Modern Feminism’s Hated Enemy: Womanhood
Women across the West are under attack. Our enemy is not the infamous “patriarchy,” allegedly scheming to undermine us at every turn. Nor is it pregnancy, with its physical discomforts and emotional tribulations. Even children are blameless here, no matter how much their arrival can shift careers or thwart travel plans.
No, the culprit is progressive feminism, a movement whose very existence depends on holding women in contempt. Modern-day feminism has succeeded in a spectacular charade, masquerading as a great champion for women while spewing antipathy for men and groaning over the burden of children. But at its core, its real hatred is for womanhood itself.
According to the narrative that has dominated feminist discourse since the 1960s, women are weak until we strike out every feminine trait that distinguishes us from men.
This message has been repeated with increasing volume for decades, echoing from the studios in Hollywood to the ivory towers of higher education, chanted by the women in white at the 2019 State of the Union Address. Behind every iteration is a reminder that women are always victims. Even as feminism promises women that we can “have it all” and “be anything we want,” we are told we will remain powerless until we cease to behave like women and instead become like men. Traditionally feminine virtues of modesty and chastity are flagged as signs of repression. We must subvert our natural ability to bring forth new life if we want to achieve anything substantive in our lives. Most of all, we must have the ability to destroy our own children or we will never succeed.
During the recent Golden Globes, Michelle Williams sparked controversy when she credited her professional success to her ability to “employ a woman’s right to choose.” She did not specify whether this meant she had utilized contraception or ended an unborn child’s life, or both. However, her point was clear: children are obstacles to achievement, and women must be able to prevent their creation and dispose of them as needed.
Applause greeted Williams’ passionate advocacy for the war against motherhood and fertility that is euphemistically called “reproductive rights.” The camera panned the room, showing glittering starlets openly weeping at Williams’ bravery as she praised the sundering of the sacred relationship between mother and child.
Williams’ blithe reference to the destruction of children was nothing less than horrifying. But it was also revealing of what has become the central pillar of progressive feminism: a woman’s success depends entirely on her ability to root out the essence of what separates her from men, her ability to sustain and nourish new life.
This is not to say that only women who bear children are “true women.” However, throughout human history, women have traditionally adopted the role of caretakers and nurturers while men have served as providers. This is not a mere social construct, conceived of by men determined to suppress their wives and daughters, but a natural expression of the biological differences between men and women. Of course, there have been men throughout history who have exploited this as a means of relegating women to subservience. However, the answer provided by modern feminism is to deny that any distinction exists at all, and inform any woman who dissents that they are victims of men’s manipulation.
Writing in First Things in 1994, Kari Jenson Gold noted: “When we see ourselves as victims of nature rather than blessed participants, as victims of men rather than partners in life’s complex tale, we harm only ourselves. Convinced of our own inferiority, we strive neither for virtue nor for love, neither for great deeds nor for caring families, but only for that empty substance, ‘empowerment.’ Only those who believe they truly have no power speak of being ‘empowered.’”
Gold’s article, prompted by what her adolescent stepdaughter was learning about women’s rights in school, elucidates the inherent flaw within the feminist ideology: it is built upon the belief that women are indeed inferior to men, until they eschew anything that might actually mark them as women.
“But wait!” Defenders of feminism cry. “We want women to be able to choose how they pursue fulfillment. We want them to be able to choose whether they want to work or be mothers.” This defense has proven effective at silencing many would-be critics of feminism. No one—least of all a man!—wants to suggest that women should remain in traditional roles. Alas, the protestations are a lie.
Modern feminism does not want a choice for women, because then women might choose the “wrong” thing. The celebrated feminist Simone de Beauvoir famously told Betty Friedan, “No woman should be authorized to stay at home to raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.”
Feminism can only survive if women continue to hate the very elements of their nature that differentiate them from men. If women are excited to bring new children into the world, and even worse, if they choose to step away from their careers to raise said children, how will they ever muster enough self-loathing to force themselves to become more like men?
It is this contempt for womanhood that causes modern feminists to demean and deride all women who refuse to play along.
Following President Trump’s election in 2016, First Lady Michelle Obama rebuked women who did not vote for Hillary Clinton, saying they had “voted against their own voice.”
After delivering her endorsement of unfettered abortion access, Williams finished her speech with a flourish, calling on all women to “vote in their self-interest” and oust pro-life politicians. The assembled crowd roared in approval as she instructed her fellow women to put others who “look like us” into office.
Feminists cannot afford dissent. They cannot afford for women to willingly choose to elect someone who values the unborn life in the womb. Feminism cannot tolerate the woman who bases her choice at the ballot box upon merit rather than anatomy.
In short, modern feminism hates nothing more than the woman who is content in her femininity. Feminism seeks to supplant the patriarchy, but in reality it can only achieve its objective by destroying the woman.
It is this critical flaw that will ensure the eventual demise of modern feminism—though we have no way of knowing how much societal damage it will inflict before it collapses. Thus far it has racked up a devastating death toll of 55 million children. Feminists will not fail because conservative women will out-procreate them, although that seems likely to happen as well. Feminism will fail because no movement can survive when its success is dependent on the destruction of the group it claims to champion.
But doubtless those are my husband’s ideas talking.
Kelly Marcum studied International Politics at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Service, and received her M.A. from the War Studies Department at King’s College London. She lives with her husband and children in Northern Virginia.