Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Feminism vs "Social" Feminism

The roots of many things which plague our society go back to the XIXth century. Feminism is no exception, as I have often pointed out in my previous posts on this topic. However, few people know that from the beginning, feminism wasn't a homogenous movement, or rather, that there were basically two groups of people who called themselves feminists.

F. Carolyn Graglia writes in her famous book Domestic Tranquility that some early feminists actually came with a theory of separate spheres for women, though equal in importance, while others, such as Charlotte Perkins Gilman ridiculed this idea and wanted total economic independence for women. Ms Gilman denounced the traditional homemaker as a "parasitic creature" and even a "horse-leech's daughter" with aspirations of "an affectionate guinea pig" (see for reference Domestic Tranquility, Spence Publishing, 1998, p. 103-104).

Her ideas were supported by the National Woman Party which  entered into an unholy alliance with the National Association of  Manufacturers to push more women and children into workforce and abolish all the protective legislation aimed at those groups.

Those who called themselves "social" feminists, on the other hand, objected to the employment of (married) women and mothers and promoted the idea of a "family wage", so that the wives wouldn't be subjected to "the drudgery of a cotton mill" (idem). It was social feminists such as Mary Anderson of the Women's Bureau who fought for the "family wage" so that mothers could stay home and children would be spared from the day care (idem, p.105).

If you remember, one of the slogans of the feminist movement of the 1960 was "equal pay for equal work". They stated that it was the ubiquitous patriarchy which oppressed a working woman with the "family wage" (i.e. higher wages for male breadwinners), even though it was another group of feminists which had introduced it. Does it even make sense to you?

I don't know that much about ´social` feminists, but the way I see it, they at least tried to protect traditional family, women and children, especially those of lower classes who, unlike their UMC "sisters" didn't have a fancy career but were more likely to work somewhere in a sweatshop for the minimum wage; while modern feminists who are overwhelmingly elite women, often with some cushy sort of job are enthusiastically encouraging their inferiors to dig ditches.  I'd say, they should lead by example!

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