The entertainer John Mayer, ironically a well-known serial womanizer, responded to the Kavanaugh hearings and #MeToo by saying we should tear up the social contract between men and women and replace it with a new one in which men were expected to behave better. I agree with him as far as he goes, but not out of male guilt. We need to tear up the contract and renegotiate a whole slew of things between men and women. After recently learning of the female supremacist views of powerful Democratic women like Senator Mazie Hirono, I think everything up to the Nineteenth Amendment needs to be on the table.
What is at stake for society is whether we achieve the purported feminist goal of equality or whether the third-wave backlash wins and women are stuck in (and men stuck with) limbo—where women are legally equal adults to men, but “special needs children” in most other respects. Feminist women of the 1970s were tougher, more equality-minded and probably closer to the overall equality goal. Today’s third-wave feminist victims think they can have their cake and eat it too, as if “equality” could be made into a safe “equitable” space where all disparities that favor men are eliminated but those that favor women persist. That is impossible, and their continued delusion is untenable for our society.
Because the one-sidedness of feminism (literally “pro-woman”) is at odds with the stated goal of equality, there has never been a real negotiation of what equality is. There has only been demand on one side and acquiescence on the other. This has actually resulted in many double standards being enforced and great harm to society. But real equality is equality, not just whatever women decide they want.
Feminists have portrayed history falsely. Women were not legally treated as property pre-feminism, they were treated as children. Women were coddled, protected and indulged like children. Women were not responsible for their own actions, their husbands were. Women were more lightly punished for crimes, and could not enter into contracts like juveniles. When divorced, they did not get custody, because children legally responsible for children was illogical. When they beat their husbands, the husbands were the ones ridiculed and punished by the community. They didn’t have the right to vote because children didn’t. After the Civil War, black men got the right to vote before women because they would have the same responsibilities in society as white men. Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton never really understood why that had to be the case.
Third wave feminists harken back to those good old days. So many of their expectations are rooted in notions of chivalry and Victorian etiquette, where the worst crime was that of offending a woman or her honor. That expectation of special treatment was summed up nicely by the shrieking protester who cornered Senator Orrin Hatch as he got on an elevator: “How dare you talk to women that way? How dare you?” I do declare! They want a return to the day when doors were held open for them and overcoats placed over muddy obstacles, except now the doors lead to STEM careers and the muddy obstacles are the basic human rights of men.
Early feminists were ready to take on adult male responsibility and risk in order to get equal rights, though they didn’t entirely want to give up “specialness.” Some of the things they said in the 1960s and 1970s were astonishing by today’s standards, which is why so many feminists of the Baby Boom and earlier generations get de-platformed at colleges today (Germaine Greer, Camille Paglia, Christina Hoff Sommers, etc.).
Third wave feminists are essentially children. They want all the rights of adult men, but none of the responsibilities. They also want “special” rights, really privileges women have enjoyed all along, the “rights” to have men make the world a safe space for them and coddle them with advantages. And they will throw tantrums until they get their way, essentially becoming dictators to men the same way children try to dictate to their parents. If you don’t believe this, you weren’t watching the recent extended tantrum of screaming, hysterical toddler-like protest in Washington on TV. Third wave feminists want men to continue to treat them “special,” as children, until they don’t. And the poor men have to guess where that constantly changing line is, or else.
So yes, tear up the contract by all means. Men are not your Santa Claus, ladies, and you cannot have it all. I can’t take credit for the idea, but I believe in this motto more firmly now than ever: the radical idea that women are adults. That is true equality. That should be the principle of true feminism.