Feminism is not pro family-formation.
Yes, there are feminists who are married and have children, but the ideals feminists espouse (example: career-as-identity) discourage marriage and child-bearing. For a woman who doesn’t want marriage or children, it is no problem to end up unmarried and childless, but that isn’t how most women want to end up. The existence of many blogs and news stories about women in their forties who refused to settle down in their twenties because they were too busy with their careers and casual lovers but then couldn’t find anyone decent to marry in their thirties and are now bemoaning that fact while finding out belatedly that family really is what it’s all about shows us how detrimental feminism is to family-formation.
In 1976, when modern feminism was really getting into full swing, the childless rate for women ages 40-44 was about 10%; in 2006, after thirty years of feminism, the rate had exploded to 20% (it is important to note that this does not differentiate between voluntary and involuntary childlessness). But interestingly, over the past several years (coincidentally the same time frame when there began to be a vocal push-back by women against feminism), the childless rate has begun to drop for women in the final years of their fertility and now is just over 16%. (source: http://www.census.gov/content/dam/Census/library/publications/2014/demo/p20-575.pdf)
I was speaking with a teenager recently and she took me to task, saying that the kinds of extreme feminism I’ve written about in the past isn’t how most feminists are nowadays. She assured me that feminism is only about believing that men and women are equal (she didn’t specify what “equal” means) and anyway didn’t I know that even Beyoncé and Taylor Swift are feminists?
I found this interesting; Lena Dunham is to my mind an excellent example of modern feminism and she is constantly embroiled in scandals such as making possibly false rape allegations (that were purposefully vague and led to a man who had nothing to do with it being attacked) and writing an anecdote that made it seem like she had molested her baby sister. Science Fiction author Vox Day refers to her as the Dunham Horror. On top of that, she is the sort of modern-looking feminist – green-haired, crass, and tattooed – that is so unappealing to the sort of single man who might be interested in marriage and children:
And yet Lena Dunham is who Taylor Swift credits with turning her into a feminist:
“As a teenager, I didn’t understand that saying you’re a feminist is just saying that you hope women and men will have equal rights and equal opportunities. What it seemed to me, the way it was phrased in culture, society, was that you hate men. And now, I think a lot of girls have had a feminist awakening because they understand what the word means. For so long it’s been made to seem like something where you’d picket against the opposite sex, whereas it’s not about that at all. Becoming friends with Lena – without her preaching to me, but just seeing why she believes what she believes, why she says what she says, why she stands for what she stands for – has made me realize that I’ve been taking a feminist stance without actually saying so.”
Feminism does not actually just mean “you believe women and men should have equal opportunities,” as anyone who has read Feministing knows (Feministing is considered the go-to source for modern young feminists). Taylor may not know much about what feminism is, but one thing she does seem to know is that she is not planning on sacrificing any of her independence by getting married:
“I’ve learnt that just because someone is cute and wants to date you, that’s not a reason to sacrifice your independence and allow everyone to say what they want about you. I’m not doing that any more […]
It’d take someone really special for me to undergo the circumstances I have to go through to experience a date. I don’t know how I would ever have another person in my world trying to have a relationship with me, or a family. The best answer I can come up with now is, ‘go at it alone.’
It’s one thing for Taylor Swift to embrace feminism; in addition to being rich, beautiful, and talented, she has said she plans to “go at it alone” and she’s obviously happy with that (or says she is, anyway). But Young Woman, do you want to “go at it alone”? Do you like the idea of being unmarried and childless for life only without the, you know, incredibly glamorous lifestyle of a pop star? Because embracing feminism will have real life consequences for you that Taylor Swift will never have to experience.
And it’s easy for someone like Beyoncé – who uses her sexuality to sell her records, married fairly young and has a child – to parrot feminist talking points:
“I guess I am a modern-day feminist. I do believe in equality. Why do you have to choose what type of woman you are? Why do you have to label yourself anything? I’m just a woman, and I love being a woman. I do believe in equality and that we have a way to go, and it’s something that’s pushed aside and something that we have been conditioned to accept.”
Beyoncé, who’s married to rapper Jay-Z, 43, has been criticized for naming her upcoming world tour “The Mrs. Carter Show.” Her husband’s real name is Shawn Carter. “I feel like Mrs. Carter is who I am, but more bold and more fearless than I’ve ever been,” she said.
The “Single Ladies” and “Independent Women” singer says becoming a wife and mother to daughter Blue Ivy has contributed to the type of woman she is, despite those song titles.
“It comes from knowing my purpose and really meeting myself once I saw my child,” she said. “I was like ‘OK, this is what you were born to do.’ The purpose of my body became completely different.”
But for both Beyoncé and Taylor, feminism looks more like a public relations strategy than any sort of true political or philosophical conviction, and their public embracing of the feminist label is incredibly destructive because they influence a lot of young women who don’t have their options in life and who are at risk of missing out on having a family if they adopt a feminist outlook.
Young women: you are not Beyoncé, you are not Taylor Swift, and you don’t need feminism in order to accomplish any of your goals. You are most likely average-pretty and, not to rain on your parade, while you very well may be smart, talented, and kind, you probably aren’t going to end up a superstar. It’s okay to dream, but it’s important to also have a realistic life plan in mind. By the time you are in high school, you should be starting to consider seriously what your most important goals in life are. Here are some sample goals:
- Love and serve God in whatever way He calls me to do while always living in obedience to the Bible.
- Have children.
- Work in ____________ job field.
- Get post-secondary education or training.
- Other goal(s):________________
You should be considering what your top 5-10 goals in life are, seeking wisdom from both God and the adults in your life, and ranking them from most to least important. You may want to get a degree from Harvard and also have three children, but if you could only pick one of those two goals, which one would you pick? Which one will give you the most happiness over the span of your life? I can’t answer that question for you, but you do need to think about what you want in this one brief lifetime before you enter God’s eternity and focus on achieving the goals that are most important to you. That doesn’t mean that goals further down the list can’t also be worked toward, but it does mean you need to focus the bulk of your time and attention on preparing yourself for your most important goals, especially if family-formation is one of them.