Slate had an article from last week I read today. For the most part it’s typical liberal feminist rhetoric: women are oppressed, men are treated better, Republican’s are waging “war on women” but the “mommy wars” don’t exist, etc, etc.
But, there’s an interesting question asked in the middle:
For starters, ask yourself why we talk about American men using the language of “freedom” and women in the language of “choice?”
Why is it that women are the sum of their “choices” and men get to just live their lives?
Having asked a rather interesting question, the authors then simply blame it on evil Republicans who hate women, a thoroughly unsatisfying answer to any who aren’t ideologically-blinded feminists.
So, why do we talk about freedom when referring to males, but choice when referring to females (or at least to feminists)?
The first, and most obvious, reason would be abortion. Feminism has irreversibly joined itself to pro-abortion policies and uses the language of choice when discussing the mass killing of the unborn.
But, even when not addressing abortion, or even feminism for that matter, the dichotomy of male freedom and female choice remains in political discussion. Why?
First, we have to look at what is meant by the two words:
Freedom is generally used to mean the ability to act without external constraint. Some have tried to pervert the word with the phrase “positive freedom” (ie. forcing someone else to help you to act), but the original conception, sometimes referred to as “negative freedom”, is the most commonly accepted: the ability to do as you wish with yourself and your resources without someone else using force to stop you.
Choice, on the other hand, refers to the act of selecting an option. Choice implies that options are available and one is selected.
So, how does that relate to politics and sex differences?
Nobody else can give you freedom, others can only take it away. Freedom also implies responsibility: if you are free to act, you are free to act stupidly and will have to live with the consequences of your actions. On the other hand, freedom does not imply that you have the ability to act; just because there are not external constraints, does not mean there are no internal constraints. I am free to fly, but not being Superman, I have to walk.
Choice can be given by others. Choice also implies that I have the ability to act. Because I am not Superman, I can not be said to have the choice to fly.On the other hand, if I lived in Metropolis, Superman could offer me a ride; if he did I would then have the choice of flight.
Knowing this, we can see why men have freedom and women, or at least feminists, have choice.
Men are encouraged to act and when they fail, they are rarely given help; they are expected to pull themselves up. Men who do not provide for themselves are shamed. In the political sphere, the more masculine ideologies (libertarianism and conservatism) are based on freedom.
When men (rarely) organize politically for the benefit of their sex, it is never to demand they be given special privileges or for others to provide for them, it is always to be left free: the fair enforcement of marriage contracts, to not be discriminated against when applying for jobs, to not be treated as de facto guilty when accused, etc.
They advocate for freedom. Men in politics are more inclined to work towards freedom and are not inclined to requiring other to provide for them.
On the other hand, females are encouraged to rely on the state. When they fail, the surrogate husband will take care of them. Women who are provided for are not shamed. In the political sphere, the more feminine ideologies (liberalism, feminism, and progressivism) are based on choice, on giving people choices, even if it requires the state help them, redistributing resources, or removing freedom. They also tend to advocate that the state prevent them from having to live with the consequences of their actions.
When modern females organize politically for the benefit of their sex (ie. post-second wave feminism), the demand for other to provide them with choice is always there: affirmative action, quotas for hiring women, state-funded daycare, state-funded abortions, mandatory contraception insurance, ending sexist jokes, sensitivity training for others, increased welfare, gender parity, increased alimony, etc. Feminists demand choices and demand that others provide these choices for them.
That is why we talk about men in the language of freedom and women in the language of choice.
If feminists do not like being consigned to the language of choice, they can accept freedom.
They would have to accept that freedom may limit choice. If a person can not afford daycare, they go without.
They would have to accept responsibility that comes along with it. If a person has children, they are responsible for raising them and paying for them.
They would have to accept that freedom means that others won’t be forced to provide you with choices. There would be no affirmative action or gender quotas, no state-funding to support choices, little to no welfare, etc.
But, until feminists embrace freedom, they will be consigned to the language of choice.