Writing on TONGUE-TIED, I recently made some very summary comments on feminism so I thought that it may be time to say something more systematic about the subject. I have actually done some academic survey research into feminism so I do have some claim to being aware of the issues.
The first step in any science is taxonomy so I must offer some thoughts in that direction: Some women are not feminist at all. They are happy ladies who think that being a stay-at-home wife and mother is a great racket and that it's the men who bear the heaviest burdens. I married such a lady. She was a working mother when I met her and she jumped at my offer to "take her away from all that", to use an old and sometimes mocked expression. She is a keen cook too so the outcome was very beneficial to me too. I have told that little story in the knowledge that it will fill real feminists with disgust and anger, which is rather amusing.
But most women do subscribe weakly to feminism. They like equal pay for equal work and the opportunity to choose any occupation etc. As a libertarian I agree with that too.
Amusingly, they also often try to give their baby sons dolls and their little girls toy trucks. The children concerned educate them, however. In something like 95% of the cases, the boys go for the guns and the girls go for the dolls. Loving their children as they do, the mothers concerned rapidly admit the defeat of their experiment and conclude that "boys will be boys" -- as indeed they always will be.
One little anecdote a mother recently told me concerned her family of three boys, all fairly close together in age. Being fairly traditional, she gave her little boys the normal boy's toys but it is difficult to avoid the yammerings of feminists so she felt that maybe they would like a doll too. So she gave them one. They promptly tore its eyes out and ignored it thereafter. Normal boys do NOT like dolls!
But I happen to know a couple of little girls who really like trains! How come? Are trains not a boy thing? I certainly like trains. I can at times feel quite weepy with happiness about a magnificent steam train tearing along with its conrods flashing -- such as "Mallard" and "Bittern".
See also here and here.
So how do we account for the little girl below? She is enjoying being near a train whilst holding a toy train. That is pretty trainy! So does the "stereotype" fall down there?
Not at all. As her insightful mother explained to me, it is all about Rev. Awdry's "Thomas the Tank Engine" stories, now very widely circulated. Thomas stories humanize trains and give them very recognizable faces and emotional lives. So the girls concerned see and like that side of Thomas and some tend to generalize that to all trains. So the inborn male/female differences ARE still at work in the photo
So that's normal people for you
Then we come to the radical feminists -- the women of the sort who appear in print claiming to be feminists and at the same time being obviously very Leftist. It is they who do all the howling at the moon and despise the normal divisions of labour between men and women that have always occurred and always will occur. As with all Leftists, the impossible ideal of "equality" is their watchword.
I think such women are mentally ill. Kate Millett being a good example. Loss of reality contact is the key feature of mental illness and these females seem to me to be in an advanced state of that. No facts are allowed to interfere with their conviction that they only difference between boys and girls is merely "something in the underwear" and that men systematically oppress women. The idea that men might love women is deeply alien to them. And they abhor marriage! A housewife is a "parasite," Friedan said: Such women are "less than fully human". And all the evidence from neurology about structural differences between male and female brains is simply ignored.
So how does such insanity arise? Mostly, I think, it is inborn. All the evidence shows that our level of happiness is inborn. Some of us are born cheerful and positive and become conservatives. Some of us a born with dysphoria and become Leftists -- whiners and miseries to put it plainly. And feminism is simply a subset of that.
That it is NOT about women is plain. It is about their own hangups only. Real crimes against women such as the genital mutilation practiced by many Muslims leave them silent -- even when such things are happening in their own country. And is there ever a whisper from them about the real oppression of women in such Muslim countries as Saudi Arabia? If feminists were really focused on the welfare of women, they would be unrelenting critics of Islam -- but in fact they ignore it
So all Leftists find in their environment things that are not ideal but, instead of adapting to it or bypassing it, they rage about it. Leftist men find things in their environment that enrage them and Leftist women find things in their environment that enrage them. And, because women are inherently more relationship-oriented, the often-difficult relations between the sexes drive Leftist females wild. "Men are the enemy" is seriously believed by many of them.
One subset of what makes women anger-prone is however hormones. Elevated levels of Progesterone, in particular are a known cause of irritability. So a small subset of feminists could presumably be "cured" by some sort of hormonal rebalancing. Men who have seen much of the normal hormonal cycle in women will readily identify the sorts of verbal outbursts they get at "that time of the month" with what one hears from the mouths of feminists. But the causes of chronic hostility are presumably various so many feminists are presumably normal hormonally.
OK. Another little illustrative anecdote: I particularly remember breakfasting one morning with a very grouchy wife. When I got home that night, however, I found a happy little thing sitting there. I said, "You've had your period, haven't you?". "Yes", she replied happily. Men who don't know about hormones don't know anything.
For whatever reason, however, hormones or not, Feminists have no perspective about male and female lives. They cannot see that men have hardships too. They think their own hardships are unique. They are narcissists. They are incapable of looking beyond themselves and their own experiences. Their evaluation of the world is totally lacking in balance. So they would never understand what is behind the Leibnitzian contention that we live in "the best of all possible worlds".
The truth is that "men" and "women" are mostly inadequate generalizations when it comes to privilege or lack of it. As the old saying goes: "One Man's Meat is Another Man's Poison". It all depends on individual likes and dislikes. Exactly the same situation or the same behaviour may seem fine to one woman and intolerable to another. What feminists see as "patriarchy" might seem to happier women as "womens' privilege".
For instance, many conservative women not only decry the eclipse of old-fashioned courtesy between men and women but in fact insist in their own lives that the courtesies be maintained or revived. I have had a lot of women in my life and I have yet to meet one who did not appreciate having a car door opened and closed for her! I suppose it is rather silly in some sense but feminists miss the point of it: It is a form of fun. We enjoy doing it. From a woman's POV it is a token of esteem and respect and those are very desirable things indeed.
So feminists are basically misfits lashing out mindlessly -- seeing as faults things that are made faults only by their own inadequacies and incomprehensions.
But have not feminists done some good things for women? They have, though not as much as one might think. Giving women the vote was once claimed by both sides as something that would bring about great social change. It does not appear to have done so. The old divisions still bubble on. We still have Leftists proposing solutions to problems that will only create further problems and we still have conservatives trying to prevent such follies.
And some of that continuity is probably due to what I noted above: The folly of treating women as an undifferentiated whole -- a fallacy feminists are much prone to. For instance, in recent U.S. Presidential elections, married women have tended to vote Republican while unmarried women have tended to vote Democrat -- to oversimplify a little.
And the "liberation" of women can go too far for the good of the society. With the possible exception of Muslims and Tasmanian Aborigines, all human societies have tended to protect their women. They try to keep their country's mothers out of the line of fire. Mothers and their children are seen as the future of the nation. These days, however, that is under heavy attack from feminists. They want to see women in the front lines of their national armies. They WANT their women to be shot at. And in the U.S. army that day seems to have come close
And the great feminist urge that women should have a career has been immensely destructive. Many men can't understand that at all. Men have careers to get money. Lucky ones are in jobs that they would do for nothing but most have to spend a lot of time doing things that they do not much like amid people whose company they would not normally choose in order to get on in their career. Why wish that on women too?
But many women are taken in by the feminist gospel and prioritize a career over having children. And by the time they are "ready" to have children they find that nature will not co-operate, with even IVF not helping to bring forth a baby in many cases. And those women who undergo the travails of IVF clearly want children badly, so their disappointment at missing out on children is very great. Children are undoubtedly the best thing in life -- even though there is no gain without pain -- so missing out on children is to miss out on a large part of life. And there are many women who bitterly regret being lured into that dead-end by feminist propaganda.
For some useful documentation of feminist insanity see here
UPDATE: I specified above that I was speaking of radical feminism but did not formally define that so I probably should expand my treatment a little there:
1). As with most Leftism, there are sects, schisms and theological disputes among radical feminists. Although I have read some of that literature, I don't think any sect in radical feminism is worth attention. It is the people who adopt the "gender feminist" stance (that biology does not matter) who seem to me to be mentally ill -- and most radical feminists are in that category.
2). There is of course a form of feminism that is well-accepted among conservatives: "equity feminism", as argued for by Christina Hoff Sommers and others. That form of feminism simply says that women should not be restricted in their choices by society simply because they are women. As I mentioned above, that view is just a form of libertarianism, and one with which I see no difficulty. If a woman CHOOSES to enlist in the Marines and can meet the same physical and mental standards as the men (normal women cannot) she should be given the opportunity to try out.