The call for easily available divorce to counter the ‘oppression of marriage’ spawned social and economic effects that have fallen disproportionately on the poor and less educated. Fatherless households, to cite but one malady, are far more likely to produce rapists and murderers
The dilemma of modern feminism is that its undeniable success in shaping contemporary values has, in Joan Price’s words, ‘cut women off from those aspects of life that are distinctly female desires, such as being a wife and raising children’. Our western societies are plagued with a myriad of feminist fads that attack or undermine the more important and permanent things in our lives. This includes the family, which is the basic unit of a happy and prosperous society.
We are losing our first principles because we have allowed these radicals to seize a few half-truths (such as that some women may be abused by some men), and have emphasised them completely out of proportions. It is patently obvious that women have always been able to do most of the things men can do. But what is even far more obvious, though so often ignored, is that there is one thing a woman can do that a man simply cannot do: be a mother. But that seems to be precisely the very thing such feminists complain of the most: that women are mothers. As G.K. Chesterton once put it, ‘they support what is feminist against what is feminine’.
Sadly, the feminists who led the 1960s women’s movement regarded marriage as so burdensome they thought it approached slavery. Such militant ideologues presented the family life as a sort of prison for women, with a working career on the outside as a form of women’s liberation. And yet such anti-family radicals neglected to tell women that most men did not go to work to find self-fulfilment; quite the contrary. Husbands undertook external work not because they lacked more enjoyable ways to occupy their time; but because they sincerely loved and cared about their wives and children. They had to work out of love and to earn a livelihood. They made the sacrifice of taking appalling jobs because they felt obliged to provide for their loved ones in the family unit. They often worked long hours at terrible jobs that they positively hated, or at least barely tolerated for the sake of the income. Indeed, writes Dr Kelley Ross, ‘few men were so fortunate as to be doing something fulfilling or interesting that paid the bills at the same time’.
By contrast, the feminist agenda of disregard for marriage has taught many women to put selfish individualism first, and then go on to blame men for their personal failures. Such a destructive agenda cannot provide answers for the most basic questions that distress young women – questions such as ‘Is work more important and fulfilling than raising my children?’, and ‘Why does my boyfriend not want to get married as much as I do?’ Some have described the experiences of young women who have come to grief trying to resolve these conflicting imperatives. If a woman embraces feminism and decides to forego marriage (for instance, on the grounds that it is an old-fashioned and irrelevant institution), then she completely loses all the legal, social and psychological protection that only marriage provides.
The main legacy of modern feminism has been the breakup of the family and the growth of government that has swept in to replace the family. There is a clear connection between the rise of feminism and the growth of what is often called “the nanny state”. As women indict men and retreat from the family, the government intrudes into it and seeks to usurp the place of men in the family. Government has insinuated itself into every aspect of our private lives, and most especially an insidiously into the lives of our children. The moral costs of such an intervention are perhaps in no other field more visible than in the field of family policy. Although the family serves as a primary means of acculturation and transmission of values from generation to generation, family ties are so weak now that fewer people think they ought to help their family members. As a result, people in distress no longer expect to obtain much help this way.
Rather than addressing these problems, public policy embedded in the feminist ideology has further destabilised the family unit with utterly disastrous consequences. The last few decades have seen the dramatic proliferation of laws allowing the unilateral dissolution of the marriage contract. By making divorce easily available and purely personal, the state has ultimately transformed the institution of marriage into a legal absurdity that denies the doctrine of accountability and holds no inducements to personal misconduct. These inducements provide a strong temptation for utterly selfish and unethical behaviour. Of course, whenever and wherever the family breaks down the state must step in as a substitute for male provider in the family. Hence the gradual increase of the state’s jurisdiction over the family and its individual members.
Who benefits? Women? Of course not. Only the elite classes benefit. In government, the political elite stays in power by pandering to the feminist voting block. In big business, owners pay lower wages because they expect that both of the parents are working outside the family unit. It seems that everyone is now compelled to do outside work, or at least they feel compelled to do so and to work for others and outside the family unit. As noted by Dale Ahlquist, ‘most women just like most men are working in servile jobs. They are largely separated from their families’.
Everybody knows that feminists were the most vocal group to demand easily available divorce, allegedly to enable women to escape from the supposed ‘oppression of marriage’. Such a complicity has left our working-class families much worse off than they would otherwise be. Indeed, the social and economic effects of the ‘no-fault revolution’ fall disproportionately on the poor, the less educated, and the less powerful. Even more tragically, it falls on the children of the working class. For example, careful studies in the United States reveal that 60 per cent of all rapists have grown up in fatherless homes, as did 72 per cent of all adolescent murderers, and 70 per cent of all long-term prison inmates.
The undeniable success of feminism has lessened commitment by men, who now feel a much weaker obligation to support their families. Feminists have convinced many men that being a good family provider, thus caring and sacrificing for his wife and children, is neither expected nor even virtuous. Fewer modern men are actually willing to commit themselves to one woman in a monogamous, marital relationship. These days a young woman finds it really difficult to marry a man who is eager for marriage, and who be willing to selflessly support his spouse and care for their children.  And yet, feminism has added an extra cost on women by inadvertently removing traditional restraints against all forms of sexual exploitation. The late American writer Irving Kristol explained in his 1995 book:
Sexual liberation, as it emerged in the 1960s, has turned out to be – as it was destined to be – a male scam. Easy, available sex is pleasing to men and debasing to women, who are used and abused in the process. Nevertheless, the agenda of a candid, casual attitude toward sex was vigorously sponsored by feminists who mistakenly perceived it as a step toward “equality”. Even today there are some laggard feminists who are firmly persuaded that mixed dormitories and mixed bathrooms on a university campus represent such a step. But true equality between man and women can only be achieved by a moral code that offers women some protection against male predators.
Once the penalty for rape was death. Once fathers and brothers protected their women from rape. This protection has been considerably lost due to the sexual revolution supported by the feminists in the 1960s, coupled with the demonization of fathers and husbands by the media and our political elites. Of course, to claim that feminists are the first group to have ever denounced rape is not only patently ridiculous but also a deeply offensive libel to men who treat women with utmost respect. The reality is that, as Camille Paglia correctly points out,
throughout history, rape has been condemned by honourable men. Honorable men do not steal; honorable men do not rape. It goes all the way back through history. Tarquin’s rape of Lucretia caused the fall of the tyrants and the beginning of the Roman Republic. This idea that somehow suddenly feminist miraculously found out that women were being exploited and raped through history is ridiculous… Men have also provided for women. Men have died to defend the country for women. We must look back and acknowledge what men have done for women.
Of course, not every woman agrees with the feminist agenda of sexual liberation and no-fault divorce. Some women have been quite willing to debunk the myth that such a people represent the totality of the ‘women’s movement’. Carolyn Graglia, for instance, comments that men are much less the targets of radical feminists than are traditional wives and mothers, who do not subscribe to their sexist views. The ideological agenda of feminism, writes Suzanne Venker, ‘has never been about equal rights for women. It’s about power for the female Left’. Women who do not subscribe to such a leftist agenda should expect to be denounced as ‘heretics’ for not pursuing a quintessentially anti-family, anti-marriage, and anti-children agenda. Broadly speaking, the feminist movement, according to Roger Scruton,
seeks to replace or rearrange the core experience of social membership and therefore has the ambitious of a monotheistic faith, offering a feminist answer to every moral and social question, a feminist account of the human word, a feminist theory of the universe, and even a feminist reading of the Goddess. It drives the heretics and half-believers from its ranks with the zeal that is the other side of the inclusive warmth [and] with it welcomes the submissive and the orthodox.
It is traditional women who have earned the mortal enmity of these radical feminists. Their mere existence reminds us that such feminists do not speak for all women. That being so, in a notorious 1970 issue of Time magazine Gloria Steinem castigated ‘traditional women’ as ‘inferiors’ and ‘dependent creatures who are still children’. The late Helen Gurley Brown, founder in 1965 of Cosmopolitan – a women’s magazine that extols the ideal of sassy female singleness, complete with (eventually) expletives and full-frontal male nudity – denounced the wife and full-time mother as ‘a parasite, a dependant, a scrounger, a sponger and a bum’. As noted by Paul Johnson, this refrain was taken up by innumerable feminist academics who proliferated in the 1960s, 1970s, and 1980s, and ran “Women’s Studies” departments at many Western universities.
Characterising the housewife or full-time mother as some sort of ‘parasite’ is the worst kind of insult and betrayal of women’s solidarity. It is a demeaning language which demonstrates that the feminists do not speak for all women. In her excellent critique of mainstream feminism, Carolyn Graglia, a self-described lawyer by training and housewife by choice, commented: ‘Housewives, not men, were the prey in feminism’s sights when Kate Millet decreed in 1969 that the family must go. Men cannot know this unless we [women] tell them how we feel about them, our children, and our role in the home. Men must understand that our feelings towards them and our children are derided by feminists and have earned us their enmity’.
The feminist oppression of women stems largely from their desire for power and control. The same need which, throughout history, has driven people to try to oppress and subjugate other groups in their own society. Such a desire for power and control is what motivates the feminists to exercise domination and control over other women. Since they feel the urge to gain as much power and control as they can, they steal away power and control from other women. They do so, among other things, by denying women the right to make independent decisions, leaving them unable to direct their own lives so they can direct their lives for them.
Ultimately, such feminists are trying not only to increase their power over men and women, but also their own sense of significance and status, in an effort to offset the discontent and sense of lack generated by the their own defective ideology. That being so, it is perfectly reasonable to conclude that traditionally-minded women, not men, are one the primary targets – and victims – of the feminist ideology. It’s about time to reverse the great damage caused by such a destructive ideology to countless numbers of innocent people, women included.
Dr Augusto Zimmermann LLB (Hon.), LLM cum laude, PhD (Mon.) is Professor of Law at Sheridan College in Perth, Western Australia, and Professor of Law (Adjunct) at the University of Notre Dame Australia, Sydney campus. He is also President of the Western Australian Legal Theory Association (WALTA), and a former Commissioner with the Law Reform Commission of Western Australia (2012-2017). Dr Zimmermann is also the recipient of the Vice-Chancellor’s Award for Excellence in Research, Murdoch University (2012)
 Danielle Crittenden, What our Mothers didn’t tell us: Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman.
 Kelley L. Ross, ‘Feminism’, at: www.friesian.com/feminism.htm (last visited on July 17, 2018)
 H.B. Acton, The Morals of Markets and Related Essays (Indianapolis/IN: Liberty Fund, 1993), pp 81–2.
 Robert Sirico, ‘Subsidiarity and the Reform of the Welfare of the Nation State’, in Michelle Evans and Augusto Zimmermann (eds.), Global Perspectives on Subsidiarity (Dordrecht: Springer, 2014), p 116.
 Dale Ahlquist, Common Sense 101: Lessons from G.K. Chesterton (San Francisco/CA: Ignatius Press, 2006), Chapter 11.
 Albert Mohler Jr., ‘The Divorce Divide’ (2009) 30(3) The Australian Family 12, p.15.
 Charles Colson & Nancy Pearcey, How Now Shall We Live? (Grand Rapids/MI: Tyndale, 2004), p. 322.
 Glenn T. Stanton, Marriage on Trial (Downers Grove/IL: IVP, 2004), p.44. See also: David Blankenhorn, Fatherless America: Confronting Our Most Urgent Social Problem (New York/NY: Basic Books, 1994).
 Irving Kristol, Neoconservatism: The Autobiography of an Idea’ (Chicago/IL: Elephant Paperbacks, 1995), p.56.
 Camille Paglia, Free Women Free Men: Sex, Gender, Feminism (Edinburgh/UK: Conongate, 2017), p 52.
 Ibid., p 73.
 Suzanne Venker, ‘Fraud of the Century’, WorldNetDaily, January 27, 2011, at http://www.wnd.com/index.php?fa=PAGE.view&pageId=255937
 Roger Scruton; The West and the Rest (London/UK: Continuum, 2002), p.72.
 Barry Maley, Family & Marriage in Australia (Sydney/NSW: The Centre for Independent Studies, 2001), p.66.
 Paul Johnson, A History of the American People (New York/NY: HarperPerennial, 1999), pp 973–74.
 F Carolyn Graglia, Domestic Tranquillity: A Brief Against Feminism (Dallas/TX: Spence Publishing Co, 1998), p 97. Carolyn Graglia received her undergraduate degree from Cornell University (1951) and her law degree from Columbia University (1954), where she was an editor of the law review. After working in the Justice Department, she clerked on the D.C. Court of Appeals for Warren E. Burger, the future Chief Justice, and later worked for the Washington firm of Covington & Burlington. Mrs. Graglia left this successful career to care for her husband and three children. A frequent lecturer at universities, she lives in Austin with her husband of forty-three years, Professor Lino Graglia of the University of Texas Law School.