When I decided, about two months ago, to find out about the United Nations “Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination Against Women,” I little realized what a can of worms I was opening.
I read as much as I could on the Convention itself (it could be quite a challenge to find anything). I ploughed through a lengthy government report which appeared to say more between the lines than in them. Then, I had to try to understand how international conventions are handled by the government. Even now, I’m far from convinced that I’ve got to the bottom of anything: my hope is that some reader will be able to take it further.
Last week, after all the above, I found myself (surprisingly for me) agreeing with a comment of Laura Sabia’s: “it’s equality gone mad,” she said. Mrs. Sabia was not referring to the U.N. Convention: she was, in fact, writing about the “equality provisions” in the Charter of Rights.
She talked about the new practice of male guards in women’s prisons who, presumably, patrol jail corridors while women undress and perform what I will describe, less graphically (but more politely) than Mrs. Sabia did, as “necessary ablutions.” She concluded her column by asking, “Aren’t women secure enough to admit that ‘equality’ doesn’t always work for the benefit of women?”
Now, it’s not that women are too insecure to admit that equality doesn’t always benefit women. It’s more accurate to say that radical feminists have spent so long asserting that women are not different from men that they can’t now publicly accept the notion that women need special protection in some areas. Women, in their maternal and spousal roles, need legislative protection for those roles. This is not discrimination. Equally, men need legislation to enable them to carry out their familial roles. Not only is legislation necessary, all of us need a change in social thinking so that we can comfortably hold such new/old views without being labeled as reactionary and right-wing. It really is the height of absurdity to pretend that the sexes can be treated equally – it turns us all into a kind of neutered sub-species of “human.”
“Equality” has over the years been reduced to a much-too-simplistic term. Often, it seems, economic “equality” is the only goal. The “feminist spokesmen” (a delicious contradiction, and accurate) deny that their lobbying has resulted in discrimination against either the homemaker or other women who remain outside the paid workforce.
However, we have yet to see any legislation to help families whose mother stays at home. We have yet to see the same kind of tax breaks given to the family with a full-time mother as is given to families who pay for day care. When we see this kind of positive family policy, then we will be able to say that women are being given true equality, and a true choice.
Perhaps, though, the radical feminist spokesmen are right. It may well be that only through denying that women are different will they achieve anything. We should be generous, I think. The heated debate about women’s rights and the seeming endorsement of the radical feminist position has made many people rethink their attitudes. We are now beginning to see the emergence of a new “pro-family” movement. It has been growing more and more active for years in the States: make no mistake, it was not only “anti-feminists” who blocked the passage of their Equal Rights Amendment.
The “hidden agenda” of the (Canadian) women’s movement today is to deny that women want, need and aspire to a happy and fulfilling family life. It is hidden, it seems, even from the women guiding the movement: they don’t appear even to realize that they are making such a denial.
The problem is, most women do not see that a fulfilling life outside the family is impossible. Frequently, many find it difficult to juggle the various roles; sometimes the difficulty-in-itself becomes a major part of the challenge. Most women don’t want success in the one at the expense of the other and are working hard to do their best at both. The only message the women’s movement is broadcasting is, “the life outside the family is the most important one.”
To return to the U.N. Convention. It is significant that the Convention parallels how far modern feminists have strayed from the vision held by the early feminists: significant and alarming. Those women believed that women should not be held in bondage by maternity and its responsibilities. They recognized and cherished those roles; and they further believed that women were capable of many roles at the same time.
Am I the only one?
As an earlier United Nations document, the 1967 “Declaration on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women,” stated,
…without prejudice to the safeguarding of the unity and the harmony of the family which remains the basic unit of any society, all appropriate measures, particularly legislative measures, shall be taken to insure to women, married or unmarried, equal rights with men in the field of civil law… (Article 6)
This statement seems to me to be far more satisfactory than the current one. I am very angry that my commitment to and love of my family is now considered, not only by the U.N. but by my own government, as too reactionary to warrant protection. Am I the only one angry?