The Empty Promise of Feminism
by Beyond Feminist
What will make women and men happy? Women in the 1970s began to hear the feminist promise of a fulfilled life and respond. “Chart your own course in life, woman!” “Be anything you want, even if it means seeking work in a male dominated field, you can do it!” Young women in large numbers were excited not to be pigeonholed into the wife and mother role or the jobs of secretary, teacher, or nurse automatically. More women than ever before enrolled in college. We set our sights on the professions and the business world.
We set out to become like the men we wanted to marry.
For some of us this meant making work a priority over relationships. I have one friend that in her 50’s realized that she had turned down an opportunity for love and marriage in favor of her career. She made it to the top of her field, only to realize she made a big mistake. Love never came calling again.
For a number of my friends, this path prolonged our finding true love. I married two weeks after my 40th birthday. One of my dear friends at the age of 50 had her retirement party prior to her wedding. And, I have a number of friends who are still partnerless and going wanting for marriage as they approach their retirement years. I feel sad, especially for them.
In my case, I had the mistaken notion that career success would put me on the path where I would meet a compatible man. In fact, I thought that my career accomplishments might attract a suitable mate. For example, I was very sure to proudly explain my career and work accomplishments to the men who asked me out on dates. Looking back, I have a feeling they were not as interested in talking about work, theirs or mine.
I once met a man on an airplane. He told me he was finally ready “to marry a second paycheck.” I was horrified at his vulgar attitude. So the very premise I had been following was repugnant even to me. I found I had to completely let go of this idea that my career should be a romantic calling card in order to prepare my heart and mind to be a good wife to the successful man I desired to find.
I decided from then on to just be myself, my non-work self when I interacted with men. On one of the first few dates with my future husband, he was excitedly telling me about something great that happened at work that day. I responded, “I am so proud of you!” He hugged me tightly. He later said, “You are the first person, other than my parents, to ever say that to me.” I instantly knew he needed that kind of support and affirmation. The concept of “wind beneath my wings,” became real to me in that moment. I tingled inside to bring him so much happiness.
It turns out there is more to life than money, climbing the corporate ladder, and besting men at their jobs. There is something intangible called happiness.
Women are more than the work that we do. We desire relationships. Positive, fulfilling friendships with other women and with men can make life so great. Investing ourselves in the upbringing of our children is a worthy occupation and pays richly in personal satisfaction, if not dollars.
It turns out that masculine men are not attracted to women with a feminist mindset, in fact it is a turn-off. I learned this from my husband, father and brother. This is may be one reason we early ‘70s feminists pined for the androgynous male who would be more like a woman. We probably subconsciously realized we were getting nowhere with men. Over a cup of tea we would fantasize about that perfect she-man who’d be more like a good girlfriend than a guy. However, in my experience when we actually met one that fit that description we tossed him aside as wimpy and unappealing. She-men it turns out are YUCKY.
I did have two feminist friends that decided marrying a younger man would be the ticket. Sounded like a plan to me! One succeeded. The idea was this. A younger man could be dominated and controlled. Perfectly selfish logic, I see it clearly now. Isn’t that interesting? We were seeking to get out from under the control and domination of men, but were perfectly willing to dominate and control a man.
This was really about getting your own way, which will not ultimately lead to happiness. You, deep down, know how selfish you have become.
Beyond Feminist is an anonymous blogger who believes there is a better way forward for women, that offers more fulfillment than the feminist mindset produces. She is a regular contributor to Feminist Fallacy blog.
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