Listen very carefully. Go right away to your web browser and locate amazon.com. Find the book, Domestic Tranquility: A Brief Against Feminism by F. Carolyn Graglia and order it (Spence Publishing Company, 0-9653208-6-3 ISBN). When you order it, spend several days (or, if possible, several hours) reading it straight through. Why am I so excited about this book? Because it is the definitive refutation of modern feminism. At 418 pages, including endnotes, it is a comprehensive exposé of the modern feminist movement; if the reader is not persuaded by the extensive evidence Graglia presents, he (she!) is most likely devoted to the ideology of feminism in a way which cannot be shaken by overwhelming, cogent evidence.
Graglia shows that modern feminism began in the 60s with an assault on homemaking, fueled by the notion that a woman's value is determined by her productivity in the marketplace. This attack really had nothing to do with a desire for sexual equality, but simply with defining equality in a new and different way. Graglia notes that men were "willing accomplices" in the feminist program and that the androgynous culture is as much the cause as it is the effect of modern feminism. Not surprisingly, "With scarcely a whimper, many males accepted the new androgyny and capitulated to the new feminist demands which have impaired their earning ability" (40). In fact, "the male retreat from commitment to marriage and family . . . must be counted as one of the primary causes of the female discontent that revived the feminist movement" (62). Graglia's therefore is "an equal opportunity destroyer"the attack is on unfaithful men, and not merely sinful women.
Hatred for the Family
Homemakers were mercilessly attacked as ignorant, slavish, parasitic baby machines. Feminists attacked the "traditional bourgeois family" which allegedly preserved a patriarchalism and kept women in servitude. The family was looked upon as in need of the direction of "experts," a conviction reflecting the pattern of social engineering to which feminists looked as a tool to accomplish their ideology. This involves a war against God's creation pattern: men and women are seen to be simply different "genders." They are fungible, i.e., interchangeable. In other words, there is not a substantive, natural difference between men and women; therefore, the roles and responsibilities can be readily interchanged. A key to the feminist ideology is the conviction that sexual differences are merely social conventions; they are not rooted in God-given and -created ontology itself. Graglia demonstrates the feminist endorsement of promiscuous sex: "By convincing women to mimic sexual promiscuity, feminists have taken a giant step toward achieving the goal most crucial to their success: convincing women and society that sexual differences are unimportant" (156). This was a shrewd move on the feminists' part, since, "The male revolt against the breadwinner ethic could have respectable sex without marriage only if society changed the standards by which female sexual behavior was judged" (157). In other words, promiscuous sex was employed to entice men away from the idea that they were responsible to provide for and protect a woman and her children. Therefore, "in their desperation to be like men, feminists encouraged women to imitate the limited male sexuality of a biological contribution and satisfaction that is confined to a brief, copulatory act of ejaculation" (158). In essence, Graglia notes, feminists wanted all women to become prostitutes. In promiscuous sexual activity, sex becomes little more than an economic arrangement: feminists "argue that females should feel the same undifferentiated lust for males that males feel for females" (160). The delightful sexual relationship within marriage tames men, but it also preserves the "traditional, bourgeois family" which feminists despise; therefore, promiscuous sex in the hands of feminists is an instrument for breaking up the family. Sex then quickly degenerates into nothing more than anomaly: "Deprivation of female chastity is always grounded in the denial of a symbolic or metaphysical [religious] dimension to the sex act" (165).
"Feminism's Totalitarian Impulse"
Graglia recounts "feminism's totalitarian impulse," the fact that far from desiring to furnish an "option" for women, its success depends on employing raw statist power to justify its ideology, just as Marxist socialism does and, of course, the success of feminism is difficult to conceive apart from state socialism: "Western feminism is one of the last strongholds of the collectivist viewpoint. Like collectivists, feminists are committed to imposing their own view of the common good on society. They have well-defined goals and division of the new androgynous man and woman to be created by remolding society through so-called reforms that are the antithesis of spontaneous growth" (271). Mrs. Graglia shrewdly notes:
Whether or not the goal of sexual equivalence is desirable or possible, there is serious doubt that destruction of the traditional, bourgeois [i. e., Christian!] family is consistent with continuation of a free market economy.... Because the cost and inefficiencies inherent in a socialist economic structure usually require full-time employment of both mother and father outside the home, it is doubtful that any substantial number of traditional families can long be maintained in highly socialized economies. (275-276)
In plainer words, socialism serves the feminist ideology quite well, since it requires the break-up of the Christian family. Graglia thus issues a stern warning to many within the conservative camp: "Libertarians and other economic conservatives should realize that by rejecting traditional conservatism's pro-family cultural premises, they are aligning themselves with the cultural values of modern liberals" (277). Of the free market economy, Graglia notes, "Among its other benefits, this is the only economy that has ever produced enough wealth in an advanced industrial society to support a large female population sufficiently freed from labor outside the home that it will willingly chose a high rate of reproductivity" (279). In short, the free market economy creates the wealth necessary to sustain a large number of women's decisions to bear children, stay at home, and be a "traditional" Christian homemaker.
On Mothers and Markets
In what must surely be one of the most insightful observations in this deeply insightful book, Graglia states:
Bureaucracies are more hospitable to the effete, androgynous male who fits the feminist mold of manhood. Women, on the other hand, are generally as well suited to bureaucratic action as they were suited, when young girls, to the largely female-administered elementary school which ... rewarded all the behaviors that come so easily to most of us who were little models of self-control and stress-less conformity. While usually more risk-adverse than men, women will, with bureaucratic sanction, happily cast a wide net in deploying their aptitude for nurturing, caring, and empathy to organize and direct the lives of others. Being willing and often very competent to institute and enforce a minute regulation of other people's affairs, women thrive in the security of a bureaucracy, the bastion of females and feminized males. (281)
The great danger of women in leading roles in the marketplace is that they want to treat the market as though it were a family. But the market is not to be "mothered." Children are to be mothered. Success in the marketplace is associated with bold, innovative, entrepreneurship, which is the opposite of the God-bestowed gifts to women. Their call is to care for husbands and to nurture children, and these distinctive qualities cannot be successfully transferred to the marketplace. Unfortunately, as Graglia notes, women can work quite effectively in a bureaucracy (which is almost always inimical to the marketplace), as can feminized males. Graglia sees that the feminization of the marketplace is accompanied by an attack on rugged individualism, bold leadership:
The view that individuality is a feeling and must be subordinated to group action is antipathetic to free market capitalism and integral to totalitarian collectivism; it was part of the bedrock on which the Soviet Union built its economic disaster. Insofar as the traditional bourgeois family was a precondition of free market capitalism, the family's decline could be expected to result in a work force apprehensive of individuality and receptive to an emerging welfare state socialism (282).
Therefore, "defense of the traditional family must also be seen as a defense of democratic capitalism" (289).
The "Tangle of Pathology"
Graglia goes on to document the "tangle of pathology" to which modern feminism has contributed: divorce, illegitimacy, teenage pregnancies, poverty, crime, suicide and other maladies among children and adolescents, working mothers and declining birth rates and the diminished male. She demonstrates how feminism has assaulted young black males. The welfare system which feminism supports as a subsidy of immorality simply dismisses black males: "except for the task of impregnating females, today's black ghetto males have become largely expendable" (310) — largely because of feminism.
Graglia relates how successfully feminism has defeated its own stated purposes — helping women. By vigorously supporting "no fault" divorce, feminists have rendered financially vulnerable any woman who decides to stay at home and rear children for a husband. He can readily divorce her, and she is without any financial recourse. Of course, this is precisely what feminists want: they do not want women dependent on men. Thus, no-fault divorce is an encouragement to dismiss the Christian family.
Strangely, modern feminism has made an about-face since the 60s and 70s — when one of its chief tenets was "free love." Promiscuous sex was originally designed to break up the traditional Christian family, but easily ended in women's being looked at as little more than sex objects. Strangely, however, today feminists in general are opposed to pornography, and we here observe the collision between two feminist premises: on the one hand, women should not be subjected to the "servitude" of the patriarchal family and, on the other hand, women should not be looked at as sex objects. It apparently did not occur to the original modern feminists that these two notions could ever come into conflict. One of the recent divisions within the feminist ranks shows that Camille Paglia's vision (in Sexual Personae, for instance) which stresses the sexual power of women is gaining a greater foothold among modern women who do not mind being sex objects as long as they are "liberated." This, however, is anathema to other, more "traditional" feminists who simply want to liberate women from men. Thus, Graglia concludes:
In what sense, one must wonder, can contemporary feminism be said to have advanced the position of women in our society when it supported no-fault divorce, the sexual revolution, and the glamorizing of market production at the expense of domesticity, all of which have led to broken marriages, mothers who are devalued and abandoned, and young women who are regarded as the trophies — of either the bimbo or brainy variety — that advertise men's success? (319)
Graglia's tome is not merely a statement of philosophical conflict, however. She presents incontrovertible evidence overthrowing the feminist mythology on everything from the conviction that pre-60s women were unhappy with their role as homemakers and therefore desired "liberation," to the notion that working women worked because they need to work to support the family. To the contrary, she notes that the vast majority of pre-60s women were quite satisfied with their role as homemakers, and the vast majority of working women —and especially those women who return to an outside job most quickly from childbearing — are in families with an income significantly higher than that of stay-at-home-mom families. Clearly, it is not economic necessity that is pushing most women into the marketplace; rather, it is ideological perversity.
This is a scintillating, stunning, iconoclastic book to which a short review such as this simply cannot do justice.
Get the book and read it.
- P. Andrew Sandlin
P. Andrew Sandlin is a Christian minister, theologian, and author. He is the founder and president of the Center for Cultural Leadership in Coulterville, California. He was formerly president of the National Reform Association and executive vice president of the Chalcedon Foundation. He is a minister in the Fellowship of Mere Christianity.. He was formerly a pastor at Church of the Word in Painesville, Ohio (1984-1995) and Cornerstone Bible Church in Scotts Valley, California (2004-2014).