Since second-wave feminism launched back in the 1960s, sexists and misogynists have insisted that they don’t oppose feminism because they’re sexist or misogynist, gosh no. They fight it because it can’t give women what they truly want — marriage and life as a stay-at-home mom. Because that’s what all women want, right? And if they don’t, well, they’re not real women.
The difference between sexists and misogynists — I agree it’s slight — is that sexists sincerely believe that women want it that way. Misogynists don’t really care: if you don’t want life as a Handmaid, they’ll force it on you anyway. For example neo-Nazi Andrew Anglin gives lip service to knowing best — “What gives women happiness is marriage and being submissive to a man” but he goes on to add that “obviously, they don’t do that voluntarily. You’re not going to have a woman voluntarily submit to you; you have to force her. That’s the reality.” No, that’s being a shitty, vicious human being — but Anglin’s a neo-Nazi so we know he is.
Similarly, LGM flags two articles claiming that women going back to the home would be best for them and for America: one, from American Conservative, worries about women (I’m fairly sure it means white women) not breeding enough; another, from The Federalist, approves Trump saying he’ll pass laws to ensure schools are “celebrating the nuclear family, the positive roles of mothers and fathers, and the differences between men and women.” While the focus is trans issues, it’s The Federalist, which defends Roy Moore hitting on teenage girls and denying abortions for ectopic pregnancies) so I imagine they interpret that in the most patriarchal light.
Like I said, this is a familiar vein. Anti-feminists have been complaining for years that women really want to be 1950s style stay-at-home moms, it’s just the feminists blinded the silly sheeple with their Jedi mind tricks. And women totally should not go to college because they’ll end up becoming unfit for marriage. And dammit, women need men in their lives to dominate and boss them around.
Of course, lots of women who lived through those 1950s patriarchal marriages walked out or renegotiated the rules as soon as they had the opportunity; Schlafly, a professional activist and attorney, did so herself. So does her niece Suzanne Venker, an enthusiast for women who aren’t her staying home and letting men be the boss.
There’s nothing wrong with a woman who chooses to stay home with the kids. Ideally she’s doing it because she enjoys that as a life path, not because the mass of sexism in her workplace makes it the easier choice. But even so, it is a legitimate choice. Telling all women they’ll be happier is condescending at best, like pretending women have the real power in society. At worst it’s just a lie, an excuse to fit women into someone’s preferred vision of society without considering what they want.
What they want matters. Women are not means to an end, any more than men. Anyone who makes them a means is on the wrong side.
Undead Sexist Cliches is available as a Amazon paperback, an ebook and from several other retailers. Cover by Kemp Ward, all rights remain with current holders.