Many times I’ve remarked on the fact that, generally speaking, women disagree with a core tenet of feminism - that, but for the jackboot of patriarchy, there would have been no gender roles and men and women would be mostly interchangeable societal parts. Needless to say, for millennia, women faced reduced social/economic opportunities of which many would have taken advantage had customs and laws not prevented them from doing so. But once the immediate possibility of human extinction faded, we rightly turned away from those policies and toward greater gender equality. With an already-huge human population, burgeoning prosperity, better medicine and the concept of individual rights and liberty, circumstances (particularly in the West where feminism originated) militated in favor of greater fluidity of gender roles.
But the freedom to choose a non-traditional role is not the same as actually doing so. What tends to contradict the feminist narrative is that, now that women and girls are free to choose their own paths in life and are encouraged their every waking hour to take up traditionally male roles, they, to a great degree, don’t. To the contrary, study after study, dataset after dataset, as well as everyday life, demonstrate that they rather like being, if not exclusively homemakers and caregivers, then certainly not the feminist paradigm.
We know that because, after all this time, women still work fewer hours at paid work than do men, are less represented in the workforce, are more likely to be stay-at-home parents, are more likely to be the spouse who opts out of paid work when the first child comes along, are more likely to not return to work when the child starts school and, if they do, at a less demanding job than before, to be the caregiver to elderly relatives, etc. Plus, when researchers like Dr. Catherine Hakim ask them, women, far more than men, say they prefer family to paid work. After decades of the false narrative that traditional gender roles should be jettisoned, women still tend to prioritize home and family over paid work.
And let me be clear: those preferences, those choices are entirely legitimate and responsible ones. Making sure that kids have a secure and loving upbringing is among the best things a person can do, not only for the kids, but for society generally. All parents being principally resource providers and none being caregivers is a bad allocation of resources.
All that discomfits elite policy- and opinion-makers. They want women to be the way they want them to be much more than the way they are. Feminism’s insistence that women’s highest and best place is out of the home and in the workplace always dovetailed nicely with capital’s desire for depressed wages. So the frank assumption by the World Economic Forum that, if women aren’t in the workplace, they’re not doing anything worthwhile, comes as no surprise.
Here's how a new survey by the Institute for Family Studies describes it:
Elite culture most often celebrates women who embrace more masculine models of life, from the C-suite (think Sheryl Sandberg) to pop culture (think “Captain Marvel.”) In fact, the message from the culture’s commanding heights seems to be that there is no value for girls and women in embracing a distinctive and traditional feminine identity in the 21st century.
To which, the IFS study adds:
But that message doesn’t seem to be getting across to ordinary women across America, the majority of whom see themselves as “very feminine.”
I would phrase it differently - that women have gotten the message just fine (how could they not?), they just reject it. But whatever the case, the survey finds that, however women generally define “femininity,” they embrace it warmly. Not only that, but those who do are better off on a number of measures than are those who see being a woman as an impediment.
Financial situation, personal health, general happiness, and life satisfaction were all markedly better among those who express the highest levels of femininity. The only exception is in their experience of college.
But the findings weren’t just about women and their well-being alone. In the study, the women who described themselves as “feminine” were the most likely to marry and to say they have fulfilling marriages across various dimensions, including strong personal relationships and community involvement. High-femininity females were also, according to the study, more likely to describe themselves as able to take risks, manage uncertainty and self-regulate, which may help to explain lower rates of depression compared to other women.
Reread that last sentence. Women who accept and embrace their femininity, far from being the pushovers they’re routinely portrayed as, seem to be much more confident and happier with themselves and their lives than are their other-minded peers. The simple fact is that, when you accept yourself and don’t try to fit into someone else’s idea of who you should be, life becomes easier and more fulfilling. This is news to no one except extremist feminists for whom any woman who doesn’t follow their lead is nothing but a dupe of you know what.
I’ll say more about this next time.