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Want Opportunities for Women? Support Economic Freedom.

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If I could label my opinions about the role of women in the digital age, they would be those of an anti-feminism feminist.

That’s a mouthful, but it accurately portrays what I want for women and what women should be for.

In an article in the Freeman on contemporary feminism and its role in society, author and editor Wendy McElroy writes,

Today, the ideology of contemporary feminism seems to be evolving into a dogma with which women cannot disagree without being defined out of the movement. More and more there seems to be only one stand that a card-carrying feminist is allowed to take on issues such as sexual harassment or affirmative action. There has never been a greater need for feminism to remember its roots and to throw open the doors of discussion.

In the name of throwing open the doors of discussion, let’s talk about how feminism has been distorted by some into something that is anti-male and, frankly, anti-woman.

As believers, we shouldn’t be either. We should support what God has uniquely created each of us to accomplish.

The world of work is a major place we see this distorted feminism at work.

Is Employment a Zero-Sum Game?

In the United States, women have made great strides in the labor force.

  • According to the U.S. Department of Labor, the participation of women in the labor force accounted for 57.2 percent of the working-age women population in 2013. That number is expected to increase by 5.4 percent between 2012-2022.
  • There are more opportunities for working women, including working mothers, than there have ever been.

Never before in history have we been able to make these claims. This progress is good!

But for all the growth in employment opportunities for women today, many feminists still see employment as a zero-sum game. If a man becomes a corporate CEO, it’s because he took that opportunity from a woman, the thinking goes.

This has been true for much of history, in some sense, except worse—many women weren’t even considered for these kinds of positions. The issue was less that of a male counterpart taking a job away than it was that women were denied access to these opportunities from the start.

This situation is known as the “glass ceiling,” in which women could see potential employment opportunities they desired but could never break through to achieve. The “glass ceiling” never gave them the chance.

Not Better, Just Different

There are sound biblical and economic reasons to oppose this kind of discrimination.

If a woman is called by God to be the CEO of a large company and she has the talent and grit to do it, why should we prevent her from being who God created her to be, either through explicit laws or informal prejudices?

We shouldn’t.

But there is still a big difference between supporting equal opportunities for women and being anti-male. This is where the feminist movement has lost its way.

It is a good thing that men and women are different. It’s good because that’s how God created us. We are made to be different, and we complement each other. Through this, we can thrive.

This is particularly true in the family setting. Women bear children; men cannot. This doesn’t make one gender better than the other. It just makes us different.

Economic Freedom Is Critical for Creating Employment Opportunities for Women

In any society, there are two essential conditions needed for women to freely pursue employment opportunities, if that is what God is calling them to:

  • Equal opportunity before the law
  • Enough free time to leave the home

Most people understand the necessity of the first condition. Without it, we truncate opportunities for women to unleash their God-given creativity, and as a society, we all miss out.

The second condition, the one concerning our time constraints, gets lost—especially in the modern feminist movement.

For women to be able to leave the home, they must have the free time to do so.

Hans Rosling, in his TED Talk, “The Magic Washing Machine,” articulates how washing machines free up time for women in significant ways.

Think about how laborious and time-consuming it is to wash clothes without a machine. It requires one’s constant physical presence.

The beauty of a washing machine is how much time it frees up. You throw your dirty clothes in with some soap and return later to clean clothes. This allows you to do other things while the clothes are cleaned. The more laborious our domestic tasks are, the less free we are to leave the home in pursuit of other value-creating activities, whether they are volunteer or for-profit.

The implication, then, is that we need more economic freedom. Sadly, this implication is lost on much of the modern feminist movement. We all need to advocate for greater levels of economic freedom.

Why? Because it fosters entrepreneurship and innovation. It gives us greater access to things like washing machines and laptops and other time-saving devices that allow us to better do what God has created us to do.

Economic and Political Freedom Are Not Zero-Sum Games

The pursuit of greater economic freedom not only increases opportunities for women in the U.S. and across the world; it is the best security for greater civil and legal rights for everyone.

The modern feminist movement would use the means of the state to advance the rights of women at the expense of men. Yet economic and political equality are not zero-sum games.

When everyone has the right to open a business or stay at home, we are more free to live into who God wants us to be.

Respecting the dignity of how God created us means recognizing that being different is not bad. It is good. It is what allows us to thrive.

We need a political, legal, and economic system allowing us to benefit from our differences and use our creativity to make the world a better place, for women and for men.

Editor’s Note: On “Flashback Friday,” we take a look at some of IFWE’s former posts that are worth revisiting. Today’s post was previously published on Oct. 20, 2015.

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