Published August 8, 2023
The following is an excerpt from Dr. Carrie Gress’ book The End of Woman: How Smashing the Patriarchy Has Destroyed Us. It can be purchased here.
The fight against the patriarchy began roughly with the 1792 publication of Mary Wollstonecraft’s book A Vindication of the Rights of Woman, with its call for radically restructuring society, erasing male hierarchies, and ushering in a more egalitarian vision of the sexes. It has been gaining steam ever since, through the suffrage movement, the post-suffrage era, the arrival of communism, and up through the radical feminism of the 1960s and ’70s. Through all these years of picketing, marching, and leaning in, there seem to be some largely overlooked problems that have simultaneously arisen for women with the destruction of the patriarchy. Here are several of the most evident.
The first: Our society can no longer define “woman.” In a documentary of that title, Matt Walsh demanded an answer to the question “What is a woman?” He posed this question to men and women far and wide, and, at least in the West, the question was generally met with a blank stare, a grasping for language, or an awkward laugh. No one offered a definition. The only real answer Walsh gets, in the end, is from his wife. A woman is an adult female human. Simple enough. Of course, there is more to it, but this is a starting point.
One might think that, with all this emphasis on feminism, women would have some sort of answer as to what women are—an answer that could easily distinguish women from men in our achievements and aspirations, and that would provide a clear understanding of what our gifts are and why we are proud to be women. As of now, we cannot do any of this.
Perhaps the highest profile case of not being able to define womanhood was Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson’s 2022 confirmation hearing for the Supreme Court. Rather than answering the question of what a woman is, she declared that she couldn’t define womanhood without a biology degree.
The second issue is that men are now edging women out of prized positions and awards while wearing dresses and heels. The hottest flashpoint in the culture today is the transgender movement, with the progressive mob even coming after feminists, such as the famed author of the Harry Potter series, J. K. Rowling. Anyone who dares to oppose the idea that men can become women (or vice versa) is targeted. Activists use the derogatory term “trans-exclusionary radical feminists,” or “TERFs,” to criticize those who, like Rowling, embrace the idea that a woman is someone who is a biological female, from birth, distinct from mere gender expression.
Meanwhile, biological men in women’s clothing have increasingly encroached on celebrity, sports, and politics. Time magazine’s “Woman of the Year” Caitlyn Jenner, the first “female” four-star admiral in the Commissioned Corps Rachel Levine and the NCAA “female” swimming champion Lia Thomas are all lauded as examples of female achievement, despite their radically distinct hormonal baselines, higher testosterone levels, and greater physical strength, especially in the upper body.
To accommodate these new “women,” the Cambridge Dictionary released a new definition of womanhood in 2022, including those who identify as trans women; it reads, “an adult who lives and identifies as female though they may have been said to have a different sex at birth.” Merriam-Webster also amended its definition of woman to include those “having a gender identity that is the opposite of male.”
On top of everything else, women are not happy. A dramatic 2009 study issued by the National Bureau of Economic Research revealed that women are not growing happier as feminist ideals are embraced. In fact, the opposite is true. In the 1970s, women rated their overall life satisfaction higher than men did, but it has been on the steady decline ever since. The study revealed that “women of all education groups have become less happy over time with declines in happiness having been steepest among those with some college.” The study also concluded that “on average, women are less happy with their marriage than men and women have become less happy with their marriage over time.” This data helps to explain why nearly 70 percent of divorces are initiated by women.
General happiness metrics confirm that women are struggling under the current conditions and are seeking medical attention as a result. Suicide, depression, substance abuse, and sexually transmitted infections have all increased dramatically over the last five decades. Women are not becoming happier, just more medicated..
It is time for honest women to recognize that feminism has not been the boon for women that it has been presented as. To be sure, there have been many advances under feminism, such as laws against sex and pregnancy discrimination, custody laws for mothers, and many social and economic opportunities. But to focus on these genuine improvements is to overlook the irreparable harm feminism has done to legions of women. Women were told that abortion is consequence-free, that hookup culture and casual sex are normal, and that hormonal therapies (for birth control or as puberty blockers) have no side effects. What is becoming clearer with each passing generation is that free love and consequence-free sex have come at a cost, and most of that cost is borne by those who can least afford it—poor women who will never find husbands, women and girls caught up in human trafficking or the trans craze, and children who will never know their fathers. Feminism has likewise been awful for men, but it has been particularly awful for children, especially children of unmarried parents.
It is time to look behind the curtain.