Reconsidering the Female Franchise
By David Solway
Almost precisely a century after women were granted the right to vote, it is perhaps time to assess the wisdom of this epoch-making decision. Has female suffrage strengthened or weakened Western nations?
A disinterested survey of the matter not only suggests a preponderance of negative effects stemming from the female franchise, but reveals that a number of women themselves have spoken out bluntly and critically on the issue.
It is impossible to deny that the so-called patriarchal class has built the armature of the greatest civilization known to history. Science, technology, the crafts and trades, the professions, medicine, law, and the arts (literature, music, painting, sculpture, architecture) are almost exclusively – though not wholly, be it said – the product of male initiative, inventiveness, energy, and brilliance.
Naturally, feminists will disagree strenuously, along with their beta male accomplices and cultural defectors such as the ineffable Leonard Shlain, who, writing in the New York Times, proposes that the discovery of fire and the invention of the alphabet worked against women's values and power. In the present anti-male climate, such asininity might be expected, but it is hard to imagine a civilization worthy of the name without fire and the alphabet – that is, minus technology and literacy, the latter the very basis of advanced and elaborate cultures.
To view the elements of civilization as the bane of women, as Shlain does, is already a tacit admission that civilization is the fruit of men's labor. Certainly, men could not have managed their incontestably immense achievement without women's child-rearing, home-making, and nurturing presence – and there has plainly been a minority of impressive women who contributed their talents directly to the civilizational enterprise. Ruth King, for example, in an interesting article for American Thinker, "Shattering the Crass Ceiling," lists a number of celebrated women who have excelled in the contemporary political world, including Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, Margaret Thatcher, Golda Meir, and Corazón Aquino, but King also features the more problematic Angela Merkel, Christine Fernandez de Kircher, and Dilma Rousseff. (Her neglect of the courageous Aung San Suu Kyl is obviously an oversight.)
And of course, there is no need to stop there. No one can deny the plenum of extraordinary women in all the disciplines and walks of life, from the biblical Deborah, Hypatia of Alexandria, the Milesian Aspasia and Saint Hildegard von Bingen to Jeane Kirkpatrick, Bat Ye'or, Gertrude Himmelfarb, Fabiola Gianotti, and many more, famous and not famous – the kind of women whose perceptiveness, fortitude, and abilities have made the world a better place and who merit unconstrained respect. But such cynosures remain a minority – not because women have been brutalized and oppressed, but because our evolutionary history has destined women for a different and complementary role in human development.
The extension of the franchise to women has inaugurated the period of women's increased political participation and electoral influence. What have been its consequences? Women's voting preferences have tended toward collectivity: bigger government, along with government-sponsored initiatives in health, education, child care, social welfare, state regulation, and expansive bureaucracies – a checkered catalogue, some good things, some not so good.
Even some of the "good things" have proven to be mixed blessings, if not purveyors of outright mischief. Title IX, anyone? Obamacare? The Child Protection Services nightmare – a case forcefully laid out by Brenda Scott in Out of Control: Who's Watching Our Child Protection Agencies? While pushing the costly welfare agenda for better or worse, women have, on the whole, been less concerned about the need to protect and reinforce the turbines of technical development and economic productivity – building, inventing, commerce, heavy industry, manufacturing, theoretical and experimental science. They appear to be more interested in redistributing wealth than in creating it.
Writing in The Quarterly Journal of Economics, Stanford medical doctor Grant Miller makes the case for the beneficial impact of female suffrage, arguing that "suffrage laws were followed by immediate shifts in legislative behavior and large, sudden increases in local public health spending." This is consistent with women's voting patterns generally. Miller goes so far as to claim that suffrage rights for women were instrumental in helping children "to benefit from the scientific breakthroughs of the bacteriological revolution."
What he fails to mention is that the bacteriological revolution was powered mainly by men. Moreover, it is plausible to assume that the benefits to society would have occurred irrespective of the female franchise. Women were granted the right to vote in the U.S. in 1920 and in 1928 in the U.K.; Alexander Fleming discovered penicillin in 1928 at St. Mary's hospital in London, without benefit of ostensible female magnanimity and without government funding. There was no suffrage-inspired "immediacy" with respect to this groundbreaking antibiotic, which did not become effective until the 1940s, thanks to the work of Howard Florey, Ernst Chain, and Norman Heatley, all good men and true. In addition, the cause-and-effect conjunction assumed by Miller is clearly untenable. If we are to praise women for advancements in health care, must we then blame them for the present disaster of the nationalized health care network, particularly in the U.K.? (My own country, Canada, is not far behind.)
It may be reasonable to suggest that the preponderance of women, absent the insightful exceptions to the rule, tend to vote for collectivist benevolence over individual initiative and to manifest a pronounced in-group preference. Consider, as a current instance of this species of schwärmerei, the massive female preference for presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, whom women favor merely because she is herself a woman. The demonstrable fact that she is corrupt; vindictive; and, as her various administrative positions infallibly reveal, grossly incompetent and even dangerous is of no account. It is no accident that feminist icon Gloria Steinem dismisses Hillary's undeniable failures and misdemeanors, claiming that it is her powerful womanhood alone that may provoke disenchantment with her candidacy. That, extrapolating from her deceitful character and dismal track record, Hillary would make a terrible president, consolidating and amplifying the catastrophes of her androgynous predecessor, cannot be argued – and clearly not with the vast swath of her female apologists and disciples.
Ruth King concludes the aforementioned article conceived in praise of prominent women: "It may be high time for America to have a female president – but not in this election, and not Hillary Clinton." Although why it may be high time to have a female president escapes inquiry. Why not, for that matter, a gender-fluid president? Indeed, why not simply a good president?
Anti-feminist activist Janet Bloomfield goes farther, contending that women's voting patterns are chiefly destructive not only to men, but to society's prosperity and security. She notes, in her provocative blog post "#three reasons why women should not vote," that women take for granted the engines of economic growth and massively favor ultimately unsustainable political policies and projects. Thus, men, who "predominate in manufacturing and construction," are hard hit in the present economic crisis, while women, "a majority in recession-resistant fields such as education and health care," seem neither to understand nor to care about men's (and by extension the larger society's) economic plight.
Female indifference to men's economic suffering has been strikingly apparent during the recent recession.
Chistina Romer, for example, chair of the Council of Economic Advisers, argued in the context of Obama's job stimulus program that "[w]e don't want the stimulus package to just create jobs for burly men" – though Romer is rather burly herself. And as Christina Hoff Sommers writes in National Review, "Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women (NOW), attacked the 'testosterone-laden 'shovel-ready' terminology[.] ... ' To read Gandy's column is to understand why shovels are still standing idle and the stimulus was such a disappointment." Analogously, over 1,000 feminist historians signed an open letter lobbying for the establishment of "human bridges" while, of course, paying only lip service to bridges of concrete and steel. There is little recognition among the sorority that human bridges can't stay up indefinitely if their supporting piers are unstably moored on a shifting economic bed.
Developing an audacious argument against female suffrage, Bloomfield proposes that there are three reasons why women should not have the franchise.
The reasons are, briefly:
1. The draft. The vote is intrinsically tied to the draft. Unlike men, for whom suffrage is historically tied to military combat roles – in Canada and the U.K., unpropertied and low-income men received the vote only in 1918, owing to the huge loss of male life in WWI – women are not drafted into combat positions. They are permitted to register for military service but will never be drafted – pregnant mothers, single mothers, mothers with many children, and so on. Women will never vote for the mandatory draft, resisting "the obligation to die" or, as Janice Fiamengo graphically puts it in her video on suffrage, "to have their guts ripped out in the trenches." Thus, in Bloomfield's terse formulation, "no draft = no vote."
2. Spending. "Government spending exploded at exactly the moment women's suffrage occurred." After 1920, "it takes women ... only 11 years to double per capita spending." (Karen Straughan, as feisty a men's rights warrior as we can find on the scene today, comments: "And here I thought I was the only one brave enough to suggest women's suffrage might not have been a wonderful idea. Switzerland was the test case, as they didn't have women's suffrage until quite late[.] ... Within a couple decades, their government spending to GDP ratio had increased by 28%.") Indeed, large numbers of women are not materially productive members of society, working for the most part in human relations, primary education and caring occupations. "When the money starts to run out," Bloomfield asks, rhetorically, "which department do you think women will vote to begin stripping resources from?" It will be the Department of Defense. "Women will consume government resources until the state collapses. As long as women can vote, they will consume, whilst not producing those resources." Women do not deserve the franchise, she asserts, "because they will eventually cannibalize the military, leaving us all at the mercy of our enemies."
3. Immigration. "Women have an intense need to be seen as 'nice' and they have a strong collectivist bent, which is wonderful for family life, but catastrophic for national governance. We can see the effects of women wanting to be 'nice' in Europe. The demographics of modern Europe are downright terrifying. Ethnic European women refuse to have children, yet turn around and welcome in migrants with birth rates that will inevitably spell the end of ethnic Europeans."With regard to this third point, we should note that radical feminists – along with the epicene platoons of White Knights and mascupathy therapists – have succeeded in feminizing men who would once have protected them, a fact that some women suffering Muslim sexual assaults in Germany have awakened to. Millennials tend to behave like eunuchs when it comes to affirming their manhood and defending their women. Pajama Boy does not augur well for a robust and durable society. The rabid excesses of feminist dogma, relentlessly perverting the justice system in rape and assault cases to exalt a woman's word over legal principle and countervailing evidence, the desexing of language to the point of utter farce (as in Princeton's expurgating from official communications the word "man," even in phrasal compounds), and the progressive estrangement between the sexes are corollaries of women's incursion into the political realm. As a consequence, the extinction of civil culture based on mutual gender trust is virtually assured.
Bloomfield does not mince words. "Women have had the vote in the West for almost 100 years, and all they have done is vote to destroy and destabilize the world men built for us, while protecting themselves from the blood consequences. They have voted selfishly, rapaciously, irrationally and quite possibly, irrevocably." She concludes categorically: "As long as women can vote, the great liberal civilizations built by men are going to fall." Her opinions, she makes clear, have nothing to do with the current shibboleth, misogyny, but everything to do with common sense and historical fact, however abhorrent her contestation will be to the politically correct, the "social justice" bullies, the denizens of Identity Studies programs, the phalanx of decadent academics, and liberal fellow travelers who cannot think outside the cage of popular sentiment and live in fear of media backlash or rejection by their peers.
Women like Bloomfield and Straughan and Fiamengo are indifferent to the hail of feminist denunciation and male chauvinist clucking that comes their way. They argue that women as a bloc have done much harm in their propensity to promote socialist policies and utopian memes, in historical defiance of male creativity, self-confidence, and practical accomplishment as well as of economic reality. If they are right, the situation is irreversible. But at least we might be man enough to admit, despite the cultural current and the lateness of the hour, that women's suffrage may not be the unmitigated good it has been made out to be.
From The American Thinker (August 27, 2016)
Also See: Importing Africans - America's First Existential Mistake.