Yesterday, I said Feminism was destroying the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. I started there because I see the SDA church as a simpler reflection of a global phenomenon. The reason Ordination of Women is so controversial is that the existing power structures are drawn from conservatives and from men. I never used the term “religious” yesterday since it would have been redundant but I’m adding the adjective today.
We do the same thing in modern secular America. We draw leaders from a conservative base that doesn’t value egalitarian principles. The sole definition of Feminism is that men and women should have the same rights and opportunities as men. There’s a religiously minded subset who simply can not tolerate a women having religious power and those having secular and political power. In some of their worst imaginings they see Feminism as a movement dedicated to elevating women above the currently equal status they have with men and becoming dominant in violation of the natural order that God himself has ordained (no, I’m not even exaggerating. I wish I was.)
That’s not to say that everyone who isn’t a feminist is misogynistic. Most are apathetic. They simply don’t care if one member of our society has the same rights and freedoms as another. This is also largely the same group that is ignorant. If you were to ask them, they would tell you that we already live in a world of equality based on the fact that Women have made and continue to make huge strides in the last 100 years. They have no love of blatant misogyny. Even blatant misogynist don’t believe in misogyny. There are still a lot of folks that would tell you, “I’m offended that you called me misogynist. I love women. I love women so much I never want them to leave the home and kitchen.” I promise, you will never help these individuals learn the error of their ways. Ironically enough I have more hope for the blatantly offensive misogynist. I’ve actually seen the offensive type of misogynist recant.
What I’m saying is not that there people who need to be opposed (they need to be ignored except for when they’re actively hurting someone) or that a raft of women legislators would automatically fix all the problems of the country, or that all the problems of the world are caused by men. My point is that an intense concerted effort at egalitarianism for the sole purpose of “just because it’s the right thing to do” represents a profound agent of change. Conservatives by their very nature are not trustful of change. Some of them fear it. A few of them hate it. (Please don’t misconstrue this to mean that I think all conservatives hate change or women). Embracing change is not easy under the best of circumstances and it will not be easy to move women beyond their purely biological role in our society. This will mean changes to how the family functions. It’ll mean changes to the economy, employment, social services, and community. One could oppose feminism simply on the grounds that the transition will be expensive and we don’t have the resources in the short-term. This is obviously a specious argument but it will need to be addressed. When the country introduced ‘no fault’ divorces the divorce rate skyrocketed. One could argue that a feminist priority literally lead to the destruction of families. A better argument would be that feminism unmasked how dysfunctional marriage had always been. The divorce rate has stabilized and the family unit has changed. It will change again, and again. It may never be through changing just as the 1950’s did not represent an unchanging and enduring ideal of marriage for all time past and future.
Through it all, there will be an intransigent segment of the population that will oppose change because all those things I just mentioned, family, employment, community, are all imbued with moral significance. To change these will be to de facto force change upon someone’s moral philosophy. Even if it is so minor that we simply wish to give some women a choice about how to control some small aspect of their lives. Case in point. Sandra Fluke advocated for insurance agencies to provide birth control. I’ve yet to meet a sensible person who could not understand why this might be a positive thing. She was pilloried by these conservatives because for them this kind of social change had moral connotations. Rush Limbaugh, perhaps the most notorious misogynist in the country, called her a slut and said that other people shouldn’t have to pay for her sex life. Rush Limbaugh sees this change to insurance policy as requiring that he personally abet and enable what he would consider immoral behavior. I won’t go into the very many reasons why he’s wrong and completely offensive, but suffice it to say he represents the kind of people who will see feminism as the destruction of their country.
But it’s true. Feminism will absolutely destroy their country. The one in their minds; the one that exists in their imagination; the one that they would inflict on others. Equality is an ideal based in the founding of this country. It’s an ideal that we still struggle to achieve. We obviously don’t have all the answers about the role of women. We know the short sighted-misogynistic vision of America isn’t working though and I wouldn’t really bet on it ever having worked. But that vision of America, the Old vision, it will inevitably be destroyed and good riddance to it.