I can still remember when the feminist line was “women don't need any help from men”. Now the new line is #HeForShe, a hashtag encompassing the new calls for men to assist women – at least in theory. Writer Neil Lyndon recently commented on one disconnect between words and action in The Telegraph. After describing his own difficult efforts at being an equal parent, he wrote:
"It’s open to question, in my mind, whether women, as a whole, are persuaded of their civic duty to cede full rights of equality to fathers...Surely it must be obvious that women cannot be fully equal in the wider society and at work if they are also expected to be the parents who take care of children most of the time? Unless men are fully equal as parents, it will always remain impossible for women to be fully equal in the world.”
I understand his confusion. Declared feminists say they want 50/50 equality in the working world, and so their official stance against equal parenting time makes little sense. The question of the wisdom of seeking 50/50 boardroom parity aside, do feminists actually want men to help or not? Their conflicting demands and practices make the answer unclear.
These conflicts, however, are more visible than common. Certain types of feminists have a stranglehold on popular news. They freeze out the resistance on any issue so that their position feels right, inevitable. Typical women are far more consistent than this, and some have even organised into pockets of resistance.
Regarding the mentioned parenting responsibilities, there are groups like Leading Women for Shared Parenting (of which I am a member). As the name suggests, we advocate for balanced parenting. The group formed in response to the growing but ignored body of research confirming the significant advantages to children of father involvement even while the trend of parental alienation continued. In part from our efforts, there are shared parenting laws pending in 18 US states. We have members all over the world, including the UK.
In the US, there is a commission full of women seeking to establish a White House Council for Men and Boys to address the host of ignored male problems, from education to the male suicide rate, which recently made headlines in the UK. (The US picture is similar.) Other groups address specific issues. For instance, regarding equal rights, we have FACE, Families Advocating for Campus Equality. It was formed after mothers banded together after their sons were expelled from university due to false rape accusations.
There is a certain type of woman commonly found in these groups: mothers of sons. We see the ruling culture harms our sons and silences them when they speak for themselves. Culture shrugs – as if “privileged patriarchs”could have problems, many assume.
Since these boys’ mothers are women, however, we are not so easily silenced. Declared feminists have made it clear, women’s ideas are not to be challenged. Hampered by their own preaching, to defend against mothers of sons, declared feminists must resort to isolation and shame.
Dissenters get disinvited from participating in feminist anthologies. We trade stories about bigger news outlets spiking a male supportive piece at the last minute because they don't want to deal with feminist hashtag campaign PR mess. Even Anne Marie Slaughter, author of the “Can women have it all?” Atlantic article, who Lyndon mentioned as one of the few dissenters to feminist orthodoxy, got the treatment.
If Betty Friedan long ago named the “problem with no name”, Anne Marie Slaughter publicly asked the question no one was supposed to ask. And she did it from the inside — an elite feminist who once walked the halls at the US State Department. She has not only been ostracised in some of her old circles for what she said about women and work, but also she saw her foreign policy career get "erased" by becoming a Mommy Wars commentator.
Just last month, psychologist Dr. Elizabeth Celi was refused a seat on a panel on domestic violence because she would have discussed male victims of domestic violence. Note, that panel was in Australia. The problem is worldwide.
Declared feminists work hard to suppress dissent. But some of us are highly motivated to make sure the dissent is heard. Our sons have too few who will speak for them.