BAYSIDE, NY – In a book of mine entitled “Essays on the Christian Worldview and Others Political, Literary and Philosophical” , I wrote an essay entitled “The Feminist Movement: A Critique” and in another book entitled “Essays on Faith, Politics, Culture, and Philosophy,” I wrote a second essay entitled “What is a Woman: Feminine or Otherwise.” In both of these essays, I analyzed the virtues and what I perceived as the defects of the feminist movement. I now offer a third set of thoughts and impressions on this subject.
In those previous essays, I of course agreed wholeheartedly that women, as members of the human race, should have full job opportunities. Society would suffer if any group, whether women or men of whatever race, class, or religion, were excluded from obtaining the kind of work they want and developing themselves and hopefully contributing to society in that particular position.
I do not fault the women’s movement for women now possessing traditionally male characteristics such as hardness, domination, and aggressiveness. As I said in those essays, I see these as human qualities, qualities equally distributed in males and females, even though they are certainly not the best human qualities. Lack of feeling, toughness, and callousness, I noted in those essays, are certainly not worthy of imitation by either sex. Nonetheless, I would like to say something more here about what I seen as a negative outcome or result of feminism.
Before the feminist movement, women were in a more dependent relationship with men or, better put, had been assigned to take care of the home, but the provision for the economic structure of the home and family was traditionally provided by the male. Thus in some sense the relationship was unequal. Because of that inequality, abuses in that relationship did occur. The wife and mother may have had no job skills and have been subject to verbal and even physical abuse by the father and husband. I now state, however, that there is a negative effect or result in this change in the society structure brought about by the feminist movement—and that is the loss of what I term “romantic love.”
The concept of romantic love has been part of our western culture for some thousands of years. When, as in the modern world, there is full equality, that concept must suffer and ultimately end. Romantic love is based on courtship and on raising the woman on a pedestal. It is based not on male dominance or superiority but on the subtle idea that the woman is to be treasured, respected, and made the object of male love and adoration. When the woman in society has achieved full equality in the workplace and in the marriage, although weighing the alternatives this is probably good for us all, romantic love—for example, the subject of poetry for some hundreds of years—must gradually end and be no more. When a woman is no longer raised up and glorified and taken care of in love by the male provider, but is fully equal, full equality has no role in romantic love. Romantic love is not based on economic and political equality but on other wellsprings that have nothing to do with politics or economics. I laud the feminist movement and all movements that provide political and economic equality and an equal chance in this system for all of us, whether men or women, but I mourn the loss of romance.
If we look at the popular music of the past and the theatre and movies of the past, we see this concept still intact, whether in the love songs of South Pacific or the delicate ballroom dancing of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. Full equality is an advance and a good thing, but it leaves romance and romantic love lost, and one may speculate that it may never return at least in the form it was in our society. This concept, which for 1,500 years fueled our culture, literature, and our art and music, is an endangered species.