Equality Redux

by Novaseeker on December 5, 2009

This is a post I made on my blog several months ago, which I am resurrecting because it may be of interest to readers here.

gender_equality_in_sweden_f_1

Equality.

We often hear from feminists and their supporters that this is the goal of the feminist movement: true, full equality between males and females, and full freedom for all, in all walks of life. While I do not doubt that some of the Marxist radicals of the 60s and 70s honestly believed that feminism was aimed at bringing about equality for all, clearly feminism-in-fact — that is feminism as it has developed over the past few decades — has neither brought about, nor been terribly focused on, equality.

Oh? How can you say that? Haven’t women made great “gains” over the past few decades? Surely this brings about more equality?

It’s true that women have made gains in educational access and the workforce. But even these gains are quite revealing, in terms of new inequalities that feminism has instituted:

  • Women outnumbering men in college admissions and graduations, based on girls outperforming boys in elementary and secondary schools
  • Women having parity or majorities in all academic disciplines other than the STEM subjects, a disparity which is now the focus of measures to adjust it, while areas of female advantage and, in fact, domination, are ignored
  • Women virtually always obtaining custody of children in divorces, even in cases where their husbands have been the primary care-giver
  • Numerous fields being completely female-dominated (nursing, psychology, social work, primary and secondary education, numerous academic disciplines), with feminism not expressing any interest in adjusting such inequalities

And that leaves aside the substantial inequalities around reproduction that effectively give women totalitarian power over the means of reproduction, sidelining men as having only the decision as to whether to contribute sperm — so far, yet that right may itself be eradicated at some future point, in the interests of women and society, under some predictions.

What happened here? Why did feminism not succeed in its utopian goal of achieving “equality” between men and women?

The issue was that academic and radical activist feminism had to, at some point, come to terms with the concerns of women as a whole — and women as a whole had largely different interests from the academic and radical activist feminists. While the radicals and the academics sometimes talked about getting rid of female privilege (saying things such as “a pedestal is a small space”), this was never taken seriously by women as a whole, because the wider world of women had no interest whatsoever in shedding female privileges. Why would they? As Chinweizu points out in “Anatomy of Female Power”, these privileges and ideas were the ones that helped women control men behind the mask of patriarchal power and privilege. So, in fact, women as a group took a “cafeteria” approach to what feminism offered — taking what they wanted, and resisting what they did not want.

In effect, this meant that women accepted the gains women made in the areas of educational access, workforce presence and earning capacity, sexual freedom, reproductive power and so on — while resisting, tooth and nail, the abolition of any of the traditional female privileges (courtship and dating privilege, sexual power, military draft exemption, day to day deference, general conceptions of women being more moral, upstanding, empathetic, kind and so on, privileges around children). So, in effect, what happened was that the feminist leaders learned that women, as a whole, were interested in advances for women (as were the feminist radicals), but were not interested at all in giving up their traditional privileges. And so, in order to remain politically relevant for women, feminism largely confined itself, beginning in the 80s, to advancing the interests of women, rather than even attempting to achieve actual equality between men and women.

Because of that, we see the women’s groups thoroughly disinterested in the advantages women have over men outlined above. Where women are ahead, feminism defends the status quo, while where women are behind, feminism demands changes to ensure parity or better for women. The end result is that women will have parity in some fields, and domination in others … while men will have at best parity, and in many areas relegation to minority status. This is not only the case on the university level. It’s also happening in the workforce and the society in general. Women choose the fields they wish to focus on, and then they tend to dominate them. Men are increasingly relegated to the kinds of work women do not want to do — work that is either physically demanding, dirty and dangerous, or involves less life flexibility or longer working hours. And as between what was, prior to second wave feminism, the male sphere and the female sphere — women have consolidated their stranglehold over the female sphere while aggressively colonizing the male sphere … again leaving men with no space of their own, while reserving for women a huge space where their power is absolute.

In effect, one can say that when feminists speak of “equality” what they mean is equality in what was previously the male space. The female space was, by contrast, shored up by laws supported by feminism — laws covering the areas of marriage, divorce, child custody, child support, sexual harassment, and even domestic violence and rape, have all been altered in ways that decisively shift the power balance in any area relating to relationships, sex, marriage and children to women in a very substantial way. Equality was not the goal for the female space, but only for the male one. The female space, and female hegemony over it, was reinforced and substantially buttressed by feminist legislation, whereas the previously male space has been aggressively colonized, and it remains a key goal of feminists today to take over the highest echelons of power in the previously male space — again leaving men with nothing, no place where their power even comes close to the kind of total power women have over the female space.

Women may object, saying that they would be happy to cede a good amount of control over the female space to men in the name of equality, but this rings false. Even leaving aside the more controversial areas of rape and domestic violence law, family law indicates that this is simply not the case. There have been numerous cases noted by observers where a breadwinner mother and a stay at home father have divorced, yet the mother still insisted on mother custody, and succeeded in obtaining it in court. Even in cases where men are actually providing the main child care effort, courts, backed by feminist-inspired laws, award custody to mothers — ensuring that the power of women over children and divorce is absolute in nature.

This is hardly equality.

In fact, it’s female supremacy over all places where men and women interact relationally, combined with female colonization of the previously male space. It isn’t equality in any reasonable construction of the word, but an absolute power gain for women, at the expense of men, who are to be left with no space of their own, and a relegation to second class status in the female space as well.

In closing, I’ll note that it’s quite telling how this overall trend manifests itself in contemporary culture. Some of my readers may recall that feminists spent a lot of time and energy in the 80s and 90s eliminating male-only spaces, claiming the exclusion of women was discriminatory. Well, things in our species have a way of coming full circle. The recent trend of women’s only hotel floors — the creation of the type of sex-specific spaces that feminists so recently dismantled, when men were the “permitted” sex — almost perfectly demonstrates how feminism, and women more generally, are totally uninterested (in fairness, at least one feminist objected to these arrangements, but most women do not) in equality or exclusions, when men are the ones who are excluded or disadvantaged. Rather to the contrary, the movement today is simply about empowering women full stop, and if men suffer as a result of that, men be damned.

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