That's not a great secret. Over the years of writing this blog, I've collected any number of examples of feminists claiming to be interested primarily in female autonomy. And I've got another one to add to the list.
The former First Lady of France, Carla Bruni-Sarkozy, made the news recently when she rejected the label of "active feminist":
I'm not at all an active feminist. On the contrary, I'm a bourgeois. I love family life, I love doing the same thing every day.
This led to criticisms from feminists, including a Salon writer, Mary Elizabeth Williams, who defended feminism as being a fight for female autonomy:
you should know that “the fight” is just being an autonomous person in the world.
Ross Douthat also raised the issue of feminism and autonomy in a recent column. Douthat believes (as I do) that below replacement levels of fertility are a problem for advanced societies. But he has met resistance in raising the issue with leftist audiences. This is his appeal to the feminists in his audience:
Likewise for readers who regard any talk about the moral weight of reproductive choices as a subtle attempt to reimpose the patriarchy: Can it really be that having achieved so much independence and autonomy and professional success, today’s Western women have no moral interest in seeing that as many women are born into the possibility of similar opportunities tomorrow?
Douthat is no doubt to the right of much of his audience but he still seems to agree with feminists that the pursuit of autonomy is the higher aim for women in Western societies.
So what's wrong with making autonomy the higher aim?
If what matters is that we are self-determining, then predetermined aspects of life will seem like negative impediments to be overcome. And this includes our sex, our ethny and the traditional family, all of which are inherited in some way rather than self-created. So we lose much when we make autonomy the overriding good.
And how do we maximise autonomy? We are most autonomous when we live a single person lifestyle. That's why Douthat's appeal is unlikely to be effective. If what matters to women is independence, autonomy and professional success then why marry and have children? Marrying and having children decreases independence and autonomy (and in some cases professional success). A liberal society which is focused on maximising autonomy will gradually trend toward more people living alone (as do 50% of Swedes).
Finally, the emphasis on autonomy shouldn't be accepted by those who believe that there are objective goods for humans to be oriented toward. Autonomy is an option for those who don't believe that such goods exist and who opt to believe instead that value or meaning is created through the assertion of human will. If you believe that the only value that exists is the act of self-determining choice, then it won't matter so much what people choose or what they are oriented toward, but rather that they are "equally free" to self-determine.
Feminism is sort of like a wasting disease in an individual body. But an individual with a wasting disease at least understands that he is dying. He looks at his gaunt frame and says to himself, "in a year's time, I'll be dead." If the wasting disease was exactly like feminism, it would cause the poor fellow to suffer delusions, to see a slim and healthy body in the mirror and never consider that "in a year's time, I'll be dead." Any people that contracts feminism will be dead in four or five generations. If an enemy introduced feminism into a population, it would be recognized as an act of genocide.ReplyDelete
Feminists simply indoctrinate young girls into believing that being a mother/wife is a form of patriarchy rather than biological role. They believe being feminine is a form of patriarchy as well, notice why most hardcore feminists dress like men, have shorts male haircuts, and are mostly overweight and gross?ReplyDelete
If feminists didn't have liberal MSM helping them, it would have died out decades ago.
The only thing wrong with the argument is that autonomy is not what most people associate with the word "feminism" anymore - as my fellow posters' comments would indicate. Feminism has become a derogatory term that most women, except the "hardcore" and haters, feel embarrassed to be associated with.ReplyDelete
Its terribly shameful that the quest for respect and self-determination has turned into such a misappropriated idea.
Deciding to become someone's wife of have children because of social pressure or moral obligation, that is the antithesis of feminism, and what most feminists abhor. I know a great many strong and independent women who have determined to have children, and husbands too, and have done a fine job of both as well as remaining self-determining individuals.
However, I dont think we have to worry much at this time about declining population - I suspect that replacement of ourselves is among the lowest of our priorities, when we cant even figure out how to treat each other respectfully.
Some feminist called Camillie Pagila said thisReplyDelete
"It feels positively nightmarish to survivors like me of that rigidly conformist and man-pleasing era, when girls had to be simple, peppy, cheerful and modest. Doris Day, Debbie Reynolds and Sandra Dee formed the national template -- that trinity of blond oppressors!
“We’ve somehow been thrown back to the demure girly-girl days of the white-bread 1950s. It feels positively nightmarish to survivors like me of that rigidly conformist and man-pleasing era, when girls had to be simple, peppy, cheerful and modest."
This is interesting apparently "blond" women are the oppressors. So women were the oppressors of other women.
But it all really comes down to like all liberal activism it's an attack on "white" culture.
"trinity of blond oppressors"
It's interesting how feminism has a pretty overt racial aspect to it.
Anon (above), I read that article. I might do a post on it myself - apparently there are some feminists who feel threatened by the femininity of singers like Taylor Swift.ReplyDelete
Anon (9.44), it's true that feminists have argued against becoming someone's wife because of social pressure or moral obligation. But very commonly they have argued instead for some variant of "free love" - meaning that instead of marrying you hook up with a person until you no longer want to and then you hook up with someone else. That was a common feminist argument even in Edwardian times.
And there were feminists back then who argued that even free love was too compromising of autonomy - that it was too much a submerging of self in the other - and that women should therefore reject love in favour of work.
The problem is this. Yes, a woman might argue "well, it's my autonomous choice to become a wife and mother". But over time there are going to be fewer women making this choice and those who do are likely to increasingly delay making it.
Why? Because if autonomy really is the key good in life, then marriage and motherhood won't seem like the main game as you don't achieve autonomy through marriage and motherhood - both men and women lose a portion of autonomy when making a commitment to family.
We have to go from "I'm an independent, self-determining individual and that's what gives me worth" to "I'm an individual who is oriented toward the good, such as, for instance, the good of motherhood and fatherhood."
Here is another nugget from Forbes.ReplyDelete
jg, nice link.ReplyDelete
That "trinity of bonde oppressors" jumped out at me too.ReplyDelete
Neither the quality nor the genre of your work are sure defenses against an accusation of wholesome Whiteness. Listen to Doris Day's work, especially as a jazz singer. She was the goods.
Here is another interesting read:ReplyDelete
feminists have argued against becoming someone's wife because of social pressure or moral obligation. But very commonly they have argued instead for some variant of "free love" - meaning that instead of marrying you hook up with a person until you no longer want to and then you hook up with someone else. That was a common feminist argument even in Edwardian times.ReplyDelete
They make that argument in their 20s, and then in their 30s they whine that men MUST commit to marriage with them AT ONCE (what is WRONG with men, waah waah waah), and then in their 40s they lament that they missed the marriage-and-children bus.
My heart bleeds for them, boo hoo hoo.
"That's why Douthat's appeal is unlikely to be effective. If what matters to women is independence, autonomy and professional success then why marry and have children?"ReplyDelete
Many women may not want to marry but it doesn't stop them from having children. So long as the state continues to support single mothers then why should women allow their autonomy to be hindered by a male?
In a recent Facebook status of a friend/acquaintance of mine it was announced that her relationship status was being changed from, "in a relationship" to "single". What was surprising to me was that this post was immediately responded to by friends with statements such as "how exciting" and "good on you" etc. Never in my life would I have thought to see such news answered with a "congratulations".ReplyDelete
This was to my knowledge a happy relationship, only ended by the geographical moving apart of the couple.
The future according to this trajectory will not bring "autonomy" but terrifying isolation, distrust of all other people, and only the most superficial of relationships. This is certainly not something to celebrate.
In the Ross Douthat article referred to one, of the commentors stated that having children was the "selfish choice", ie it is in your interests to pass on your genes etc. In contrast selflessness would involve abstaining from having children for the good of the environment. In my experience the people who don't want to have children don't fall into the selfless category. They seem to not want children so that they can best maintain an independent lifestyle (at least that is until the biological clock starts to kick in) rather than for any other reason.ReplyDelete
Child rearing by its nature involves sacrifices and such sacrifices aren't compatible with a view that puts the individual and their autonomy as the highest good. Accordingly as JMSmith has said autonomy theory must be seen as a form of self destructive genocide which must ignored for people to be able to replicate themselves.
There are many progressives that see child rearing as extremely selfish bizarrely.
Especially those mixing liberal/green politics. Telling young women that to want to have children is incredibly selfish thing to do.
It just does not make sense.