Feminism’s War on Women

Modern feminism tends to conflate gender equality with gender interchangeability, insisting that women aren’t truly free until they’re indistinguishable from men. In the process, the movement has pitted itself against both science, which finds sexual differences throughout the animal kingdom, and women themselves, who tend to be quite comfortable with the arrangement.

I recently wrote an op-ed for the Washington Times on this subject, and explore several areas in which dogmatic feminism ended up opposed to the well-being of women:

  • A recent survey of undergraduates at UC-Santa Cruz found that no one, not a single man or woman, preferred for the woman to propose marriage. The study’s authors suggested this unanimity was the result of “the role that hidden power may play in many heterosexual romantic relationships,” and Jezebel’s Laura Beck called it “benevolent sexism.”
  • According to a 2007 Pew Research survey of families with minor children, 79% of mothers described their ideal situation as one in which they worked part-time or not at all, while 72% of fathers preferred to work full-time. As a result, fathers tend to work more than mothers. As the Manhattan Institute’s Kay Hymowitz has explained, this “gender-hours gap” (a situation both sexes appear to prefer) is the primary cause of the so-called “gender-wage gap” that modern feminists hold in such derision.
  • One of the gender gaps feminists have been slow to acknowledge relates to military deaths: despite making up nearly 15% of active soldiers, women make up less than 0.02% of U.S. military fatalities in Operation Enduring Freedom. Surely, feminists wouldn’t really claim that this is sexist against women?  Actually, the Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN) claims just that, decrying the exclusion of women from the front lines as “a blatant act of gender discrimination.”

In each of these case, the feminist insistence upon equality-as-interchangeability demonstrably harms women, and I suggested in the article that we might understand this as the true “war on women,” particularly considering that the number of girls killed in sex-selective abortion is larger than the entire female population of the United States.


  1. Re: Women in the military, I’m personally 100% against it.

    If I had my way I would immediately discharge every single woman in the US military, from the Coast Guard to the Marines, to the Navy, to the Army and Air Force, from nurses, to clerks who process paperwork, to the ones sweeping the floor, from PFCs to Generals.

    Yes it is “a blatant act of gender discrimination.” I readily admit that, and I won’t be changing my mind anytime soon. I’ll settle for keep them out of combat for now…

    The movie “G.I. Jane” is total Hollywood BS.

    There are different inter-personal dynamics when young men are by themselves, and compared to young men and women together.

    A guy in foxhole incapacitated with a bullet through his chest is going to weigh a TON on a good day, add mortar shells going off, bullets flying by their heads, along with having your hearing blown out from the explosion(s), add that that guy might be kicking and screaming his heart out for his mother, and I’m sorry to say it but it’s a simple matter of physics, a 4′ 11″ 90 lbs woman isn’t carrying a 6′ 200+ lbs guy, (both he and her are also going to be loaded down with about 20-40 lbs equipment in addition to their own weight) out of that situation.

    You also have the fact that relationships are going to form between young men and women. A young guy will not be putting his girlfriend/fiance/wife in harm’s way if he can help it, good order and discipline will be going out the window.

    What really pisses off a lot of guys is also the double standards in physical fitness between men and women in the military. ie: In the USMC men have to run 3 miles in 28 minutes minimum, women have to cover the same distance in 31 minutes. If you’re going to rally at a point 3 miles away, on an easy straight line that’s not over hills or through gunfire to evacuate from combat, and have only 28 minutes to get there, those who make it there in 28 minutes and 1 second (or more) are SOL.

  2. I served on a ship that had a few female officers.

    We didn’t really have any problems. But I did run into buddies at integrated commands and there were lots of problems.

    On the other hand, I would feel safer with two of my female Guard friends (medic, truck driver) than a lot of male dirt bags I actually served with.

    They shouldn’t be 11b’s, and because every Marine is a rifleman, they shouldn’t be Marines. But in the other branches I think they can and do increase military readiness.

  3. Your HTML cannot be accepted: Tag is not allowed: BLOCKQUOTE

    “the role that hidden power may play in many heterosexual romantic relationships”

    You betcha heterosexual romantic relationships are dominated by “hidden power” – hers.

    The first rule of the feminist is No Matter What I Side With What The Female Wants. There is no other guiding principle of feminism.

    Your HTML cannot be accepted: Tag is not allowed: STRIKE

    The Jezebel female wants the romantic fantasy of being pursued and even swept away… but also to call the shots in the relationship at her whim – which would destroy the illusions she calls romantic so she’ll soon be back barking “Why are men afraid of romance?” and “Where are the <strike>chivalrous</strike> good men?”

    The Service Women’s Action Network doesn’t want females to be assigned to combat (as men are), they want females to be able to choose a combat assignment. Or not. And if they choose combat they want to be able to choose from glamourous, career-enhancing but safer combat assignments. What they want is a Whatever The Female Wants double standard. You hear them use the word “choose” a lot. No way do they want equality.

    “Just look around you” as a prominent feminist once wrote (in another context). You’ll start seeing the feminist double standards of demanding special and advantaged treatment for the females popping up everywhere.

  4. A typo needs fixing in the body of the article. “The number of girls killed in sex-selective abortion is larger than the entire population of the United States” should read “the number of girls killed in sex-selective abortion is larger than the entire FEMALE population of the United States.”

  5. I don’t know; I remain unconvinced on all accounts, and maybe even by both sides? To me, the size of the study is really too narrow to determine anything useful – 277 undergrads from UCSC filling out a questionnaire? And to demonstrate what? Whatever notion the reader wants to put down on top of it? I can’t actually read the study (I think you have to pay or subscribe or something?), but it seems like both the option put forward by you and the researcher could be accurate, but it is hard to know without more information! It touches on why do we want what we want, and that is a difficult question at best.

    And then the pay gap questions, which, again, is multifaceted and not at all clear cut as either side would present it. The question for me that doesn’t seem to have been addressed in any of your links is this — are the women who DO desire full-time work on equal footing with men, or does their sex present obstacles to their career? The idea that “most women” want to stay home if possible doesn’t negate even the minority who do not want that.

    Also, why do these women stay home? Is it because the workforce just isn’t worth it? That they know their husband will have a better shot at making more money and advancing? Do they feel uncomfortable in the workplace? Or is it actually that both options are great and positive, they just happen to like home life more? So many questions left unanswered!

    As far as the military issue goes, it seems as if both sides agree there is discrimination, it is only a question of whether that discrimination is for a legitimate purpose. But surely we can understand that, if a woman CAN meet the physical guidelines set for an assignment, she should not be passed over simply because she is female?

    I don’t know, this article, with all respect to you, Joe, seems not to really SAY anything. Do you think there is no legitimate sexism in institutions or society? You say these movements are demonstrably HARMING women, but I do not think that holds water, except maybe in the sex-selective abortions. The idea that our roles in marriage and proposals might be influenced by “benevolent sexism” doesn’t really HARM women as an idea. Same with the gender wage gap – how does pursuing legislation or research regarding the issue actually HARM women?

    I don’t know – lots of thoughts and loaded issues. I’m definitely no Jezebel-brand feminist, but I’ll admit I’ve got a bit a different brand of feminism within me, so this makes me raise my eyebrows. It seems more geared at painting feminists as “the bad guys” instead of offering an alternative that isn’t the satus quo.

    You know I love your writing, Joe, so don’t take this too negatively! It just made me ask a LOT of questions. 🙂

    1. Elizabeth,

      First of all, I’m sorry that it’s taken me so long to respond to you. You asked thoughtful questions worthy of a response, but last week was a bit hectic (finishing up finals, moving, going on a retreat, and preparing for Christmas). So if you’ll forgive my belatedness, here’s what I would say in response:

      1) With the caveat that I was never great at statistics in college, I think that the study, while small, is instructive. If there was a large body of women who were opposed to the traditional male role of doing the asking in marriage, we should expect to see at least some evidence in a study of this size. This seems particularly true since, to the extent that selection biases exist in the study, we would expect the survey respondents to be more liberal on these issues. Even Laura Beck (at Jezebel) found it noteworthy that this study occurred at “super liberal UC Santa Cruz.”

      So it seems that the one thing that we should be able to agree on is that this is what women themselves say that they want. We can either take them at their word on this, or suggest some “hidden power” is at work in controlling them, but to pretend that this consensus doesn’t exist seems to fly in the face of all of the data. Even the women who lamented the study did so without claiming that they would prefer to be the ones in charge of marriage proposals. So I don’t even see anecdotal evidence contrary to the study’s findings.

      These leaves feminists like Beck and Marcotte arguing for a specific worldview that’s allegedly about empowering women, and doing so in a manner that runs contrary to the express wishes of women themselves. Do you disagree? Do you think that women would prefer to do the proposing? Do you think that Beck, Marcotte, et al are helping women by trying to push them into proposing?

      2) I agree that the pay gap question is multifaceted, both in determining whether (and to what extent) a gap exists, and what causes such a gap. The Hymowitz article notes that “childless 20-something women” actually earn more than their male peers, so there’s a negative gap in that case. That seems to belie the notion that this is a matter of systemic sexism (although I’ll certainly acknowledge that at least in individual cases, this can be a factor, as well).

      All sides seem to agree that once a woman begins having children, a wage gap emerges, and she’s likely to earn less than her male counterparts. This is also where we see the gender gap in hours worked: mothers working full-time tend to work fewer hours than their male counterparts, and mothers are less likely to work full-time. To my knowledge, this is about as far as we can say without delving into pure conjecture: the data that I’ve seen treats as “full-time work” everything from 35 hours/week to 90 hours/week, so showing a wage gap between two full-time employees in the same field seems to be a very incomplete stat.

      3) You asked: “Also, why do these women stay home? Is it because the workforce just isn’t worth it? That they know their husband will have a better shot at making more money and advancing? Do they feel uncomfortable in the workplace? Or is it actually that both options are great and positive, they just happen to like home life more?

      It’s not just that women tend to stay at home more. It’s that when polled on what their ideal is, women overwhelming report something other than full-time work. That Pew study that I mentioned in the article found that 16% of stay-at-home mothers (and 5% of mothers working part-time) wished that they were working full-time. In contrast, over 70% of mothers working full-time wished that they weren’t. So while you’re right that some women might feel pressured into not working, statistically, the overwhelming trend is in the opposite direction.

    2. 4) I think that the military issue is complicated by two factors: one, the impact on group dynamics (including implications for infrastructure); and two, the implications for other women. The military doesn’t work with people just deciding for themselves where they want to go, so if the ban were lifted, the likely result would be women being assigned to more dangerous missions, whether they want it or not. The alternative, I suppose, would be a separate standard for female soldiers, where they can choose to, or decline to, serve in high-risk situations.

      5 & 6) What the article was trying to say was that there are two big errors common within modern feminism:

      (a) conlating sexual “equality” with sexual “sameness,” and

      (b) tying success to certain problematic benchmarks (like legalized abortion), and clinging dogmatically to these positions even when this absolutism is self-evidentially *not* helping women.

      In the original article, I think that the sex-selective abortion example points to the problem of (b), while the rest of the example point to problems with (a). I’ll leave you to judge whether I successfully show either of those points. So it’s not about painting feminists (and certainly not all feminists) as the bad guys, but exposing philosophical failings that have lead to a faulty and self-destructive worldview. I’m sympathetic to some variations of feminism, particularly revalorist feminism, which affirms feminity as a good distinct from (and complementary to) masculinity.

      7) You know I love your comments, so please, don’t worry about being too negative. Yours was a very thoughtful reply.

      Merry Chistmas,


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