Femininity Betrayed: A Global Attack

Jameson Taylor

July 1, 2001

Few Americans realize that in 1971 the state of Nevada passed legislation allowing certain counties to legalize prostitution. Coincidentally, Nevada has the highest teen pregnancy rate in the country. Prostitution is becoming increasingly tolerated around the world and is legal in Australia, Austria, Germany, Greece, Holland and Singapore. Former President Clinton even tried to decriminalize consensual prostitution during negotiations last year over an international organized crime treaty.

Advocates of legalized prostitution employ an argument similar to that used by proponents of legalized abortion: Prostitution should be legalized so that the state can regulate it and, hence, “protect” women from STD’s and unscrupulous pimps. In other words, women around the world will be better off once prostitution is legalized. For this reason, the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), a UN vassalage, has led the way in the recent push to decriminalize prostitution.

The Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination entered into force as an international treaty on 3 September 1981. One hundred sixty-seven countries have ratified the treaty. Former president Jimmy Carter signed CEDAW in 1980, but under the articles of the U.S. Constitution, two-thirds of the U.S. Senate must approve the treaty for it to become law. Fortunately, the Senate has not yet ratified CEDAW, making the United States the only developed country in the world not to do so. “Why has CEDAW, the Convention of Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, never been ratified?,” asks Sen. Jesse Helms (R-N.C.), chairman of the Senate’s Foreign Relations Committee. “Because it is a bad treaty; it is a terrible treaty negotiated by radical feminists with the intent of enshrining their radical anti-family agenda into international law.” The following CEDAW pronouncements confirm Sen. Helms’ position:

To China: “The Committee is concerned that prostitution, which is often a result of poverty and economic deprivation, is illegal in China. The Committee recommends decriminalization of prostitution.”

To Greece: “While noting positively the fact that prostitution is decriminalized and instead is dealt with in a regulatory manner, the Committee is concerned that inadequate structures exist to ensure compliance…”

To Liechtenstein: “The Committee recommends…that a review be made of the law relating to prostitution to ensure that prostitutes are not penalized.”

CEDAW’s concern for the rights of “working-women” is complemented by a virtual smear campaign against motherhood:

To Armenia: “The Committee strongly urged the Government to use the education system and the electronic media to combat the traditional stereotype of women ’in the noble role of mother.’”

To Belarus: “The Committee is concerned by the continuing prevalence of sex-role stereotypes and by the reintroduction of such symbols as Mother’s Day and a Mother’s Award, which it sees as encouraging women’s traditional roles.” CEDAW also condemned legislation in Georgia that “overemphasizes the role of women as mothers…[and] promotes the role of man as breadwinner.” CEDAW admonished Croatia and the Czech Republic for similar reasons.

To Ireland: “The Committee expresses its concern about the continuing existence, in article 41.2 of the Irish Constitution, of concepts that reflect a stereotypical view of the role of women in the home and as mothers.” Article 41.2 states that “the state shall, therefore, endeavor to ensure that mothers shall not be obliged by economic necessity to engage in labor to the neglect of their duties in the home.”1

Such statements are all the more striking when one considers that CEDAW obligates its members to, “take all appropriate measures, including legislation, to suppress all forms of traffic in women and exploitation of prostitution of women.” Similarly, CEDAW mandates that “adoption by States Parties of special measures, including those measures contained in the present Convention, aimed at protecting maternity shall not be considered discriminatory.” Article 25 of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights also affirms that “motherhood and childhood are entitled to special care and assistance.” Apparently, the countries chastised above, having taken CEDAW and the UN at their word, were never informed of the true intent of the treaty.

So, what is CEDAW’s intent? As alluded to by Sen. Helms, CEDAW is part of the radical feminists’ attack on femininity and part of the UN’s ongoing war against the family, private property and liberty. The philosopher Plato provides a more detailed response.

In his most famous work, The Republic, Plato’s Socrates describes what seems to be a perfectly just city. Socrates shocks his listeners by proposing that the rulers of the city, a class known as the guardians, share “all things in common.” Socrates makes this proposal because, from the point-of-view of the city—as well as the United Nations—unity is the greatest good. Perfect justice, in other words, requires absolute communism.

Socrates introduces communism into the city, not by confiscating the citizens’ property, but by proposing that the female guardians perform the same tasks as their male counterparts. If women are to do the same work as men, they must necessarily receive the same education. Most important, the women must be trained in the art of war, for the defense of the city is the first duty of the guardians. Prowess in war requires physical fitness. Now, in much of Greece men ordinarily exercised in the nude. Socrates’ proposal thus requires that men and women exercise naked together. Socrates grants that all manner of inconveniences will arise from such a practice, but conventional resistance to coed, nude gymnastics must be overcome.

Plato, here, wants his readers to reflect on whether Socrates’ scheme is reasonable—or even possible. One can imagine that the male guardians, as well as Socrates’ audience of virile young men, might gladly go along with such a program. The female guardians, on the other hand, might take more convincing. What is at issue is whether feminine modesty is natural. Socrates overcomes the opposition by arguing that the only real difference between men and women is that women bear children and men beget children. This distinction, Socrates argues, is as irrelevant as that which differentiates bald shoemakers from hairy shoemakers.

Having convinced his audience that men and women are essentially the same, Socrates logically concludes that the nuclear family must be abolished in favor of a community of wives and children. Marriages—temporary unions lasting only as long as is necessary to conceive—are strictly regulated by the city. Any “unplanned” pregnancies are to be aborted or abandoned at birth. In turn, since the guardians will have no families to care for, all property will be held in common.

The utter absurdity of Socrates’ “city” led a long tradition of thinkers to conclude that The Republic is a satire meant to demonstrate the limits of political power. Unfortunately, not everyone caught on. Impervious to Socrates’ irony, the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade decision cited The Republic as proof that “most Greek thinkers… commended abortion.” Similarly, the advocates of “global governance” seem to have adopted The Republic as their model.

Easy access to contraception and abortion has made it possible for society to overcome the stumbling block of feminine fertility that made Socrates’ ideal regime impossible. Women who are not concerned about conceiving a child have no practical reason to be chaste. Women who no longer want to bear children, from a political and economic point-of-view, are virtually equal to their male counterparts. It is in the state’s best interests that such women enter the workplace, abort any “unplanned” babies, leaving the rest behind in federally subsidized daycare centers and schools, and spend their lives as “productive” citizens.

For CEDAW, like Socrates, femininity and its necessary counterpart, fertility, are irrelevant. As the old dirge goes, “biology is not determinative.” Suppose, however, that CEDAW is wrong?2 Instead of creating a Marxist paradise, CEDAW will have helped found a playboy wonderland.

CEDAW betrayed the world’s women, and its own charter, as soon as it began to treat immodesty as a virtue and fertility as a disease. If CEDAW were truly concerned with the rights of women, it would be urging the United Nations to reward, instead of punish, countries like Belarus and Ireland who are trying to safeguard femininity by encouraging fathers to provide for their families and children to honor their mothers.

As communism requires the destruction of family life, a free regime depends upon the integrity and coherence of the marital bond. Physically stronger, men are ultimately responsible for creating the conditions in which women may freely choose to be chaste. The medieval notion of chivalry is grounded in this reality. Men can no longer condone—and participate in—the subversion of feminine modesty. Married men must devote themselves with zeal to the care and comfort of their wives and children. Single men must shield themselves, their sisters and their girlfriends from impurity. The very preservation of our nation’s liberty requires such self-restraint, virtue, and—yes, boys—chastity. It is time true patriots and real men led the way.

Jameson Taylor is a writer with Human Life International (HLI) in Front
Royal, VA, where he is working on a forthcoming book on gender roles in
contemporary Catholic thought. In addition to his work at HLI, Mr. Taylor
has contributed to a wide variety of publications on topics such as the
First Amendment and U.S. foreign policy. Mr. Taylor is also a doctoral
candidate in political philosophy at the University of Dallas. You can
email Jameson Taylor at jtaylor@hli.org.