5 Pages

Hobbesian Choice Feminists Against the Family

WithJean Bethke Elshtain

The key to feminist politics lies in a phrase that has served simultaneously as an explanatory principle, a motto and an article of faith: "The Personal Is Political". Marxist feminists put forth conflicting views of family life, but those operating within an orthodox Marxist-Leninist framework are locked into a narrow econometric model that sees both the family and politics as epiphenomenal. Liberal feminism's indictments of family life and men are less bloodcurdling, although Betty Friedan could not resist the alliterative "comfortable concentration camp" as a description of suburban housewifery. Feminist thinkers, in their quest to identify the breeding ground of patriarchal privilege, found a sitting duck in the family. The politics of displacement is nothing new under the political sun. The chain of events set in motion by industrialism eventually stripped the family of most of its previous functions as a productive, vocational, religious, educative and welfare unit.