]]]]]]]]]]]]]         The Myths of Feminism    [[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[[
                      By Nicholas Davidson            (5/31/1989)

[Mr.  Davidson  is   the  author  of   The  Failure  of  Feminism
(Prometheus, 1988) and the editor of an anthology, Gender Sanity:
The  Case Against  Feminism, just  out  from University  Press of

         [From National Review, 19 May 1989, pp. 44, 46]

          [Kindly uploaded by Freeman 10602PANC]

   Over  the   past  twenty  years,   feminism  has  successfully
ensconced  itself  as  the  national  philosophy  of  gender.  In
consequence,  economic and  cultural warfare  against traditional
sex roles virtually defines  gender policy today.  This onslaught
is furthered by a series of false beliefs, which can be described
as the ``myths  of feminism.''  Politically,  five of these myths
stand out:
   Myth #1:  ``Most women are  now working.''   So the mainstream
media have regularly  informed us for  several years.  Often they
give a specific  figure, overwhelming in  its bland finality: the
Department of  Labor (DOL)  reports that  57.6 per  cent of women
with children under  the age of  18 are now  working (1986 data).
But  the category,  on examination,  turns out  to be  so broadly
drawn that scarcely any woman can escape it.  (My remarks on this
subject are indebted to the  excellent analysis by Cheri Loveless
in What's a Smart Woman Like You Doing at Home?)  Of the 57.6 per
cent of  ``working mothers,''  some are  working part  time only,
leaving an actual  residue of 41.2  per cent who  work full time.
The DOL also classifies as ``working mothers'' women on maternity
leave, as many as 40 per cent of whom elect not to return to work
after their children are born; mothers who work from their homes;
mothers who help out with a family business or farm; mothers with
flexible hours (such as some  airline schedules that involve only
two days of  intensive flying per week);  and mothers who babysit
the children of  other mothers.  Millions  of American housewives
would be astonished to learn  that the government classifies them
as ``working women.''
   A subsidiary myth  is that most  women want to  work.  This is
critical, because if most  women want to work,  who could in good
conscience fail  to support  their aspiration?   In reality, nine
out of  ten American women  consistently report that  they do not
desire full-time employment outside the home.
   Myth #2: ``There is a day-care crisis.'' The myths that ``most
women are now working'' and that ``most women want to work'' fuel
the  myth  of ``the  day-care  crisis,''  for if  most  women are
working, who will mind the kids?  The myth of the day-care crisis
also rests  on the myth  that ``day care  is at least  as good as
home care.''  In fact, numerous reports in the medical literature
indicate  that  children  in  day   care  have  higher  rates  of
respiratory,  gastrointestinal,  and  other  illnesses, including
giardiasis, bacterial  meningitis, cytomegalovirus,  hepatitis A,
cryptosporidosis, and rotavirus.
   In addition, study after study  has shown that children in day
care exhibit higher  levels of aggression  than home-reared kids.
This is especially alarming in  light of a major long-term study,
recently reported  in Child Development,  which demonstrates that
high  levels  of  childhood  aggression  correlate  strongly with
emotional difficulties later in life.
   Myth #3:  ``The divorce  revolution means  that women  have to
work.  After all, what is a  woman to do when her husband deserts
her, running away from a faithful  wife of many years to shack up
with  a twenty-year-old  blonde  who just  finished  modeling for
Playboy?  While such a man  does indeed deserve our condemnation,
he is a statistical rarity, for more than 70 per cent of divorces
of couples with children under 18 are instigated by the wife.
   Thus, if we wish actually  to reduce the incidence of divorce,
we must concentrate  on making divorce  less attractive to women.
Even if men were entirely prevented from initiating divorces, the
divorce epidemic would continue to rage.
   At  this  point,  the  denizen  of  Feminist  America retorts:
``Well, if women are leaving men, it must be because they deserve
it.''  This leads us to:
   Myth #4:  ``There is  an epidemic  of male  family violence.''
According  to R.L.  McNeely, a  professor of  social work  at the
University of Wisconsin [Milwaukee], reports on domestic violence
frequently rely on  studies of clinical  populations, composed of
women in shelters, rather than on survey studies that examine the
general  population.   As  a   result,  such  reports  inevitably
overstate the relative incidence  and severity of male-instigated
   A number of  studies based on  the general population indicate
that women commit roughly as many assaults against spouses as men
do.  Women apparently make up  for their lesser physical strength
by using weapons more often.   (There it is: culture can overcome
biology.)  Males commit 52 per  cent of spousal killings, females
48 per cent -- a ratio that  has held constant for the past fifty
   In general, the grim facts of domestic violence do not support
the contention  that females are  its especial  victims, or males
its  especial  perpetrators.  Women  commit  two-thirds  of child
abuse.   Boys are  twice  as likely  to  be abused  as  girls.  A
majority  of the  perpetrators of  infanticide are  female.  Most
child abuse is committed in households headed by a single female.
Statistically speaking,  a child's best  protection against abuse
is the presence in the home of its biological father.
   Men are, of course, typically far more aggressive and stronger
than women.   But violence by  men is  typically directed against
other men.  Within the home,  male protectiveness and chivalry --
obnoxious to feminists -- appear  largely to cancel men's violent
propensities relative to women's.
   This  is  by no  means  to  deny the  existence  of habitually
violent men.  It is to say  that the media's focus on violence by
men misrepresents the cause  of domestic violence, attributing it
to  ``patriarchy''.   In  reality,   the  incidence  of  domestic
violence (and every  other social pathology)  is lowest in intact
traditional families where the husband is clearly regarded as the
head of the household.
   But all of  the foregoing pale  into insignificance beside the
crowning  myth,  the  Big  Lie  that  holds  the  whole structure
together in the public's mind:
   Myth #5: ``Women suffer from economic discrimination.'' In the
standard version of  this myth, it is  asserted that ``women only
make 59 cents on the dollar  to men.''  This figure dates back to
the  mid Seventies  and, though  entirely outdated,  is endlessly
repeated like a  holy mantra.  A more  recent figure, released by
the Census Bureau in the spring  of 1988, is seventy cents on the
   In  fact,   without  realizing   it,  feminists   have  always
maintained that men work harder than women in the job market, and
so they should expect men to earn more.  For the one benefit that
they  have  always promised  men  is relief  from  the stressful,
grinding world of work which, as feminists have often emphasized,
encourages  ulcers, high  blood  pressure, clogged  arteries, and
cancer,  with the  result  that men  die  on average  eight years
younger than women.   Thus feminists tacitly  admit that men work
harder than women.   Such being the case,  it would be incredible
if (in a free society) they did not also earn more.
   But the myth of  economic discrimination against women suffers
from even  more serious  problems than  this.  The  59-cent myth,
says  Warren  Farrel,  author  of  a  forthcoming  book,  The Ten
Greatest  Myths  About   Men,  ``is  what   I  call  an  `outcome
statistic.'   Another example  of  an outcome  statistic  is that
black mothers  with young  children earn  one dollar  for each 59
cents that white mothers with young children earn.
   ``Before  we   can  determine   whether  or   not  someone  is
discriminated against, we have to look at 13 major variables. One
of the things  that we find,  for example, is  that the full-time
working woman works an average of eight fewer hours per week than
the full-time working  man.  And that's just  one of 13 variables
that operate  in the same  direction.  So to  compare a full-time
working woman to  a full-time working  man, without comparing the
amount of education a  person has, the amount  of training in the
workplace, the  number of hours  worked, and the  number of weeks
per year worked, is a very inaccurate comparison.''
   As  Michael  Levin points  out  in Feminism  and  Freedom [New
Brunswick,  NJ:  Transaction  Books,  1987],  single  women whose
educational and  work-history pattern resemble  single men's earn
similar amounts of money to such men -- varying, depending on age
bracket, from 93 per cent to 106  per cent of what men make.  The
main  reason men  make more  than  women on  average is  that, as
George  Gilder shows  in Men  and  Marriage [Gretna,  LA: Pelican
Publishing Company,  1986], married men  utilize their ``earnings
capacity'' to  a greater  degree than  any other  category of the
population, while married women use it the least of any category.
In short: If it's true that most women prefer to stay home and to
raise their  own children, as  surveys clearly  indicate they do,
then we should expect  that men will, on  average, earn more than
women.  So far from being something to be embarrassed about, this
wage gap is evidence of freedom.  Conversely, the rapid shrinkage
of the  wage gap  from 41 per  cent to  30 percent  since the mid
Seventies is presumptive evidence of coercion and discrimination.
   The forms that  the myths of feminism  take are not arbitrary.
They have in  common the assault on  structure and authority that
underlies leftism in its various guises.
   The  myth of  male family  violence delegitimates  the primary
representative  of  authority in  the  family.  The  myth  of the
day-care   crisis  suggests   that   women's  family   roles  are
unnecessary  and  obsolescent.   The  myth  that  most  women are
working seeks to  persuade politicians that  they will antagonize
female  voters if  they oppose  feminist  programs.  The  myth of
economic  discrimination  legitimates a  whole  bevy  of socially
corrosive  actions:  the discriminatory  taxation  of traditional
families,  ``affirmative  action,''   ``comparable  worth,''  the
forced integration of private  men's organizations, and the trend
toward compulsory ``anti-sexist'' education.
   Too often in the  past, the Right has  reduced itself to being
the handmaiden of the Left's initiatives, accepting ``change'' as
inevitable, and viewing its  own task as merely  to usher in that
``inevitable''  change  as painlessly  as  possible.   Instead of
merely resisting  this ongoing  onslaught, let  alone yielding to
it, the  Right should start  to develop  and aggressively promote
its own agenda  on these issues, centering  on the restoration of
parental authority, the discouragement  of single motherhood, and
the revalidation of  sex distinctions in all  areas of life where
they are necessary and beneficial.
      [The following is not part of the original article.]
Ansberry, Clare. ``Calling Sexes Equal in Domestic Violence,
   Article  Stirs Clash  Among Rights  Groups'', The  Wall Street
   Journal, 5 May 1988, p. 35:4.
Letters, Social Work 33:94 (January-February 1988).
Letters, Social Work 33:189-191 (March-April 1988).
McNeely, R.L.; Robinson-Simpson, Gloria.  ``The Truth About
   Domestic  Violence:  A  Falsely  Framed  Issue'',  Social Work
   32:485-490 (November-December 1987).
McNeely, R.L.; Robinson-Simpson, Gloria.  ``The Truth About
   Domestic  Violence Revisited:  A  Reply to  Saunders'', Social
   Work 33:184-188 (March-April 1988).
Saunders, Daniel G.  ``Other ``Truths'' about Domestic Violence:
   A Reply  to  McNeely  and   Robinson-Simpson'',  Social  WorkS
   33:179-183 (March-April 1988).
Sowell, Thomas. Civil Rights: Rhetoric or Reality. (New York:
   William Morrow, 1984), Chapter 5: The Special Case of Women.
Steinmetz, S.K. ``Women and Violence: Victims and Perpetrators'',
   American Journal of Psychotherapy, 34:339 (1980).

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