is feminism misogynistic?
I really don’t think men devalue women, apart from the sex-object thing, as much as feminists do. Feminism seems unhappy that women aren’t men. From where I sit, that seems like a form of hatred, of misogyny. (Rebecca LuElla Miller)
The ever misguided (but well-meaning) Becky has a post claiming that feminism is misogynistic. How does she come to her conclusion? She looks at the stereotypical roles women traditionally have in society and claims these are the very essence of a woman, and so concludes that to criticise the limitations of some of these roles, is to criticise women themselves.
To be fair to Becky, I do see something valid in her concern that in an attempt to redefine the worth and contribution of all members of society, feminism can tend to strip away or minimise natural characteristics that may be more typically female than male.
I personally don’t object to the notion that our biological composition makes women more likely to be softer and more caring, and makes men more likely to be physically stronger and interested in football. I just think that every individual, regardless of their biological sex, needs to be free to express themselves in a way they feel most comfortable, without these stereotypical expectations. I think that once we start to release people from these expectations, we might be surprised at the diversity of natural expression we find within us all.
But the most important first step in this, when it comes to being a feminist, is the need to push for a society where everyone has equality of opportunity. To do this, we need equal representation in government, in the media and in schools – in key decision-making and influential roles. And I think we need to recognise where women and men face real barriers simply because of their sex.
I don’t think feminism is simply about women; it’s about human beings and how we all function together in our evolving societies. It’s also about recognising that many of the ‘norms’ in our society are built on the mistreatment and marginalisation of women, usually on the back of religions that have encouraged this tendency. Here are just a few examples of the horrific foundations that have brought us here (courtesy of Valerie Tarico):
- In pain shall you bring forth children, woman, and you shall turn to your husband and he shall rule over you. And do you not know that you are Eve? God’s sentence hangs still over all your sex and His punishment weighs down upon you. You are the devil’s gateway; you are she who first violated the forbidden tree and broke the law of God. It was you who coaxed your way around him whom the devil had not the force to attack. With what ease you shattered that image of God: Man! Because of the death you merited, even the Son of God had to die… Woman, you are the gate to hell. –Tertullian, “the father of Latin Christianity” (c160-225): On the Apparel of Women, chapter 1
- What is the difference whether it is in a wife or a mother, it is still Eve the temptress that we must beware of in any woman… I fail to see what use woman can be to man, if one excludes the function of bearing children. –Saint Augustine, Bishop of Hippo Regius (354 – 430): De genesi ad litteram, 9, 5-9
- The word and works of God is quite clear, that women were made either to be wives or prostitutes. –Martin Luther, Reformer (1483-1546), Works 12.94
- A wife is to submit graciously to the servant leadership of her husband, even as the church willingly submits to the headship of Christ. –Official Faith and Message Statement of Southern Baptist Convention, Summer 1998
There is this conceptual strawman (or should I say possibly a straw-woman) feminist, that is so wide spread, that even some people who percieve themselves as feminists seem to think, that the emancipation of women is merely women becoming men. Or that everything in contact with the male gender somehow gets corrupted. I think it is just because so many simple people prefer things in as simplistic terms as possible, because they have been taught to.
Men find it hard to accept the emancipation of women, not only because they have to share power. But also because of the pressure to change to become better people. Not all men have much power, neither physical, nor social, not to mention mental. However, many have been taught that every man somehow magically deserves power at least within the family unit, or in society in general as long as it is over women. Why, because they in general are the physically stronger parties and strong people somehow magically deserve power over the weak? The misconception is primal and ultimately fascistic. The fascist ultimately would want us to live as a tribe of apes, wether he believes apes are our biological ancestors, or wether just the unnatural and forever unseen magical super-ape gave them the permission to use physical power as an excuse for mental power.
Anti-feminism springs from the same source as conservatism in general. The fact that as a result of their cultural heritage some individuals, both men and women, would not like to grow up into responsible adulthood. The conservative anti-feminist man would prefer for their wife to take up the role of their mother in washing their laundry and tending to kids, and the conservative anti-feminist woman would like their husband to take the role of their father as the sole provider for the family, so that they do not have to. In my opinion these people should have the right to live their lives as they choose, but I get a bit aggravated when they also try to impose their values on the rest of the society. I also get upset when they try to present themselves as the victims, by claiming that the rest of us, who are taking adult responsibilities in society are forcing them to do so as well and feel they can simply dismiss our concerns by labling feminism as an ideology, or by claiming it is against some greater natural, or super-natural world order – which only goes to show how little they have even bothered to find out about it.
The folly of conservatism is in that the conservatives in the western society mere 100 years ago (which is a ridiculously short time span in human culture, though it is a lifetime for the individual) could not possibly have accepted political or economic power for the women. Now women vote and there are some openly conservative women political and economic leaders. They would never have had any of that without the push of the progressive feminists. How long is it going to take before people who call themselves conservatives claim that they have always been feminists and that feminism is a part of the natural order, that has always existed? A nother 50 or so years? How long is it going to take, that people who percieve themselves as conservatives do not choose nincompoops like Sarah Palin as a political candidate, merely because choosing someone like her satisfies their perception of womanhood as the “weaker” and less capable sex? What am I talking? They choose similar male idiots as candidates and vote for them.
The sort of conservativism, that only looks back about some 50 years at a time is a farce. The fundamentalist conservative should be against using fire, or stone implements.
She’s not a square peg being forced into round hole though; for all of her experiences, a married, feminine lady in church who is a mother is exactly the sort of person who is put up on a pedestal in Christianity and praise for being who they are because they fulfilled their expected gender role flawlessly.
Erase any element from that formula, single, childless, unfeminine – and she drifts away further from the ideal and God-ordained standard for human life, she might find herself marginalized. Not invited to the mothers/daughters events, not invited to the couples/marrieds events, not invited to teas and craft-making sessions.
Feminism is for ladies who are unique and don’t check every box on the list. It’s for the men who don’t live up to their ideal either; it’s all about respecting an individual over any expectations any given class of person might have.
She doesn’t see how ladies who aren’t put on the pedestal experience Christianity and all that feminism has done for them that Christianity has not.
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