Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Unlikely Allies: Feminism and its Core in Republican Values

Many conservatives are quick to spout criticism of “feminists” and how the push modern drive for women’s rights has damaged the nation. However, in my experience, true feminists and conservative republicans really share many core beliefs, and the movement itself was rooted in a fundamental understanding of the principles upon which our nation was founded. It has certainly been corrupted in recent years, but I would argue that true feminism is a strong ally to the Republican Party, and a vital component to winning the cultural war before us today.

The Merriam Webster dictionary offers a few interesting definitions for "Feminism" that will help illustrate my primary thesis:
1: The theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.
2: organized activity on behalf of women's rights and interests.
Both of these definitions offer some insight into the basis of the "feminist movement" - I would blend these definitions to something akin to the following -

"an organized activity on behalf on women's rights and interests, predicated upon the theory that women ought to be politically, economically, and socially equal to men in all respects." 

Forgetting other components of the movement, I would argue that this definition is deeply rooted in an understanding of Republican values. In fact, I will go one step further – this definition fits perfectly within a conservative Christian view of American politics.

The truth is, Christianity is, in many ways, responsible for the cultural respect for the value of women in society. There is extensive evidence that nations lacking Western traditions –deeply rooted in religious traditions – also have greater levels of human rights violations and abuse of women. I have spent time in the past describing how “Christian” the founding of America really was, but I will condense this argument, for now, to the simple statement that our founders recognized that Christian morals were vital to the nation’s survival. Even those that were personally deists or atheists, still recognized that Christian values were necessary.

John Adams once wrote that “our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people; it is wholly inadequate to the government of any other.” These same founding fathers argued that “all men are created equal” and that they possessed “inalienable rights” such as life, liberty, and property. This understanding of natural rights is what allowed the women’s liberation movement to take steam, as well as the Civil Rights movement of the 1960s – recognizing that all of mankind possesses God-given rights. The Feminist
movement recognized the fact that there was not equality of opportunity – women did not have the same opportunity to achieve as men, and they pushed for legislation that would overcome this obstacle and allow for equal opportunity for men and women.

Yet somehow, in recent years, that same movement has entangled itself with the LGBT community, advocating less for equal status for women, and more for legislation recognizing “gender identity” – a concept that is actually detrimental the very values that represent the core of the feminist movement.

On June 26, 2014, Slate published an article on the subject of gender identity, claiming that a doctor declaring your newborn as male or female is "infant gender assignment," which causes your baby's life to be:
 ...instantly and brutally reduced from such infinite potentials down to one concrete set of expectations and stereotypes, and any behavioral deviation from that will be severely punished - both intentionally through bigotry, and unintentionally through ignorance. 
The author advocates that parents should object to a doctor "assigning" your child's gender at birth because "Infant gender assignment might just be Russian roulette with your baby's life."
Do true feminists really wish to create a society where biology is ignored in favor of a euphoric belief that one’s identity is a choice?

As the Slate article illustrates, many in today’s society feel that recognizing one’s biology has “reduced” them to “one concrete set of expectations and stereotypes.” This is diametrically opposed to feminist thought, which advocates that in order to achieve equality among the sexes, gender stereotypes must be broken down and both sexes should be allowed to pursue their own interests. Have feminists abandoned their own cause in favor of another?

Finally, while gender neutrality is more of a concept than an actual movement, it also has great potential harm for feminists in the future. Once the concept of male and female is blurred, there is very little opportunity for legislation and regulation that ensures that “women” have equal opportunities as men. If people can pick their own gender identity, how long will it be before biologically female individuals once again find themselves underrepresented?

I’ll wrap up with the story of a girl named Kathryn, whose parents have made her into a key figure in the transgender movement. According to reporters, at the age of 2 she insisted she was a boy. The parents then accepted it, and allowed their “son” to change her to “Tyler.” She’s now 7 years old. The Washington Post records the evidence of how good their “son” is doing now that [s]he’s accepted the change:

“Come on! Let’s play Batman!” he screamed to my younger son, his partner in crime on a recent play date. The two boys swam together, compared Lego guys and had sword fights. Whenever the family watches television, Tyler roots for the boy characters. His home looks like a house with a son. Karate gear, soccer balls, cars, trucks and pirate swords abound. At school, he’s a boy. Plain and simple. (Washington Post)
Now, I may not completely share the same view as many modern feminists –  I do believe that there are differences between men and women both physically and emotionally. I think that there are areas that men are more suited to, and women are more suited to. In addition, in many ways, parents fail to establish how much of a gift gender is and how the differences between men and women actually compliment each other and lead to a more balanced family and society. However, I also recognize that there are exceptions - not all women fit a mold, nor do all men - there are plenty of tomboyish girls, and more feminine boys.Which is why I find it incredibly fascinating that the evidence presented for “Tyler” being a true “boy” was her interest in perceived “masculine” activities. Most of all, though, I find it disheartening that feminists would accept such a stereotype and condemn a 5 year old girl to a life as a mascot of the LGBT community simply because she dared to have interests in “masculine” activities.  

In the end, I believe that conservatives and true feminists really have a great deal of common ground on many of these issues. If these two unlikely allies can find it in their power to unite and remember our common heritage and values, there is a chance that both our goals can be reached. If there are women that truly wish to fight to allow for greater equality of opportunity and representation, they must unite with conservatives that wish to resist the trend toward gender identity and neutrality legislation which is detrimental to this very objective and to our families, and our nation at large.

"When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God. Male and female he created them, and he blessed them and named them Man when they were created." - Genesis 5:1b-2 ESV

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness." - Declaration of Independence, 1776

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