Thursday, June 24, 2010


I encountered a self professed feminist not long ago. He put forth the theory that due to society not being open to women in terms of power and authority women have been returning to more submissive roles, such as domesticity and family. I had a few issues with this concept. The first was he couldn't provide anything to back up such an intense claim. The conversation lasted well over an hour and I couldn't make any progress with him about finding some sources to back this up. This view without any evidence seems to me to be very sexist. An assumption that women are inherently weak and will give up and fall back on traditional roles.

Also viewing domestic roles to be necessarily submissive (and necessarily negative) irks me. I have no problem with women who want to be submissive in their relationship and don't see it as something feminism can't support. Everyone should have choice and be happy with that choice. That is what feminism is to me.

Also generalisations can be made about anyone regardless of gender. Some men are rapists, some women are bimbos, etc. To identify SOME women falling back on traditional roles as a trend is deeply disturbing and not entirely relevant I don't think.

Maybe I have this all confused though, and my fellow debater wasn't skilled in communication. Can anyone shed some light on this very confusing issue? Or provide some personal insight?


  1. Darn it!
    I remember seeing an article about this, on BBC or CNN I think, but now I can't find it.

    It was about a growing group of women who were questioning parts of feminism and advocating their role as homemakers (but not submissively, I think).

    But, here is a blog I found along those lines:
    It is by a woman who I guess would be called a post/anti feminist and seems to be similar to what your debating partner was talking about.

  2. I will be of little help here. This "theory" sounds like nonsense to me.
    On several levels.
    The first being that women HAVE gained in power and authority over the years, there are numerous examples to point to.
    By the way, congratulations on your new PM (assuming you supported her).
    American seems backwards in some ways when it comes to comparative political authority with other countries, despite the advances the movement has made here.

    I do wonder if he's referring to a kind of backlash by many women who see embracing feminism as a negative. There is a rise in the "Christian homemaker" dialogue as conservatives struggle against the headway that marginalized populations have made in the past few decades.

    If that's his idea, then he's still off base as those are not women who are frustrated with a lack of acceptance and "returning" to subservient roles. They are ones who would have accepted those roles regardless based on their own beliefs.
    And, as you said, nothing wrong with that, as long as it's from informed choice.

    I just don't see his logic. I'm interested in what some others might say on this as well.

  3. I can't say too much, don't have much time, but would like to again make the point that no choice is made in a vacuum.

    I personally know very many stay-at-home moms/housewives, and I don't believe that there's ANYTHING particularly anti-feminist about the mere fact that they chose that for their lives. That said, I DO believe that that choice was influenced in a million ways, both great and small, since the moment they first opened their eyes in this world.

    When I see househusbands and housewives make up roughly equal numbers and get proper social recognition and monetary remuneration for their labour, THEN I'll believe that gender roles and prescriptions and workplace exclusions (i.e. Patriarchy) hadn't played any role.