A War That Has Ended

On any trip to the United Kingdom one must allow for the element of surprise. Last month I discovered a new perspective on what we might call “women’s studies.”

“Women’s aspiration to marry up, if they can, to a man who is better-educated and higher-earning, persists in most European countries,“ explains Dr. Catherine Hakim of the London School of Economics (LSE). ”Women thereby continue to use marriage as an alternative or supplement to their employment careers.“ Or as the Daily Telegraph headline put it, “Women still happy to let men bring in the cash.”

That does not exactly conform to the feminist orthodoxies that occupy our attention in this column. Dr. Hakim, a senior research fellow in the LSE sociology department, is more concerned with what emerges from census data, studies, and national surveys.

In 1949, her research revealed, 20 per cent of British women married husbands with significantly higher levels of education than their own. By the late 1990s that nearly doubled to 38 percent, similar to patterns in Europe, Australia, and the United States. So after 40 years of shrill and relentless propaganda from militant feminists, women still want to marry a man with means.

Dr. Hakim also challenges other myths from the debate on gender equality, such as the notion that equal opportunity policies have failed. She believes that, on the contrary, they have succeeded, and that women have used these opportunities to settle into the jobs they actually want.

Dr. Hakim denies that men and women have the same attitudes to careers and family, and that women have a “softer” managerial style. That claim, by the way, is part of the push in Britain for quotas of women on corporate boards, a notion supported by British Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron. Such quotas strike Dr. Hakim as a bad idea. She believes that men dominate top corporate positions because many women simply do not want long and hard-working careers in business.

In her report for the Centre for Policy Studies, Dr. Hakim says that distorted feminist claims are “redundant political ammunition for a war that has ended.” The Contrarian agrees that, on the battlefield of ideas at least, militant feminism has been soundly defeated.

Women have made the most of their opportunities, and now make career choices without regard to feminist orthodoxy and the feminist movement’s vaunted leaders and organizations. Lately, the National Organization for Women (NOW) has been attacking Hooters restaurants, which employ primarily women. Such activities are a sure sign that NOW’s time has passed.

Given that reality, and since we are busy fighting on other fronts, such as health care and restoring prosperity in California, we have decided to retire the Contrarian from active service. Before we shut down, however, I have a message for legislators and policy makers at all levels, particularly the new class in Congress.

Discredited ideology cannot be the basis for sound public policy. So disregard feminism, the women’s auxiliary of socialism. Pay attention to what women actually want, not what feminist organizations say they want. Remember that statistical disparities between individuals are the rule, not the exception, and that you must account for personal differences, effort, and choice.

So don’t impose gender quotas and stop trying to fix a “pay gap” that does not exist. Keep the playing field of opportunity on the level, but do not attempt to legislate outcomes. Your priority should be to repair the damage already done by misguided legislation such as Title IX.

I would also like to thank all the scholars whose fine work we have followed in this column. They include Christina Hoff Sommers, Susan Pinker, Louann Brizendine, Kate O’Beirne, Myrna Blyth, Jessica Gavora, and many others. They are well worth readers’ attention, along with organizations such as the Independent Women’s Forum.

Finally, I want to thank our faithful readers, whom we are not leaving empty handed. On the PRI website, the Contrarian columns will remain on active reserve as intellectual ammunition in the war of ideas, which will never cease.

Nothing contained in this blog is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Pacific Research Institute or as an attempt to thwart or aid the passage of any legislation.

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