Property today is not what it was 300 years ago. Today, like everything, it is a consumable. Buy a car and hope it lasts a couple of years. Buy a house to hope the neighborhood prices rise so you can retire somewhere else. Our daily sustenance does not come from direct labor but the new god: Career. We have long disassociated from the land.
Before industrialization, property was not only sustenance, it was your posterity. It was everything that came before you and all you left behind. Property made you noble. It was permanent; your life, by contrast, transient. In Gone with the Wind, Scarlet O'Hara's commitment was never to any person but to Tara, the land.
Perhaps the greatest ignorance is when we project our context back in time or onto other societies. Today, when we see old references to women and children as property, it is insulting. But only because for us, now, property is less than a man.
In an agrarian society, women as property put them on a pedestal. It is not that family was treated as property. Property was the family in all its generations. It was not an insult then, but privilege. Contrary to what has become popular to believe today, women had special status, and if a woman committed a crime, her husband was punished. Men died for their property.
We now call that oppressive to women.
It is not convenient to understand this now. An agrarian context is as foreign as Afghanistan and we have had to seek many adjustments to things no other society has faced. It is, however, still convenient for some women to seek special treatment, not the equality many of us (men and women) strove for back in the 1970s.
Today's feminists defend the Victorian structure of children to themselves. The National Organization for Women's divorce policy has long been: shared parenting only to the extent she says. Independent men are not convenient to many women, and children make an excellent tool.
Title IX gives women equal funding as men for sports in college, even though less than half the number of women are as interested. Girls get special attention in school to make them just as capable at math as boys, while boys have always lagged girls by a wider margin in reading and basic scholastics, but get no attention for their learning needs.
The Violence Against Women Act presumes that women are the only victim of only male violence, even though all studies give a different picture. The public buys in: women get special protection from men; men have none from violent women. Protective orders are now part of female violence against men as all it takes is an accusation, not even a sworn statement.
But, "Men made all the rules." Of what could they complain?
Most men didn't know this. They thought society made the rules, a society, as it happens, always more than one-half female. "Men have all the power," is an abdication of women's constant presence and participation in society, in defining our customs, policies and practices. It's playing child.
Is feminism still, as it claims, striving to make women an equal part of society: equally responsible, equally accountable for their equal violence and equal sexual behavior, along with equal opportunity for careers? Or is it by now arch-conservative: an attempt by today's spoiled, upper-middle class white women to have it both ways; to create special privilege for women in an industrial, rather than agrarian, society?
Feminism prevents the egalitarian society of which we spoke three decades ago where all are equal partners. Feminism is reactionary.
©2008 KC Wilson
To nourish children and raise them against odds is in any time, any place, more valuable than to fix bolts in cars or design nuclear weapons. - Marilyn French