Recently I’ve been reading a lot more internet chatter about feminism, which I can only take to mean it’s on the rise again. This wounds me greatly, as I had hoped we lived in a Post sort of world. You know, post-racial, post-gender, post-political, Post brand cereals, whatever. But I guess that ship has sailed, and we’re right back to having the same arguments that we’ve been hashing over (and failing to reconcile) for decades.
So what does this mean for me personally? To be honest it means I’ve had to confront my own patriarchal misogynistic tendencies. Yes, I admit that I have them. Of course I have them. C’mon, I was born in the mid-seventies and educated in public schools. I’m lucky I can even spell “patriarchal misogynistic tendencies” let alone admit having them. And I do. But just like paranoid schizophrenics can still have enemies, misogynists can still be right from time to time.
Here’s my favorite example: I’ve had a crazy ex-girlfriend or two. Now don’t get me wrong on this; I actually have several exes, and for most of them I hope I hold the place of “pleasant memory”, and I more likely hold the place of “bullet, dodged.” Most of those ladies I don’t even think of anymore, and while I may have in my callous youth said some unkind things about them I at least have enough class to regret it. But the fact is I do have one or two truly crazy ex-girlfriends. I even have objective witnesses of both genders to back me up. But here’s the problem: everything I’ve seen in the feminist orthodoxy says that’s wrong. That somehow I’m as much to blame as they are, if not more so, simply because I was a willing participant in the relationship. Boy, that’s not blaming the victim much, now is it? Only I can’t be a victim, because of my gender. That’s one.
My next favorite is things like quotas, preferences, and government set-asides. There are plenty of these designed to help women get ahead in school, in business, and in civil service. Setting aside the question of their efficacy, I wonder about their essential morality. Is this just? Is it right to single out one gender and favor them over another? And if so, for how long? Sure you may feel you are correcting some sort of societal imbalance, but when there’s no limit set the assumption is that injustice is either endemic to society or the individuals that comprise it (which are basically one and the same). With women graduating from college at higher rates than men and getting more advanced degrees than men these days, have we reached the day we no longer need these set asides? If not, will we soon? Will we ever? That’s two.
And hey, for the third issue, let’s go for a hat trick of issues that all tie together: divorce, custody, and child support. Despite the great gains that have been made by women in the workplace and men in the home, the default assumption that is near impossible to overcome in any divorce proceeding is that a man should support a woman “in the style she has become accustomed to”, and if there are kids they will almost always go to mom unless dad has absolute iron-clad proof she is a drug-addled child molester. In that case the kids will probably wind up with her parents. Fathers without custody will be tasked with child support (don’t get me wrong, I’m all for that) and hunted down like the dogs they are if they miss a single payment (a bit draconian, but hard to argue with), and in the rare event a mom doesn’t have custody she has to… well, how often are they ordered to pay child support? And when was the last time you heard the phrase “dead-beat mom”? And please don’t feed me some line about women being “nurturers”. Remember, we don’t assign gender roles in this classroom. So that’s three.
Last but not least is a real touchy one and the one I expect to catch the most hell over, but I feel the need to say it since nobody else will. First a clarification: I am not taking a stance on abortion here. That’s another post entirely. I do have an opinion, a strong one, but I don’t want to cloud the issue with that argument. Let’s simply take as given that Roe v Wade is the law of the land. So women have the right to decide, once they are pregnant, whether or not they will have a child. What right do men have in this arrangement? If he disagrees with her choice, either way, he is powerless. Completely at her mercy. He can beg, plead, persuade as best he might (and please don’t suggest threatening because I will gladly see a man in jail for that), but he has no recourse before the law. If you believe that is fair, turn the situation around. Put a woman in ANY situation in which she is bound for almost twenty years by a single decision that a man makes on her behalf, even if he is bound by that same decision, and tell me that it’s still fair. Here’s an alternative: let him surrender his parental rights if he doesn’t want the child. It’s not everything, but it’s more than nothing.
Life’s not fair. I get that. But why is it that women get to cry “life’s not fair” and call it a movement? Why do men have to stand by on the sidelines and simply accept the slow chipping away at our dignity and all the good we have in order to make the world an acceptable place? There is injustice in the world, this I understand; that is a fact that is not limited by gender, ethnicity, or politics, and we should all stand against it. But robbing from Peter to give to Paulina does not create a better world; injustice is not the answer to injustice; misandry is not the cure for misogyny.