I was a little girl when “Women’s Lib” became a thing. I remember seeing news reports showing women literally burning their bras in public. I didn’t understand it, but the women on TV said not wearing a bra was a symbol of a woman’s freedom. I was still dreaming of the day I would have need of a bra so I couldn’t identify with not wanting to wear one, much less burning one on the six o’clock news.
What followed that first wave of feminism was a highly celebrated trend of independent women wearing pants on TV. And divorce. And the sexual revolution.
Though I was still in elementary school, I understood women recognizing their autonomy as a good thing. Why shouldn’t a girl have ambitions other than marriage and motherhood if that’s what she wanted?
Also good was the recognition that women need not feel imprisoned by a terrible marriage. I found both of these concepts easier to understand than the whole bra burning thing.
I didn’t understand the sexual revolution at all,
but it was emblematic of the women’s liberation movement. A liberated woman was supposed to be as open to casual sex as any guy was…though I use the term “woman” loosely. I was in high school by this time. Apparently, if you were old enough to date you were supposed to be okay with casual sex. Any girl who wasn’t, was labeled “uptight”. The pressure to “put out” was immense. That, I remember very well.
Once that “Free Love” genie was let out of the bottle, there was no putting it back. Over night, the sexual boundaries that used to protect young women and the unplanned babies that were the frequent result…disappeared. Today, there are no boundaries at all.
The Great Inflation that began in the 70’s
resulted in the cost of living rising much faster than wages. The typical single income (even for a man) was no longer enough to pay the bills. Because of this and the huge increase in divorce, women in the workplace became an economic necessity. Women worked outside the home even if they didn’t want to. Children barely old enough, became latchkey kids. Those too young to stay home alone were deposited in institutional daycare centers (adding another huge expense to the family, resulting in parents working longer hours to pay for it).
Many of the relational things that tethered parents and children together began to disappear. Family time and leisure time were crammed into the few moments left over at the end of a very long day. The new mantra, designed to assuage parental guilt, was “It’s about the QUALITY of time with your children, not the quantity of it”. What a load of garbage that was.
Is it any surprise that the values and convictions of today’s young adults rarely reflect those of their parents? The smallest portion of the average child’s day is spent at home…at leisure… with their parents. There isn’t enough time to talk about life and the values that shape the future. If your child was/is in public schools they had/have far more exposure to the ideals, philosophy and world view of their school teachers than their parents and Sunday School teachers combined.
The sharp increase in divorce
had a correlating increase in the number of women and children turning to the State for support. With women still earning pennies on the dollar compared to men, it was rare that a single mother could garner a job that paid enough to live on. Once upon a time that included my mother and her children (including me!). I thank God for a society that comes to the rescue of suddenly single mothers and their children. I don’t know what would have become of us without it.
Welfare today, however, has become a permanent solution, rather than a stop gap for women in need of support while they stabilize their financial independence and future. The State has become such a wonderful provider that a single parent would need an estimated annual salary of 45K to pay for all the benefits they currently receive for free. Many eschew marriage because of the financial loss they would suffer as a result of losing their welfare benefits.
Second Wave feminism arrived when I was a young mother in the 80s. Women were fed up with being paid less than the men they worked with. Fed up with being relegated to support staff positions when they had both talent and skill to be leaders. Fed up with being overlooked for well-deserved promotions simply because the boss thought men should be given priority.
Second wave feminism rightly demanded women be recognized and afforded the same opportunities given their male counterparts. If she was equally qualified she should be equally considered…and compensated.
Women today owe a lot to the women who blazed that trail for us.
The social stigma to being a single mother had faded by then. A girl wasn’t “ruined” by an unplanned pregnancy anymore. She didn’t have to get married or give the child up for adoption. The State guaranteed her a regular income that afforded her a comfortable place to live and plenty of food to eat. She even received free medical care for her child and herself. She might have hoped to marry the father of her child but if that didn’t work out…she could raise the child without him.
Guys, enjoying the exploits of the sexual revolution, were often disinclined to marry the girls they’d only planned “to have and to hold” for just that one night. And why should he be financially responsible for a child he didn’t want? Wasn’t it her responsibility to make sure she didn’t get pregnant? He wasn’t the bad guy! He was an enthusiastic supporter of a woman’s right to choose. So, if she chose to keep the baby why should that ruin his future?
The physical, psychological and emotional abandonment by the men of the women and the babies they helped create, caused a tectonic shift in the foundation of our society.
And whatever note THAT struck became the tuning rod for the growing hostility between men and women that ultimately led to a 3rd wave of feminism. And this one marches under an angry banner that says we’d be better off in a world that had no men in it.
The First Wave Feminist were heralds and heroes who set fire to the status quo (and their bras) and proclaimed, loud and clear, that women and men were different but EQUAL.
I’d call that Good.
Second Wave Feminism unleashed women in the workplace.
They leapfrogged over a time that said, “Behind every successful man,… there is a woman” and instead cried, “Behind every successful man… there is a woman who is probably better qualified and more deserving of the job.”
Perhaps it would have been good had they stopped at that but, regrettably, second wave feminists went even further. They said we don’t need men for anything. We don’t need them at work and we don’t need them at home. We don’t even need them to make or raise children!
I‘d call that, not so Good.
Today’s 3rd Wave Feminist sees men as the enemy.
They believe men built an evil power structure, called the Patriarchy, to serve their own interests. They point to history dating back to the patriarchs of the Bible and the founders of our nation as proof that men used their toxic masculinity to rig the system in their favor.
That… may… be partially true.
I think it’s fair to say there were many generations in our country where men did not see women as their equals. To be sure, some truly did see them as property. But that’s hardly the case today. Those few remaining men who still believe women are supposed to be “under the authority of a man” are usually found in very conservative churches and even they typically only mean their wives. We can talk about that another time :).
It’s exceedingly important to understand “patriarchal systems” exist in every single species that ever existed in the known world. Not as dominating males subjugating females for the fun of it. But as a system that employed all of the innate strengths of each to the tasks that best served the family and ensured it’s survival for another generation. Males protected the females and children because they were stronger. In a wild, sin sick world there were a lot of physical dangers that threatened the survival of women and children. The females carried the babies and protected the environment closest to the children. They kept it clean to protect from vermin and disease. Again, to assure the survival of the next generation. One hunted, the other cooked. One worked the land, the other feathered the nest. It’s what worked!
If men had the babies and women were physically stronger, it would have all been the other way around!
We don’t live with as many existential threats to our daily survival anymore. We’ve changed. Society has changed. The roles of men and women aren’t determined by physical strength for the most part anymore.
Today’s feminist say men are stepping on their necks in order to maintain power and control over society. They say it’s time to dismantle the Patriarchy and destroy every convention that goes with it. Marriage. Fatherhood. Men as champions and protectors. They think it’s time women stepped on the necks of men and strip the men of any power whatsoever in the name of reparation.
This is a big problem. But probably not in the way one might think. Yes, of course, it’s damaged relationships between men and women. Yes, it’s destabilized our culture. Yes, it’s put men on their back foot and left them no solid ground for the other.
The bigger problem is, without realizing it, this extreme form of feminism, combined with the well-intended welfare system, which has enabled an ever increasing population of single mothers and fatherless children, has pulled our society toward a jagged cliff’s edge. The very one satan had in mind… from the very beginning.
Who could be more pleased with the demise of the family, the devaluation of men, and the de-legitimization of anyone called Father?
How can something that started out with so much good wind up causing so much harm? How could something designed to improve the lives of women do so much damage to the family? That was never the intention. At least I don’t believe it was.
Women finding their voice and their unfettered place in society is Good.
A social safety net that sustains the lives of poor women and children is Good.
But I’d be hard pressed to say the current state of affairs in America is Good. Not for women, men or children.
The scales have tipped too far.
With all my heart, I believe it’s time we affirm the men and fathers in our lives and help them to recapture their masculine identity. The one God gave them. Their God-given role in the family and society is every bit as essential as those of women. Different. But equally essential. We should be grateful for their strengths and, for the love of God, stop trying to “improve” them by making them more like women.
I also believe it is time we affirm the women and mothers in our lives. The solution is NOT to go back to the days when women were expected to sacrifice their own desires and do whatever was imposed on them by men. Men were never supposed to use their power to dominate and control women. That behavior was a result of the original sin. It was part of the curse!
“To the woman he said, “I will make your pains in childbearing very severe; with painful labor you will give birth to children. Your desire will be for your husband, and he will rule over you.” Genesis 3:16
Understand that God was not telling women He wanted men to rule over them. He was spelling out the consequence of allowing evil to contaminate humanity.
But Jesus came to redeem us from the curse!
It’s very hard to give up power and control. Men had it all in America; until a mere 100 years ago when the women won the right to vote! Until then, for thousands of years, men competed with other men to win whatever prize they sought. They weren’t thrilled about having to compete with women too. So YES, the women’s movement was right and even necessary. But it’s jumped the tracks ladies.
Equality means we don’t devalue either gender.
I don’t want to live in a society that elevates women and denigrates men… or the other way around.
We are ALL created in God’s image. Male and Female. We are different reflections of the same God with neither being better or more important than the other. Do you think one half of God is inferior to the other? Of course not! BOTH are to be honored, celebrated, encouraged and loved …to His great glory!
Can we just do that? Please?
In His love and service,