What’s the opposite of feminism? Hierarchy? Patriarchy? Oppression?
For me as a married man, the opposite of feminism is selfishness.
Marriage is great for men. Studies show that men tend to be happier after marriage; women often less so.
And why wouldn’t men be happy? We get to go to work, come home after, and be king of the castle. I can sit around and read books like an imperial scholar, or manage my fantasy football team, or compose long-winded blog posts. Meanwhile, the dishes get done, and the floors get swept, and the kids fed and bathed. It’s like magic!
This kind of set-up is very appealing to anyone who is naturally inclined to be selfish or lazy. And I’ve got both of those attributes, in spades. I’m naturally a selfish, lazy guy. Given a choice, I’d be naturally inclined to sit around the house and blog or read, offloading the domestic responsibilities onto my wife. I mean, come on, who wouldn’t? The choice is a no brainer. Blog, or do the dishes? Read a book, or fold laundry? (I don’t think I’m alone in this natural tendency. Even in 2007, I see all sorts of marriages — often among church members — where the husband doesn’t raise a finger to help around the house.)
What is it that stops me from sliding completely into petty domestic tyranny? One of the keys is feminism. I subscribe to certain ideas on a mental level, and those beliefs in turn affect my daily decisions.
Of course, my wife and I disagree about chores and division of labor sometimes. What couple doesn’t? But those discussions are limited in important ways. My commitment to feminism constrains my actions. I have a tendency towards laziness, but it’s limited by the dissonance that kicks in when the gap between my stated ideals and actual behavior is too great. And that can be enough (usually) to shame me into acting better. Similarly, during discussions, my beliefs prevent me from making certain (self-serving) arguments or suggestions.
Also, of course, my domestic interactions are also limited by my wife’s feminist tendencies. She’s headstrong and independent, and wouldn’t let me make do or say some things, even if I were so inclined.
So for me, feminism is the polar opposite of my natural laziness and selfishness. I’m lazy anyway; but sometimes, my feminist ideals prevail over my selfish tendencies. And when they do, I’m a better person.
I’m not saying that this route is for everyone. For men with greater internal discipline, this kind of corrective measure may be unnecessary. But for me, feminism is a very useful way to keep my baser nature in check. Feminism forces me to be a better, less selfish person. And that’s a net gain, I think, no matter how you look at it.