Are Feminists Keeping The Patriarchy Alive?
I read and largely enjoyed Hanna Rosin’s book, “The End of Men” last year. I didn’t quite agree with her conclusions that women were going to entirely surpass men in all manner of achievement, but I felt that she gave a reasonably fair and balanced assessment of our current gender situation. Things have changed. Women are equal, equally educated, equally ambitious, and that leaves many people – especially in the world of dating – a little off balance.
It’s not that sexists are dead. But sexism as an institution is embarrassing, on the wane, and illegal in the workplace.
It’s an interesting debate, to be sure, but I think the safest conclusion we can all draw is that it’s a messy new world where gender roles are being blurred and redefined, and that the most successful relationships will result when a man and a woman can get on the same page. Traditional marriage with the breadwinner man and the stay-at-home wife is not better or worse, per se. It’s just a matter of finding a partner who is the right fit for you.
I find that stance to be relatively non controversial, which is why I was surprised to hear about the vitriol from Rosin’s latest Slate piece about “The End of Men”. In it, she asserts that “the patriarchy” – the nameless, faceless, male conspiracy designed to keep women down – is all but dead. And that really rankles some feminists whose entire livelihood depends on fighting against the patriarchy.
Says Rosin, “Soon after the 2012 election, the New York Times published as its lead op-ed a study by two academics showing that women would not truly reach parity or be in a position to pass women-friendly policies until they controlled half of all congressional seats. This seems true enough, if a little obvious. But it entirely missed the revolutionary shift the moment marked. There was a group marginalized in the election: white men. They voted en masse for Mitt Romney, and lost. This bean counting and monitoring–an outdated compulsion to keep your guard up, because sexism lurks everywhere–has found new life online, where feminist websites (including our own) and the Twitter police are always on the lookout for the next slight.”
This echoes my own perception as well. It’s not that sexists are dead. But sexism as an institution is embarrassing, on the wane, and illegal in the workplace. Same with racism. It may linger in subconscious attitudes and latent behavior, but full-out racism will pretty much disqualify you from holding down any job. Concurs Rosin:
“I understand that the big picture is not always reflected in women’s daily experience of life. Maybe a woman has an overbearing husband or a retrograde boss or just a lingering problem that has no name. But as a collective, it sometimes feels that women look too closely at the spot right in front of us. This is a moment, unprecedented in history–and also pretty confusing–when young women who work how they want and have sex how they want may also quilt and can fruits. When working-class women who quietly leave the only steady paycheck on the kitchen table every week may still believe that a man is the God-ordained head of the household. So I want to tell these women who are seeing only oppression: Look around.”
The full article can be seen here. I look forward to hearing your thoughts below.