Recently, four female servicemen and the Service Women's Action Network sued the Department of Defense over the military's combat-exclusion policy. They claim the policy, which does not allow women in most ground-combat situations, relies on outdated combat systems and that it impedes career opportunities for women serving in the U.S. military. The suit highlights some of the most troubling features of radical feminism, which conflates gender equality with gender interchangeability. According to this ideology, women aren't truly free until they're indistinguishable from men. Waging a real war on women, the movement has pitted itself against both science, which finds sexual differences throughout the animal kingdom, and women, who routinely express a preference for the gender roles that feminists assail.
One of the latest examples comes from a survey of undergraduates at the University of California-Santa Cruz on the question of marriage proposals. After interviewing 277 students, researchers found that no one -- whether a single man or a single woman -- preferred for the woman in a relationship to propose marriage. That unanimity is somewhat surprising, given the impact of decades of entrenched academic feminism on liberal universities like UC-Santa Cruz.
Instead of this unanimity providing a much-needed detente in the culture wars, institutional feminists cried foul. The study's authors warned darkly of "the role that hidden power may play in many heterosexual romantic relationships." Jezebel's Laura Beck lamented this "benevolent sexism" was "a bit of a bummer," while Slate's Amanda Marcotte blamed "unquestioning adherence to sexist gender norms" and women's fear of "what happens to people who step outside of those norms."
These commentaries ignore the outcomes of the study, which found the opposite to be true. Instead of uncovering colleges full of women too timid to dream of proposing, they found women who were willing to propose but weren't thrilled at the prospect. That doesn't sound like women being dominated by the "hidden power" of heterosexual relationships or fear of stepping out of line. It sounds like women wanting men to behave like men when it comes to proposals and long-term commitment.
This is just one of several areas in which both sexes happily consent to certain gender roles. For another example, according to a 2007 Pew Research survey of families with minor children, 79 percent of mothers described their ideal situation as one in which they worked part time or not at all, while 72 percent of fathers preferred to work full time. Unsurprisingly, men work more hours than women across the board. They are more likely to be full-time workers and tend to work longer hours than their full-time female counterparts. As the Manhattan Institute's Kay Hymowitz has explained, this "gender-hours gap" (a situation the majority of both sexes appear to prefer) is the primary cause of the so-called "gender-wage gap" that modern feminists hold in such derision.
When they're not patronizingly assuming that they know what these women want better than the women do, modern feminists are routinely promoting an agenda that threatens the lives and well-being of women. The most dramatic example of this, in the realm of sex-selective abortion and infanticide, serves as an unparalleled threat for females around the globe. As Mara Hvistendahl documents in her book "Unnatural Selection: Choosing Boys Over Girls, and the Consequences of a World Full of Men," more than 160 million females are "missing" from Asia's population, primarily because of sex-selective abortion. This staggering figure, larger than half the entire population of the United States, refers only to those girls whose lives were snuffed out on account of their sex. Yet even here, with the lives of millions of women and girls hanging in the balance, groups such as Planned Parenthood continue to perform sex-selective abortions except where prohibited by laws forbidding the ghastly practice (laws which they have opposed adamantly).
This dangerous radicalism is also on display in the lawsuit surrounding the military's combat exclusion policy. One of the "gender gaps" feminists have been slow to acknowledge relates to military deaths. Despite making up nearly 15 percent of active soldiers, women have made up less than 0.02 percent of U.S. military fatalities in Operation Enduring Freedom. Surely, feminists wouldn't really claim this is sexist against women. Yet in fact, the Service Women's Action Network claims just that, decrying the exclusion of women from the front lines as "a blatant act of gender discrimination."
Given all of the ways the modern feminist movement promotes an agenda antithetical to the desires and well-being of women, it's fair to say that there's a "war on women" afoot, but not from the quarters you may have heard.
Joseph Heschmeyer, 27, is an attorney, blogger and Roman Catholic seminarian for the Archdiocese of Kansas City, Kansas.