Okay, so the title of this might be a little overly dramatic. Women’s lib certainly faces some very real challenges, though. Unfortunately for the social liberation of the finer sex, its success is threatened on both sides — by both chauvinism and feminism.
On one hand, radical feminism is turning women’s lib into a laughingstock in the eyes of many. With lunacy going on like the shrieking anti-man agenda of a few radical, very vocal self-described feminists, equality and liberation for women is taking some damage along with its public image. If you want to ruin, or at least slow, a movement toward something good, offend the people that need to change. They’ll become more intractable, more stubborn, less reasonable. The more absurdly radical your stance, the more people sitting on the fence will find themselves leaning away from your position. This is what groups like NOW are doing for feminism. This is why feminism is to many very reasonable, very liberated women, a “dirty word”.
Things aren’t quite equal yet for women, and I don’t expect that gap to be closed any time soon. The way to close it is to treat everyone like equals. It’s not to lash out against people with whom one wants to be equal. Take people as individuals, not as groups. Characterizing “men” in general as some kind of patriarchal evil doesn’t help anyone except those who wish to characterize women who aren’t barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen as dangerous loons.
On the other front is a resurgence in chauvinism. So-called “traditional Christian values”, as opposed to secular equality influences, is seeing a lot of new support in the United States at least lately. In part, as already noted, radical feminism is doing this to itself by apparently doing everything in its power to alienate at least 50% of the population. Having an authoritarian theocrat in the White House is bolstering a lot of the barefoot-and-pregnancy crowd’s so-called “arguments”. Wimmin R born differnt! Dey shudnt git ta have careers! Gob wants ’em at home!
Without a President who got there largely by catering to the radical Christian Right, that lunatic segment of the populace wouldn’t be getting so legitimized. Sadly, they’re making a lot of very reasonable, intelligent, generally good Christians look pretty bad by association. I find this even more offensive than what radical feminism is doing because radical Christians are doing an even better job of making the associated reasonable Christians look bad than radical feminists are of making associated reasonable women look bad. Some of the writers of the last few centuries I respect most were Christian philosophers, but Christian philosophy continues to face the danger of being marginalized in the minds of secular academics as a result of the words and actions of a bunch of zealots.
. . . but I digress.
The point of this ramble is the liberation and equality of women. There’s one final problem with the survivability of it: social evolutionary forces. As women pursue careers, and decide to be something other than baby factories, they and the men who are attracted to them have less children. Meanwhile, the baby factories and their chauvinistic husbands are indoctrinating a new generation of chauvinists and baby factories at continuingly frightening rates. Educated, free-thinking people have lower birth rates. They may well get outnumbered to an effectively insurmountable degree again due to the mere fact of birth rates.
People often — usually, in fact — adopt the values of their parents for the most part. Latchkey kids and the Internet may be the only hopes for gender equality. After all, these days everyone is getting online, especially teenagers, and the people who write the best material online are usually people who aren’t backwards-thinking radicals. At least, they are such less often than many other demographics. The so-called “blogosphere” (what a lame term) is mostly made up of people who don’t question the ethical or moral equality of the genders, as far as I can tell, as measured in weight of opinion.
I only hope the likely increasing ratio of children of chauvinists as compared with children of people who recognize some kind of gender equality will be offset by increasing online presence of the population in general. In other words, the fertility rate of bigots might be offset by the fertility rate of free minds. It had better be — otherwise, the situation looks pretty grim.