Modern culture often paints a happy picture of feminism, portraying it as a well-intentioned, peaceful, and inherently good movement. While it’s true that there are plenty of well-meaning feminists, the feminist movement is rooted in a radicality.
One of the forerunners of this radical feminism was Shulamith Firestone — a Canadian-American writer and activist who gained a following with the publication of her book The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution in 1970. The ideas outlined in this text are not bits of feel-good empowerment for women; rather, they are, as the title suggests, radical, shocking, and violent. And they’re still influencing feminists today.
In her book, Shulamith essentially argues for a complete reordering of society so as to rid the world of sexism. Her proposals are, at the core, anti-male, anti-family, and even anti-woman. She envisioned a world in which the very way we were created be undone and refashioned into something new.
Shulamith maintained that sexism is based in our biological differences. At the root of female oppression, she argued, was a woman’s ability to bear children and the subsequent period of nurturing and rearing. She regarded pregnancy and postpartum as very vulnerable times that forced a woman into dependence upon a male who could protect and provide.
At the root of female oppression was a woman’s ability to bear children.
Shulamith goes on to explain that this dependence upon the father also oppresses children and, therefore, the biological nuclear family is a means of oppression for all but the patriarch. In order to eradicate sexism, the biological family must first be eradicated.
And here’s where her ideas get even wilder. The path to this eradication of the biological family is through artificial means of gestation (a.k.a. growing children in lab-engineered wombs). If this were to be made possible, then women would no longer bear the “burden” of pregnancy, and love between a man and woman would be freed of the oppression that comes from the reproductive systems. Sound a bit like Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World? Unfortunately, Shulamith’s book was not dystopian fiction. She really believed that these changes should come about — and so do the feminists who follow in her footsteps today.
How Her Ideas are Harmful
In The Dialectic of Sex, Firestone clearly states her vision: “The end goal of feminist revolution must be… not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself: genital differences between human beings would no longer matter culturally.”
Obviously, Shulamith was anti-male. She viewed men as oppressive beasts, incapable of true love. This led to her skewed ideas about the family, making her also anti-family. This didn’t translate to her being pro-woman, though, for, as outlined in the above statement, she desired to do away with biological differences altogether. She didn’t want to lift up women in their femininity. She wanted to hack everyone down into her false idea of equality.
Many feminists today have taken up this wrong notion. They believe that “justice” will come when we go against our very nature. They want to somehow erase the fact that men and women were created with inherent differences, rather than attempt to understand and cultivate the complementarity of the sexes. They don’t understand that when we, as males and females, embrace our equal, but unique natures, we live in harmony.
Shulamith didn’t want to lift up femininity, but hack everyone down into her false idea of equality.
The view of human nature that Shulamith Firestone and other feminists take is a very pessimistic one. They focus only on vice, arguing that humans must be forcibly tamed into a peaceable existence. They argue that we must become what we are not, rather than perfecting who we truly are through the practice of virtue.
The world that Shulamith envisioned was a world without true love, without the beauty of marriage, without the true power of woman, without the freedom that comes from becoming who we are meant to be. The world she wrote of is a sterile, loveless one that does not in any way champion women.
The True Solution
In reality, marriage and family are the solutions to the woes of feminists. It was — and still is — sexual liberation, hatred of men, and a rejection of the family that caused a culture of broken women like Shulamith Firestone.
Rejecting our very nature will never lead to a feeling of fulfillment, completeness, or contentment.
Rejecting our very nature will never lead to a feeling of fulfillment, completeness, or contentment. And our nature as women is not towards sleeping around, refusing the profound love of marriage, and choosing selfish desires over new life. It’s towards truth, pure love, goodness, selflessness, and creation. The fullness of all of these things can be found in marriage and family — not in casual relationships, bitter hatred, and artificial wombs.
The solution, then, is to lift up woman in all of her authentic beauty, to regard femininity and all of its power (including fertility) as wondrous, to realize the way in which female nature betters male nature (and vice versa). The solution is seen in a husband and wife who give of themselves for each other and for their children — the beautiful fulfillment of their true and selfless love.
As a wife, mother, and simply as a woman, the dissemination of Shulamith Firestone’s shocking views is distressing as they’re aiding in the creation of a web of lies that’s trapping women and leaving them isolated, confused, and unhappy. Firestone’s writings and those of feminists who have come after her are wrecking a generation of women by turning them against their very nature. Women need to be released from these lies and, instead, shown the beauty of marriage and family. When we embrace our womanhood, we open ourselves up to love — both giving and receiving that which is true and life-giving.
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