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Free Citizen

This writer espouses individual liberty, free markets, and limited government.

Name:
Location: Jackson, Mississippi, United States

Friday, October 29, 2004

"Woman Will Regain Her Superiority..."

So we began to see them, these [manikins] of modern industrial society, swarming at evening from factories and insurance offices, going home, like the typist in The Waste Land, to lay out their food in tins. At length, amid the marvelous confusion of values attendant upon the second World War, came the lady marine and the female armaments worker ["Rosie the Riveter"]. It is as if the [force of gravity] of society had ceased. What is needed at center now drifts toward the outer edge. A social seduction of the female sex has occurred on a vast scale. And the men responsible for this seduction have been the white-slavers of business who traffic in the low wages of these creatures, the executives, the specialists in "reduction of labor costs"-- the very economists and calculators whose emergence [Edmund] Burke predicted for us.

The [abnormal] phase of the situation is that the women themselves have not been more concerned to retrieve the mistake. Woman would seem to be the natural ally in any campaign to reverse this trend; in fact, it is alarming to think that her powerfully anchored defenses have not better withstood the tide of demoralization. With her superior closeness to nature, her intuitive realism, her unfailing ability to detect the [insincerity] in mere intellectuality, how was she ever [conned] into the mistake of going modern? Perhaps it was the decay of chivalry in men that proved too much. After the gentleman went, the lady had to go too. No longer protected, the woman now has her career, in which she makes a drab pilgrimage from two-room apartment to job to divorce court.

Women of the world's [former system] were [realists] in this respect: they knew where the power lies. (One wonders what Queen Elizabeth would have said had feminist agitators appeared during her reign [1558-1603] over England's green and pleasant isle.) They knew [the power] lies in loyalty to what they are and not in imitativeness, exhibitionism, and cheap bids for attention. Well was it said that he who leaves his proper sphere shows that he is ignorant both of that which he quits and that which he enters. Women have been misled by the philosophy of activism into forgetting that for them, as custodians of the values, it is better to "be" than to "do." Maternity, after all, as Walt Whitman noted, is "an emblematical attribute."

If our society were minded to move resolutely toward an ideal, its women would find little appeal, I am sure, in lives of machine-tending and money-handling. And this is so just because woman will regain her superiority when again she finds privacy in the home and becomes, as it were, a priestess radiating the power of proper sentiment. Her life at its best is a ceremony. When William Butler Yeats in "A Prayer for My Daughter" says, "Let her think opinions are accursed," he indicts the modern displaced female, the nervous, hysterical, frustrated, unhappy female, who has lost all queenliness and obtained nothing.

What has this act of [irreverence] brought us except, in the mordant phrase of Henry James's The Bostonians, an era of "long-haired men and short-haired women"?

RICHARD M. WEAVER (1910-1963)
Ideas Have Consequences, 1948

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