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How Feminism Hurt Our Love Lives

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Feminism did not liberate femininity. Feminism liberated masculine energy in women. It was a masculinist movement. And this is a good thing.

rosie the riveter and the feminist movement

Dr. Wendy Walsh: Let me make this clear from the onset: I think feminism was (and is!) a good thing. I may not have had a career in television, nor been able to write books with such provocative ideas, had the feminist movement and the women who pioneered it not led the way for me. I am indebted to feminists.

But feminism did not liberate femininity. Feminism liberated masculine energy in women. It was a masculinist movement. And this is a good thing. Because of masculism, er, I mean feminism, we can now procure income in the male-dominated marketplace and buy ourselves any kind of life we want. Those of us who aren't completely fulfilled baking cookies can now choose to fly jets, put out fires, or handcuff bad guys. We can also look for a cure for cancer, design computer programs, and sink basketballs, if those things suit our fancy.

But, I do think feminism has screwed up our love lives. First, because women are sometimes unsure of how to turn off this new masculine energy when confronted with a romantic suitor in a candlelit restaurant. We act like he's one of the boys from work. And then get upset when he treats us like one of the boys from work -- achieving his goal (in this case, sex) and then moving to a new project. At times, there appears to be so few vulnerable feelings in today's "hook-ups" that it's like two men are dating!

Feminism also gave us an easy exit door from relationships. That's a good thing if it were a truly bad relationship, but too often our economic freedom sends us fleeing out the back door of a "good enough" relationship, instead of learning to work through conflict. Who needs conflict resolution skills when you don't need the ally?

With feminism, we threw the baby out with the bath water.

It seemed with all the effort to conform and succeed in a male world that we unknowingly threw out a crucial, feminine skill -- the ability to be the emotional conduit for a logic-locked man. For centuries, women have held the keys to the emotional locker in relationships. We come by emotions naturally, through hormones that help us bond, be empathetic, and intuitive. Our female ancestors had to decipher the meaning of an infant's cries, or decide in an instant if an intruder was friend or foe. To do this, we developed a keen ability to read faces, sense emotions, and respond accordingly. None of these talents have anything to do with logic or thoughts. They are female gut reactions to life, and I think we've begun to ignore them. We're not doing our job as women. We're not reading men, we're nagging them or bailing.

Add to that, the fact that we fear losing any ground we've gained. So, these days in love relationships, many women retreat from any behavior that could be deemed weak. They are so afraid of submission that they have forgotten how to be supportive. Indeed, many of our mothers, so inspired by the feminist ideal, deliberately forgot to teach us about love, relationships, nurturing, or -- God forbid! -- the power derived from running a household. Martha Stewart reminds us of what's missing in our lives, as we manage our hectic schedules, eating from take-out boxes, in our immaculate granite kitchens, wearing our own purchases, and juggling would-be suitors who don't happen to suit us this week. All the while sucking up deep feelings of sadness that we can't connect with men.

One of my best role models is a dear girlfriend who runs a publicly traded company. Her husband is a major entertainment studio executive. They are a true power couple. I once asked her how the power is divided at home. She begged me not to tell anyone, so I'll only tell you guys. Her answer: "At home, I am all girl. I let him be the king of our household because when he's all man, I get paid back between the sheets." Now that's a smart feminist.

next: The Ten Worst Moms in History
21 comments so far | Post a comment now
Ten Tees January 9, 2011, 8:56 AM

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