Carrie Gress’s latest book, “The End of Woman: How Smashing the Patriarchy Has Destroyed Us,” contains a provocative title, which one friend deemed “awful-sounding.”
Certainly, the idea that we might be erasing half the human race—that which harbors life—is an awful prospect, yet we’re inching closer to it every day.
The book explores, with pointed honesty, the feminism movement, assessing its objectives and outcomes to date. While early chapters offer review, a stark, rather ironic insight shows up in a middle chapter titled, “No Girls,” where Gress offers: “The feminist request that men become more like women has finally materialized, although not in the way they expected.”
Yes, more men are becoming more like women. And as they do, women—the very sex second-wave feminists have tried to position more prominently in society—are fading away.
In her chapter “Restoration,” Gress recalls a study done in the 1920s by J.D. Unwin, an English ethnologist and social anthropologist—and, notably, an atheist—who studied monogamy and civilization throughout the centuries, involving analysis of over 5,000 years of history, including 80 primitive tribes and six known civilizations.
Unwin published his findings in his 1934 book, “Sex and Culture.” The main discovery, which surprised even him, revealed that the greater a culture’s sexual restraint, the greater its accomplishments.
“Monogamous cultures could build and grow, produce art, music, architecture, and science, expand economies, and create space for people to flourish,” Gress reports. But as soon as a culture did away with monogamy—especially pre-marital chastity—it collapsed within three generations.
The heart of the findings centered around human energy and its limits. Simply put, when we expend the bulk of our energy on sexual desires—which modern feminism promotes—other pursuits wane, finally disappearing altogether, along with the culture itself.
And as women go, so, too, mothers. All women are called to motherhood, Gress notes, whether biologically or through our relationships. It is through motherhood that we come to know ourselves, not as victims but as real women, “learning where our strengths are, how to understand vulnerability instead of pretending it doesn’t exist, where to direct our desire to control, how to set boundaries and order our ambitions.”
To save our own already-at-risk world from repeating the devastating pattern Unwin uncovered, Gress suggests we work tirelessly to restore the societal goods currently at risk, such as the family, home, motherhood, and faith in one God. And yes, even a healthy patriarchy, which bolsters the family.
It’s OK to admit to failures of a movement that began with some honorable intentions and chart a more sensible course. Our children deserve better than the marred vision that has largely failed us. In fact, their future existence depends on a major redirect.
[For the sake of having a repository for my newspaper columns and articles, I reprint them here, with permission, a week after their run date. The preceding ran in The Forum newspaper on Sept. 18, 2023.]