I found this very interesting article about Lori Gottlieb and her book Marry Him: The Case for Settling for Mr. Good Enough. In the book, Gottlieb makes the case that feminism no longer means equal rights and responsibilities, it’s come to mean something entirely different for many young women:
“A lot of women took a you-can-have-it-all attitude and called that feminism, which it’s not. They confused feminism with you can have it all [...]“
If women and men alike were confined to strict roles in the past, the women’s movement has certainly taught women that they no longer need to stay attached to the traditional female gender role, but instead are free to make the choices they want. Now, teaching women about their choices and allowing women to be responsible for their own lives is a good thing. If feminism were content with transmitting that message, then the only problem at our hands would be the lack of a masculist movement that allows men the exact same freedom and liberation.
However, feminism hasn’t been content with liberating women; it’s gone way beyond supporting women in a healthy way. It’s told women that they can have anything, do anything and that any man would be lucky to have them. While aspiring to greatness and having goals in your life is one thing, programming women to believe that they are automatically princesses or queens is quite another one, and it leads to the kind of narcissism displayed in Sex and the City:
In the movie, Samantha tells her terrific boyfriend, who stood by her through breast cancer, that she’s dumping him because “I love you but I love myself more.”
When Gottlieb saw the movie, the audience cheered that moment — a reaction that left her baffled
What kind of world have we created when young women cheer at a woman who coldly dumps the man who’s stood by her during her cancer? It’s not that Samantha should be forced to stay together with anyone, but in the absence of pathological narcissism, most people wouldn’t consider that a happy scene that deserves cheering.
The “you-go-girl” culture has also led to double standards between the sexes. Mistakingly believing that only women were oppressed in the past while men were not, has served as the excuse for supporting almost anything that young women do, while similar behaviors from men would never be accepted. As Gottlieb says about the example from Sex and the City:
“Reverse the genders (she sticks by him through a gruelling bout of prostate cancer; he bails!), and I’m betting the entire audience would have booed and called the guy a total ass.”
The double standard is glaringly obvious.
The main message of Gottlieb is that this kind of immature feminism-a kind of feminism that I believe to be based on faulty premises-not only hurts men, but it can also hurt women in substantial ways. Believing that you are a queen who can have anything she wants makes it very hard to find a mate, or to settle down and start a family. Gottlieb even sent out a survey, to get a rough idea of how young women and men view relationships and settling down:
The majority of single women … said that getting 80 per cent of what they wanted in a mate would be ‘settling.’ The majority of single men said finding a woman with 80 per cent of what they wanted would be ‘a catch.’
The men seem to be realists, while the women are living in some kind of fantasy land created by misguided feminism that teaches entitlement and narcissism, instead of achievement and welcoming love into your life. It’s one thing to demand to be treated well, and waiting to settle down until you find someone you truly care about, but it’s quite another one to believe that you are a princess who can and should have every little detail the way you want it.
Something that Gottlied does not address, but which I believe to be just as important as the delusions taught to young women, is that young men have been just as affected by contemporary feminism. Not through believing that they are kings or princes who have the right to whatever they want, but through being taught that being a man is something to be ashamed of, and that manhood is synonymous with oppression and violence.
Is this what the future will look like? Young women who believe that they are too good for almost all men, and young men who believe that they are intrinsically flawed. What kind of world are we creating?
Pelle Billing is an M.D. who writes and lectures about menÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s issues and gender liberation beyond feminism.