Is There Any Truth in What They Say?
IT WOULD be easy to dismiss women’s liberation as being entirely the product of women who just like to complain. Many men feel that way about it.
Yet, a wise person wrote: “When anyone is replying to a matter before he hears it, that is foolishness on his part and a humiliation.”—Prov. 18:13.
If you had a pain in your body, would you appreciate a doctor who dismissed you as being just a complainer? Or would you want him to analyze the problem and tell you what the cause is and if there is a remedy?
Another Bible principle says: “As for anyone stopping up his ear from the complaining cry of the lowly one, he himself also will call and not be answered.”—Prov. 21:13.
So the wise person listens. He weighs the facts to discern if a complaint is valid or not. Then he takes action accordingly.
What Cause for Complaint?
If you take an unprejudiced look at history, you will be compelled to agree that women have had many reasons for complaint.
Throughout history, the political, economic and religious power has been mainly in the hands of men. But the result has been a sickening repetition of brutality. Of World War II alone the World Book Encyclopedia states: “It has been estimated that civilian and military dead totaled 55 million. . . . Civilians suffered the greatest losses. . . . from bombings, massacres, forced migrations, epidemics, and starvation.”
Of course, one cannot say that things would have been any better had women made all the decisions. When women did rule some nations, things were really no different. Read the history about Cleopatra of Egypt, Zenobia of Palmyra, Mary I (“Bloody Mary”) of England, or Mary Queen of Scots. You will find that their rule was no improvement.
Yet, the fact remains that men have been primarily responsible for wars. Also, the weapons of war have been mostly the inventions of men. Women have seen their homes demolished, their loved ones killed or maimed. And as armies swept over large areas, women by the millions were brutalized. Untold numbers have been raped.
On the other hand, how much do women protest on either side during war? In both world wars, for example, were not the German women just as industrious in aiding their war effort as the English or American women were in theirs? When was the last time you heard that the majority of women refused to go along with the wars of a nation? Some of the loudest champions of certain war efforts have been women.
It is true, however, that in various lands many women have been treated little better than animals or slaves down through history. Among other things they were taught to commit suicide when their husbands died, had their feet bound and deformed, were not allowed to eat at the same table with men, or were sold to the highest bidder regardless of their feelings. And even in peacetime, thousands of women are raped every year. The list of oppressive acts against women is long, it cannot be denied.
Even in many ‘advanced’ societies today, women do experience forms of discrimination. The New York Times stated: “American law, with its roots in a medieval society that considered women as chattels, and with embellishments added by generations of male legislators and judges, has many features that might be said to deny women the equal protection of the laws.”
In New York state, girls considered “in need of supervision” can be imprisoned until age eighteen. But the cutoff age for boys on this count is sixteen. Sally Gold, a lawyer on the staff of the Department of Consumer Affairs, says that “a 16-year-old girl could . . . be placed in a reform school for up to four years for promiscuous behavior.” “There is no such notion for boys,” she says. A sixteen-year-old boy who was just as promiscuous would not be punished.
What About Family Life?
Many women complain about their role in family life. Is there any truth to their claims? Cornell psychologist Urie Bronfenbrenner says:
“I have a great deal of sympathy for the anger and frustration that are reflected in the Women’s Liberation movement. Not only are women discriminated against in the so-called man’s world, but they have now been deprived of prestige in their role as women.
“It used to be that a mother would get recognition in her neighborhood for the fact that she had brought up her children well. Now the mother still has the responsibility for her children, but not enough support or recognition. Her husband is away most of the time, and her neighbors are often not really her friends.
“We are creating a situation where women are frustrated in both worlds.”
Many fathers shift the responsibility for training their children to the mother. As a result the mother has to make decisions and care for matters that the husband should be handling. Of this, Look magazine said:
“The American woman is accused of displacing her husband as head of the family. In her mind, she meets this familiar charge with the countercharge that she knows scarcely a household in which the mother doesn’t struggle—in vain—to have the father make the important decisions in the children’s lives, exercise the discipline, be a model of manliness to his sons. . . .
“By his own choice, and in the face of his wife’s protests, he leaves the vital decisions in his children’s lives—their schooling, their sexual instructions, their religious and moral training—to their mothers. He says that she ‘knows more about these things’ than he does, but even as he says this, he is entirely convinced that his wife robs him of authority in the home.”
Because too many men abdicate their family responsibilities, some in women’s liberation say that the family is outmoded and should be abandoned. But would that improve matters? Dr. Paul Popenoe of the American Institute of Family Relations states: “No society has ever survived after its family life deteriorated.” Harvard Professor Emeritus Carle Zimmerman said of the decay of family life in ancient Greece and Rome: “In each case the change in the faith and belief in family systems was associated . . . with enormous crises in the very civilizations themselves.”
Abandoning the family arrangement is like ‘throwing out the baby with the wash water.’ The fact that many families are happy and do cope with their problems shows that the fault does not lie with the family arrangement. It lies with people who are too selfish or unwilling to do their part.
What About “Equality”?
In nearly every field, a woman holding down a job does not get the same pay as a man who does the same work. This is a particular hardship for mothers who must work as the sole support of their families.
Because of such inequalities, some women now demand complete equality with men in all spheres of human activity. Yet, what would be the consequences if total equality were enforced?
If women had complete equality with men, governments would draft women to fight in the fields, jungles and trenches during wartime. Once when New York Times correspondent Gloria Emerson was in Khesanh, South Vietnam, the area underwent bombardment by North Vietnamese troops. She fled to a bunker which was occupied by American soldiers. Afterward she stated: “In that lonely moment I became more equal with men than I have ever cared to be. I would have gladly shared the horror of it with the fiercely fashionable advocates of women’s lib.”
Equality in every sense would do away with sound laws that govern the type of work women can be asked to do. If you are a woman, would you really want equality with men in digging coal out of a mine thousands of feet underground if men did their share of the housework? Would you really want to spend equal time plowing fields and shoveling manure with your farmer husband if he agreed to help you cook and clean at home? Is that what you prefer?
Still, some women claim it is unfair that they are consigned to the ‘dull’ housework. But other women find it challenging to manage a home, prepare menus, arrange furniture and decorations and help mold their children’s minds. To those who find this dull, many men would ask: How many ‘white-collar’ or ‘blue-collar’ jobs for men are ‘glamorous’ or ‘exciting’? Most of them are monotonous, frustrating and unsatisfying. The men are usually chained to a rigid schedule of hours, and if they deviate from that they imperil their jobs. Many of them envy the more flexible schedule their wives have at home.
Of all the working wives or mothers that you personally know, how many of them would keep their jobs if they did not need the income? Very few women prefer the monotony of a rigid job schedule over caring for a home. Ask the women, the wives and mothers, who do have to work and see if this is not so.
Recently, women were asked about this in a poll. It showed that, by a 71- to 16-percent vote, women agreed that “taking care of a home and children is more rewarding than having a job.”
Do men treat women merely as sex symbols? Unfortunately, many, many men do just that. The only interest such men have in women is the sexual gratification they might get.
To cater to this, motion pictures, magazines and advertisements are filled with females in sexually suggestive situations or poses. Who is to blame? In most cases it is the men who control the production of these things.
Yet, who forces the women to perform or pose? You will find that nearly all the women do it of their own free will.
In the United States it was recently revealed that female college students at Wayne State University were posing naked for male customers to photograph. Their fee was $15 for thirty minutes, the girls classifying this as ‘working their way through college.’ But many other girls have worked their way through school without selling their bodies to do it.
Thus, women do allow themselves to be used in ‘sexist’ ways. They do become prostitutes of their own free will. They do willingly pose for immoral purposes. And many women do wear sexually suggestive clothing, including very short dresses. So a large part of womankind must share the blame for encouraging males to be ‘sexist.’
Related to this is the fact that because abortion is still illegal in most places, women have been injured and killed by bungled abortions. That is one reason why many women now demand legal abortions on request. But where does the fault lie? Is it really wrong for the law to want to give the unborn child a chance to live? Remember, you were once in your mother’s womb. Should your mother have had the legal right to abort you?
Science News of December 18, 1971, states: “It is now possible to accurately determine who gets abortions, . . . the most common patient is a young, single, white woman pregnant for the first time.” These women ignored God’s laws against fornication and got pregnant. Who was to blame—the unborn child? Why punish the innocent, commit murder to do it, and then demand that the murder be legalized?
Object to God as “He”
The objection is also raised that equality should even cover references to God. Mary Daly, professor of theology at Boston College, said: “God is dead for us women as long as God is imaged as exclusively male.”
However, Dr. Margaret Mead, famous American anthropologist, disagrees. The New York Times reports as follows:
“Dr. Margaret Mead declared yesterday that she had been working for women’s equality all her life, but that she could have ‘no sympathy, as a scholar, with the amount of utter nonsense’ that she said had been spoken by some members of the women’s liberation movement. . . .
“‘What in thunder is gained in reversing “God is He” into “God is She” except irritating people?’ she asked. ‘It gets us nowhere. All you get with a reversal is the opposite again.’”
Demanding an absurdity only brings scorn and diverts attention from real injustices. Also, when an absurdity is demanded, the tendency of observers is to consider other claims as possibly being absurd too. Note the following, written by a woman to the editor of the Miami Herald:
“Until recently I was proud of being a woman, proud of what she represented, proud of her role in society. Now, I’m disturbed and ashamed as I watch many of my adult female colleagues jump up and down, like a child wanting a two-cent lollipop, scream and demand certain rights—many of which they have not earned and several which they will not use effectively.
“It seems the ‘ladies’ behind the liberation of women movement are trying, with circus dramatics, to speak for women as a unit without any consideration for those of us who are content. . . .
“I, as well as many other women, protest against being degraded by over-emotional, dissatisfied females who desire a masculine identity because they are personally unfulfilled as a woman. Exchanging a bra for a gun, demanding rights and obligations beyond a woman’s physical and emotional endurance, is not going to be the pretty picture many foresee.”
However, this does not alter the fact that women have been, and still are, suffering injustices. So, what we really need to know is this: How should men treat women? What can be the results when men treat women properly?
To arrive at answers to these questions, it would be well to analyze first just how men and women are constructed. What role is most natural for them?