Mother’s Day and the Anti-War Movement

I refuse to raise my child to grow up to kill another mother’s child. ~Julia Ward Howe, founder of Mother’s Day, 1870

Originally conceived of as a protest to war, Mother’s Day has become a marketing tool to boost consumer spending to give suck to the six or seven corporations that own practically everything. Now that Rosie the Riveter, maker of fighter planes and tanks, is the face of feminism, we tend to forget that the early feminists were anti-war activists. These days Clinton “feminists” want young women, like young men, to be required to register for the draft. More and more women today are proud to exercise the hard-won privilege of lopping mortars at meat targets, and pink-pussy-hatted feminists are appalled, not at the large number of civilians killed by U. S. supported forces worldwide, but by Trump’s attempt to keep transgender people from getting in on the killing.

As part of their focus on peace, 19th century feminists stressed the importance of a liberal education for women since, as the gestating lactating parent, women were also responsible for the crucial early education of the entire human race. Throughout most of history, children were breastfed for two to five years, and if the average woman had four to eight children, she was pretty much with the kids full time for at least a decade. Appropriately in 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft made education the centerpiece of the first published defense of the rights (and responsibilities) of women. In the run up to World War 2.0, Virginia Woolf noted with trepidation how, just as more women were beginning to attend university, universities were becoming military R&D centers and business networking hubs and were losing sight of the value of a liberal education in the sciences, humanities, culture, and critical thinking.

At the top of the list of feminist causes today are: equal pay for equal work (especially in the male-dominated financial professions), affordable childcare for working mothers, protected two-weeks maternity leave, private breast-pumping spaces in the office, and fighting sexual harassment in the workplace.

The right to vote and access to education are great achievements of the feminist movement. And thanks to the pill and safe abortion procedures, it’s more possible now for women to take the time to get an education, to start a career and save up some money before having kids, or to decide not to have kids at all. But are feminists focusing on the wrong goals today? Breast pumping in the workplace makes a woman feel like an industrial dairy farm cow. Considering that breastfed infants up to six months sleep all the time and hardly cry or move, why aren’t feminists bringing newborns into the workplace? Why isn’t breast-feeding anywhere in public completely okay? Boobs out, ladies. That’s what they’re for. Why are we asking for a few lousy weeks maternity leave instead of being proud of a parent who has a multiyear lacuna in his or her resume?

While sexual harassment in the workplace has been eradicated like communism in America, domestic violence is still all the rage. Hey, if you can’t beat them, join them. Aping every aggressive male militarist ever, our 21st century feminist leader gleefully bragged, “We came; we saw; he died,” referring to the brutal rapey murder of Gaddafi. In Libya, slavery is once again a thing, thanks to U.S. liberation.

Is this really what we want to become?

If there were masculinist movement in the U.S., men would protest the requirement to register for the draft. They would protest the many illegal wars that drain our economy, ensuring that a sufficient number of financially desperate young men are available to sign up. Masculinists would protest the lack of interest in the shockingly high suicide rate of veterans. Masculinists would protest how the rules of the game require them to fight to succeed and earn their income, not by contributing to public good, but by occupying the upper levels of a pyramid scheme. Masculinists would protest that, with the worker inflation created by the industrial feminist movement, it now takes two full-time-plus incomes to maintain a household. They might protest how the media tells them they need to be rich and aggressive to attract women. Masculinists might protest that due to their relatively elevated testosterone levels compared to women, men are expected to support militarism and authoritative power structures that keep everyone — men, women and children — enslaved.

Do women really want to embrace the identity that has been forced on men?

At the dawn of feminism, women rightly recognized that they lacked power because they did not own property, they were not paid for their work, they did not help make the decisions for the family, and their educations were limited. What women needed at the time was legal intervention in the form of prenuptial/civil union contracts, recognizing the need for both women and men to control and contribute to domestic affairs and to outline an equitable dissolution of the union if necessary. (Becoming a single mom is still the quickest route to poverty.) After failing to sufficiently address the power imbalance in the basic unit of society, the family, feminists focused on ensuring that women got the opportunity to compete outside the home and win power over others just like men — while the kids were parked in daycare. If feminists had recognized the importance of a legal definition of a household as a cooperative, then cooperative models of business and political systems might have had more opportunities to evolve and flourish.

If we could travel back in time and use our hindsight to advise 20th century feminists  , we would warn them that if they continue on their course, in the 21st century, relatively few people would be self-employed; family-owned and cooperatively-owned and -run businesses would be almost non-existent. Almost everybody would be taking orders from someone else. Even after peasants, Blacks and women all finally got the vote, practically everyone would be locked in a paternalistic power structure in which a few people at the top made decisions for everybody about economics, health, and culture. And how anyone voted would not make a bit of difference.

If we could send messages back in time, we could urge our forerunners to work toward true universal suffrage through which people vote on laws, not just vote for leaders who write and present the laws. We could tell them to work toward decentralizing power, instead of defending the rights of all to fight for unequal power. We could tell them to build heterarchical  societies with real feedback, not just top-down control. We could ask them to maintain universities and schools as places for humanistic pursuits in the sciences and the arts, not for business training or weapons research.

We are in the midst of technological revolution that could be more life-changing than the industrial revolution for women and men. We must try to take advantage for the sake of good. More people are working from and at home. Single-paycheck households are becoming more prevalent. We now have robots that can take over the dehumanizing mechanistic labor jobs, freeing up people for work that requires judgement. Most significantly perhaps, Karma has made it so that AI algorithms are much better than people at gaming the financial system.  Armies of money managers, men and women, will soon be unemployed.

The Internet could be as helpful as birth control to the human race. Today we have free online curricula, libraries, and research discussion groups that make education more available to all who aren’t too busy playing violent video games. Online shopping can potentially directly connect owner-producers and consumers, if we can learn to go around Amazon and use open-source search engines. Blockchain protected online voting could make direct voting on legislation possible, shifting some of the power from representatives to the people. If we can keep the Internet open and free, we won’t have to fight the current power structures, we can create new ones that are based on cooperative models, not competitive models.

Men are as victimized as women are by the pro-war, pro-competition model of society. It’s time men and women worked together, acknowledging the fact that, while we are biologically different, we basically want the same things: peace, freedom and the shared responsibility of caring for and educating the next generation.

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