Contemporary feminism has its contradictions, like most things, but the cause of equality in the workplace and the home, and before the law, is not only good, in my view, but should be the standard by which we judge our politics.
For instance in diplomacy, we should be rewarding (with trade or aid or military treaties, etc.) all countries that treat women equally, and punishing (through sanctions, non-support, UN resolutions, carried out, etc.) those that don’t.
If that was the standard by which we did all our politics, we would not have made most of the mistakes of this, and past, administrations.
Saddam’s Iraq would have been seen, through that perspective, as one that granted a lot of equality to women. The main exception was when it came to the personal power of Saddam and his clan, particularly his sons, who were so feared and so protected they were able to choose random young women for their entertainment and abuse.
If our government had used only the feminist perspective in dealing with Saddam, the goal would not have been to topple the government, or occupy the country, but instead to do everything possible to remove Saddam and his family from power. Which would have meant we wouldn’t have given him the means (weapons, including chemical) that we did for him to supposedly fight Iran, but which he also used to commit genocide against the Kurds and the Shi’ites.
We also wouldn’t be rewarding Saudi Arabia with military aid and trade and political support etc. The majority of the 9/11 attackers, who came from there, would not have had the motive to commit that atrocity, because they and their leaders, Osama et. al., were incensed by the U.S. military presence in their country, and support of the Saudi ruling family.
Which would never have happened if we had used a feminist yardstick for the basis of our treatment of a country in which women aren’t even allowed to drive, let alone vote.
The mass rapes taking place in the Eastern Congo, as I write this, are reported to be the worst in the world at this time, maybe ever. Women not just raped in the ordinary sense of the word, but with implements intended to make them unfit for reproduction or any sexual activity ever again.
So who exactly is profiting from the great wealth that is the resources in the Congo? What corporations, what countries? And if we enforced our perspective, as we do with so much else, could we influence this situation to end it? We could if we committed all our political might to it. This is a situation that does call for the kind of macho strength these conservatives and neo-conservatives are always pretending to have.
Even the religious intolerance that is spreading in the world, and here at home (evangelizing for Christianity in the military and in professional and university athletics, etc.) would diminish if equality for women was the standard political behavior was based on. Because the kind of fundamentalism that inspires that kind of Christian (and other religious) proselytizing does not live up to the standard of equality for women.
It is no accident that societies where there is more equality for women have more tolerance for other religions, or even atheists. Or that they have less poverty and economic inequality.
It may seem over simplistic, but I am convinced by the news lately, as well as by popular culture (all these young women stars fetishized by our society and then held up for ridicule when the pressure of that sexual double standard and hypocrisy causes them to become caricatures of what society had been demanding of them in the first place) that the treatment of women is the key to turning the world back to the goals of what this country had come to represent, whether deservedly or not—tolerance, liberty, fairness, equality, and individual rights and freedom.
As the females go, so goes the world. At least the way I see it.
PS: And believe me, I accept that there are biological and (therefore?) temperamental differences between the sexes, as they used to say, but there shouldn’t be before the law. One of the biggest failures of our nation in the course of this administration’s rule is the loss of the ideal of being a society ruled by law, not by any one religion or family or class or group or party or man or sect or cult or cabal of corporate leaders.