The Truth About Feminism - Suzanne Venker Responds to Critics

| by Suzanne Venker
Several posts ago I linked you all to an article I wrote called "The Myth of Female Empowerment." If you missed it, you can scroll down to find it or go to my website and click on the Articles heading.

Opposing Views posted the article on their site, and some of the comments are as follows:

"Feminism is what gave you the right to write and be taken seriously."

"These women want to take us back to the stone age and they're oblivious to the fact that feminism is what has given them the credibility that they have. Ms. Venker, if not for feminism you'd be at home with kids crawling all over the place and not have the opportunity nor the time to state your views."

"It is only because of feminism that [Venker's] opinions are even considered in the public sphere."

The reason people respond this way to those who argue against feminist thought is because college professors and the media have been so successful in preaching feminist theory that few dare to question their analysis. The other day I turned on the television and heard a female reporter say that the number of women in the workforce is about to surpass men -- but there was a caveat. "Women still do not earn as much as men. We still have a wage gap," she said.

The wage gap is feminists' signature phony assertion, used to assure Americans that women are still not viewed as men's equals. What that reporter won't tell you is that the wage gap between men and women exists b/c it reflects the choices most women in the country make -- willingly. The vast majority of women choose to make concessions for motherhood by opting to move in and out of the labor force as the needs of their families change. For some, this will mean women disappear from the marketplace for large chunks of time, thereby compromising their career trajectories.

The most common misperception among people -- as evident by the comments above -- is that feminism is solely responsible for the freedoms women now enjoy. The truth is far more complex. Feminism has been divided into three parts: first-wave, second-wave, and third-wave. First-wave feminism refers to the original feminists of our time: Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and the like. These feminists helped to ratify the 19th Amendment to the Constitution, which prohibits the government from denying any citizen the right to vote based on gender. It was passed in 1919, and ratified by thirty-six states in a little over a year.

Great. Women could now vote. Who would argue with that?

Then came the Great Depression, which required massive government intervention into the economy and had major effects on gender issues. Women went to work in the factories, but the politics of that time -- fostered by the retooling of wartime factories for domestic use -- caused women to be home bound, as wives and mothers. After the war many women returned home, as much of the industrial economy rushed to rehire men. This is not to say ALL women did, or that NO woman was "allowed" to work outside the home. But it is true it was the norm for women to "stay home," as we call it today. The reasons for this, however, had more to do with the social and political upheavals of that time than some full-scale plan to oppress women, as people have been led to believe.

Then, between the mid-forties and mid-sixties women grew increasingly frustrated with their role at home because by the 1950s women's lives began to change considerably. The advent of the washing machine and other modern conveniences allowed women, for the first time, to explore other ventures. Until that time, women had been juggling child care alongside mind-numbing household duties. When their last child trotted off to school, these mothers discovered they had hours to fill while their clothes were being washed for them. This was an enormous boon for women.

Bu then a problem of a different sort emerged, and that's when second-wave feminism came on the scene. Some of these women were discontent. With time on their hands to think about their lives – something women in previous generations could only dream about – women began to realize they could have something for themselves if they wanted. But for many women, hobbies weren’t enough. Many desired the same kind of lives their husbands enjoyed during the day, and those who were ambitious and resourceful made it happen -- even if they faced discrimination in the process. Those who were not able to do this drank, or stewed, or became so emotionally distraught they found it difficult to be good mothers. Their discontent hung like a cloud over the house, and Betty Friedan -- who was a great example of this kind of person -- tapped into this discontent with her book The Feminine Mystique. And so, in 1963, the idea that women should have their own identities separate from husbands and children was born -- and women inhaled the dream.

Unfortunately, feminism didn't stop there. Rather than just present the idea that life outside the home was one option among many, that some sort of "balance" between work and family was possible, feminism morphed into something else. Modern feminism is, at root, predicated on the notion that women are victims -- that the traditional definition of men's lives are in fact superior to the traditional definition of women's lives. As such, feminists have made it their mission to get women out of the home and into the workforce in mass droves -- and they've been very successful. But in order to accomplish this, feminists need Americans on board with their views on two issues: abortion and day care. Without everyone agreeing on these two issues, modern feminism ceases to exist.

Ironically, "real" feminists -- the original feminists -- were pro-life. And apparently they're not alone in their opinions. According to Public Agenda, the premier nonpartisan polling organization which provides "unbiased and unparalleled research that bridges the gap between American leaders and what the public really thinks about issues," 53% of Americans believe abortion is "morally wrong." A mere 38% believe it is "acceptable" -- but to listen to the media (where most modern feminists reside) you wouldn't know this to be true.

As far as day care is concerned, feminists demand universal child care and see it as society's duty to help women balance work and family. YET, according to Public Agenda, 70% of parents with children under 5 agree that “having a parent at home is best" and a full 72% of parents -- including the majority of low-income parents -- believe parents, not the government, are responsible for child care costs.

So in the end, it is abundantly clear that modern feminists do not speak for the majority of women in America. For more information about the truth, I encourage those who are interested to go to and click on Mom Facts at the top.