A healthy distrust of the claims of those advocating social change

My goal in this post is small. I’m sure the relevancy to the current debate about marriage reform will be clear, but I certainly don’t claim this is the final word or a comprehensive treatment.

My small goal is this: to convince you that we should have a healthy skepticism of the confident claims made by people who want to change society.

We hear the confident assertion, “There will be no downsides, only positives. It won’t affect you or anyone else”. And they really believe what they are saying. But when we play with deep social change, how confidently can we really make those predictions?

Here are some quotes from notable Feminist advocates, who made confident claims and fought for social change a generation ago.

(Now, I’m no expert on these quotes, people or Feminism. I believe many of the changes brought by women’s rights advocates were great things to be very thankful for.)

But just listen to what they have to say.

AT FIRST… CONFIDENT CLAIMS

Germaine Greer (1971)

“If women are to effect a significant amelioration in their condition it seems obvious that they must refuse to marry…”

Gloria Steinem 1973

We have to abolish and reform the institution of marriage… By the year 2000 we will, I hope, raise our children to believe in human potential, not God”

Simone de Beauvoir (1975)

“No woman should be authorized to stay at home to raise her children. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.”

BUT THEN… REGRET

Simone de Beauvoir (1993)

“as I look back, … I am astonished when I realize how thoroughly I have been cheated”

Betty Friedan “The Second Stage” (1981)

“The equality we fought for isn’t livable, isn’t workable, isn’t comfortable in the terms that structured our battle.” Those women who believe it is “who live alone, repudiating marriage and motherhood… are living a life defined by reaction against the family, whistling a brave tune to hide the loneliness and yearning for some form of family.”

“I think we must at least admit and begin openly to discuss feminist denial of the importance of family, of women’s own needs to give and get love and nurture, tender loving care … To deny the part of ones’ being as woman that has, through the ages, been expressed in motherhood — nurturing, loving, softness, and tiger strength — is to deny part of one’s personhood as woman’

Germaine Greer (1999)

“Women’s lives have become more, not less, difficult”

“The evidence…that it is getting worse. Thirty years ago we heard nothing about panic attacks, or anorexia or self- mutilation. Now the icons of female suffering are all around us.”

“I was desperate for a baby and have the medical bills to prove it”

Kirsten Birkett, “The Essence of Feminism” (2000)

Raised a feminist and an atheist, but now says: “Feminism is a selfish movement, with no sustainable philosophy, a fabricated history and an incoherent morality. It does not bring freedom and fulfilment for women, and it will not right injustices.”

Show your support

Clapping shows how much you appreciated Andrew Hayes’s story.