the women of my generation. But perhaps I’ll leave that for another day.

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About The Author

I'm a Jewish woman, a wife, a mother, a homemaker. A thinker, a dreamer, a learner. An avid cook and baker and a yarn addict. I love everything that has to do with home and family, and enjoy the solitude of my quiet corner, which is located in one of the most beautiful areas of Israel.

Comments

6 Responses to “Feminism Q&A”

  1. Renee Stam says:

    Wow very interesting post! I like it!

  2. Gina_B says:

    This is a good article. There are a few women in my church who did spend their twenties, thirties, and most of their forties raising children, but remark to me that I should focus on a career and degrees. This can be so discouraging. It seems that as their children have left them emtpy nesters, they are searching for something to do, and decide that what they had done previously wasn’t worth it for some reason. It can be so discouraging and confusing as a young woman who is looking for guidance.

  3. Gina_B says:

    Oops! My comment was intended for “Discouraging Younger Women” although this article by Mrs. Anna T is wonderful as well!

  4. Natasha says:

    Thankyou for an interesting article Anna. I stumbled upon this website after I had been looking at the craft pages on Emily Rose’s SimplyVintageGirl blog and have come back to it time and time again, and your article, as well as the “Start Here” section, have both been of particular interest.

    I am a young (22) unmarried woman who strongly believes in the importance of a loving family. I am against abortion, think divorce is only acceptable in the most extreme circumstances, believe that sex is best reserved for marriage, see men and women as fundementally different (and that’s a positive thing), and approve of modest dress and behaviour. I grew up in a caring home where my father is the provider and leader, and my mother a model of compassion and domestic skills. She pursued a career teaching adult literacy part-time during my childhood, and since my girlhood has written and photographed for travel magazines. In many ways, I hope that I will one day find the same joy and love with my own marriage and children.And I am also a feminist.

    I am a feminist. I have studied gender, culture, politics, anthropology, history, sociology and literature during my time at university, and I have continually been drawn to questions about women, the ‘waves’ of feminism, the Women’s Movement in the 1960s-70s. Not just university, but more importantly, the ‘school of life’, my own real social experiences, have resulted in my coming to the firm conclusion that I can proudly call myself a feminist. My professors and feminist friends have generally agreed with me. It is true that there are feminists who support abortion, dissapprove of marriage, advocate career over family, approve of promiscuity and a multitude of other things that I find saddening or offensive. But at the end of the day, there is more difference than consensus among feminists in the modern world. Yet what unites all these women under one ideology is our belief that social issues should be examined in terms of gender. That whether one is a man or woman has an influence on every aspect of our lives and that more often than not, this fact is completely ignored, the result of which is usually, but not always, to the detriment of women.

    I believe that you, and the contributers to this site generally, have overlooked the significant number of feminists who actually agree with many of the values you hold dear. I will acknowledge, however, that not many place these beliefs in a Biblical foundation. So, I think that this site has taken an unhelpful path in naming itself “ladies against feminism”. For one, it is inaccurate. And secondly, I think it would be more positive and productive to define yourselves in terms of what you stand FOR. By using the negative definition, you help to spread the myth that Bible-believing women are “doormats”, and I know from personal experience with atheist and agnostic friends that this has been a significant, and sometimes the only obstacle in their willingness to get to know God.

    I hope I’ve given you something to think about, and I look forward to reading more on this website. Thanks again!

  5. Chicagoan says:

    Yay Natasha! Well said! As a teenage, I insisted that I was very definitely NOT a feminist, because I thought feminists were just man-haters. There came a moment of truth during a philosophy course in college, when the professor asked the class what feminism is. A lot of different definitions were given, and in the few minutes I spent listening to them, I came to a realization. I raised my hand and said that feminism was the belief that men and women are equals. (Note that I didn’t say “the same”, but “equal”.) And that was the definition we went with. You may have noticed how vague that definition is. “Feminism” is a very broad philosophy, which basically expounds that women are not inherently inferior to men. Most feminists are pro-choice, but some are anti-abortion. Some are all in favor of “housewife” being treated as a perfectly valid career choice for which one should study and prepare as one would study and prepare for any paying job, and some just laugh at that idea. There are lots of us, and we all believe different things. My beliefs are different from Natasha’s, but we both believe that women have something to say, and shouldn’t be silenced just because they’re women. (The creators of this site apparently believe the same thing!) We all believe that women’s needs are important, and need to be considered alongside the needs of men, and not just as an afterthought. Yes, I’m a feminist, and proud of it.

  6. Thanks for the comments, ladies. I think you both have valid points to make, but the problem is that “feminism” as a movement cannot be a “big tent.” You simply cannot have a movement that claims to speak and act for all women (as NOW insists they do) and have opposing philosophies trying to cram under the same banner. It just doesn’t work. Having pro-life feminism and pro-abortion feminism doesn’t work. They are antithetically opposed to one another. Same with pro-pornography feminism and anti-pornography feminism. It is one thing to have different women embracing different beliefs and opinions, but when you try to make a cohesive movement of it–backed with taxpayer dollars in the case of abortion legislation and much more–then it’s clear some women’s voices will be ignored and stifled. Ladies Against Feminism is against feminism — because feminism grew out of socialism and Marxism and uses the state to coerce others into accepting its beliefs. Our point is that you do not need to be a feminist in order to see the value of women or to hear their voices. Differences between men and women are to be celebrated–not stifled or exploited. And there are “difference feminists” out there, like the Independent Women’s Forum, whose articles we post from time to time. And there are “pro-life feminists” who try to make a case for being feminists and pro-natalist. But this is misguided at best and schizophrenic at worst. It’s like trying to walk forward while strapped to someone who wants to walk sideways. No one can go anywhere. NOW has highly-paid lobbyists in DC claiming to speak for me. They lobby in favor of my taxpayers going to Planned Parenthood’s pro-abortion, anti-natalist policies. They lobby in favor of pornography as “freedom of speech.” They claim that women in this country are downtrodden victims. I refuse to be defined by victimhood or claimed as a constituent by people who do not speak for me or my family. So I say “No, thanks” to feminism. I don’t need it. God says I am made in His image and am “the glory of mankind.” The women held up to me as models in Scripture are strong, virtuous, creative, wise, diplomatic, nurturing, caring producers of good things. The relationship between men and women is complementary–not competing. When two become one, they join their differences to make a powerful whole. What feminism offers cannot hold a candle to this. And the feminist movement has done so much damage to marriage by pushing “no-fault” divorce laws, eviscerating fathers’ rights, casting women in a perpetual “victim” role. Again I say, “No, thanks.” I’d encourage you to study the entire history of the modern feminist movement and consider the damage it has done to our society, culture, and laws. We do not need it. Safeguarding women? Sure. Making sure husbands cannot abandon wives and children? Absolutely. But these laws already existed. They grew out of our biblical heritage (Alfred the Great codified Scripture into English common law, and our republic was built upon that foundation, as Blackstone clearly shows). When we reject unchanging moral law, we cannot expect anything other than chaos. We aren’t going to help women by promoting laws and policies that destroy the very foundations that give us unalienable rights. The State cannot grant rights, nor can a “movement.” What man gives, man can take away. What God establishes is eternal, and our human rights rest securely in His law. Our founders understood this (yes, even the Deists). We have forgotten it, so we keep trying to establish rights through legislation. It doesn’t work. Feminism cannot give me rights. The State cannot give me rights. It is the job of government to protect God-given rights–not redefine them. So when a movement claims to speak for me while promoting actions and laws I find abhorrent and destructive, there is no way I’m going to join the movement and hope it will somehow listen to me or take my views seriously. I’m going to stick to being a “feminine-ist” and stand up for human rights–for men and women. That’s what LAF is about. Stick around; you are welcome here!

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