Feminism and Freedom

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Nicholas Davidson

National Review, Feb 5, 1988 v40 n2 p51(2)



FEMINISM is the gender ideology of our society. For confirmation of this, one has only to consider Robert Bork hastily backtracking on "women's rights" or Ronald Reagan making sure his first Supreme Court appointment went to a woman. While dozens of feminist books appear each month, works critical of feminism have been as rare as hens' teeth. Into this situation steps philosopher Michael Levin with Feminism and Freedom, a work that challenges our gender orthodoxy at every level.



Critical to the current orthodoxy is the notion that "the sexes are in everything inherently alike." Levin shows that, in reality, there has never been a sexually egalitarian or matriarchal society anywhere; reports of such are myths, constructed on the basis of pathetically weak evidence. Patriarchy is the natural and universal condition of human society, and rests on immutable biological differences between mates and females.



Sex differences in the human brain have been extensively studied. These range from receptor points in male brains for the hormones implicated in aggression and dominance behavior, to the discovery that there are major differences between men and women in the structure of such critical brain areas as the hypothalamus, the amygdala, and the corpus callosum.




Conclusive confirmation of the behavioral results of such differences comes from studies of girls who, through rare genetic anomalies, have been exposed to male testosterone levels in the womb. These girls dominate groups of females to which they belong, fantasize about careers rather than marriage and motherhood, and reject doll play in favor of boys' games like baseball and football.




Because feminism's unisexist ideology is incompatible with human nature, society will never conform to the feminist ideal of its own accord. Feminists are obliged to mobilize the coercive machinery of the state in pursuit of their goals. It is the unique virtue of Levin's book to document the degree of mobilization that has been reached.




"Affirmative action" is now ubiquitous in American life. Under the federal gun, corporations, universities, and state and local governments devote enormous amounts of time and money to identifying and selectively promoting lessqualified females at the expense of better-qualified males. Levin calculates the resulting net loss in the productivity of American business, which ma reacb as high as 36 per cent. (Needless to say, the Japanese have no such problem.) That reverse discrimination can on balance benefit women is illusory: when you penalize a man, you also penalize his wife and children. "Affirmative action" is thus best conceived not as an aid to women but as an assault on the traditional family.




That the traditional family is being reduced to an alternative lifestyle is clearly seen in today's school textbooks. In typical texts, the girls are competent and aggressive, while the boys are timid and passive. Motherhood is never depicted as a desirable occupation for women. Indeed, things have reached the point where everything is much as it was, "except that the boys are given girls' names and long hair while the girls are given boys' names and short hair."




Government at all levels heavily promotes the once-radical feminist agenda. Thus, the Iowa Code, Section 257.25, paragraph 1, requires that "a multicultural, nonsexist approach [be) used by school districts." Evaluation is mandated o"each pupil's progress" in learning that the English language exhibits "sexism and cultural, racial bias." Not to be outdone, the Federal Government disburses millions of dollars to feminist organizations through such departments as the Women's Educational Equity Act Program (WEEAP). WEEAP also publishes books such as Teacher Skill Guide for Combating Sexism and Physical Educators for Equity.




Under threat of losing the federal funding to which they have become completely addicted, all American universities maintain affirmative-action offices. Such offices are typically headed by a full-time faculty member who is relieved of all teaching duties in order to combat "sex discrimination." Universities have been obliged to give tenure to feminist faculty under court order or the threat of it. James Dinnan, a University of Georgia professor who refused to disclose his vote in one contested tenure decision, was sentenced to ninety days for contempt of court; the Supreme Court refused to hear his case.




Most campuses now feature so-called "Women's Studies" departments, which proselytize Lesbianism and replace classroom standards with, in the words of one of their advocates, "credit for social-change activities or for life experiences, contracts for self-grading, diaries and journals, even meditation and ritual." "Sexual harassment" laws are becoming a reality in universities and corporations. Under these laws, a man who asks a woman for a date might be committing a civil-rights offense.



The sheer insanity of the feminist program-and the extent to which it is now established as a social norm -is most glaringly apparent in the military. In 1970, the U.S. military was slightly over I per cent female; today it is over 10 per cent female. (By contrast, the Soviet forces are 0.2 per cent female.) Because women are too weak physically to cope with the ordinary tasks of soldiering, standards of training have been lowered. Only 3 per cent of female soldiers are strong enough to accomplish the routine heavy tasks, like carrying ammunition boxes, that are essential in combat. At any given moment, 10 per cent of military women are pregnant, and a comparable number are nursing infants. In a modern war, with its lack of a front line, any soldier is likely to be called upon to fight. American men are evidently content to let young women with babies fight on their behalf




Viewed as a whole, Feminism and Freedom demonstrates that feminism is no longer a threat, but a fact-indeed, perhaps the central fact of American life today. This essential book provides a unique panorama of Feminist America and a closely argued critique of an ideology that currently compels even its most determined opponents to pay lip service to its tenets. It is time to start refusing to do so, and Feminism and Freedom shows us how.



(End of article)

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