Tag Archive for: Feminism

An Estimated 90% of Childless Women Wanted Kids

Estimated Reading Time: 2 minutes

Careers alone don’t usually fulfill men—and they certainly don’t fulfill women. “Be fruitful and multiply,” God told Adam and Eve in Genesis 1:28, and God knew what he was doing. An unearthed 2010 study estimated that 90% of childless women actually didn’t choose not to be mothers.

I am so grateful my own mother gave up her military career to stay home and raise and homeschool me and my siblings. I have also personally known a number of young women who spent years insisting aggressively that they would never have children because it would interfere with their careers, passed the age of 30, and suddenly became almost desperate to have children. There are other women I know who did not realize their maternal longing until it was too late.

As the great GK Chesterton so wisely observed, “I do not deny that women have been wronged and even tortured; but I doubt if they were ever tortured so much as they are tortured now by the absurd modern attempt to make them domestic empresses and competitive clerks at the same time…How can it be a large career to tell other people’s children about the Rule of Three, and a small career to tell one’s own children about the universe?” Being a mother is the most important “job” a woman can have. If only more modern women realized that before it’s too late.

“[PJ Media, Feb. 23] It turns out, researchers have quantified the proportion of childless women whose status was intentional, and the number is extremely low.

Via The Guardian:

Who are the childless and how many of them wanted children? The closest we can come is a 2010 meta-analysis by the Dutch academic Prof Renske Keiser, which suggested that only 10% of childless women actively chose not to become mothers. That leaves 90% of women [who wanted children]. Only 9% of that 90% are childless for known medical reasons.

(Here is the study in its original German.)

That 10% figure may even be a stretch. Feminist dogma — which childless women disproportionately subscribe to — prohibits the expression of aspiration for motherhood, as it indicates submission to the Patriarchy™ or whatever. So it’s possible that they are too ashamed or repressed to consciously admit to wanting children — perhaps even to themselves.”

Most of us wonder at some point what our legacy will be when we die. There could be no greater legacy than to have given the world another young life full of promise.

This article was published by Pro Deo et Libertate and is reproduced with permission.

Impossible Freedom

Estimated Reading Time: 4 minutes

I blame Free to Be…You And Me. The children’s book and song collection, which many upper middle-class Gen Xers absorbed with their mother’s milk—or formula, I don’t take sides in mommy wars—recently celebrated its 50th anniversary. The well-intentioned, feel-good compilation taught children that they can be anything they want to be, provided that they reject sex and racial stereotypes.

Now seen as a mainstream if slightly outdated educational tool, Free to Be was recently celebrated by the New York Times columnist Pamela Paul. “For a certain generation, ‘Free to Be’ was childhood,” she explained, adding:

You believed that you lived in a land where the children were free, where it didn’t matter whether you were a boy or a girl because neither could limit your choices — not when you were a kid, not when you grew up. You believed it was perfectly fine for William to want a doll and if you were a girl, you might have been perfectly happy for him to take yours.

She continued arguing that the hard-won freedom from sex stereotypes is now jeopardized by the trans agenda:

In lieu of liberating children from gender, some educators have doubled down, offering children a smorgasbord of labels — gender identity, gender role, gender performance and gender expression — to affix to themselves from a young age. […] The effect of all this is that today we are defining people — especially children — by gender more than ever before, rather than trying to free both sexes from gender stereotypes.

But what if Free to Be actually paved the way to our trans moment?

Let us start with the fact the album is highly didactic. Unlike, for instance, Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, which shows a rebellious boy at play, Free to Be doesn’t as much celebrate freedom as it tells children to be “free”—and by “free” it means rejecting sex (and racial) stereotypes. And it puts a premium on acting in ways that are not expected of one’s biological sex.

What Free to Be did was make sexual characteristics conspicuous. Having arrived in the United States at the age of seventeen, I found it odd that so many local girls were uncomfortable with femininity and mindful to project masculine qualities—like the pop star Joan Jett, who was one of the models of the over-the-top, tough chick persona for Generation X. Don’t get me wrong, I like Jett very much and it’s an amusing shtick she chose for herself: I just don’t want to be her.

A conscious rejection of stereotypes doesn’t change the fact that most men are masculine and most women are feminine. To be truly free is to be a man or a woman one chooses to be, not to present a socially sanctioned amalgam of masculine and feminine qualities. It is one thing to tell a mother that if her daughter wants to be a mechanic when she grows up, support her. It is something quite different to keep steering children toward playing with the other sex’s toys. To a child, it indicates parental intent to sway her innocent ideals. Since children are eager to please, she learns to go against her instinct and constructs a novel “gender-neutral” personality.

For Gen X women, femininity became not a normal state of being but an object that could only be treated ironically. In the 1990s, with the arrival of the third-wave “sex positive” feminism, right-thinking young women decided to make themselves attractive to men. That gave birth to the “pink is the new black” trend, or women dressing in over-the-top feminine garbs. For the time, it worked out perfectly: gentlemen got chicks in rose-colored stilettos and ladies signaled to each other that femininity is a spectacle.

But the idea behind “pink is the new black” is not so very different from those that animate drag and trans. In fact, the ’90s feminists were very much aware of the ironic femininity of drag. Rhinestones were affixed, tongue-in-cheek, to every formal dress, and RuPaul sold us Mac cosmetics. We performed womanface long before the mainstreaming of transgender identity; it’s just that we were natural and cute, while Dylan Mulvaney is a bad actor. In both cases femininity is not something carriers of XX chromosomes embody in themselves but an identity to be performed. Women were taught to use it with reserve and now today men can have a free hand.

Otherizing femininity was all fun and games to women in their 20s, but looking at all the single 40-something American girls raised on promises, I see a lot of alienation today. No, she can’t be anything she wants to be. People are limited by their abilities, and that has a lot to do with one’s sex. No, women can’t serve in the frontlines without jeopardizing the effectiveness of our fighting force and, all things being equal, men will outperform us in STEM.

Middle-class American women often talk of family as performative womanhood. They won’t tell you “my children will be my legacy.” Instead, they say, “I want to experience childbirth,” and then make parturition the focal point of their feminism. It shouldn’t be difficult for the Gen X woman to admit to herself she wanted kids, except that it requires getting in touch with the long repressed authentic femininity. An elaborate justification becomes necessary to validate the very human desire for family.

On the other hand, middle-class Gen X men grew up largely indifferent to the pressure to behave in a gender-neutral manner. Free ranged boys still got into fights and weren’t inclined to cry like sissies. They were, however, made aware that women do more housework, which is unfair when she, too, is employed outside the home. And American men value fairness. Middle-class American women shaped a generation of very marriageable men, but they are Free to Be too neurotic to get them.

This article was published by The American Conservative and is reproduced with permission.

Sexual Neocons Inch Closer to Social Conservatism

Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

The Case Against the Sexual Revolution, by Louise Perry (Polity: August 2022), 200 pages.

Among the remarkable things about The Case Against the Sexual Revolution by Louise Perry, set to hit shelves tomorrow, is that it’s not much of a case against the sexual revolution at all. Given the title, you’d expect Perry’s book to recount the history of the sexual revolution, engage with its intellectual underpinnings, and offer an alternative, superior sexual morality. Perry doesn’t do these things. Her inability (or unwillingness) to provide a philosophical backbone for her neoconservative sexual ethic weakens her criticisms of liberated sexuality and prevents disaffected liberals from hopping the fence.

Perry’s book is good as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go far enough. Her book’s main point is that the sexual revolution was, in many ways, a mistake. She condemns modern feminism for denying the natural differences between men and women, unleashing the male sexual desire to the detriment of women, and destroying the supports that used to make meaningful relationships possible, such as monogamous marriage and taboos against promiscuity. Further, she recognizes that sexual morality is necessarily a political problem: “When sex before marriage is expected,” she writes, unwillingness to have sex before marriage “becomes a competitive disadvantage” in the “sexual market.” Freedom of choice is an illusion if the political and cultural order only supports certain choices.

But Perry is unwilling to solve the political problems she identifies. Much of her book’s real estate is wasted on peripheral matters: She relitigates the #MeToo cases against actors Armie Hammer and Aziz Ansari, and devotes a full chapter to BDSM. When she comes to political and hot-button cultural matters, she balks. She is unwilling to acknowledge procreation as the purpose of marriage (even though she hints that it was once the institution’s strongest justification) because that would exclude same-sex couples. And while Perry claims the welfare state is an ineffective “back-up husband” responsible for breaking up the family and forcing women into the workplace, she thinks that curbing it would cause “misery and mayhem.” All Perry can do is tell young women to be choosier with men, advice that Perry herself recognizes to be inadequate to the scope of the problem.

Perry’s book is less interesting for its positions on sexual morality than it is as a cultural barometer. Perry sees herself as a feminist injecting some realism into a movement that has drifted from reality to disastrous effect. Many academic feminists, for example, hold that there are no natural differences between men and women, and that all alleged differences are really a result of socialization. Liberal feminists are therefore unable to speak with consistency on issues that affect women as a class, such as male-on-female violence. Perry, a real women’s advocate who has worked to dismantle the “rough-sex defense” in the U.K., cannot afford such an unreal, luxury belief.

Perry evidently finds herself in a position analogous to — of all people — Irving Kristol, though she does not mention him by name. Just as “a conservative is just a liberal who has been mugged by reality,” as Kristol once wrote, Perry says “a post-liberal feminist is just a feminist who has witnessed the reality of male violence up close.”  

Perry’s not alone in her sexual neoconservatism. She’s just the latest example of liberal apostasy in the face of the left’s denial of reality. Books like hers are indicative of a growing number of liberals who are committed to individual freedom in the public sphere but recognize that, when extended to the private sphere, unmitigated freedom —understood as the unmooring of the individual from any authority—empties life of its content and ushers in a paternalistic, totalitarian state. These liberals take a Tocquevillian approach to “intermediary institutions,” and increasingly see traditional structures such as the family, the church, and civic associations as means of tutoring individuals in their long-term interests and serving as guarantors of personal liberty against the state.

Under classical liberalism, individual rights and freedoms are a negative means of protecting individuals against state tyranny, allowing them to live according to consciences shaped by private associations. The progressive modification of liberalism—really the destruction of liberalism—is to extend “freedom” downward by policing private associations, or more accurately, by replacing them with the state as the only legitimate moral authority. 

This is no hyperbole; it is exactly what the early progressive reformers themselves said of their project. One glance at the Biden administration’s approach to Title IX is enough to convince anyone that such a social project is still underway. Issues like gender ideology, critical race theory in schools and universities, and sexual morality are wedge issues that are moving liberals to the right—not because such issues reignite old prejudices, as is often claimed, but because these liberals are consistent in their defense of individual rights against state power.

Perry’s book shows both the attractiveness of the liberal position and its limits. She recognizes that freedom ought not to be pursued for its own sake, arguing that we must “balance freedom against other values” and “interrogate where our desire for a certain type of freedom comes from” rather than “referring back to a circular logic by which a woman’s choices are good because she chooses them.”

She also rejects the liberal-progressive view of the individual as an independent being that can exist outside any long-term communal ties. “Modern contraception has allowed us to stretch out that young adult state artificially, giving the illusion that independence is our permanent state,” she writes. “But it isn’t — it’s nothing more than a blip, which some of us will never experience at all.” We are born dependent, and once we reach the “second childhood” of old age, we will be dependent again.

“How can we all be free?” is, therefore, the wrong question, she says. “We must ask instead, ‘How can we best promote the wellbeing of both men and women, given that these two groups have different sets of interests which are sometimes in tension?’”

That is indeed the question, but Perry’s attempted answers are far too equivocal. Sometimes nature serves as her model, such as when she condemns sexual liberalism for militating against the natural female desire to have fewer, longer-term sexual partners. Other times she indicates nature must be resisted, such as when she calls for us to police the natural male desire to have many short-term partners. Similarly, she argues the sexual revolution is bad because it denies our “moral intuition.” Yet at the same time, she claims moral intuition is “a poor guide.”

If nature and moral intuition can’t be the basis of sexual morality, what can? Perry’s solution is “virtue,” which she doesn’t define. Her argument stops where it should start:

I can’t pretend that this is an easy issue to resolve, because “How should we behave sexually?” is really just another way of asking “How should we behave?” and, after millennia of effort, we are nowhere near reaching an agreement on the answer to that question. Nevertheless, here is my attempt at a contribution: we should treat our sexual partners with dignity… We should prioritize virtue over desire.

In other words, Perry has nothing to teach on this subject. Her full and final stance on sexual morality is that there should be one. The fact that this book-length condemnation of liberated sexuality should end with the flimsiest of relativist platitudes is infuriating.

One would hope someone who wrote a book on sexual morality would be able to bring us closer to the question of how we should behave sexually. In a way, however, perhaps Perry does. The Case Against the Sexual Revolution contains many good arguments against the promiscuous jungle we have inherited. Her primary audience—young women, especially those “who learned the hard way,” to whom she dedicates the book—would certainly benefit from the exposure she offers to the sexual realities of modernity that other ideologues paper over. The problem is that, without an intellectually consistent alternative view of sexuality (e.g., the religious view), the political inheritance of the sexual revolution will not be overcome.

I’m cheering on the sexual neocons. But until they can pick up where this book leaves off and articulate a political program to resist the tyrannical denial of sexual reality, full-throated social conservatism will remain the more attractive position.


This article was published by The American Conservative and is reproduced with permission.