In preparation for the 2017 International Women’s Day, the UN Secretary-General dutifully declared his devotion to women’s rights and equality, saying:
“Women’s rights are human rights. …
Empowering women and girls is the only way to protect their rights and make sure they can realize their full potential.”
Undoubtedly, the Secretary-General is well-meaning and sincerely desires empowerment for women. But is it possible that seeking ever greater equality between the sexes will not accomplish true female empowerment?
That’s a question explored by University of Chicago philosopher Richard Weaver in his book Ideas Have Consequences. Rather than go along with the conventional, politically correct wisdom of today, Weaver joins with such revered thinkers like Alexis de Tocqueville in noting that equality has degraded women instead of exalting and empowering them:
“The rage for equality has so blinded the last hundred years that every effort has been made to obliterate the divergence in role, in conduct, and in dress. It has been assumed, clearly out of this same impiety, that because the mission of woman is biological in a broader way, it is less to be admired. Therefore the attempt has been to masculinize women. … Today, in addition to lost generations, we have a self-pitying, lost sex.”
This transformation, Weaver notes, has weakened a woman’s position and diminished her enthusiasm and vision for life:
“Woman has increasingly gone into the world as an economic ‘equal’ and therefore competitor of man (once again equality destroys fraternity). … The ultimate reason lies in the world picture, for once woman has been degraded in that picture – and putting her on a level with the male is more truly a degradation than an elevation – she is more at the mercy of economic circumstances. … So hordes of women have gone into industry and business, where the vast majority of them labor without heart and without incentive. Conscious of their displacement, they see no ideal in the task. And, in fact, they are not treated as equals; they have been made the victims of a transparent deception. Taken from a natural sphere in which they are superior, they are set to wandering between two worlds. Women can neither have the prestige of the former nor, for the fact of stubborn nature, find a real standing in the latter.”
Weaver’s assessment of gender equality is reflected in the following popular meme that Intellectual Takeout recently shared with its audience:
Do you believe it’s a fair assessment to say that the equality movement has actually diminished the worth, potential, and uniqueness of women instead of propelling them onward and upward as was originally intended?
Image Credit: Howard R. Hollem, Public Domain
Annie Holmquist is editor of Intellectual Takeout, an online magazine and sister publication of Chronicles.