Monday, October 3, 2016

Christopher Hitchens versus a Feminist


Christopher Hitchens says that, if his wife or married women in general want to work, this is fine and dandy, but, if they don’t, then he believes in supporting his wife, so that she does not have to work.

How and why such an obviously reasonable statement causes this feminist to act as if Hitchens has called for genocide is beyond me.

Just think about what this feminist is implying: she’s implying that women should go out and work, even if they don’t want to, and that their husbands shouldn’t have a moral responsibility to support them.

And how and why women wish to spend their lives thrown involuntarily into a capitalist labour market and increasingly deprived of the opportunities to have children and be mothers is, once again, beyond me.

All this is strongly related to the paradox of middle class post-1960s feminism, which can be stated as follows:
(1) 19th century industrial capitalism drew in women and children into exploitative and cruel working conditions, which helped to shatter family life and undercut the wages and employment prospects of men;

(2) 19th century and early 20th century trade unions, socialist movements and labour-based political parties fought to ban child labour and improve real wages for men so that men could be breadwinners for their wives and children, without throwing women and children onto the labour force. This largely succeeded by the mid-20th century;

(3) modern feminism emphasises the ideal of women being able to work and be independent (which in and of itself is fine, don’t get me wrong), but an actual major cause of women entering the labour force from the 1970s onwards has been the neoliberal assault on real wages and the need for women to contribute to real household income to maintain living standards (the trend can be seen here).
If anything, an Old Socialist or Old Left perspective on this issue would be that our economic and social system should be designed for men to have high-wage jobs in a full employment economy, so that women do not have to work *if they do not want to*, and be free to have children and look after them with the husband as breadwinner.

If some women want to work or concentrate on a career, then they should be free to do this too.

In other words, Christopher Hitchens has it precisely right, despite Third Wave Feminist hysteria.

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  1. And fathers should be able to stay at home instead if they want to. I roll my eyes when the Mail or Express says one day that single mothers (because, er, couples do break up) are scroungers and the next day that the govt isn't doing enough for stay at home mums. As if staying at home to raise children is lazy if you're single and heroic if you're in a couple. And of course it's preferable to have a couple for all the obvious practical reasons.

    1. When a child is born a job of work is created to bring that child to independence and adulthood. No matter what happens to the adults around the child that job needs doing, and like all jobs of work it should attract a wage.

      I find it astonishing that if two women swap children and become childminders they are feted as great entrepreneurs, but if they look after their own children they are scroungers.

      Solving this problem solves the 'breadwinner' problem as well.

    2. Yes -- it should be fine to either have a single or two-parent family, and all parents should get child benefit and Child Tax Credit or similar. And a parent should either work or stay at home at their option.

  2. This link definitely comes to mind:

    It's like Feminists really do not care that women are happy (and in fact, women's happiness has decreased in the US more than men since the 70s). Their main goal is to make women a more important cog in the neo-liberal Capitalist machine.

    Also, I really liked that one article that Heavy Anglo Orthodox shared the other day about "defamilialization", that should be discussed more and more, and that we should take a firmer position on.

  3. When my mother was a "housewife", she was also a member of the PTA (at all the schools her kids attended), a member of the organising committee of her church, a foster carer for at-risk kids, and other voluntary organisations that provided many of the kinds of social services that are now struggling to cope. She and her circle provided support and child-care for each other. And so on.

    The idea that "housewives" stay at home all the time is ludicrous. Certainly when my parents split and my mum *had* to work, the local community suffered and us kids suffered as well.