My anti-feminist leanings have very little to do with social-political constructs or my like or dislike of Trump and his government. My departure from feminism has almost everything to do with base, self-serving, pragmatism. Feminism was a very cruel mistress. I gave Naomi Wolf and the erogenous Madame de Beauvoir all I had in my late teens and early twenties. My loyalty to the ideology required a dedication akin to that of Baal worshippers and involved similar amounts of blood and idiocy.
You will be wont to blame my failed feminist journey on the cultural failures of the day: the lack of affordable daycare, the quality of said care, maybe the residual misogyny at work, the mal-adjustment within a partnership to relieve the burdens of work-life balance… But I would refute all of these arguments. Feminism is a failed ideology in practice.
I was in the military for 11 years and at no time was I overlooked, underemployed or discriminated against based on my gender. There was never pay or promotion inequity. I also availed myself of the best childcare and support options. I had a live in nanny, who not only loved my children, but also washed my clothes and cooked my meals. I had a cleaner, weekly. I spent ample amounts of me time at the spa. It was a well-supported lifestyle. All the glories of a society in which we facilitate lower income women to support higher income women were employed. The social and economic impact of this postmodern labour relationship is beyond my education and is outside of the scope of this writing, but someone should write a thesis on that. What this open letter is about is the failure of feminism in the personal realm. All the societal propaganda feminists roll out: self-fulfillment, female empowerment, advancement of personal talents and ultimate liberation from men and motherhood, was empty, ultimately false, and yielded the fatal malcontent that Sylvia Plath wrote about, lived, and later embraced in her suicide.
The insipid truth is that the feminist movement cares nothing about the long list of ‘ments’, but only power. None of the propaganda I devoured between the ages of 8 and 25 yielded any tangible good when the stuff hit the proverbial fan. When I had my children, none of the paper walls I had put up about shared-parenting, work-life balance or the mythological-ness of mommy-feelings provided any authentic advantage. The talking paper I had memorized was completely insufficient to screen out the absolute panic, sometimes numbness, and always sweet-homesickness I now met.
Certainly I was not above the hormonal hyperbole that follows childbirth. But this was not temporary, situational hyperbole; this was the sustained onslaught of unsustainable mandates. I had to work and contribute to the advancement of feminism. I had to maintain personal autonomy from my husband (who I would have called ‘my partner’ at that time.) I owed it to my mother’s and my grandmother’s generation, yes, and to my employer-god to carry the flag of emancipation up to the glass ceiling and smash it with my fists until it broke or until I died. So many of us yield to the latter. What feminism did not do, and what the pharmaceutical companies have taken on as their raison d’etre, was to offer practical freedom and peace.
When the worshippers of Baal met Elijah on Mount Carmel, their impotent god did not answer them. Their vacant god did not see or hear their pleading. There was no bandaging of wounds after they cut their arms up and ran amuck begging this god to just show up. “Perhaps of we pray louder?” Please, show up. Ativan can offer us an internal ceasefire, but no peace.
If I could somehow reach Silvia now, if I could just say to her, “Your lovely writing, it can wait. The children are so sweet and love you so much….. and this man with you, too. They all need and want and deserve you more than these little scribblings can. Forget literary posterity. That malicious god will never love you. Yield to what you truly want, not what they’ve told you you must do.” Oh Luther, you were right again. We can never earn our salvation; neither can we clamor, grasping at emancipation. If Sylvia had known how fast they would grow, how delicious it could be to rest in her role, she would have volumes and volumes more of herself to publish.
Sweet girls between 15 and 25: Don’t BUY It.
It’s a lie. Count it loss. Think. Leave it. (1 Tim 2:15)