Wednesday, July 12, 2006

A New Feminism

Sorry, this isn't another rant against Linda Hirshman! However, Harvey Mansfield gave a thoughtful commencement speech at Hillsdale College that answers her "call to arms." The speech has been reprinted in Imprimis and speaks about the need for a new kind of feminism.

Thus feminism, in its eagerness to claim manliness for women, destroyed femininity. We began to see gangster movies with lovely actresses playing the role of hit men. Some feminists denounced the manly passion for competition and war, but in doing so they had to be careful not to imply that women are unsuited for business or for the military. Since the Sixties, we have become used to seeing women in men's occupations. Yet the gender-neutral society created by today's feminism is not in fact as neutral as it claims. Despite its dislike of the word manliness, it is on the whole friendly to the quality, now under a new name, more neutral and prosaic, such as "leadership." On the one hand, the world seems to have been feminized, yet on the other hand, it is still a man's world, and in a strange way even more so, because both sexes are now engaged in employments that reward the manly qualities of aggression and assertiveness....

The present-day feminist notion of autonomy takes no account of women's domesticity. If women were autonomous, they would not want to live in a home. Let us not be too romantic about a home-much housekeeping is drudgery-but let us not sum it up as a necessary evil, either. To a woman, home is where your husband lives and where your children learn. In the best and also in the normal case, it is suffused with love. For the great majority of human beings, happiness is found in a happy home. To be the manager of a home is the moderate and attainable ambition of most women; it is the place where they find honor and joy. It is where they most readily find "recognition," if we must use that word. The husband must make a contribution to the home, and there are tasks which by nature and convention are his; to these we may add, from them we may subtract, in particular cases after negotiation by the parties. The result is that each home will be its own. Yet the woman should want to be in charge and take responsibility for the home, for to give her husband an equal responsibility would be to lose her sovereignty over the whole. Does a prudent woman want to let her husband decide when the house is clean?

I agree with Al Mohler, this speech needs to be widely read and considered. Mr. Mansfield adds a tone of rational sanity to a discussion that is getting way off course. I'ts heartening to see a man take on this topic and not just cowar to militant feminists.

I must confess however, that I would rather let my husband decide when the house is clean and orderly. He's fine china and I'm more paper plates. He is much more attentive to certain details than I ever will be. Thankfully, he never complains and our home is a happy one.

For an excellent website that I've just become acquainted with on making your home a special place, visit Lyida at HomeLiving.

Quotes from this article were "Reprinted by permission from IMPRIMIS, the national speech digest of Hillsdale College,"

(HT: Al Mohler)

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