Feminism’s Dependency Trap

A further concern I have with the message and tone of contemporary feminism is that women have evidently forgotten that we have power over men as a result of the fact that we’re women—men adore us, and almost all their efforts at work or at home or in social settings, are made to win our approval, if not our admiration. In short, I am bewildered by the fact that in a culture in which The Patriarchy has never had less power over women, women seem to want to attribute to it a greater power than men in fact have, thereby confining women to a position of victimhood and powerlessness.

The orthodox line of feminism is that women don’t need men, and that it is men who keep women in a state of dependence. This is the doctrine of women’s liberation: we are trying to liberate ourselves from our dependency on men. Pragmatically speaking, the notion that we don’t need men is largely true. (As a single mother and single woman, I’m certainly poorer than my married counterparts, but I am running a family household successfully, if chaotically.) Paradoxically, however, the rhetoric of orthodox feminism implies the reverse: we need men in order to prove to ourselves that we don’t. I don’t need to sleep with a stuffed animal at night, but were I to insist on mentioning this at every opportunity, it would become abundantly clear that the idea dominated me. At a time when Western women have achieved economic independence, control over their reproductive rights, legal equality, and equal professional opportunities, the continued obsession with the need to win independence from the thing that we are, in every measurable way, already independent from, reveals just how subservient we are to the idea of powerful men. After all, only a child still dependent on the comfort of a stuffed toy needs to insist to herself that she isn’t.

Worth some thought.