Antifeminism is opposition to feminism in some or all of its forms.
Others consider feminism a destructive force that endangers the family. For example, conservative political scientist Paul Gottfried describes this antifeminist position:
Serious conservative scholars like Allan Carlson and F. Carolyn Graglia have maintained that the change of women’s role, from being primarily mothers to self-defined professionals, has been a social disaster that continues to take its toll on the family. Rather than being the culminating point of Western Christian gentility, the movement of women into commerce and politics may be seen as exactly the opposite, the descent by increasingly disconnected individuals into social chaos.
Antifeminist writer Jim Kalb describes the stance thus:
To be antifeminist is simply to accept that men and women differ and rely on each other to be different, and to view the differences as among the things constituting human life that should be reflected where appropriate in social attitudes and institutions. By feminist standards all societies have been thoroughly sexist. It follows that to be antifeminist is only to abandon the bigotry of a present-day ideology that sees traditional relations between the sexes as simply a matter of domination and submission, and to accept the validity of the ways in which human beings have actually dealt with sex, children, family life and so on. Antifeminism is thus nothing more than the rejection of one of the narrow and destructive fantasies of an age in which such things have been responsible for destruction and murder on an unprecedented scale.
Antifeminists often decry what they view as the misandric policies of Western governments, including anti-male discrimination in the areas of reproductive rights, child custody, alimony, and property division in divorce, pointing to statistical figures. As well they object to what they refer to as "positive discrimination," usually called "affirmative action" against men and women in the form of quotas in the areas of employment, education, politics, and healthcare.
Antifeminists sometimes point to an increase in divorce and "family breakdown" and attribute as its cause the influence of feminism. They also cite that crime, teenage pregnancy, and drug abuse are higher among children of fatherless homes, considering that 66-80% (depending on the source) of divorces are initiated by women and that single mothers are accountable for 49% of all child abuse cases.
Furthermore, antifeminists claim that feminist organizations and researchers frequently use fake statistical data and research, pointing out a number of such cases..
Antifeminist comments periodically appear in U.S. political punditry. For example, in a 1983 syndicated column, Pat Buchanan wrote, "Rail as they will about discrimination, women are simply not endowed by nature with the same measures of single-minded ambition and the will to succeed in the fiercely competitive world of Western capitalism."
Antifeminists say that feminists impose tremendous pressure on traditional women by denigrating the role of a traditional housewife: "No woman should be authorized to stay at home to raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one. Instead promoting the business woman, woman leader models, as well encouraging women into competitive environments, where they may not be able to perform as well as males, if only for purely physical reasons. A case well illustrated by Taylor Caldwell:
There is no solid satisfaction in any career for a woman like myself. There is no home, no true freedom, no hope, no joy, no expectation for tomorrow, no contentment. I would rather cook a meal for a man and bring him his slippers and feel myself in the protection of his arms than have all the citations and awards and honors I have received worldwide, including the Ribbon of Legion of Honor and my property and my bank accounts. They mean nothing to me. And I am only one among the millions of sad women like myself. "Ask Them Yourself"
Antifeminists furthermore point out cases when feminist policies and regulations are detrimental to female self-esteem. For example, women sometimes receive "special treatment" in the form of lower physical requirements in some professions such as military and rescue services. Women who are hired are expected to handle less physically demanding tasks, which may reduce effectiveness of a unit. These policies make it impossible to refuse hiring women.
Feminists such as Camille Paglia, Christina Hoff Sommers, Jean Bethke Elshtain and Elizabeth Fox-Genovese have been labeled "antifeminists", or holders of antifeminist views, by other feminists because of their positions regarding oppression and lines of thought within feminism (which Sommers has controversially defined as gender feminism). Authors Patai and Koerge argue that in this way the term "antifeminist" is used to silence academic debate about feminism, and represents "an enormous extension of women's power, allowing any sort of criticism of either women or feminist ideas to fall under the watchful eye of their ideological guardians..
Other feminists such as media critic Jennifer Pozner claim that Paglia, Sommers, Elshtain and Fox-Genovese use the feminist label as a ruse. In describing what she believes is a method of so-called "rebel feminists" who use "Leftist lingo to gain rebellious credibility in a supposedly politically correct culture," she identifies what she argues is a contradiction: "[they] [b]ecome vocally indignant at [other feminists] refusal to tolerate [their] 'dissenting feminist voice'" and then "[g]o directly to the media. Do not pass up the college lecture circuit. Do not turn down close to $200K in Right Wing grants" and wait "for the money to come rolling in." She goes on to further counter claims of silencing debate or criticism: "Use your role as 'rebel feminist' to denounce every feminist concern other than women's economic advancement." and "(...) substantiate your claims by using faulty research methods and superficial interviews. Rarely contact the authors, activists and psychologists you libel."
Anti-feminist women who attack feminism under the guise of the liberal cause of women's advancement are far less easy to dismiss than right-wing critics such as Phyllis Schlafly or Rush Limbaugh. Yet Schlafly and Sommers are both listed in the speakers guide of the Young Americas Foundation, a group which routinely gives $10K grants to student groups to bring conservative lecturers to their campuses. Sommers is also a speaker for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, another right think tank, which dishes out the dollars to sponsor lecturers who "counter the Marxists, radical feminists, deconstructionists, and other 'politically correct' types on your campus." The media seize the rhetoric of self-proclaimed "feminist dissenters" such as Sommers and Rophie as proof that feminism is failing women ("See," we are supposed to think, "even the feminists now admit their movement is passé"). They are compensated highly for their complicity: Sommers received over $164,000 in grants from the conservative Olin, Bradley and Carthage foundations for "Who Stole Feminism", in addition to a six-figure advance from her publisher, Simon and Schuster.
Some criticism of antifeminism has focused on studies of the behavior of children from fatherless homes, labeling them misleading and alarmist:
Research on the impact of father involvement on children provides evidence that high levels of paternal participation tends to increase children's cognitive competence, empathy, and internal locus of control. These children are also characterized by reduced sex-stereotyped beliefs. However, these positive outcomes may result because the fathers sampled wanted to be and enjoyed being involved in childcare, not just because they were involved per se.
Australian sociologist Michael Flood argues that although children of two-parent families generally do better psychologically and educationally than children of single-parent families, that does not necessarily mean that correlation between these two factors implies that one is the cause of the other, and that neither divorce, nor fatherlessness in themselves are the cause of it. In a discussion paper he uses studies to argue that it is the quality of parenting and the child's relationship with the parents that plays the main role. That children are negatively influenced by the situations in families characterized by violence, psychological problems, substance abuse, or economic insecurity and that it is the couples where such situations are frequent that are more likely to get divorced.
In an article in American Psychologist (June 1999), Louise B. Silverstein and Carl F. Auerbach conclude that "the stability of the emotional connection and the predictability of the caretaking relationship are the significant variables that predict positive child adjustment." They also state that "a wide variety of family structures can support positive child outcomes.
Outside the United States, organised antifeminist groups have been conspicuously less successful. In Australia, Babette Francis has led Endeavour Forum (formerly "Women Who Want to be Women" for over twenty five years, but has failed to halt ratification of the United Nations Convention of the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW), as well as the eventual introduction of medical abortion in Australia, and the successive liberalisation of laws related to abortion in Australia within every state and territory REAL Women of Canada has similarly failed to halt same sex marriage and decriminalisation of abortion in Canada, while Britain has never had an organised antifeminist group of its own, and New Zealand's "Women for Life" (1983-2004) ceased to exist several years ago.