ifeminists.com: A central gathering place and information center for individualist feminists.   -- explore the new feminism --
introduction | interaction | information

ifeminists.com > introduction > editorials

Outing the Feminist "Great Lie"
August 4, 2004
by Carey Roberts

This past weekend the Vatican issued a letter to the Roman Catholic bishops which denounced feminism for preaching "conditions of subordination in order to give rise to antagonism." According to the Vatican letter, this belief has caused "immediate and lethal effects in the structure of the family."

Strong words, indeed. So what is the genesis of the feminist attempt to induce antagonism between men and women?

It can all be traced back to the feminist Creation Myth, which goes like this:

Once upon a time, in a land far away, men and women lived in a state of communal bliss. There were no sexual prohibitions, no division of labor, no ownership of property, and most of all, no patriarchy. It was a pure feminist utopia.

Over time, men and women began to pair off, babies were born, and families began to emerge. The development of stable families gave rise to a division of labor between the sexes: Men did the hunting and fishing, and women did the gardening and child-raising.

But the pivotal point in history was the emergence of the concept of private property. Simone de Beauvoir's book The Second Sex, which is required reading in every Women's Studies program, explains it this way:

"Private property appears: master of slaves and of the earth, man becomes the proprietor also of woman...Here we see the emergence of the patriarchal family founded upon private property. In this type of family, woman is subjugated."

You say, Where on earth did Beauvoir get these fantastic ideas? From Karl Marx and Frederick Engels.

And how did Marx and Engels come up with this crackpot theory? From an obscure book called Ancient Society, written in 1877 by an American anthropologist named Lewis Henry Morgan, who had spent a few weeks studying the Iroquois Indians in upper New York State.

Subsequent anthropologists have refuted Morgan's methods and conclusions. For example, the part about primitive society being a sexual free-for-all - that can be credited entirely to Morgan's wishful thinking.

But that didn't keep feminists from anointing Morgan as their patron saint. After all, he served a useful purpose.

Radical feminists accept Morgan's fable as if it were the Revealed Truth. Once we understand that, the rest of feminist theory begins to make sense.

As feminists see it, the moral of Morgan's account is that once patriarchy took over, women became the mere slaves of men, had no rights, and endured unrelenting physical and sexual abuse.

That's what is known as the feminist Great Lie. This is how columnist Wendy McElroy explains the Great Lie: "Victims of men, of the class structure, technology, government, the free market, the family, the church, Western values...everywhere and always women are painted as victims."

True, life may not have been easy for women, but men had their share of problems, too. If women were in fact the object of untrammeled social oppression, we would have expected women's life spans to have been dramatically shorter than men's.

But the historical record tells a different story. According to research conducted by Ingrid Waldron at the University of Pennsylvania, the life expectancies of men and women over the past several centuries have traced similar trajectories.

Suicide statistics also debunk the feminist enslavement theory. Public health authorities in England and Wales first began to enumerate the causes of death in the late 1800s. As early as 1890, it was found that men's suicide rate was 2.9 times higher than women's. Judging by suicide statistics, we might conclude that it was men, not women, who were more confined by rigid social roles.

1960s-style feminism had the laudable goal of encouraging equal opportunities for women. But now, feminism has morphed into an ugly ideology of female empowerment and gender retribution.

Most fairy tales have a happy ending. But the Marxist-feminist fable has set the stage for protracted gender conflict. And that, sad to say, poses a grave threat to the timeless institution of marriage.

ifeminists.com > home | introduction | interaction | information | about

ifeminists.com is edited by Wendy McElroy; it is made possible by support from The Independent Institute and members like you.