Domestic Tranquility: A Brief Against Feminism by F. Carolyn Graglia is the kind of book that gives conservatives a bad name. If a feminist tells you this book is bad, you may suspect her of bias; so take the word of a conservative Republican: this book is bad.
Domestic Tranquility begins as an expose on the origins of the feminist movement. In this the book is informative, revealing that feminists are angrier at traditional women than they are at men. Betty Friedan kicked off the modern feminist movement in The Feminine Mystique by calling housewives "parasites". Feminists do not offer women choices, but destroy the choice to be a stay at home mom. If the book had stuck to analyzing the assault on traditional motherhood it would be well worth reading.
Graglia mires herself into a pit of romance novel emotions . She does not merely support women staying at home, but creates a quixotic ideal of the submissive wife. She even unconscionably defends the horrible mutilation of clitoridectomy, hypothesizing that Western women can learn from these women's contentment. The only lesson to be learned here is how to be a happy abuse victim.
Women will be happy when they become the "awakened Brunhilde", overcome by marital intercourse:
When, with regularity, a woman experiences sexual pleasure ... she increasingly delights in her femininity and feels herself to be precious. Ever softening, she becomes self-satisfied, less competitive, less aggressive.This is not an intelligent well thought out argument, but the most offensive cliche.
The problem with modern feminism is that it isn't interested in making women independent, it instead classifies women as eternal victims of male oppression. Instead of offering women an alternative to the female-as-victim role, Graglia offers yet another form of female passivity. Friedan's offense is that she says that a woman can not stay home with her children and be a strong, intelligent person. Instead of denouncing Friedan, Graglia verifies her claim.
A much better book about family disintegration is The Abolition of Marriage: How We Destroy Lasting Love, by Maggie Gallagher.
Gallagher's hypothesis is that marriage no longer exists. With no fault divorce one person in a marriage can end it anytime they choose for any reason.
Under the guise of making a merely technical adjustment to the legal mechanics of divorce, the legal profession radically transformed the legal and moral basis of marriage. Today, while it still takes two to marry, it takes only one to divorce.The traditional social contract of mom at home and dad at work depended on the legal contract that bound dad to mom, forever. Without that legal contract the social contract was destroyed as well. Graglia wants women to return to grandmother's day without the laws that protected grandma. A woman who stays at home with her children today is a walking a tight-rope without a net.
Gallagher points out that many women choose career over home out of fear, not necessity or ambition.
As the divorce rate rises, more and more women, out of anxiety for their own and their children's security, choose to work. But the more women in the workplace, the more the divorce rate rises, creating a vicious cycle in which all women end up not with more economic security, but with less and less.
Gallagher defends traditional marriage not in romance novel terms, but in the very real impact family breakup has on children. The emphasis on Graglia's book is that women are happier as traditional wives and mother. The emphasis on Gallagher's book is that children are happier with strong, two parent homes. Graglia's thesis is debatable, Gallagher's is not.
Graglia's vision of marriage as sublime bliss is as much a destructive idea as that of any feminist. Gallagher on the other hand writes that marriages should be saved even when not blissful. The value of marriage lies in working through difficult times more than in idealized romantic illusions.
Today we have learned through a painful process of social experimentation that is not free love but the vow that is daring. To dare to pledge our whole selves to a single love is the most remarkable thing most of us will ever do.Having none of Graglia's mawkish romanticism Gallagher produced an intelligent, much needed treatise.
Domestic Tranquility: A Brief Against Feminism
The Abolition of Marriage: How We Destroy Lasting Love