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Feminism and the war on fatherhood


YESTERDAY I explained the process whereby men tamed rough, rambunctious and potentially destructive adolescent males into young men who would make good fathers. My description drew on tribal societies but there was much from which we could learn. Today I want to talk about how this male influence shaped society in ways which might have relevance for us today. Then I will look at how feminism affected this ordering of the world.

I described how, in their efforts to provide for and protect the family, men tried to master the natural environment and defend territory. In this way men cocooned the family and community in an overarching social organisation. They created the public realm which enabled the transcendence of individual families. The particularistic concerns which could tear apart the fabric of society were sublimated to the interests of the greater whole.

This was facilitated by the male love of rules. The psychologist Joyce Benenson, who started studying young children when she was 19, found that boys had a particular fascination with creating rules.  She explains how rules serve a critical function for co-ordinating a community. They help maintain the peace. Without them the whole community would break down. Responsiveness to unique individual need, as one might find in the family, is essential, but responsiveness to rules which ensure justice for many also has its place.

Benenson also found males thrive on competition. This competition was not, as we often understand it, about the triumph of the individual at the expense of another’s failure, with benefits accruing to the victor at the expense of those who lost. Rather it was about finding the best person for the job and the maximisation of an individual’s skill.

Similarly, for men high status was not about personal power but the strength and resilience of the overall group by ensuring that the best leader was in charge. Hierarchy ensured the distribution of skills to serve the whole. For women, by contrast, high status signalled that one of them had successfully accumulated resources to maximise her own reproductive fitness therefore other women would lose out.

The logic of separate spheres, each with their own value systems, worked in a world where the public realm served the private. The private realm of the family as the ordering principle underpinned the male organisation of their world.

But with feminism the private realm of home, family, even local community, was subordinated to the world of work and politics. The result was the disintegration of separate spheres.

Women prioritised the labour market and flooded into it. Even children and the elderly ceased to be cared for at home. Women were seen in terms of the contribution they could make to GDP, status was understood by the masculine trope of ‘career’, and children and families came second to the power and status which could be derived from work. Eventually, whether they liked it or not, nearly all women were forced into work.

The reason the family was so weakened was because feminists explicitly, actively and intentionally destroyed the ‘fatherhood’ of men. Men were ripped out of families when in 1989 Baroness Hale declared that ‘the rule of law that a father is the natural guardian of his legitimate child is abolished’.  Since then the numbers of children growing up with their fathers has dramatically declined.

Explicit attempts to abolish marriage have tried to achieve the same goal.

A great deal of effort went into destroying the provider role which was understood to be the source of marital breakdown, domestic violence and men leaving their children. This effort underpins our policy focus to this day. 

Boys have been allowed to wallow in educational backwaters while girls get ahead at university and school.

The economic clout of women has increased while we have been reducing the relative value of the earnings of men. This has been done either by reducing the relative share of male employment (done) or reducing their hours (done), or by reducing the value of the male wage (done). Also important is of course simply increasing female earnings, see here, here and here. 

This is why feminists are so unrelenting about the gender pay gap even when it is acknowledged that women are paid the same for the same work. It is not about equality but about women and children being able to survive independently of men.

With fatherhood eroded, young men are having difficulties in the transition to manhood. Failure to launch is one outcome. For a tragic few their initiation is an attempt to become female, so remote is the prospect of ever becoming a man.

As the boundaries between private and public have been eroded the feminine ethos has spilled into politics and employment. The modus operandi of women has come to dominate the public sphere.

Where men focus on fairness, for women equality trumps the rules of the game. Competition is eroded when there are attempts to distribute rewards equally. Hours of work may be restricted to ensure that no one ‘unfairly’ gets ahead.

Benenson reports how some women’s football teams employed male referees because female sensitivity overcame the rule to be fair. This sentiment writ large is the victim culture where it is the special needs of a minority, rather than the abstract rules of fairness, which shape our law.

The erosion of science and academic integrity is another by-product of the disregard for abstract rules.

A feminine sensitivity to people’s feelings has led to an insistence on ‘safe spaces’. But the family, where our sensitivity should be protected, has been abandoned and exposed. Instead of being cared for by their families, children are left at the mercy of our education system where they are groomed by the Sex Education Lobby and the LGBT wolves.

The barriers which ordered our world between private and public have been smashed, and replaced by a wall between women and men.

It is difficult to know what the solution is. But where men and women come together, get married, have children whom they care for and maybe even home-school, when they reject the tropes of feminism and love one another despite the pressures against them, this is the most revolutionary act which can strengthen the family and rejuvenate a robust and manly public sphere.

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Belinda Brown
Belinda Brown
Belinda Brown is author of 'The Private Revolution' and a number of well-cited academic papers. More recently, she has started writing and blogging for The Daily Mail and The Conservative Woman. She has a particular interest in men's issues and the damage caused by feminism.

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