…I think this is the crisis of women growing up—a turning point from an immaturity that has been called femininity to full human identity. I think women had to suffer this crisis of identity, which began a hundred years ago, and have to suffer it still today, simply to become fully human.
Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique
Elizabeth Cady Stanton’s autobiography expresses dissatisfaction with her role as a wife and mother and admits that it led in part to her calling the Seneca Falls convention. (It was Betty Friedan’s unhappiness as a wife and mother that in part led her to write The Feminine Mystique). She too, like most later feminists, looks to collective childcare practices to solve the problem of women with children who want to work outside of the home. Continue reading
A woman that is content to wash stockings, and make Johnny-cake, and to look after and bring up her boys faultless to a button, and that never thinks beyond the meal-tub, and whose morality is so small as to be confined to a single house, is an under-grown woman, and will spend the first thousand years after death in coming to that state in which she ought to have been before she died.
Henry Ward Beecher, “Woman’s Duty to Vote” speech, 1866
In Part 1 and Part 2 of “The Total Anti-Feminist,” I employed the distinctions feminist historian Nancy Cott makes between the woman movement, suffragism, and feminism. I provided evidence that feminism from its earliest days at the beginning of the 20th century espoused the same destructive ideology of later feminism. However, what if I include the woman suffrage movement within feminism, as most historians do? Can I still conclude that all feminism is bad? In other words, was the woman suffrage movement of the 19th and early 20th centuries bad? Continue reading
I believe that every woman should be a money-producing unit. Needing the money has nothing at all to do with it. But just being able to tell anyone that you have three cents of your own and won’t they please mind their own business; to know that you are free and independent and can call your soul your own—that is what economic independence is. We need not worry at all about the home, for what one may consider neglect of the home today, may, in fifty years from now, be considered intelligent care of the home.
Ruth Hale, journalist and feminist
The above quotation is from a 1929 magazine article titled, “Has Modern Woman Disrupted the Home?” As was discussed in Part 1 of this essay, one only has to look at what early feminists wrote half a century or more before Betty Friedan wrote The Feminine Mystique to see that the ideology of contemporary feminism is in some ways identical to, and in other ways a progression from, feminism of the early 20th century. Continue reading
Since the late 1960s, feminists have very successfully waged war against the traditional family, in which husbands are the principal breadwinners and wives are primarily homemakers. This war’s immediate purpose has been to undermine the homemaker’s position within both her family and society in order to drive her into the work force. Its long-term goal is to create a society in which women behave as much like men as possible, devoting as much time and energy to the pursuit of a career as men do, so that women will eventually hold equal political and economic power with men.
F. Carolyn Graglia, Domestic Tranquility
In the 1990s, 30 years after the launch of second wave feminism, books critical of feminism such as Christina Hoff Summers’ Who Stole Feminism, Danielle Crittenden’s What Our Mother’s Didn’t Tell Us, and F. Carolyn Graglia’s Domestic Tranquility were published. One of the latest books in this small and necessary area of social commentary is The Flipside of Feminism by Suzanne Venker and Phyllis Schlafly, published in 2011. While some of these critiques merely criticize what are perceived as feminism’s excesses, The Flipside, along with Graglia’s book, posit that feminism has not helped women at all, and has had negative influences on the family and society. These critiques, however, refer to feminism beginning in the 1960s—known as second wave feminism—without any or little thought to what came before. The Flipside goes as far as claiming feminism began in the 1960s and whatever came before, for example, the woman suffrage movement, has nothing in common with it. Continue reading