That single book is credited by the second wave of Feminists of the 1970's as the book that started it all.
The basic premise that Betty Friedan expresses in The Feminine Mystique is that if women escaped the confines of “traditional” notions of femininity, they could then truly enjoy being women. But is that true? Did the Women’s rights Movement help or hurt women? Has our society benefited from the tenets of feminism?
I want to start with an acknowledgment of the positives of the women's rights movement. As a father of three grown daughters I am thankful that they have the opportunity to use their creativity, intelligence, and athletic abilities in more ways than they would have had fifty years ago. I am also very thankful that my wife and daughters, along with all other women in our nation, are now protected by laws that ensure equality at home, at work, and in the public arena. I would be less than honest if I did not give the women’s rights movement most of the credit for those wonderful accomplishments.
However, I do make a distinction between the beneficial accomplishments of the women’s rights movement and the largely detrimental outcomes of a by-product of that movement - feminism.
Some would make a distinction between a balanced feminism that sees men and women as equal and a more radicalized version of feminism that views women as superior to men. That distinction is helpful to some degree but I’m not sure in the end there is that much difference because the basic tenets of both kinds of feminism are based on ideas contradictory to the truth.
Sue Bohlin, an associate speaker for Probe Ministries wrote an excellent article entitled Ten Lies of Feminism. Using her basic outline we will breakdown the major deceptions of feminism and the negative consequences those lies have had on the lives of women and society.
Lie #1 - Women can have it all:
Based on the writings of British anthropologist Ashley Montagu and others, feminist believe that women are the superior sex and as such have an inexhaustible supply of physical and emotional energy that enable them to juggle everything they choose to do.
Advocates of feminism imagine that not only can women do what men do but they should do what men do. Not to do so is paramount to injustice to all women. But since men can’t do what women can do - have babies - this puts a double standard and a double burden on women.
According to feminism, a women can be a successful mommy and dynamic force in the workplace. They can have it all because they can do it all. In truth, women who buy in into this lie are exhausted, guilt ridden, and struggle to find inner peace.
Lie #2 - Men and women are fundamentally the same:
Feminist in every major university in America teach (indoctrinate) students that boys and girls are blank slates at birth and that it is culture, and culture only, that is responsible for the false distinctions between the sexes. For the majority of academic elites this is settled science, off limits to debate and discussion. To them it is traditional culture, namely Christianity, that propagates the myth that gender roles exist and that those roles are good for society.
This particular lie is wrecking havoc on our culture. Meanwhile, the truth that God created significant differences between males and females is intuitively obvious to every adult and practically evident to every parent but most have been so immersed in this feminist driven false narrative that they have overridden their common sense and daily experience in order to live in full compliance with the lie.
Lie # 3 - Desirability is enhanced by achievement:
I never really thought about this much until I read Sue Bohlin’s article. Feminism, co opting the God-given element of masculinity, believes that a woman's sense of self worth and her desirability to society in general and men in particular is found in achievement, in making a mark in the world.
This invention of modernity has been particularly devastating to marriages. Competition is appropriate, even healthy in the business and professional world and there women have done well but it’s disastrous in relationships.
Men do respect accomplished women, just as they respect accomplished men, but what men most appreciate about a woman is her unique feminine attributes - those things that are distinctly different from them: love, sensitivity, her abilities to communicate and relate. Denying or rejecting that reality has put undue strain on many marriages.
Lie #4 - The myth of one’s unrealized potential:
This lie is really aimed at all of us but especially at women. To feminism’s way of thinking being averages isn’t acceptable. A women must be great - her tremendous potential must be realized at all costs. After all, women are the superior sex.
The consequences of this lie have many women operating under unrealistically high expectations and when life doesn’t match their expectations they feel like failures. That false sense of failure can cause multiple problems both within themselves and in their relationships with others. They beat themselves up for just being a cog in the wheel, for being just an average women. They unnessarily grieve for who they are not.
Lie #5 - Sexual Sameness:
This lie seems uniquely damaging. The cost, however, is greater for women than it is for men. Feminist try to convince both genders that they are the same sexually and by that I mean that the roles and rules of sex apply the same. The truth is that women can’t separate sex from love as easily as men can. For women sex is an expression of love and commitment. Without these qualities, sex is demeaning or a simple quid pro quo (something for something) transaction. It is said that the female uses sex to get words of love but the males uses words of love to get sex.
The so called sexual freedom given to women through feminism has only brought new degrees of heartache, unplanned pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and abortion on demand. The sexual revolution, fueled largely by feminist ideology, has not liberated but rather enslaved generations of women and done unmitigated damage to their offspring.
Lie #6 - The denial of maternity:
In the desperate pursuit to have it all, many women are postponing marriage and childbearing or they are rejecting those roles altogether. This can have rippling effects. When women turn their focus away from the family, when they deny their maternal instincts, they walk away from the special purpose God gave not only to them but gave to all of society. There is no viable substitution and we deceive ourselves in thinking otherwise.
Lie #7 - To be feminine is to be weak:
The characteristics that constitute masculinity and femininity are separate and different. They are not interchangeable no matter how the feminist try to blur gender distinction. Their rejection of femininity is the real "war on women."
The more feminist attempt to shape women in the likeness of men the more they do damage to both and insult God who created both in His image.
Lie #8 - Doing is better than being:
An ordinary appraisal of our common experience informs us that men and women are different and their difference is by design. One significant way they are different is in how they get their sense of self. Men get their sense of self from achievement and women get their sense of self from relationships.
Feminism has declared that the male orientation of “what you do” is the only one that matters; “who you are", and how important women are to the people in their world, don’t count as much.
Lie #9 - The myth of self-sufficiency:
The message is clear. Women don’t need men. In fact, the real message is that women don’t need anybody. They can take care of themselves. Of course, if women don’t need anybody except themselves, they don’t need God, especially a masculine, patriarchal God who makes rules and roles for women they don’t like.
By the way, the lie of self-sufficiency is the same lie the Devil deceived the first women in the Garden of Eden so we shouldn’t be surprised to see the same lie have a central place in feminism.
Lie #10 - Women would enjoy the feminization of men:
Feminists believe that the only way to achieve equality with men is to do away with role distinctions. But that alone wouldn’t be enough. For feminist, society must also do away with gender distinctions, or at least blur the lines. And indeed we see this happening. Women are encouraged to embrace more masculine characteristics while men are encouraged to embrace more feminine characteristics. Feminist are convinced this will fix the problem. But it won’t.
When men start taking on feminine characteristics in dress, appearance and behavior, they become unpleasing to themselves and they become unpleasing to the very women who demand the change.
In closing I want to talk, not about the ideology of feminism but rather the spirit of feminism. It is good to know what the lies of feminism are but it may be even more beneficial for us to understand the spirit of feminism.
Ideas have consequences. Bad ideas have bad consequences. Bad ideas coupled with a hateful spirit can be especially devastating. The underlying energy that supports feminism is an angry and resentful attitude. A vengeful anger and hatred of men and male masculinity is at the heart of feminism. But we must ask ourselves why.
If we (men) are completely honest with ourselves we would have to confess that men (we) may be largely to blame for a good deal of that anger. Stubborn masochism has produced ardent feminist. Male arrogance has created female rebellion. False masculinity gave rise to the lies of feminism. Ongoing abuse, neglect, and the poor treatment of women by men are equally to blame for feminism.
Before we can confront the deception of feminism and restore a biblical view of womanhood we must first understand that modern feminism is a counterfeit solution to the real issue of the inequality of women in a sinful society.
We can’t just bash feminism for the sin that it is without also confronting the sin that fueled it. Combating feminism requires a two front war. On one front is the many lies of feminism. On the other front are the many lies of masochism, male passivity, and the sinful and ungodly leadership of men. Each leads to the other making it a vicious cycle.
It is said that a wise man will listen to his critics knowing that they may be at least partially right in their criticism.