Feminism forgets the primacy of private life
by Belinda Brown | February 18, 2016
Socially conservative women, those of us who place family and children at the centre, will, I hope dislodge feminism from its teetering political pedestal and help provide an alternative, all embracing, more functional politics. A politics where families and individuals are at the heart of decision making can be equally ambitious in scope because it has a point of reference to come back to. A centre of gravity. A politics that focuses on increasing GDP by getting mothers out to work, seems to have forgotten the point of itself.
Socially conservative women actually value and think that the private realm of community, family, domestic activity is of far more consequence and importance than the public realm of politics and work. The implications of this for feminism are far reaching. Read any earlier feminist texts and you find the whole foundation of feminism is built on the assumption that the public realm is the most important – and therefore women are subordinate because they participate less in this realm of politics and paid work. And because the public realm is assumed to be the most important, it is thought women are subordinated also in the private realm, this status follows from that.
But if you believe that the private realm is more important and what’s more you are more important and powerful here than any of the males around you, the fundamental assumption of feminism falls apart. Heck, it doesn’t matter if men have more status and power in the public realm because the public realm is there to serve the interests of the private and we know who is in charge of that. What is more, the pressure to compete with others, bring home the bacon, is often stressful, demanding and largely unpleasant and quite frankly it is why men don’t live as long.
But it goes further than that. Feminism has focused so long and so hard on women’s status in the public realm, on how many female politicians there are, on how equal we are in the workplace, that in its negligence, it hasn’t just lost sight of, but, trampled on, family, children, our community, our men – the things that for us, family-centred women, are what really count.
And it gets worse than that. Feminists have actually made it difficult for us family-oriented women to care for our children, our families and the world around us in the way we know best. It’s not just that anything short of a proper career is frowned upon and there is enormous social pressure to be in the workplace and perform. Feminists have had a hand in creating the economic pressure as well.
Where there are so many two (high) income families competing for housing those of us with more modest aspirations just don’t stand a chance. The tax system, where people are taxed as individuals, regardless of whether or not they support a family, is entirely in keeping with feminist aims. And it is feminist women who lie behind the current movement to get women out to work.
Feminism has been particularly damaging for less advantaged women. To those who clean your houses and look after your children, it’s not the privileged women jockeying for higher status at work who are going to improve their standard of living. It’s having a supportive and decently earning man. And feminism is doing nothing to help here. As female employment has increased male inactivity is on the rise. In nearly all areas of employment women are gaining ground relative to men. Men are less likely to get apprenticeships and throughout the whole education system males fall significantly behind.
Feminism has been so destructive because it is very inwardly focused; usually on rather educated women concerned about improving their own position without any real regard for the consequences of this on anyone else.
This seems to me to be a direct contradiction of what the female sex is all about. We are the sex entrusted (if you will) with the guardianship of children and whether or not we actually have children, I think this gives us a more direct and tangible interest in the world, its people, even in the future of the human race. As such I think we need to be more outwardly focused, examine how the policies that we support might indirectly impact on children, how they might affect less educated or less advantaged women and also finally how they impact on our brothers, our fathers, our sons and our lovers. Let’s keep an eye on how our policies impact on men.