When the women’s movement burst on the scene in the 1960s, leading feminists such as Betty Friedan stressed equality and focused on opportunities denied women.
The movement’s leaders expected their reasoning, framed as a matter of justice and based on the principle of equal opportunity, would allow individual women to have the same choices as individual men. The movement was not about women; the movement was about people….
The reasoning made sense to me then, and I allied myself with feminism. In its early stages, it foretold a better world, more aligned with justice, where individuals were liberated to be themselves. No one of either sex would be treated better than someone of the other sex.
The world did not turn out the way early feminists, such as me, imagined. Instead of changing the rules of the game so no one was favored, policies changed to ensure women received preferential treatment of the sort that affirmative action requires. Instead of using rhetoric that reminds people of their humanity and the possibility of harmony, rhetoric shifted into language suggesting gender as the key to understanding people and the impossibility of avoiding the traditional battle of the sexes….
If far more men have suffered economic hardship in the recession, there should be rejoicing that they are returning to work. It ought not be an occasion to suggest that sexism is coming into play so the goal of having women as secondary citizens is affected. Men are not trying to “snag” a woman’s job. Men are simply trying to find work, any work, including work that had been done formerly by another man.
Today, “A Doll’s House” would need rewriting. Nora might put it this way: “Before everything else, I’m a woman. I want women to gain power notwithstanding the real conditions of the world. It is only women who concern me. Men may be human, too. I’m not sure.”
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