In 1963 Betty Friedan told American women they were childlike weaklings who
should grow up and stand on their own feet like men. They "never feel that
they are really exerting sufficient effort." The American housewife "feels
'lazy, neglectful, haunted by guilt feelings' because she doesn't have enough
work to do." "At one of the major women's magazines," she recalls,
a woman editor,
sensing that American housewives might be desperately in need of something
to enlarge their world, tried for some months to convince her male colleagues
to introduce a few ideas outside the home into the magazine. "We decided
against it," the man who makes the final decisions said. "Women are so completely
divorced from the world of ideas in their lives now, they couldn't take it."
Perhaps it is irrelevant to ask, who divorced them? Perhaps these Frankensteins
no longer have the power to stop the feminine monster they have created.
I helped create this image. I have watched American women for fifteen years
try to conform to it. But I can no longer deny my own knowledge of its terrible
implications. It is not a harmless image. There may be no psychological terms
for the harm it is doing. But what happens when women try to live according
to an image that makes them deny their minds?
By giving an absolute meaning and a sanctimonious value to the generic term
"woman's role," functionalism put American women into a kind of deep freeze--like
Sleeping Beauties, waiting for a Prince Charming to waken them, while all
around the magic circle the world moved on.
"Where will it
end?" Ms. Friedan asks:
I think it will
not end, as long as the feminine mystique masks the emptiness of the housewife
role, encouraging girls to evade their own growth by vicarious living, by
non- commitment. We have gone on too long blaming or pitying the mothers
who devour their children, who sow the seeds of progressive dehumanization,
because they have never grown to full humanity themselves. If the mother
is at fault, why isn't it time to break the pattern by urging all these Sleeping
Beauties to grow up and live their own lives? There never will be enough
Prince Charmings, or enough therapists to break that pattern now. It is society's
job, and finally that of each woman alone. For it is not the strength of
the mothers that is at fault but their weakness, their passive childlike
dependency and immaturity that is mistaken for "femininity." Our society
forces boys, insofar as it can, to grow up, to endure the pains of growth,
to educate themselves to work, to move on. Why aren't girls forced to grow
up--to achieve somehow the core of self that will end the unnecessary dilemma,
the mistaken choice between femaleness and humanness that is implied in the
Here is how Ms.
Friedan told the women of 1963 to see themselves:
For the women I
interviewed, the problem seemed to be not that too much was asked of them
but too little.
Society asks so little of women.
You'd find them drinking, or sitting around talking to other women and watching
children play because they can't bear to be alone or watching TV or reading
I have suggested that the real cause both of feminism and of women's frustration
was the emptiness of the housewife's role.
"Occupation: housewife" is not an adequate substitute for truly challenging
work, important enough to society to be paid for in its coin....
Most of the energy expended in housework is superfluous.
Ms. Friedan's Sleeping
Beauty feminism was an unwelcome derogation to American women because it
came close to the truth, still more unwelcome because it threatened the free
ride they had no intention of giving up. Many perceived that Ms. Friedan
was making the same point to women that Playboy made in the same year to
men with its mock ad:
TIRED OF THE RAT
FED UP WITH JOB ROUTINE?
Well, then...how would you like to make $8,000, $20,000--as much as $50,000
and More--working at Home in Your Spare Time? No selling! No commuting! No
time clocks to punch!
BE YOUR OWN BOSS!!!!
Yes, an Assured Lifetime Income can be yours now, in an easy, low-pressure,
part-time job that will permit you to spend most of each and every day as
you please!--relaxing, watching TV, playing cards, socializing with friends!...
Incredible though it may seem, the above offer is completely legitimate.
More than 40,000,000 Americans are already so employed.
These 40,000,000 Americans were the housewives referred to by Ms. Friedan
when she said "Society asks so little of women."
Small wonder that
the Playboy/Feminine Mystique/Sleeping Beauty pitch was discarded by feminists
as an unsuitable basis for a popular movement and that it is today as extinct
as the trilobite. The idle sex-toy doll-housewife pampered by an overworked
husband is unmentioned in the literature of post-1960s feminism. The Sleeping
Beauty has been replaced by the Slaughtered Saint, tyrannized over, oppressed,
brainwashed, beaten, enslaved, exploited, crucified, impaled, racked and
harrowed, flayed, trampled and hung in chains by remorseless, inhuman, fierce,
sadistic, exploitive, brutal alcoholic male despots, beasts, marital rapists
and so forth.
It is useful, though, to remember that the initial thrust of feminism was
that "The problem seemed to be not that too much was asked of [women] but
too little." In 1963 the subsidization of ex- wives by ex-husbands was said
to be contemptible; today the feminist party line is a demand for "support
rules that aim at equalizing the standards of living of the two parties after
divorce" and that divorced women "have earned the right to share their husbands'
income for the rest of their lives and to maintain a standard of living that
is equal to theirs" --so that even though the man is no longer a husband,
and even though Betty Friedan had told wives to be ashamed of themselves
for expecting to be subsidized for the trifling services they perform, the
man deprived of these services should continue to subsidize the woman who
In Sleeping Beauty agitprop, contempt for women who accepted alimony was
conspicuous. In Slaughtered Saints feminism, contempt for alimony is replaced
by contempt for the word alimony: "Alimony?" wrote Betty Friedan in 1974,
"Forget it--it's a sexist concept, and doesn't belong in a women's movement
for equality." But on the preceding page she wrote this:
At that time, we
were so concerned with principle--that equality of right and opportunity
had to mean equality of responsibility, and therefore alimony was out--that
we did not realize the trap we were falling into. It is a trap for thousands,
hundreds of thousands, if not millions of women, when they face a no-fault
divorce law--in which a separation begun before the law was even envisaged
becomes de facto divorce--with no provision for economic support [read: no
alimony] or division of property....She should be insured in her own right
for Social Security in old age and severance pay in divorce [read:
alimony]...Maintenance, rehabilitation, severance pay--whatever you want
to call it [read: alimony]--is a necessity for many divorced women, as is
Beauty feminism it was common for feminists like Gloria Steinem to sneer
at marriage as "prostitution." Slaughtered Saints feminist Flo Kennedy disagreed:
sell their bodies, they rent their bodies. Housewives sell their bodies when
they get married--they cannot take them back--and most courts do not regard
the taking of a woman's body by her husband against her will as rape.
Now they can take
their bodies back--and still get a free ride. Taking someone's money in exchange
for nothing used to be called robbery, but Slaughtered Saints feminists regard
it as a means of restoring women's dignity. As long as the money flows from
the male to the female, as long as Steinem's "prostitution" is retroactive
and requires no services, they are willing--they insist--that it be called
something other than alimony and will affect to despise those women who take
men's money and call what they do by its proper name. Like exophagic cannibals
denouncing the barbarousness of endophagic cannibalism, like the Mayor of
Gomorrah condemning the moral depravity of Sodom and San Francisco, like
two-dollar hookers sneering at twenty-five cent hookers who are lowering
the dignity of the profession, they have risen above that sort of thing.
"Society asks so little of women." That was Sleeping Beauty feminism, shaming
women, telling them to stop filing their fingernails and get out and work
like men. A decade later Slaughtered Saints feminists, seeking self-actualization
and true humanity, claimed victimhood for themselves and affected to be the
wretched of the earth--adorning themselves with crucifixes bearing a naked
woman, telling men how oppressive it was for them not to do half of the "little"
housework at which Ms. Friedan sneered. Bwana fimbo!--bad white man! By then
the admired, achieving male of 1963, hobbled with his parasitic female, had
become a gynocidal maniac, a wild beast:
Wife abuse is deeply
rooted in our culture.
[T]he Old Testament patriarchs quite intentionally set themselves against
the lunar psyche in women (and in men, who are half-female), in their desire
to destroy the Goddess religion, and the Goddess within us all. Because of
this, the menstruating womb became the Devil of patriarchy--"the only good
woman is a pregnant woman," etc.--and the three-hundred- plus years of European
Christian witch-hunting has been accurately called "9 million menstrual murders."
Women were burned for practicing our natural moon-crafts of midwifery, hypnotism,
healing, dowsing, herbal and drug use, dream study, and sexual pleasure.
Perhaps what is most galling is that while the housewife's duties resemble
those of a servant, the financial arrangements she has with her husband somewhat
resemble those of someone even lower down on the status ladder--namely, the
If we read the Bible as normative social literature, the absence of the Goddess
is the single most important statement about the kind of social order that
the men who over many centuries wrote and rewrote this religious document
strove to establish and uphold. For symbolically the absence of the Goddess
from the officially sanctioned Holy Scriptures was the absence of a divine
power to protect women and avenge the wrongs inflicted upon them by men.
As we have seen, it was not coincidental that everywhere in the ancient world
the imposition of male dominance was part of the shift from a peaceful and
equalitarian way of organizing human society to a hierarchic and violent
order ruled by brutal and greedy men....At the same time that shedding blood
by killing and injuring other human beings--in wars, in brutal punishments,
and in the exercise of the male's practically absolute authority over women
and children--becomes the norm, the act of giving life now becomes tainted
and unclean....And so, first in Mesopotamia and Canaan and later in the
theocracies of Judaea and Israel, warfare, authoritarian rule, and the
subjugation of women became integral parts of the new dominator morality
What kind of society is it that calls love and affection between two women
perverse, while male brutality to women is made profitable....What kind of
society is it where the lifelong partnership of two women has no standing
in court, while a husband can batter and rape his wife without interference?...It
is a pornographic society; America is a pornographic patriarchy.
Capitalism finds it expedient to reduce women to a state of enslavement.
Is it any wonder then that men hate women so? Is it any wonder that they
beat us and tear us apart and stomp us to death?...I suspect that they cannot
forgive us for reminding them, by our stubborn survival, how they have raped
and beaten and cheated and deceived and maimed and killed us for 5000 years.
One of the accusations
against the male is his refusal to believe in his own beastliness. Hear Irene
Greene, Program Director of the University of Minnesota's Sexual Violence
Program, explain why accusations made by females against males ought always
to be believed:
We respect that a woman's reality is her truth. In a society where far too
often women are disbelieved, unsupported and blamed for their own victimization,
it is important that they have at least one safe place where they will be
believed....Because a fundamental anchor of our philosophy is to support
and thus believe in each woman's reality, we may come upon the one-in-a-hundred
situation where a story or parts of a story may be questionable. Since the
occurrence of a false report is so rare, it is far more respectful, professional
and necessary to err on the side of belief than to risk the slim chance that
a story may not be totally accurate. It is important to support the individual
and her reality rather than to deny and disbelieve her.
Slaughtered Saints feminism is thus epitomized by feminist Mary Daly:
...feeding on the
bodies and minds of women, sapping energy at the expense of female deaths.
Like Dracula, the he-male has lived on women's blood....The priests of patriarchy
have eaten the body and have drunk the blood of the Sacrificial Victim in
their Mass, but they have not wished to know who has really been the Victim
whose blood supported this parasitic life.
The insatiable lust of males for female blood has resulted in a perpetual
blood transfusion throughout the millennia--a one-way outpouring into the
veins and arteries of the bloodthirsty monster, the Male Machine that now
can continue its obscene life only by genocide. If the Machine dreams, it
is of a future filled with megadeaths. The total vampire no longer needs
even to speak of blood, which is after all visible, measurable. It drinks
instead in quantities calculable only through the highest mathematics....It
is men who have sapped the life-force of women.
This horror over
male atrocity, like feminist candlelight processions to "take back the night,"
is a public relations exercise. According to Dr. Karl Menninger, for every
woman who complains to her psychiatrist about the brutality of her man there
are a dozen who complain about his weakness, dependency and impotence--a
dozen who want their men to be more dominant, not less.
There is an intergenerational angle. According to Gelles and Straus, it is
a myth that most battered and abused children grow up to become batterers
and abusers themselves. They quote child development expert Edward Zigler
of Yale University as saying "the majority of abused children do not become
abusive parents" and "the time has come for the intergenerational myth to
be placed aside." But on the next page they cite researchers Rosemary Hunter
and Nancy Kilstrom: "If they [abused children who grew up to be non- abusive
parents] had been abused, it was by one parent, while the other parent served
as a supportive life raft in a sea of trouble and pain." In other words,
the kids who survived abuse and became decent parents came from father-present
families--the two- parent family saved them. So while Gelles and Straus think
it's good that women should have "the economic resources they need to terminate
a violent marriage," such termination transfers children from the patriarchal
system which protects them to the matriarchal system where a disproportionate
amount of child abuse occurs. In September, 1989 a social service officer
in Milwaukee County, by name Terrence Cooley, wrote an inter-office communication
titled "AFDC/Child Abuse Information," a copy of which found its way into
the editorial office of The Family in America, pointing out that of the 1,050
cases of child abuse and neglect in that county an astonishing 83 percent
occurred in households receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children
(read: female-headed households). "There has been," say Gelles and Straus,
in paid employment of married women between 1975 and 1985. Our own research
has found that paid employment of married women helps rectify the imbalance
of power between spouses, and provides women with the economic resources
they need to terminate a violent marriage.
Also a non-violent
marriage. Also a marriage in which the wife is not battered and oppressed
but simply bored and fed up with the sexual regulation which the patriarchal
system imposes upon her in exchange for her permitting a male to share her
reproductive life and haul her out of the matriarchal system and place her
under coverture in the patriarchal system.
Another way of saying the same thing is that it denies men the resources
and authority they need to hold a marriage together.
It "helps rectify the imbalance of power between the two spouses," say Gelles
and Straus. They naively accept the whole Slaughtered Saints propaganda position,
that women are poor violated victims in need of society's chivalry, an idea
ancient in Mary Wollenstonecraft's day. In 1854 Barbara Leigh Smith Bodichon
wrote a pamphlet, "Married Women and the Law," citing the familiar complaints
about the patriarchy:
A man and wife
are one person in law; the wife loses all her rights as a single woman, and
her existence is entirely absorbed in that of her husband. He is civilly
responsible for her acts; she lives under his protection or cover, and her
condition is called coverture.
A woman's body belongs to her husband, she is in his custody, and he can
enforce his right by a writ of habeas corpus.
The legal custody of children belongs to the father. During the life-time
of a sane father, the mother has no rights over her children, except a limited
power over infants, and the father may take them from her and dispose of
them as he thinks fit.
This tilting of
the law in the favor of the male has been not just abolished but reversed,
but it is still paraded in feminist literature (like the binding of Chinese
women's feet) as proving how oppressed today's American women are. The 19th
century husband was empowered to take his wife's children from her, but he
didn't. Today's wife is empowered to take her husband's children from him
and she does in millions of marriages, and the marriages in which her right
is not exercised are de-stabilized by the knowledge that it could be exercised
if the wife chooses. Gelles and Straus know this but they still talk as though
the law tilted in favor of the husband rather than the wife. The "imbalance"
which needs to be "rectified" is the reverse of what they suggest: what is
needed is getting rid of the massive anti-male bias of the legal system which
deprives husbands of virtually all rights and reduces ex-husbands to literal
Today's legal system has abandoned its responsibility to stabilize families
and has become the principal enemy of the family. That such a thing could
happen, and happen so rapidly and unobtrusively, suggests that the execrated
pro-male 19th century legal system had the right idea. It sensed, if it did
not explicitly understand, that women don't like marriage and family life
and would willingly do away with them if they could do so without forfeiting
their benefits. "[I]f one imagined himself as newly arrived from Mars," writes
feminist Carolyn Heilbrun,
and were to read
the descriptions of a woman's marriage in contemporary novels by women, one
might well ask how on earth anyone could be expected to live out such a farce.
She quotes a woman
who opposed the ERA on the grounds that "I don't care to be a person":
while misunderstanding the ERA, that to be a person and a wife are oddly
Why do contemporary men fail to see this?
She scolds Christopher
Lasch because he does not
seem to recognize
that the old, good life, which he, Yeats, Trilling, and all today's new
conservatives feel such nostalgia for, rested on the willingness of women
to remain exactly where today's women, in fiction at least, will not remain:
at home. Waiting for husband-warrior to retreat to them from the wide world
is no longer enough....[T]he woman who finds herself miserable at home when
she is supposed to have everything she has always wanted, everything all
women have always wanted--this woman, who would, decades ago, have been sent
home by her analyst in search of a vaginal orgasm-- is now seen as passing
through a stage of development recognized in men but not hitherto associated
with women: adolescence. A woman is not an adolescent at puberty in our society,
because her search for identity does not take place then: rather it is a
search for a husband in which she then engages. The search for self, Nora's
search in Ibsen's A Doll's House, occurs deep into marriage and often with
children left behind the slammed door....The real tension between...the fleeing
woman and those who struggle to preserve the family, is the tension between
order and change, particularly evident in our society. It is most evident
within marriage, where the man desires order and the woman change. If the
women are unclear about what change should encompass, they know it begins
with their departure.
"Why do contemporary
men fail to see this" indeed? Women don't like the regulation marriage imposes
upon them. The feminist/sexual revolution is an attempt to get rid of this
regulation without forfeiting the economic and status advantages its acceptance
What Dr. Heilbrun says comes close to what the Seneca Falls feminists complained
about, that women were moral minors with whom contracts--including marriage--were
worth nothing because they could renege on them if they wished. Such
irresponsibility justified the pro-male tilt of the law. 19th century men
needed the pro-male tilt--and so do men today. "Why do contemporary men fail
to see this?"
"Women will not remain at home," says Dr. Heilbrun. Not if they can make
themselves economically independent (as they are doing) or if they can implement
the feminist program of making divorce an economically viable alternative
to marriage (for women) and, after inducing males to thrust their necks into
the matrimonial guillotine, induce lawmakers to enact child support rules
"that aim at equalizing the standards of living of the two parties after
Dr. Heilbrun speaks of women's delayed "adolescence," their final growing
up, postponed beyond its proper period by the necessity of having a husband
while they are nubile and dependent and may wish to procreate a child or
two. This delayed adolescence "begins with their departure" (read: divorce),
when they demonstrate their maturity by repudiating the marriage contract
upon which men and children must depend but which they and Dr. Heilbrun and
the legal system correctly perceive as a mere piece of paper.
"The man desires order and the woman desires change." The man desires a stable
patriarchal family system; the woman desires a return to matriliny and
de-regulation, a return to the sexual anarchy of the Stone Age and the ghetto
and the Indian reservation. The only possible resolution of this is to make
women grow up and choose either to accept sexual regulation as the quid pro
quo for the benefits of patriarchy or to reject the benefits along with the
regulation. "The clearest memory of my wedding day," says Susan Crain Bakos,
is what was going
on in my head as I walked down the aisle in my white satin dress with the
floor-length lace mantilla billowing around me: "No. No way is this going
to be forever, for the rest of my life. No."
I said "I do" because that's what young women wearing white dresses have
traditionally said in front of altars in churches. But in my mind, at least,
the choices were still there.
This shows her
maturity: she is passing through the adolescence that males pass through
at puberty. And the legal system agrees with her that her vows and her marriage
contract are non-binding: her choices are still there. The difference is
that the male's maturity makes his contracts dependable and Ms. Bakos's maturity
makes hers undependable. The difference between these two kinds of maturity
was the reason Victorian society decreed that "the legal custody of children
belongs to the father"--and it is the reason our society ought to do the
"When I was no longer married," continues Ms. Bakos,
I found it easy
to share Kara's philosophy: Don't trust men; only sleep with them.
The experience of multiple partners led us both to the same obvious conclusion:
There would always be someone new, someone better, some other man to make
love to us, so why not leave when a relationship grew boring or difficult
or too complicated? It was what men deserved anyway.
Why limit ourselves to one man when lots of men were available?
I got divorced so that I could join the generation of women, my generation,
who kept their options open, put their own needs first, and considered sex
a natural right. Together with the men of our generation, we weren't very
good at "working things out," but we were certainly wonderful at "moving
on." We knew how to break up. Our music about breaking up and moving on was
upbeat and positive. The civilized divorce was surely our invention.
She quotes "Kara":
"When men began
talking about commitment, I got out. Making a commitment meant marriage;
and for women, marriage means giving a man too much power in your life. I
just knew I wasn't going to do it; and I was glad we lived in a time where
a woman could have sex, all the sex she wanted, without getting married.
"I thought in vague terms of having a kid someday, of being a single mother.
I didn't give up on having kids then, just marriage."
We chose sex, not marriage.
giving men responsibility and a meaningful reproductive role and these gals
couldn't care less about male responsibility--aside from the responsibility
of paying child support money. They want to schlepp back into promiscuity,
recreational sex, matriliny and the free ride, like the squaws on Indian
reservations and the welfare matriarchs of the ghettos.
The contempt for women's parasitism which Betty Friedan expressed in 1963
has now been replaced by a demand for compensation for something Ms. Friedan
never hinted at, men's parasitism. Merely equalizing things, says Dr. Daly,
will not mean an
immediate "give and take," as if those who have been deprived of their own
life should "give on a fifty- fifty basis." Since what males have to give
has in large measure been sapped from women, "the equalizing of concentrations"
can hardly be imagined as if from equal but opposite social positions. On
the level of social interaction, what has to take place is creative justice.
It is not a simple transaction that is demanded, but a restitution. It is
absurd for men to look upon the relinquishing of stolen privilege as benevolence.
It is absurd also for men to protest indignantly when women speak of wresting
back our own stolen power and being.
A principal thrust
of Slaughtered Saints feminism is the continuing accusation of male domestic
violence directed against "women and children"--these two being lumped together
to indicate that the perpetrators of the violence are (who else?) husbands
and fathers. The fact appears to be, however, that Mom is responsible for
more domestic violence than Dad. According to Los Angeles policeperson Gloria
Vargas, as quoted by Los Angeles Times writer Carol McGraw, "Kids grow up
seeing their father get away with beating up mom. So what happens? They grow
up and beat up their wife or resort to other violence." "Typically," says
McGraw, "the victims, afraid of even more violence, would not turn their
husbands or relatives in, and in many cases would even join their spouse
in attacking the police who came to their rescue, Vargas said."
The suggestio falsi is that "victims" are female and "relatives" and "spouse"
male. But there are as many male victims as female ones and the perpetrators
protected by their "spouse" from police interference are frequently female.
Boys are twice as likely as girls to be victims of assault (by Mom). Men
often remain married to violent women out of concern to protect their children,
who, in the event of divorce, would be placed in Mom's sole custody.
A mild protest against this sort of thing is registered by British feminist
Lynne Segal, who complains that contemporary feminism "celebrates women's
superior virtue and spirituality and decries 'male' violence and technology.
Such celebration of the 'female' and denunciation of the 'male,' however,
arouses fear and suspicion in feminists who, like me, recall that we joined
the women's movement to challenge the myths of women's special nature." According
to the dust wrapper of Segal's book, "She argues against the exponents of
the new apocalyptic feminism, among whom are Mary Daly, Andrea Dworkin and
Dale Spender, which says that men wield power over women through terror,
greed and violence and that only women, because of their essentially greater
humanity, can save the world from social, ecological and nuclear disaster."
Today, writes Segal,
"like any Victorian
gentleman, Robin Morgan, Adrienne Rich, Susan Griffin, Judith Arcana, Mary
Daly, Dale Spender and their many followers, take for granted and celebrate
women's greater humanism, pacifism, nurturance and spiritual development.
Robin Morgan tells us that only women can guarantee the future of life on
earth. Ronald Reagan and the New Right in the US and anti-feminist conservatives
here in Britain tell us much the same thing. Women can save the world from
the nightmares of nuclear weaponry, which represents the untamed force of
"male drives and male sexuality," through the power of the feminine mentality
and the force of maternal concerns.
Segal's is a minority
view. As Robert Briffault truly says, "A defiant and rebellious attitude
is found in women only where they occupy a position of considerable vantage
and influence; it is not found where their status is really one of oppression."
Today's feminists occupy a position of considerable vantage and influence
and they know that that position is secure only as long as the public accepts
the "myth of the monstrous male"--and the victimized female.
Slaughtered Saints feminists have much to say about the beastliness of males,
but nothing to say about what Ms. Friedan most emphasized in 1963: "the problem
that has no name," acedia, the ennui deriving from a lack of meaning in their
existence. Acedia is a spiritual problem, but a materialist like Ms. Friedan
could conceive of it only as a problem with an economic or occupational
solution--an elitist career. She misconceived "the problem that has no name"
as not a blessing but a curse. It was a signal that a spiritual dimension
was lacking in the lives of the educated middle-class women she wrote about.
"Blessed are those who feel their spiritual need," said Jesus, "for the Kingdom
of Heaven belongs to them." The women suffering from the problem that has
no name were in the fortunate condition of having had their other problems
solved by the patriarchal system. The acedia from which they suffered was
the problem at the very apex of the "hierarchy of needs." "Only recently,"
says Ms. Friedan,
have we come to
accept the fact that there is an evolutionary scale or hierarchy of needs
in man (and thus in woman), ranging from the needs usually called instincts
because they are shared with animals, to needs that come later in human
development. These later needs, the needs for knowledge, for self-realization,
are as instinctive, in a human sense, as the needs shared with other animals
of food, sex, survival. The clear emergence of the later needs seems to rest
upon prior satisfaction of the physiological needs. The man who is extremely
and dangerously hungry has no other interest but food. Capacities not useful
for the satisfying of hunger are pushed into the background. "But what happens
to man's desires when there is plenty of food and his belly is chronically
filled? At once, other (and higher) needs emerge and these, rather than the
physiological hungers, dominate the organism."
In a sense, this evolving hierarchy of needs moves further and further away
from the physiological level which depends on the material environment, and
tends toward a level relatively independent of the environment, more and
more self- determined. But a man can be fixated on a lower need level; higher
needs can be confused or channeled into the old avenues and may never emerge.
Ms. Friedan complains
that the need for "self-actualization" has been wrongly interpreted as a
"sexual need," something she calls an "explanation by reduction." But the
career-elitism which she proposes to her female readers as the solution for
the problem that has no name is equally an explanation by reduction, equally
an "evasion of growth," equally unsatisfying, as is shown by a flood of
disillusioned feminist books like A Lesser Life, Unnecessary Choices, This
Wasn't Supposed to Happen, The Divorce Revolution, Mothers on Trial, et cetera.
After pouring her contempt on the parasitism of American housewives, she
proposes to make them grow "to their full capacities," to mass-produce
"self-actualizers," people like Shakespeare, da Vinci, Lincoln, Einstein,
Freud, Tolstoy. This will require a "massive attempt" by educators, parents,
ministers, magazine editors, manipulators, guidance counselors, and a "GI
Bill for Women":
What is needed
now is a national educational program similar to the GI bill, for women who
seriously want to continue or resume their education--and who are willing
to commit themselves to its use in a profession. The bill would provide properly
qualified women with tuition fees, plus an additional subsidy to defray other
expenses--books, travel, even, if necessary, some household help.
A free ride for
women who want to be "professionals" and demand large fees from the people
whose taxes give them their free ride. This is how liberated housewives will
stand on their own feet. How can the "seriousness" and "proper qualification"
of these women be evaluated? Clearly on the basis that they declare themselves
to be serious and properly qualified and choose to enter professionally oriented
programs. In other words, idle housewives whose taking of a free ride from
their husbands is held up to scorn and whose chief motivation is boredom
with suburban lotus-eating and monogamous marriage, are to crowd into colleges
and begin a subsidized existence paid for by taxpayers mostly less affluent
than themselves. The subsidization will include funds to hire household helpers,
women not serious about becoming professionals, who need wages solely to
support their families. These members of the lower orders will live on their
trickle-down benefits, far more modest than those given to Ms. Friedan's
elitists--of all classes in society the ones least deserving of, or in need
of, public assistance. Their subsidization is said to be a matter of
need for education and the desperate need of this nation for the untapped
reserves of women's intelligence in all the professions justify these emergency
most of her book talking about the immaturity of American housewives, Ms.
Friedan then compares them to male GIs, "matured by war," suggesting that
"Women who have matured during the housewife moratorium can be counted on
for similar performance" --presumably because of the influence of the feminine
mystique, elsewhere said to cause their infantilism. If the "housewife
moratorium" (read: feminine mystique) is a maturing influence, why should
it not lead these women to stand on their own feet "without sexual privilege
or excuse" rather than to demand the exchange of one parasitism (on husbands)
for another (on taxpayers)? The GI Bill gave ex-servicemen some compensation
for their years of service to society. Ms. Friedan wants the same compensation
for women because "society asks so little of women" and therefore (by Ms.
Friedan's logic) must pamper these Sleeping Beauties yet more, rather than
merely allowing their husbands to pamper them, which denies them independence
Sleeping Beauty feminism was poorly adapted to becoming a mass movement despite
Ms. Friedan's program for making it one. It was aimed at the minority of
elitists whose non-spiritual problems had been solved and who were summoned
to confront the spiritual crisis signaled by "the problem that has no name."
The failure to recognize this crisis as a spiritual one has led not to its
solution but to its burial, its replacement by problems at lower levels in
the "hierarchy of needs," things like paying the rent and the utilities and
coping with roleless men--problems which have made today's Slaughtered Saints
feminism what the Sleeping Beauty feminism of a generation ago could never
have been, a mass movement.
The best thing for the women's movement now would be (if it were possible)
to restore the patriarchal family and hope that it could once again solve
women's lower-level needs and bring them back to where is could be said,
"Blessed are those who feel their spiritual need." Let the Scriptures be
fulfilled. The patriarchy which brought them this far couldn't carry them
all the way to moksha experience but it was the best friend women ever had.
Slaughtered Saints feminists now affect to interpret the free ride as itself
an affliction, as what feminist Jessie Bernard calls "the woman's extra load
of economic dependency." She thinks this burden "has to be lightened" because
A union between
a man and a woman in which, when it breaks down, one loses not only the mate
but also the very means of subsistence is not a fair relationship.
It is not a
relationship at all when it breaks down; and it breaks down chiefly because
(thanks to the feminist/sexual revolution's insistence on a woman's right
to control her own reproduction) marriage has become a non-binding contract.
Women do not suffer from an "extra load of economic dependency"; they want
to hang on to the dependency or get it back again--without having to fulfill
the marital obligations which justify it. The patriarchal system benefits
women by marriage. The feminist program of wrecking the patriarchy aims to
make it provide the same benefits outside marriage, thereby destroying marriage,
the family, the male role and the whole patriarchal system--and restoring
matriliny. The only way for men to restore the patriarchy is to insist that
there shall be no free ride outside of marriage and the acceptance of sexual
regulation--no alimony, no child support payments, no affirmative action
and comparable worth programs, no quotas, no goals-and-timetables. To be
independent means not to be dependent.
The suffering of single mothers--largely self-inflicted--is now deemed sufficient
justification for the free ride:
system...should be replaced with a system under which single parents would
be earners, but would have government guarantees of child support payments
out of the earnings of the other parent, health care, and high quality child
Wages Due Lesbians [is] an independent group of lesbian women who organize
within Wages for Housework, particularly in regard to custody. Wages for
Housework is an international organization fighting for money for all women
so that they can lead independent lives.
Benefits for divorced, separated, and never-married mothers and their children
could be made more similar to benefits to widows either by increasing benefit
levels or by making benefits available to single mothers regardless of income.
For women as a group, the future holds terrifying insecurity: We are increasingly
dependent on our own resources, but in a society and an economy that never
intended to admit us as independent persons, much less as breadwinners for
The fact that women are overwhelmingly the caretakers of children is a key
determinant of their secondary economic status. Whether within the two-parent
family unit or in a single-parent family, women, for the most part, provide
the nurturing, the day-to-day care, the hands-on childrearing.
The feminist demand
to be made independent by being made dependent appears paradoxical until
its underlying idea is understood, which is this: What women want is not
independence but de-regulation. They yearn to return to the "kind of role
they had on the grasslands of Africa millions of years ago." De-regulation
is the key idea which explains the feminist/sexual revolution. They like
to talk about independence because it sounds self-approbatively heroic--and
the talk is sincere in the sense that when they write agitprop or get together
at conventions and take one another seriously they believe their own flim-flam.
But when any tangible, especially economic, benefit enters the picture they
opt for dependence. The more dependence--the more alimony, the more child
support, the more legislative/bureaucratic/judicial chivalry, the more
affirmative action, the more comparable worth, the more quotas, the more
goals-and-timetables, the more anti-male discrimination, the more freebies--the
better. If it's free they want it. What they don't want is the regulation
of their sexuality which gives males a secure role within stable families.
The currently fashionable program for attaining this de- regulation is the
subject of the following chapter, the program of casting themselves into
poverty and squalor and dragging "their" children with them--and exhibiting
the resulting predicament as proving their need to be rescued.
Annex to chapter I