Is Feminism True?

Fox-Genovese argues that most women, though they support some of the more well-publicized valued of official feminism and are fairly ignorant of what the rest of those values are, disclaim being feminists. Feminism, they say, is irrelevant to their lives.

Now I would call myself a libertarian. Even more, an ideologist of sorts. I am interested in theory and to a certain extent in the goings-on in politics and currents of thought and opinion. But I am pretty sure that the vast majority of people do not consider themselves libertarians. They are vaguely uncomfortable with its radicalism, if they are conservatives; and they think it cold and immoral, if they are liberals. Finally, they are pretty naive about the science behind the ideology. Now I am not at all fazed by this. No one promised me that the reforms I envision will take place. But is it reasonable to argue that just because I am in a small minority, I am ipso facto wrong?

That seems to be the crux of the issue. Feminism may not speak for the majority. Still, it may well be true. Or if we do not want such stark terms, it may be an advance over the previous ideas. Is it? Probably not, but Fox cannot dismiss it by saying that “real” feminists have failed to convince most people of the virtues of their understanding.

There is a caveat. Remember how Mises has justified his libertarianism. Liberalism “presupposes that people prefer life to death, health to sickness, nourishment to starvation, abundance to poverty. It teaches man how to act in accordance with these valuations.” Rothbard called this attempt “curiously bloodless,” but let’s not worry about that. The point is that Mises never tried to tell people what they should want; merely, if they want prosperity, then how they should go about achieving it. Is feminism a system of values (ends) or plans to realize those values (means)? If the former, then that most women do not share the feminist ends is a death knell to feminism. But if the latter, and the ends are understood correctly, then we need to evaluate whether feminism succeeds at attaining the ends that most women do share. Just because women disagree on the path to liberation or whatever does not mean that they cannot be persuaded, given sufficient effort, as long as they, as one, want to be liberated.

Feminism: Equal Pay for Same Work?

Just because a woman holds a certain job does not mean that she is as productive at it as a hypothetical man would be. Same job does not equal same work. If a woman produces 20 widgets / hour, and a man who wants her jobs says he can produce 30 in the same amount of time, and the wage is $5 / widget, then how can she be paid $150 every hour? If the employer is forced by the state to pay equally, then he would not hire the woman in the first place. Do feminists favor price controls and unemployment? Do they want to create incentives for bosses to treat women who are employed like dirt, because they are overpaid, perhaps, in hopes that the woman will leave and save them money?

Then there is the fact that many women go on maternity leave. They end up getting paid for doing no work. There are transaction costs to hiring a replacement (interviews, paying recruiters, training, etc.). The very uncertainty whether a woman will have a child is a cost to the business owner, because he may be afraid to start a project, if he can’t count on consistent performance. A woman who is away from her work too long may get rusty with her skills. There is further the fact that a woman will naturally have more responsibilities to her children than men. The facts that she is for that reason distracted from work and can’t work overtime are more obstacles to equal productivity. There also may be business reasons for all-male workforce. It may promote camaraderie and competitive spirit.

Note that being paid equally is irrelevant from the social point of view. If women want to be “free to work as hard as they choose,” then they should be prepared to do as they’ve been permitted. They should serve consumers as well as or better than men. And they should realize that customers do not care whether it is a man, woman, or alien from A. Centauri who makes their product; they just care about its value. Mises says:

The consumers patronize those shops in which they can buy what they want at the cheapest price. … They are merciless bosses, full of whims and fancies, changeable and unpredictable. For them nothing counts other than their own satisfaction. They do not care a whit for past merit and vested interests. If something is offered to them that they like better or that is cheaper, they desert their old purveyors. In their capacity as buyers and consumers they are hard-hearted and callous, without consideration for other people.

Do feminists grasp this point? They, like every other worker, will need to submit their contributions to the judgment of the free market.

It seems that women want to complete with men but aren’t very good at their jobs. So, they have used men’s natural chivalrous instincts to buy them a temporary advantage. Do women really want power without responsibility? Is that all there is to feminism? Is it a ploy to pretend to be helpless, so that men give in, while at the same time deviously getting ahead?

Now mind you, it is not men who have been contemptuous of non-feminists for alleged lack of achievement. It is certain women who have despised the more traditional careers of women and told their sisters that their lives aren’t worth much. However, if feminism is all about women wanting to be tough like men, then it’s probably a failure on its own terms.

Perhaps, feminism feeds on envy. Men are “privileged” to allow themselves to have vices, flaws. Men can be unpleasant. They can be grumpy. They ogle girls. They drink. These don’t make them disreputable, at least not too much. Women are judged far more severely. The sort of things a man can get away with, a woman cannot. Do feminists envy this male freedom to be bad? Is this ideology really that pathetically petty?

Feminism: Why Work?

I am not sure why women want to work hard. Who wants to work, anyway? Men look forward to retirement. They hate Mondays. They want to kill their bosses. They wish they weren’t bound to the “old ball and chain” and had the freedom to do what they wanted. Why would women want to immerse themselves in the daily grind?

I mean, a married woman who stays at home can engage in a variety of self-actualizing endeavors. She can devote her life to contemplation, philosophy, science, art, music, community leadership, even a home business. That housewives are “bored” is not their husbands’ fault. They enjoy the freedom to do anything they please, and they throw it away. I don’t get it.

Marshall considered it a social priority to free women, especially mothers, from having to work long hours and do hard work.

General ability depends largely on the surroundings of childhood and youth. In this the first and far the most powerful influence is that of the mother, when she does not abdicate it for the sake of dearly bought wages or for more selfish purposes.

… the degradation of the working-classes varies almost uniformly with the amount of rough work done by women.

The most valuable of all capital is that invested in human beings; and of that capital the most precious part is the result of the care and influence of the mother, so long as she retains her tender and unselfish instincts, and has not been hardened by the strain and stress of unfeminine work.

Feminists want to undo centuries of social and economic progress in this matter by driving women to labor, all in the name of “equality.” How stupid is that?

Why Women Are Statist

Fox-Genovese asserts that “it would be heartwarming to believe that a woman CEO of Dow Pharmaceuticals would welcome the opportunity to provide free measles vaccines to every child in the country.” It would be heartwarming, in other words, for the CEO to steal other people’s money and spend it on the causes dear to her (or to our author). She is in a position of a Mafia kingpin who tries to buy absolution for his crimes and respectability by donating extorted money to the Catholic Church.

Women must have a weakened concept of property rights. It does not occur to them that feeling good about themselves for works of mercy derives from stolen items and therefore, is illegitimate. Could they have spent too many hours with children? Perhaps, to a woman, taking tax money is like preventing a child from eating cookies before dinner. They only do what’s in the child’s best interest. Similarly, her victims should be happy to be stolen from, an illusion that even a Mafioso would not be under.

However, the CEO of Dow Pharmaceuticals would surely welcome a “social program” aimed at vaccinations, woman or man. Her company would profit by selling the vaccines to the government.

Moreover, if vaccines do cause autism and other ills, then she would be a veritable merchant of death.

Women Have No Chance in Competition with Men

If men really decided to give it 100% to competing with women, then women, on average, would be left safely in the dust. It is true that men feel that in so doing, they would be “beating up a girl.” But feminism has been around for a long time. People, men and women, don’t take kindly to being duped, including guilted into making unwarranted sacrifices. This solicitude will end, if it has not ended already, replaced (reasonably enough) with jaded cynicism. Men’s natural desire to protect women will wither, and women will be left on their own facing a hostile and defiant world. And in that case, they will be very unhappy.

Here is another way in which women’s power games are anti-social. For other women may well have to face a fire that incompetent female firefighters will fail to put out, losing their home in the process. A woman as a producer may benefit from foolish privileges to herself, but as as a consumer and citizen she does not benefit from similar privileges to other women.

Feminism and Men’s Honor

Fox-Genovese recalls how in her salad days as a college student, she and her fellow feminists wanted to free women from the custom of taking their husbands’ last names upon marrying. Now Mises argued that this custom is a matter of honor. It changes nothing substantive but is a sign that the wife honors her man. Why would she do that? Well, ideally, men protect women from all possible harms, so that they could bear children in safety and peace. But a protector is prepared to sacrifice himself for his charge, the wife and children. The husband is the family’s first line of defense. What payment can a selfless guardian who does his duty expect other than honor?

If American soldiers really did protect our lives, property, freedoms, etc., putting their lives on the line, then how could they possibly be compensated by us for the risks they undergo? A guy sits on a grenade, and his legs are blown off. He survives but is confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. There is nothing we can do to recompense him except to honor him. We tell him that his heroic service was not in vain and is appreciated.

That’s exactly the meaning of the woman’s taking her husband’s last name. It is a sign not that she is now his property but rather that she honors him for the favors shown to her. And here we have feminists refusing to do something so measly and unencumbering as that for the closest person in their lives, their husbands. Feminists seem to be simply ungrateful to men for building a civilization around them for all women to enjoy.

It is true, of course, that men have destroyed, as well as built; made some women miserable, as well as happy. But they have built more than they have destroyed, as evidenced by what we see around ourselves; and created more female happiness than they have taken away. Overall, as a class, they do deserve to be honored.

Feminism As Revolt of the Whores

Abortion, according to feminism, is “the guarantee that women (and men) could enjoy sexual freedom without consequences.” Alright, let’s consider sexual freedom. The striking fact is that a woman who wanted to sleep around and have many partners could never in any society really be stopped. Sex has never been illegal; a woman who seduced a married man could never be charged with any crime; in a big city like New York, no one cared how promiscuous a woman was, anyway. A woman who set her mind on being a slut would always succeed, as plenty of men would always be there to grant her her wish of sexual gratification. Moreover, women can use their sexuality as a way to gain power over men and have often done just that; this is an ancient as sexual reproduction itself.

What loose women did not have was respectability. Their status was close to that of male criminals. Consider that the phrase “get in trouble” means different things for men and women. For men, it means run afoul of the law, go to jail, and the like. For women, it means get an unwanted pregnancy. So, women who whored were outcasts, banished from good society. And this bothered them. “How to fix the situation?” they wondered. Institutionalizing sacred prostitution was probably out of the question. Very well, how about enshrining “sexual freedom” as a fundamental human right?

Now proper ladies do not benefit from a large variety of whores out there. Too many sexually active women in the wild, and men can obtain sexual satisfaction easily, which creates an incentive against marrying. This is against even of rightly understood interests of men, for whom sex ceases to be a stepping stone to love and loving marriage. Prostitutes tempt men who usually succumb quite readily.

There are reasons why whores are rejected from polite company. A woman is built for the difficult task of bearing children. She can’t engage in risky behaviors and remain fit as a mother, physically and mentally. Fox-Genovese writes that “by the time Tracey had finished graduate school, she had had five abortions, and she was beginning to fear that she could never have a child.” Whoring is thus against women’s nature. In addition, promiscuous women lose the capacity to bond with a husband or fall truly in love. Hence, promiscuity is against men’s nature. Men do not “respect,” offer consideration to, fall in love with, or marry whores, except in movies. In enjoying their sexual freedom, women have sabotaged both the procreative function of sex and the unitive one.

Again, becoming a whore has always been an option for a woman in any society. But women cannot complain that there are social sanctions against this sort of thing. You do the crime, be prepared to do the time (and don’t whine, if you are caught); you sleep around, don’t expect invitations to posh parties (and again, don’t whine, if such invitations, indeed, are not forthcoming). They should grasp their own true interests and support such sanctions, even if they suffer from them personally. It would be anti-social to do otherwise.

Abortion Statism

Fox-Genovese betrays her allegiance when she claims that

most Americans willingly acknowledged that easily available, publicly funded abortion would deter society from punishing women whose new sexual opportunities led them into a mistake.

Publicly funded, huh? Let me use the standard labels for a bit.

Liberals claim that conservatives practice repression: they aren’t satisfied with just leading righteous lives, as they see it, themselves and avoid abortions; they want to force women who do not subscribe to their moral view also not to have abortions.

Yet here we have liberals not only wanting conservatives to endure the sight of dead babies in their midst but also pay for killing them!

How are liberals not repressive, the very vice they accuse conservatives of?

Abortion for Blacks?

Fox-Genovese points out: “Planned Parenthood still reminds potential contributors about how much the pregnancies of poor unmarried women cost taxpayers, suggesting that the wide availability of birth control and abortion will reduce the bill.” Well, let’s spell it out, shall we, lest there be any confusion. This is obviously about blacks. Liberals view the spread of blacks as a natural disaster, like plague of locusts. Is that reasonable? I don’t know, but that abortion has been justified as a measure to prune the black population is certainly true. The steps from permitting black women to abort their children to forcing them to abort to, finally, sterilizing them seem to follow naturally.

The most ridiculous thing is that this despotic and inhuman ideology could have been avoided, if we had economic laissez-faire. For under freedom, everyone is responsible for their own children. There are ruthless market incentives against irresponsible sex.

So, first, liberals chose to give (other people’s) money to women for having illegitimate children out of “compassion.” The psychology of races is such that blacks were encouraged to have many more such children than whites. Black fathers were often much stricter with their daughters than white fathers with theirs, and for a good reason. In the end, they couldn’t save the situation. Mix in the drug war, the black guys’ naturally greater violent tendencies (hey, as Kramer said in Seinfeld, “Mother nature is a mad scientist”), especially when fatherless, and we have our locusts.

The liberals were horrified by this. Of course, coercive “compassion” had to stay. Still, liberals became “concerned about overpopulation by ‘poor’ and ‘minority’ children.” Since we live in a scientific age (especially in which the government is imagined to be able to successfully manage the economy), their second step was to attempt to find methods to stem the tide of black bastards, so that “they” would not supplant “us.” And we wonder why some blacks think the CIA is selling crack in their communities!

Feminism, Shmeminism

A feminist may simply argue that all she wants is to give to women the same opportunities in life than men also have. I have argued that women’s nature prevents some of such opportunities from being available to women. But the offensiveness of feminism does not lie with the falsity of its arguments. It is due rather to two things.

First, feminists are coercive. If they said: “Employers irrationally prefer to hire men over more qualified women,” and attempted to change that by peaceful persuasion, then there would be little to object to in their efforts. They are dissatisfied with popular culture? Well, then, they are free to contribute their own ideas to it. They could start a business and pick up female employees at bargain rates. But no, feminists run to the government and demand laws that destroy freedom of association. It is not as if men enjoyed a legal privilege over women, such that a business owner who hired a woman could go to prison or be slapped with a $10,000 / day fine. No, people remain relatively free to hire and fire whoever they like. Feminists aim to ruin that freedom. Not content with making their case that women make good lawyers and doctors, feminists want to force employers to hire women. Since most government officials are still men, this is yet another attempt by feminists to feign helplessness in order ruthlessly to cease some commanding height of society.

Second is the feminists’ tactics in arguing. If I think that feminism is mostly nonsense, then feminists do not say that I am intellectually mistaken but that I am morally evil. By arguing my points, I am, ipso facto, a bad man, perhaps, a woman hater. I am part of the problem. I am a troglodyte. I keep women down. In other words, they poison the well. And this is disingenuous, though it does have the expected by the feminists effect on the public. No wonder people are afraid to reply to feminist arguments. They’ll be painted as exploiters, defenders of rape, and goodness only knows what.