“PWL is a kind of mish-mash of second-wave feminist thought. So, the chapters are thematically linked. Some are speeches given at certain places, others look like journal articles or what have you, and the final chapter is either a book commentary or review. At the heart of the thematic theme...”
“PWL is a kind of mish-mash of second-wave feminist thought. So, the chapters are thematically linked. Some are speeches given at certain places, others look like journal articles or what have you, and the final chapter is either a book commentary or review. At the heart of the thematic theme of the book is a treatise on (what is now extremely old) anthropological theories with a socialist twist.
Reed believes that anthropological factors are very important in detailing the contributions of women through human history. Thus, be prepared to read outdated socialist opinions on anthropology and hunter-gatherer societies, where somehow no problem of evil ever seemed to exist. Indeed, the societies were driven by women and communistic, and thus there was no sexism, racism or any conceivable problem of evil (because private property *causes* these things). True to socialist dogma - Reed believes these problems arise with class distinctions.
So, a big part of this book (the book itself is only 96 pages, let’s just say it doesn’t *feel* like that) consists in discussing these utopian hunter-gatherer societies (I don‘t literally mean ‘utopian‘ - Reed is clear the societies weren‘t perfect, but you wouldn‘t know it without her explicitly stating so). It’s rather dry, to be honest, but she does believe that once women learn of the great accomplishments of these women in these societies, they will, perhaps, become more like her. In fact, not only were these hunter-gatherers virtually perfect, but they (true to Engel’s rather silly idea) also turned animals into humans! If that doesn’t make you proud I don’t know what will.
This is a very dated book, so I’m sure Reed would be proud to see what the feminist movement has gotten accomplished. At the same time, I’m sure she would be rather oblivious to the problems that her arbitrary moral system has caused. Reed’s group wanted three things: free 24-hour child centers under community control (this mimics the utopia), free abortion on demand (they basically have this) and equal job and educational opportunities (which they also have as well - aside from the lying of some politicians of the day).
And there are some things Reed and I would agree on: things like mass-consumerism and what I would term secular, materialistic culture. However, Reed apparently cannot connect the dots that her materialistic worldview leads to a world where value *is* the material, because the material is all that exists. There are no objective reasons not to be materialistic on her view. Further, her rather shining moment (in my opinion) comes in her ability to discern that family problems aren’t merely private issues (sex, marriage and the family, cf. pg 48) Well, conservatives (both religious and political) have been saying that for years! It’s the secular worldview (ie - liberalism; ie- her own worldview) that has been promoting these problems, using the standard torch blazed by the feminists: “oppression!”. She chides the divorce rate current to her time and makes abundantly clear that the alienation between the sexes is not a private issue (pg. 49). Yet her very worldview supports the privatization of all morality. There are just fundamental connections that Reed can’t grasp because of her socialist presuppositions. These presuppositions prevent objectivity. Her answer is to abolish the family (pg. 51), thus *voila* - 100% marriage success rate! How brilliant! This might remind one of certain prison psychologists who couldn’t fix the recidivism rate in the U. S. back several decades ago (because, like Reed, they can’t see logical moral connections that their worldview entails), so they decided to just lower what they considered *success* and *poof* - lower recidivism!
On my own take of the book I think there are many problems with Reed’s worldview. Secular worldviews cannot connect the logical consequences of their views to how they will be applied in the future. In fact, when these predicted problems often come to pass, many secularists compound the problem by concluding they haven’t gone far enough with their views! For example, Reed’s feminism, by definition, asserts the right of women to self-determine (59), yet her socialist presuppositions and her desire for a socialist revolution for a complete restructuring of society is the complete opposite of self-determination! This is essentially what we have in liberalism - we must force you to have freedom (cf. our current mess of a health care system). Further, Reed does not see the inherent sexual gutter that her worldview takes the rest of our culture. Concerning pornography, she writes of her feminist sisters, “They are exposing the hucksters who exploit and belittle the female sex to sell their commodities through all the pornographic devices at their disposal” (60). Again, she can’t connect the dots that her views cause the problems, not alleviate them.
But further, her idea of sexual self-determination logically devolves into relativism of all types of sexuality, including extreme promiscuity. On the one hand, she rejects “those men who try to take advantage of the sexual freedom that women want merely to satisfy their own masculine egotism” (61). Yet, she doesn’t seem to realize the ensuing sexual mess that will be inflicted on our culture as the logical entailment of her view. Finally, her simultaneous denial and acceptance of the value of humanity makes this worldview existentially absurd at its core. Her socialist presuppositions and support of abortion (which was also a racist movement) deny any inherent, objective worth of humanity yet she decries what she perceives as “dehumanization” (93, 96)!
Aside from existential self-refutation, Reed’s worldview provides moral self-refutation and confusion. Her worldview misdiagnoses the problem of evil to environmental structures outside of the person, rather than seeing them as inherent within all people. She simultaneously wants to force people to watch other people’s children in communistic day-cares as if children are somehow valuable, yet wants the ‘right’ to slaughter children (of which ½ are other women), thus denying women the inherent right to self-determine, which is fundamental to her worldview. She thinks women should have “control over their own bodies” yet denies that same control to other women through her acceptance of abortion (cf. 60). Abortion also denies the apparently inherent right of women to sexual freedom (60). Finally, her cause, being linked to socialism by nature, is inherently violent. For the women’s movement is only part of a wider socialist revolution (63). The ensuing reality is that you will be coerced to be free. It’s forced conformity. But not only that, you will be made to participate in their new reality. Reed’s desire for abortion is for free abortion clinics (which means that you will pay for them - which is what we have now, btw), thus ensuing that your money will go to funding these evil social structures of her new utopia. Evil always has a way of making you participate in it to try to erase the idea of you perceiving yourself as somehow more morally upright than those involved in the system.
I don’t personally recommend this book unless you’re really interested in reading about feminism. If that’s you, then perhaps you should give this book a shot. ”