Don't agree? Try this: smart is how you feel, pretty is how you feel, talented is how you feel -- we are all beautiful geniuses. Feminism should not be inclusive, and like most terms that are meaningful, it should mean something. It should mean equality.
And there really is only one kind of equality -- it precedes all the emotional hullabaloo -- and it's economic. If you can't pay your own rent, you are not an adult. You are a dependent. But because feminism has always been about men -- our relationships with them, our differences from them -- as much or more than about money, it's had few consistent tenets. Hemlines up, hemlines down, choice this, want that -- once we get away from the scientific need for sustenance, it's all gobbledygook. I really don't consider it my feminist business that an awful lot of strong and solid women -- Simone de Beauvoir, famously -- are idiots about love and romance any more than I care that Helen of Troy's face started a naval war, because we are all fools for love. But I think it is my concern that all people, with whatever foolishness, are able to provide themselves with gas and food and lodging.
I have to admit that when I meet a woman who I know is a graduate of, say, Princeton -- one who has read The Second Sex and therefore ought to know better -- but is still a full-time wife, I feel betrayed. I'm not much of a moralist -- I have absolutely no right to be -- but in the interest of doing what's right both for me personally and for women generally, I have been strict with myself about earning my keep. For the longest time I would not date anyone who would now be called a one-percenter because money and power are such a potent combination, and if I am going to be bossed around, I don't want that to be the reason. When it's come up, I have chosen not to get married. Over and over again, I have opted for my integrity and independence over what was easy or obvious. And I am happy. I don't want everyone to live like me, but I do expect educated and able-bodied women to be holding their own in the world of work.
Because here's what happens when women go shopping at Chanel and get facials at Tracy Martyn when they should be wage-earning mensches: the war on women happens.
Failing as a feminist is a unique problem of the wealthy, but consequences impact women all the way down the line. It happens that most women -- and men -- are living feminist lives because of economic necessity, whether they mean to or not. Most families are kind of like Sarah Palin's was before she made her pit-bull star turn: lots of kids and both mom and dad have to bring in what money they can. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2011 nearly 71 percent of women with children under 18 worked. Most mothers have jobs because they need or want the money and fulfillment; only in rare cases are they driven by glory. To be a stay-at-home mom is a privilege, and most of the housewives I have ever met -- none of whom do anything around the house -- live in New York City and Los Angeles, far from Peoria. Only in these major metropolises are there the kinds of jobs in finance and entertainment that allow for a family to live luxe on a single income. In any case, having forgotten everything but the lotus position, these women are the reason their husbands think all women are dumb, and I don't blame them. As it happens, fewer than 5 percent of the CEO's of Fortune 500 companies, 16 percent of corporate executives, and 17 percent of law partners are female. The men, the husbands of the 1 percent, are on trading floors or in office complexes with other men all day, and to the extent that they see anyone who isn't male it's pretty much just secretaries and assistants. And they go home to...whatever. What are they supposed to think? They pay gargantuan American Express bills and don't know why or what for. Then they give money to Mitt Romney.