by Kenneth Justice
~ “Kenneth, basically it comes down to the fact that women are working who don’t need to be working. They are taking jobs away from men who need them, and they are pushing men out of the workplace. Women are the ones who should be raising children at home, and if it wasn’t for the feminists, Western Culture would be much better off” he said.
That is what someone told me last week, and while it might seem a bit extreme considering it’s the 21st century, oddly enough there are a LOT of people who subscribe to that position. Have women contributed to an overall decline in Western Culture? Has the feminist movement hurt our society and put a ton of men out of work? Did the 20th century women’s right’s movement forever plague Western Culture with more bad than good?
The history of equality between the genders is a bit complex. Prior to Industrialization, it is true that in most Western countries, women did not have the right to vote, to hold public office, to attend a college or university, and in some places a woman did not even have to the right to testify in a trial. Women were definitely not “equal” in the eyes of the law.
However, in the pre-industrialized world, where the masses of people lived and breathed agriculture; equality of the genders were a bit more level back then. A farm could not exist without a woman in the pre-20th century world. Women were needed, not only to produce offspring (help for the farm) but to function as an integral component of keeping the farm in full production.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m not suggesting women were entirely “equal” prior to the 20th century. After all, in most cases women did not have the right to choose who they would marry, and in a some countries, practically speaking women were nothing more than glorified slaves. Nonetheless, because of the way a farm functioned in 18th and 19th agrarian culture, if a dude wanted his farm to run efficiently it was in his best interests to treat his wife with as much decency and respect owed to her, since she was pulling her fair share in running the farm.
It was after Industrialization and technology when agricultural slowly died away as the main industry for the Western World that women’s roles became more relegated to the concept of what we know today as a “homemaker”. It’s no wonder then why the gender wars of the 20th century took place; because all of the new jobs that were created through Industrialization and technology were highly sought after by men who know longer could work in agriculture, and they felt that women were competing against them in a way they had never experienced in the previously agrarian society.
Thus, if we really get down to the nitty gritty; it’s possible that the feminist movement of the 20th century would never have occurred if not for Industrialization. It was the very inventions and technology of the 20th century that began to prompt a war between the genders that had never before been truly realized.
So here we are in the 21st century and people still believe that women should be second class citizens, and relegated to living at home. Such people clearly do not understand that it is no long 1859.
—) We no longer live in an era where it takes all day to wash the clothes with a washboard down by the creek; doing the wash these days takes a matter of minutes, all by the push of a button
—) It no longer takes all afternoon to prepare meat or toil in the garden for the evening dinner; we merely stop at the grocer and pick up the produce in a matter of minutes
—) Even the long walk to the market that many women made in days gone by has now been replaced by a quick couple minute drive thanks to the invention of automobiles and public transportation
The truth of the matter is simple; we no longer live in the 18th century. Technology has separated us from our ancestors in a way they could never have imagined. To relegate women to living in the home and spending the day staring at the walls simply makes no sense. There are not enough chores to be done in the home anymore. Of course there are always exceptions, and if you are one of those families with 19 children and counting, well, you’ve got an entirely different set of problems then I am addressing.
It’s also interesting to note that while many people associate the divorce rate with a shift in cultural values; very few people tend to associate the divorce rate with the change in the way we live our lives. After all, in the pre-industrialized world, divorce mean devastating consequences to the farm. Where would a divorced woman live in the 18th century? What would Farmer Bob do if his wife left him? The farm would go to ruin; one man could not keep a farm going back then, it was simply impossible.
With the rise of Industrialization and technology, you no longer needed a partner to live with you to get your house chores done. What used to take all day, now only took a few minutes after work. Suddenly, the concept of marriage and what it means to us has changed dramatically without many of us even realizing this had even occurred.
Where marriage used to be about a joint partnership in survival; marriage now meant two independent people uniting in some kind of commonality, and if the two people (or if one of the people) begins to feel that they are not all that intellectually or spiritually connected to the other, divorce suddenly becomes a lucrative option. Why stay married to someone if you don’t “need” them, is what many people now believe. In the pre-industrialized world; you simply needed the other person to survive.
Back in the day I spent a number of days working on the farm of a good friend of mine. I could see how agrarian work can be very satisfying. Unfortunately, technology has given us the ability to feed our entire society by the production of a handful of people and machines. Working outside of the house gives a greater sense of purpose to millions of women, and to take that away from them would hurt the very spirit that lies within their hearts.
Sure, many women (and men) still stay at home all day. Some of them have small children, some of them do not. Many of these stay-at-home parents have become bloggers; technology has given them the ability to connect with the outside world while still being at home.
Has feminization ruined Western Culture? I don’t think so.
Just a few thoughts as I sipped my coffee,
p.s. If you would like to join us tonight on Culture Monk TV LIVE at 6pm central / 7 pm eastern email me at email@example.com; we still have slots open for two more guests. Tonight we discuss the question of whether or not feminists have ruined Western Culture.
Categories: Culture & Society