In the much loved and long-running television series Happy Days, when the Fonz literally jumped a shark that a whole new trope was born. It’s a reminder that even the best social movement, let alone TV show, reaches a critical point where they cross over from social relevance to logical absurdity.
Just take for instance the mother who thinks that the children’s classic Sleeping Beauty contains an “inappropriate sexual message” because the prince did not seek consent for the kiss. Or then there’s the example of Natasha Devon, a former government health advisor, who told teachers in the UK, “never walk into a room in an all girl’s school and say girls or ladies” because it’s “patronising”.
But without doubt, the most ridiculous of them all is the recent article by Annette Sharp which, encourages women to completely stop having children so they can advance their careers and so realise the ‘feminist dream.’ This piece, in particular, has me seriously questioning whether feminism has reached a similar nadir.
Sharp recalls Peter Costello’s famous 2002 national exhortation to increased fertility stating, “Fifteen years on, women who feel their career prospects have been hampered and their standard of living reduced by their decision to prioritise motherhood over careers would do well to contemplate recasting Costello’s words and advocate “one for mum, one for dad and one for the feminist dream.”
Now, I’m pretty sure Sharp understands the birds and the bees, so I would have thought that any serious commitment to childlessness would have meant championing an alternative mantra of, “none for mum, none for dad and definitely none for the feminist dream.” Not unless of course, after your self-imposed sterilisation, you start implementing a surrogate breeding program, aka The Handmaid’s Tale.
Sharp continues, “Only by talking up the rewards of education, hard work, travel, opportunity and professional promotion over the traditional values of love, marriage and motherhood can we hope to achieve the feminist dream or, in truth, empower our daughters one day to realise it.” So, the virtues of “love, marriage and motherhood” should be viewed as being less important than “education… travel… and professional promotion”?
There is something truly tragic about making the top 20 ASX listed companies in Australia the standard upon which a person’s value and ultimate significance is to be ascribed. But herein lies the underlying problem with feminism. It doesn’t want women to be feminine, but exactly the same as men. And as such, it results in promoting a hatred towards women since, ironically, it wants a woman to become like a man in every way possible.
When a movement advocates that one’s career is more valuable than one’s relationships though, something is seriously awry. Indeed, when journalists like Sharp hold up childlessness as the ultimate virtue then the feminist dream has turned into a waking nightmare. For not only does it defeminise women, but it dehumanises them as well. Presciently, this is exactly the type of situation that Aldous Huxley envisaged might occur in his classic dystopian novel, Brave New World.
Modern feminism has become analogous to the worst expression of Marxist capitalism, asking people to understand themselves and their value only in terms of what they can economically produce. This is one of the reasons why Marxism is not only so unrealistic, but also so profoundly destructive to the human psyche. Because it seeks to strip people of their innate sense of human dignity in relation to their family, religion, nation and every other social relationship to that of ‘class solidarity.’
How refreshingly radical though is the Biblical presentation of what true femininity–and masculinity–should look like. For instance, at the end of the Old Testament book of Proverbs, we find this beautiful, as well as profound, Hebrew poetic acrostic of what the truly ‘wise’ person looks like. And somewhat surprisingly, rather than be portrayed as a prophet, a priest or even a king, the figure we’re presented with is that of a godly wife and mother. She is the personification and epitome – the aleph to taw (Hebrew ‘A’ to ‘Z’) –- of wisdom.
Those living in Western culture would do well to reacquaint themselves with this classic piece of spiritual literature. Because despite its antiquity, the model of virtue that it presents is just as relevant and just as inspiring today as when it was first written. Since Proverbs 31:10-31 portrays a person – i.e. woman–who is fully alive. Someone who not only fully utilises all of their personal talents, but forges deep and meaningful relationships with her children, her husband, and ultimately her God.
Indeed, the woman is described as being a figure of ‘excellence’ or even ‘valour.’ The precise same Hebrew term the Bible uses elsewhere to describe the heroic exploits of someone in battle. The military terminology here is significant. Because the wise woman is like one of the heroic figures used by God to do good for His people, just as a judge or king might have achieved through their martial exploits. So too, in the marital context, a godly wife and mother can be just as courageous, and just as effective, as the warrior on the battlefield.
My point in referring to this biblical example is to show that the current vision presented by feminism is hopelessly short-sighted and inadequate. Who cares if you’ve become the CEO of a leading company if there is no one there to share it with when you come home? What difference does it make if you are not investing yourself into your own flesh and blood? For when we finally retire or pass away, who benefits from all that you’ve accomplished… the company… the government?
In denigrating the value and importance of parenting, feminists like Sharp are cutting off the very branch they are sitting on. In carrying and nurturing a child from conception to delivery, a bond is created with the mother in which no man can participate. What’s more, women in particular, bring something unique to the child raising matrix.
When feminism argues for the rejection of children to be able to realise its goal, it has reached a crucial tipping point of no return. It’s jumped the proverbial shark and it’s time that we looked for a better way of living, loving and relating.
Mark Powell is the Associate Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Strathfield.
Cartoon: Ben R Davis.
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