Following the Rush Limbaugh/Sandra Fluke controversy, the remarks about Augusta, the debate over free birth control and other appeals to American women from Democrats, prominent feminist and corporate shark Hilary Rosen waded into the debate by saying that Mitt Romney’s wife had no right to talk about the economy because she’d “never worked a day in her life.” Lots of people took offense because, obviously, a mother of five has a lot of work to do, whether or not it results in a corporate paycheck.
What’s interesting is that the debate is between two baby boomer females, both of whom chose different paths in life, and underscores the profound schism that has emerged between one America and the other. Ann Romney, mother of five, has chosen one path, and Hilary Rosen, although she did manage to conceive two children with donor sperm (she’s a lesbian), another.
What we are seeing here is the climax of second wave feminism, which really got going in the 1960s, as its adherents reach the peak of their political and economic power. However, despite the heights attained by people like Hilary Rosen, not all American women jumped on the bandwagon, and now the two versions of American womanhood are squaring off over the presidency. You could say it’s essentially feminists vs. wives, and it’s pretty clear which ones will line up with which candidate.
In the long run, the wives will win, because they have a lot more children in general, but for now the feminists probably have a majority due to the large numbers of single mothers and divorced women, which is why Obama will likely take the women’s vote. But he isn’t going to take all of it.
I’m not sure how much longer feminism will be such a powerful force in national politics, but I suspect this election, and perhaps the next one, will be the peak. After that, there will be a decline that, while not entirely noticeable at first, should really become apparent by some time in the next decade. Younger feminists simply don’t have the passion or cohesion to repeat the successes of the Hilary Rosens and Hillary Clintons of the world. As far as I can tell, to them feminism means little more than getting a free lunch. At least, they don’t articulate much else, and if they can get a free lunch by getting married and having children a lot of them will do so and quickly forget all about the gender studies classes they took in college. Furthermore, as I’ve stressed recently, a lot more young white Americans will be the children of the Mitt and Ann Romneys of the US (not to mention Rick Santorums) than they will of the Hilary Rosens. Feminism is simply going to be alien and weird to an increasing proportion of the population. As for minorities, they never really bought into it anyway; feminism has been pretty much a white woman’s game from the beginning.
So, men, I think we should sit back, grab a bag of popcorn, and watch how it all goes down. We are witnessing the culmination of a very strange era in Western history, and it’s going to be history fairly soon. There’s no telling exactly what will come next, but I’m fairly certain that the feminism that has come to define this election cycle will begin to ebb away as something new emerges.
Some day when I’m old and gray, I expect to see people snicker and joke about the feminism that was such a powerful force in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Our current era will be seen by young adults and children as just as alien as the prewar era is to us today. And no, there will never be a matriarchal regime; that’s against human nature and unprecedented in human history. People simply haven’t changed that much, and due to birth control, abortion and other factors that limit feminist fertility the demographic momentum is pushing in the other direction now, and has been for over a generation.
In the meanwhile, we men should take care of ourselves, our families and our brethren. Just hang in there, weather this storm, and try to keep your mental and physical health. When we get through to the other side, we’ll be able to breathe a lot easier than we have in a long, long time.