The Harsh Realities of the Modern Feminist Agenda

October 15, 2009 | NeW Staff

Work/Family Balance. One of the great challenges that women today face. Why is it such a challenge when we have so many choices? Why do women labor over the decisions about fitting marriage, mothering, and a career into the same picture?

One author has a different take on this dilemma. Judith Warner of The New York Times says the real issue for women in making decisions about career and the workplace is not about choice but the opportunity to choose. She argues that women’s decisions about career and mothering are based on something else:

“contingencies — the objective conditions that drive women’s lives.”

She points to a report from the Census Bureau to argue her case:

“The more choices mothers have, the more likely they are to work.”

Warner writes that most of the stay-at-home mothers are those who are poor and often without a college degree.  She contends that American society and public policy decisions have restricted “choice” for women and that women’s freedom to choose whether or not to work is contingent solely on financial and educational circumstances. 

“When mothers can choose, they choose self-empowerment. Because they know that there is no true difference between their advancement and the advancement of their children. Why do we so enduringly deny them the dignity of choice?”

I find her argument dishonest, misleading, and downright dangerous for women.  Since when has self-empowerment and self-advancement ever been the best for children? From my perspective, problems arise not from the lack of opportunity to choose but from feminist pressures to choose “self-empowerment.”  From Warner’s perspective, any woman who has not attended college is a failure.  Further, any woman who chooses to stay at home with her children is crazy for doing so.  After all, let’s remember her “cardinal truth,” the more opportunities you have, the fewer reasons you’ll find to stay at home. 

Radical feminism’s version of “self-empowerment” is no such thing.  A woman seeking true self-empowerment would make decisions based on what is best for her specific situation, whether that involves a career, a family, or both. To a modern-day feminist “self-empowerment” means self-aggrandizement with no regard for the consequences to anyone else. Women like Warner expect other women to make decisions that will advance the left-wing agenda instead of their own well-being. Feminists misappropriate language like “self-empowerment” and “liberation” to put a good face on the same tired arguments that have led women down the wrong path for more than three decades.

If it is in fact true that the freedom to choose makes us happy, then why has women’s happiness declined in the last 35 years? We have more choices than ever before. I would argue that women’s happiness has decreased precisely because of duplicitous arguments like the one made by Warner.  Women who feel the pressure to leave the home to find “self-empowerment” often report that their careers do not bring them happiness.  If Warner really wanted to empower women, then she would support women in making choices that are the best for them individually instead of insisting that they surrender their personal well-being to advance the feminist agenda.

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