"You shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you odd." ~Flannery O'Connor

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Time for a new and better feminism

Coming of age in the Big Apple during the 1970s, I admired feminism. Well, most of it anyhow: I did not admire women, young or otherwise, who seemed determined to make themselves unattractive to the men whom they pretended to need "like a fish needs a bicycle." Even then I knew the issues with such women were psychological. But in the main, the feminist movement was about freeing women from prejudices and double standards that kept them from achieving their full potential. Equality before the law was the keystone of that effort, and its achievement could not be taken for granted. In a surprisingly short time, however, it was achieved—even without the "Equal-Rights Amendment," which failed when people realized just how absurdly equally the sexes would have to be treated.

But for reasons I shudder to adduce, feminism today is a major regression. Equality before the law yielded to the mantra of equality of opportunity—as if women and men would naturally have the same opportunities, were it not for patriarchal oppression. Then, equality of opportunity yielded to the mantra of equality of result—as if something were wrong if women and men did not make the same average incomes and have the same degree of representation in nearly every walk of life. That was bad enough. But now, any pretense of desire for equality is crumbling. We're back to prejudice and double standards again—ostensibly in women's favor, but in reality to their detriment as well as men's.

I shall consider two examples from the legion out there. The first is the case of Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney (D-Georgia).

As is well known, a few months ago she assaulted a Capitol police officer for grabbing her arm to prevent her from blowing past an ID checkpoint without showing her ID. She admits as much; there were witnesses. No issue whatever about what she did. The case is open-and-shut. But for some reason, a Federal grand jury refuses to indict her for what is defined by Federal law as a felony. Is this is about race? I doubt it; nobody has argued or could seriously argue that a black man could have gotten away with such an act. Is it about McKinney's popularity? No: none of her colleagues, including her fellow Democrats, came to her defense. Is it about Karl Rove's desire to ingratiate the President with her constituents? That can't be it either: the Democrats could run a dead dog in her district and win the seat. There's only one thing it could be: McKinney is female. The double standard is back, only in reverse. Wendy McElroy, one of my favorite journalists of either sex, nails it.

While it would be going too far to say that women are now above the law, it does seem that women now enjoy the favor of the law as typically applied in many areas. E.g., despite ample evidence that women initiate domestic violence as often as men, it is usually men who are arrested on DV calls—even when the man is the one who makes the call! Domestic-violence protection orders, when no evidence of physical violence has been presented, now constitute a common weapon in hostile divorces. That reinforces a legal tendency that everybody knows about: even though women's workforce participation now approaches that of men, in so-called "no-fault" divorce proceedings the presumption is that the mother gets physical custody and the man get visitation and child-support bills. And when the wife/mother initiates the divorce, it is extremely difficult for the husband/father to get joint custody if she wants sole custody.

I could go on about lesser but still-telling matters, such as what Title IX has done to male sports, and how it's much easier to have a women-only than a men-only club. But what really has me riled at the moment is the Duke lacrosse-team rape case.

Before I rant, let me just refer you to what Kathleen Parker, another of my fave journalists, writes:

"We don't know all the facts about the alleged Duke lacrosse rape, but ..."

That's more or less how most commentators have introduced their remarks on the case that has reduced the Durham, N.C., community to prayers, tears and recriminations.

Let me interpret the code for you: Men are bad.

Read it all.

It's true: these guys are presumed guilty until proven innocent. I doubt they're angels, but what has happened to the Constitution? It's getting so that, when the plaintiff is a woman and the defendant is a man, the truth no longer matters. What matters is maintaining the myth of "victim-woman, oppressor-man." That's feminism for ya, at least these days.

The trends are bad for women as well as men. When women can "get away" with more than men, they will try getting away with more and more. That's only human nature. The more they try getting away with, the more disgusted everybody—women as well as men—will become. And women will have squandered the moral capital that allows the vestiges of chivalry to continue protecting them, socially and legally.

Of course, nothing can be done until people once again get a clue what it is to be a woman and what it is to be a man. I've written on this topic before; the cluelessness is only deepening. People who are serious about alternatives can start here.
blog comments powered by Disqus