Krispy Kreme is one of my very favorite food chains. I would gladly travel two hours for one of their hot, original glazed doughnuts, fresh off the conveyor belt. However, not everything they serve is great. Their coffee is fairly bitter without much taste. Their other doughnuts are mediocre. The truth is, the only item on the menu I like is the hot, glazed doughnut. Just because they have one doughnut on the money doesn’t mean all their offerings are delicious. Some might argue that one golden item is enough to validate the goodness of the entire menu. I disagree.
Choosing a side in the feminist movement will gather new friends and rally new enemies. One of the great mistakes proponents of feminism make is to hold the belief that everything to come out of this movement was good for everyone– women, children, men, the workplace and the home. Some good things did come out of the waves of feminism as did some bad things. It’s foolish to pretend otherwise. In recognizing and celebrating the good, it’s only fair to point out the setbacks.
One good thing to come from feminism was balance. Historically, men dominated America. Women had very little to say, few things they could do and were not encouraged to branch beyond their kitchens. In 1920, women were given the right to vote. Twenty years later when husbands went to war, women were the housekeepers and the breadwinners. Surprisingly, women enjoyed their new dual roles and pursued them with zeal. Progress in the workplace meant progress in the classroom. In the early 1970’s, female enrollment at the university level was doubling every year and it matched that of men by 1982. In incremental movements throughout the 20th century, America realized women were not second-class citizens, but valuable, contributing members of society, capable of political, educational and professional success. The landscape of our country shifted for the female and, by default, all others in the wake of her liberation. It was, however, too good to be true.
For some, this balance was not enough. Discontent drove many women to dig their heels in and push America to full-blown feminism. To what end? Equality? No. If the pursuit was equality, today’s women’s rights groups would be out of a job. Men and women are equals in this country. The courts in this land can just about send you to prison for discrimination, especially on the grounds of gender. Feminists desire to dominate men, not be equal to them. This pursuit has left a trail of wreckage that we will forever be sweeping up.
The quest for female equality turned domination has affected our nation on so many levels that quantifying the fruit is impossible. The effects are particularly devastating to society’s most fundamental unit: the family. The progress of feminism in the late 60’s and early 70’s marked an increased divorce rate and a decline in the birth rate. However, the children that were born were not exempt: Today, America’s adolescents experiment with drugs, alcohol and sexual activity on average 5 years earlier (age 11) than twenty years ago. Why? Maybe it is because no one is home. Almost 70% of children get off the bus to a parentless house; 55% of teenagers resent one or both of their parents for the long hours they keep at work. Two out of 3 adolescents will eat only one meal at the family dinner table this month and 7 out of 10 kids ages 12-18 say their parents do not know what classes they are taking in school. Are these findings coincidence? Feminism might have empowered women but it seems to have simultaneously destroyed the strong, safe pillar that should be the family.
Christians aren’t alone in observing how feminism has adversely affected American families, particularly in the area of child rearing. One year ago, Time Magazine’s special report was The State of The American Woman: A new poll shows why they are more powerful-but less happy. In a segment of their story titled, “Both Men and Women Want More Help,” they reported the following:
Eighty-four percent of Americans agree (53% strongly) that businesses haven’t done enough to address the needs of modern families. Asked what would have to change to make it easier to balance work and marriage and children, 54% of women and 49% of men said more-flexible work hours or schedules; 15% of women and 17% of men said more paid time off; and 13% of women and 12% of men said better or more day-care options.
The interesting aspect of this report is to whom women and men assign responsibility for a solution: corporate America. Parents bypass the idea that they might somehow be responsible for the stress of their lives where children are not a priority but a notch in the belt of their American Dream. What would have to change to bring peace, joy and order to this chaotic attempt to have it all? Well, certainly not giving anything up, right? Many refuse to believe that, just like a bakery or hospital, the home and family need full-time management. Men and women, of course you need more help, but not from the private sector. It is not America’s responsibility to solve our role confusion, selfishness and child-rearing deficiencies.
Not everything about the feminist movement was bad, but it certainly wasn’t all good. Women aren’t functioning as God designed them. Genesis 2, Proverbs 31 and Titus 2 directly point to this design and it is underscored in the whole of the Bible. The central question is this: are families getting the first and best of our time, energy and effort or are they a casual after thought? Women who are focused outside the home might have great careers and accomplishments. They will probably enjoy lots of promotions, money and perks they wouldn’t have otherwise. However, her true litmus test is the testimony of her husband and children. Do they rise and called her blessed or do they rise and call her absent? Feminist’s attempt to obliterate God-given roles has taken part in obliterating the family unit attached to them. I ask you…how does that taste?