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Feminism Has Been A Net Detriment To Women

In this essay I will focus on three detrimental effects that feminism has had on women. The first is the degradation of the traditional housewife via the message of feminism. I will show that homemaking is not the equivalent to slavery, as feminism proclaims, and weigh the effects of the assault the traditional housewife has taken from feminism. Second, I will show that women who have strived to achieve in the business world or any other arena traditionally known as "men's territory" have suffered from feminism's reputation. Last, I will show, through brief argument and a fictional example, that the feminist's ultimate goal of achieving equality is flawed in its naive perception of what "manhood" is really all about and that this misperception was detrimental to women then, now and in the future.

Three definitions of terms within my thesis are required. "Women" means women in the United States of America. "Net detriment" should be taken in a utilitarian sense. It only means that more bad was produced then good. The word "feminism" means post-suffrage feminism or the "second wave" of feminism which I will define, distinguish from other waves, and discuss before showing the detrimental effects it has on women.

I will expand the length of the thesis I plan to defend in order to narrow its scope: The second wave of feminism has produced more bad for women in the United States of America than good.

Before I proceed, I will give feminism its rightful due by saying that feminism of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, known as the "first wave" of feminism, was not a net detriment to women. The first wave culminated in women having the right to vote, own property, serve on a jury, and enter into contracts . Because of this, I will go as far as to say that feminism, if defined as the combined results of the second and first waves of feminism, has been a net benefit for women because the oppressions targeted and defeated by the first wave of feminism were actual and utterly evil. At the time of the first wave, the laws in our country indicated that over one half of the adults in the United States of America were viewed as second-class citizens by birthright as evidenced by women not having the aforementioned rights. That is evil. The first wave of feminism eradicated so much evil that the second and third waves of feminism would have had to produce at least as much evil as the first wave eradicated before I would include the first wave in this thesis defense.

Before I discuss the detrimental effects of second wave feminism, I need to state exactly what it is. Second wave feminism is a term referring to feminism that arose in the late 1960's and peaked in the 1970's. The second wave claimed to be an extension of the first. Second wave feminism fancied itself a movement that strove to advance the "liberation" of women from the "slave status" of the housewife and advocated women's "equal rights."

The "liberation" of women that the second wave referred to, when carefully worded in philosophical terms is "the freedom to determine our (women) social role and to compete with men on terms that are as equal as possible" . However, what American housewives and their daughters heard about themselves was not phrased so politically correct and shall be addressed later.

On the issue of "equal rights" for women, what separated the second wave from the first wave was that these "rights", alleged by the second wave, were not as eagerly accepted by Americans as rights every person should be born with. Abortion, which is not going to be criticized or justified in this essay, was one of those "rights" the second wave fought for. Abortion was and remains a hot topic to say the least and, with a large percentage of Americans equating abortion to murder, declaring this act a human "right" and successfully lobbying for it was an outrage to many Americans. Religious lines were drawn and feminists were viewed as "anti-God" because of their stance on abortion.

The Equal Rights Amendment was another endeavor of the second wave and it consumed the country for years with exhaustive debate. The second wave focused on amending the constitution to specifically ensure equal rights for women. The amendment ultimately failed because it was deemed unnecessary. The battle in which the second wave spent most of its energy was viewed, in the end, as a waste of time and, with that defeat, feminism faded and existed mainly in Women's Studies Departments at colleges and universities until recently.

I will not distinguish the vast feminist theories such as radical feminism, liberal feminism, Marxist feminism, lesbian feminism, etc., that fall within feminism itself. Instead I have focused on the actions of feminists of the second wave and the effect these actions had on women.

Feminism has gained some momentum in "the real world" again in the form of the third wave. I deem the third wave not capable of definition. I find it lacking a unified set of goals and identity. The third wave is in the fetal stages of waveness right now still depending on the second wave for identity and does not have a right to definition (unless I choose to give it definition).

I have given a mere glimpse into what second wave feminism is. It is more complex then my version of it but I only focused on America's perception of feminism i.e., what was on television and in the newspapers, because we are dealing with the effect feminism had on the American woman, who, like men, do not contain within themselves as a group a majority of philosophers or hard core activists who have a greater understanding of the issues and theories.

Second wave feminism branded the American housewife as an insignificant slave. She was told by second wave feminism that her family was nothing more then a patriarchal system in which she cowered near the bottom and, in regards to her relationship with her own husband, she was in a sexualized predator/prey relationship. According to the second wave, men and women were mere socially constructed creatures and it was time for women to break the chains of "slavery".

This sudden assertion of "everything you ever thought was wrong" had a cult like effect on the minds of women. It created a conflict in the minds of women that, had it been administered in slighter doses, would have been healthy. Women needed to reexamine and refine their roles. There was an unfair wall between women and the business world and the world of politics. Options were limited for women but the options given to women by the second wave were extreme: Either rid yourself of your formal self-identity, declare yourself a slave to your family, and join our numbers or remain the insignificant flea that you are.

If you cannot agree that the family is the single most important institution of our society then read no further. This essay will make no sense to you. If you don't believe that society needs, more then anything else, responsible people and that personalities and capabilities for being responsible are formed in people at a young age then you will find major false premises in my argument regarding the importance of the housewife.

Granted, the role of a homemaker was under appreciated in the 1970's. A homemaker is essential to a family. In fact, she is more essential to a family then any other person. Children are molded by their surroundings at a very young age. Who they see is who they become. A homemaker is more then the primary care giver. She is the example the children are given in their formative years. She is the determining factor in the personality of the nation. People are more influenced by their primary care giver then anyone else in their lives and this makes the homemaker the most important person in the most important institution in America. The problem was, and is, the homemaker is not appreciated. A movement for appreciation would have been healthier for the minds of the homemaker. Instead, they heard Berry Friedman. Friedman, a second wave feminist icon, referred to the traditional home as a concentration camp and wrote that housewives are "parasites" and "less then fully human" because they "have never known a commitment to an idea."

I disagree. I assert that the housewives were indeed committed to an idea. The idea was playing a central role in the raising of children and second wave feminism stripped her of that idea, confused her, and she suffered because of it. When your very perception of yourself has the rug pulled out from under it, the psychological damages are obvious.

We tend to categorize what threatens or annoys us into larger than necessary categories. If a German Shepard bites us, we become leery of dogs, big dogs, or all German Shepards, not just the dog that bit us. If a group of gang members are playing music loudly on a street corner we say, "Damn kids these days!". We don't say, "Damn Gang Members whose social-economical situations differ from mine when I was kid."

The second wave's unrealistic goals, i.e., the Equal Rights Amendment, its controversial moral stands, i.e., abortion rights, and its assault on the American housewife was shouted from the mountain top through demonstrations, massive rallies, and newspaper and television blitzes. There was a large level of disdain for feminists in America, especially by men and religious people. The feminist message was delivered crudely and mean spirited and I assert that American's level of respect for a certain type of woman, not spoken about in this essay until now, diminished unfairly as a result of the second wave of feminism. That certain type of woman was the woman trying to make it in the business world on her own right. The woman who was every bit as qualified, if not more, then her male counterparts and earned her credentials outright whether it be a promotion, a college degree or a successful business.

What affirmative action did for the African American who earned his way into law school because of his GPA and LSAT scores and those credentials alone, second wave feminism did for the woman who was capable in her own right to succeed. Successful women were lumped into a category of radicals and suffered from the reputation whether they were feminists or not. Similarly, successful African American law students are lumped into the category of people who were admitted because of their color, regardless of their true credentials. I assert that it is so natural for Americans to categorize people instead of understand them that this particular kind of woman became viewed by many as a femi-nazi bitch who hated men. It was feminist behavior that caused this misperception. The career oriented non-feminist probably suffered and encountered more obstacles than she would have otherwise. By suffered, I mean she was viewed as anti-God, anti-family and, perhaps worst of all, anti-man in a climate dominated by men.

The third detrimental effect had two victims who were the feminists who voluntarily rode the second wave and the women of later years who were swept away by it. Second wave feminism not only made the average American housewife feel insignificant, in the dark and naive to the real working world, it made feminist themselves appear naive to the real working world. Feminist's unrealistic and naive vision of "manhood" was damaging.

Here is why:

Although feminism asserts that fathers worked their jobs and received self-fulfillment in their roles, most fathers went to work to pay the bills and support their families. They hated their jobs like 99% of us do and second wave feminism encouraged women to strive for this "freedom" that men allegedly had.

"Come and get it," the men said.

Imagine a forty-eight year old construction worker in the 1970's. His body aches. His joints are sore. He walks with a limp. Because of the job he works out of necessity, not choice, (he wanted to be Mickey Mantle when he was a boy) he realistically has ten to twenty years left to live and these are years that are getting harder and harder and harder for him. Even getting out of bed hurts him. He is weathered beyond his years. The economic times will not allow him to even contemplate retirement, as he is barely able to pay the mortgage. He sits on his couch and reads the paper after a long hard day of work. He can smell himself as he reads the editorial section. He reads that, as a man, he has it made in the shade. He is told that he is a king sitting on some imaginary throne ruling the land of a nation called Patriarchy.

"It sucks to be king then", he grunts.

The editorial goes on further to encourage women to strive for this life he has! As he reads, he dozes off and begins dreaming. Time is fast forwarded twenty-five years. Over half of all children in America are not living with both their biological parents. Of those children, most are with their single mothers. One particular single mother has just gotten home from work. Her body aches. Her joints are sore. She walks with a limp. Because of the job she works out of necessity, not choice, (she wanted to be Pat Benatar when she was a girl).....................He snaps out of his dream.

"Be careful what you wish for ladies", he says through the wisdom of experience, "You just might get it."

He lays the newspaper down, gets up with a grunt as his knees crack and he turns on the lone television in the house. He sits back on the couch and watches Archie Bunker. He drifts asleep. Exhaustion has taken him as Gloria is yelling at Archie (employed Archie) telling her father how good he has it and how oppressed she is while Meathead (unemployed Meathead) nods and agrees.

In summary, feminism has been a net detriment to women because it has unfairly branded non-feminist females as God, family and man haters just because they strove to succeed in areas outside the home. Feminism has diminished an honorable, although under-appreciated, role in our society by degrading housewives and pushing them with lies into a lifestyle that does not consist of freedom and self-fulfillment, as it promises, but of hard work, stress and a lack of self-fulfillment greater than that produced by the job of housewife. These detriments outweigh the good of feminism which is the sparking of the idea in women that they could be whatever they wanted to be. This essay would not have been written if only feminism had refrained from telling women what to be.

I found Fathers For Equal Rights through my church. Fathers For Equal Rights empowered me to do the right thing for my son through critical knowledge, and strategic access to affordable legal assistance.
  -- David A. - Dallas, TX

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