D. Lynn Thompson, of The *F* Word, has made a number of comments here on this page. It is nice to have feedback that isn’t completely complimentary. In response to my previous post on feminism where I concentrated on feminism’s second wave, she informed me that feminism is currently in its third wave, which began in the 1980’s. I knew this; I just don’t think it’s nearly as important as the second wave. Much of what modern feminists have to say is largely ignored by the greater population. Most of what feminists argued 40+ years ago is accepted as common knowledge today. Opponents of modern feminists largely grant to them that early feminists were right. I don’t. I think we need to question everything. Having said that, let’s look at some of what Thompson is saying. The following is from a post titled “In Response to Alice Walker”, but there is no description of, quote of, or link to anything Alice Walker said, whoever she may be.
There is no externally valid scientific evidence that proves that women are any more capable of gentleness and nurturing than are men. On the contrary, there is no way to test these qualities before social construction has occurred. From the youngest ages, girls are taught to play with dolls, play in tiny pink, plastic kitchens, and solve their problems through words and not fists. Boys, on the other hand are taught to play with trucks and construction equipment, build forts and play war with plastic guns, and “stand up for themselves”. Boys are encouraged to fight; girls are encouraged take care of the children and the home.
My first inclination on the claim that there is no valid scientific evidence is to think, “that doesn’t sound right. It would probably take me less than 15 minutes to find such evidence.” But then she sets me straight by claiming that no such evidence is even possible. This way, no matter the methodology, any attempt at proving such a gender bias in natural tendencies is automatically disregarded. There is no point in searching for such evidence, since anything I find will be considered invalid.
For many, a belief in innate differences between the sexes does not stem from any rigorous scientific lab work, but from experiencing life. This is particularly true of parents raising both boys and girls. On the other hand, there is no basis that I can even imagine, other than wishful thinking, for believing that male and female humans are fundamentally identical. So, I think I can stop right there. Thompson makes a claim that most people simply experiencing life would find counter-intuitive and provides no evidence to support at all. She then hands the burden of proof to anyone who disagrees and preemtively dismisses any proof they might find.
Yuck. I will say that my understanding of the socialization of boys runs contrary to her claims. Boys are naturally violent and socialized to be civil. This is the role of fathers and boys who are raised without fathers are far more likely to act violently as men. Boys are almost never encouraged to fight, although I do think that children learn to be violent (or not to be non-violent) from violent parents. The statistics are out which show a rather strong link between fatherlessness and anti-social behavior. The most quoted statistic seems to be that fatherless boys are 20 times more likely to be in prison. My thoughts on this matter are hardly definitive, but I don’t think baseless claims deserve definitive refutations.
Something else Thompson said:
[The third wave of feminism] focuses on the intersectionality of social experiences.
I don’t know about you, but when I see a word like “intersectionality”, a word that my spell-checking Chrome™ browser doesn’t recognize, my BS-meter goes starts jumping. Let’s see what Wikipedia has to say about this word:
Intersectionality is a sociological theory suggesting that—and seeking to examine how—various socially and culturally constructed categories of discrimination interact on multiple and often simultaneous levels, contributing to systematic social inequality. Intersectionality holds that the classical models of oppression within society, such as those based on race/ethnicity,gender, religion, nationality, sexual orientation, class, or disability do not act independently of one another; instead, these forms of oppression interrelate creating a system of oppression that reflects the “intersection” of multiple forms of discrimination.
Okay, now my BS-meter is broken. If there is a usefulness to such a concept it is to validate claims of oppression. Oh noes, you’re being oppressed. If this is what third wave feminism is, it seems perfectly reasonable to ignore it.
Last (and most importantly), I think you may be missing part of the point. It is not that motherhood is not important enough for a woman to feel significant, it is that she have a choice. Women can be in the workplace and/or at home with their children, but they don’t HAVE to be one or the other. If a woman wants to be a stay at home mother, more power to her. But she should CHOOSE to be.
Yeah, um, no. Let me reframe this. A number of things happened in the post-war period. First, fewer and fewer families were farming, and it was more common than ever for fathers to leave mothers at home with their children. Now, you have almost all children being largely raised by tax-funded state-run indoctrination institutions and technology has rendered domestic chores a trivial matter. The housewife is home alone and bored. She doesn’t feel useful or important. Men are now seen as having more and many women want what they appear have. Feminists told them the could have it and they went for it. For the record, a woman (nor a man) cannot be in the workplace and at home with their children. She can only split her attention between the two. For this, children suffer. Although, I don’t know that it really matters that much anymore. People today, having not been properly raised themselves, don’t really know how to raise their own children. Today there is social pressure on women to leave the house and not be just a mother. If a woman can do whatever she wants, the system is unbalanced as men do not typically have that freedom. I do think that the bored-housewife situation was a problem in need of a solution, but feminism was the wrong answer.