One of the things that really puzzles me is the number of women who are opposed to feminism. And not just reluctant, either. I’m talking hackles-raised, eyes-blazing hostility against the very people who are fighting to win them equal rights. It boggles my mind.
But, as the saying goes, a boggled mind is of no use to anyone, so I want to understand this counter-intuitive phenomenon. One of the possibilities that occurs to me is that there are actually two different forms of feminism, each pursuing radically different goals. Call them feminism and counterfeminism. The feminist is working to establish women as autonomous and respected individuals who are equal in status, opportunity, and financial compensation, as compared to their male counterparts. The feminist assumption is that the ideal condition for women is equality. But that’s not necessarily an assumption shared by all, not even by all women.
It’s possible that there’s a counterfeminist assumption that the ideal condition for women is one of dependency and entitlement—that in a perfect world, a woman would live by forming an attachment to a man, who would then provide her with food, clothes, a home, and some spending money in return for a bit of light housework and some sexual gratification now and then. Obviously, reality falls far short of that ideal, and not uncommonly results in women who are much more miserable than they would be if they were independent. But reality doesn’t need to live up to the ideal in order for some people to find the ideal desirable.
Conversely, it might also be the case that some people, including some women, fear the possible consequences of independence and autonomy. A woman who is effectively the property and chattel of a man has some degree of insulation from the world at large, precisely because her societal role is defined in terms of her relationship to the man. She’s not “fair game” for males on the prowl, nor is she real competition for jobs and business opportunities, because her needs are supplied by her lord and master. A woman’s home is a castle—maybe not strictly her castle, but either way it’s a fortified defense against the dangers of the world at large. Her world can be smaller, and therefore safer (or at least more familiar and predictable).
Again, this may have little or nothing to do with reality, but like I said, reality doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with it. It’s possible that some people, some counterfeminists, might assume that the ideal condition for women is this kind of proprietary ideal of dependency and entitlement, whether or not real life is actually like that. Such people might be hostile to feminism precisely because feminism’s goals are based on a different (and I would add, more realistic) assumption. In a way, both groups are feminists, pursuing what they see as the ideal state for women. They just have radically different visions of what that ideal would be.
So take this with a grain of salt. I have no idea how accurately this might describe real people and/or the real opponents of feminism. I’m just speculating on what might motivate people, and especially women, to be so violently opposed to equality and autonomy. I might be completely wrong. But on the other hand, if I’m right, I think that might explain a lot.