"Feminism is a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, and social rights for women. This includes seeking to establish equal opportunities for women in education and employment." (1)
To address an important subject like feminism in the context of homeschooling presents us with a number of difficulties. Firstly, and as we shall see presently, because there is no one single kind of feminism. Under its umbrella may be found a diversity of feminist "movements and ideologies" that are often very different from one another and are not in accord.
Historically, feminism may be divided into three main phases or "waves" as they are often termed. The first two are the accepted definitions, and the third - never defined authoritatively - is my own:
Though you will find a number of vague definitions for "Third Wave Feminism" there is no concensus on exactly what it is or how to define it. Therefore (unlike the first two waves) there are no concretely defined goals other than to "make the rôle of the full-time homemaker economically impossible and socially disdained" (Phyllis Schlafly) - implied though rarely stated outright. Indeed, in my view, Third Wave Feminism is symptomatic of the hybrid anarchy of the Liberal/Marxist cocktail that is contemporary "Third Way Politics" (or "Europeism") (3), whose elements, though mutually exclusive and incompatible (economically as well as - and especially - socially), have been forced together in a kind of political shotgun marriage.
Like everyone with a political position, it is important for me to state what mine is from the outset: it is libertarianism.
"Libertarianism is the advocacy of individual rights, especially freedom of thought and action. Philosopher Roderick T. Long defines libertarianism as any political position that advocates a radical redistribution of power [either 'total or merely substantial'] from the coercive state to voluntary associations of free individuals', whether 'voluntary association' takes the form of the free market or of communal co-operatives'. David Boaz, libertarian writer and vice-president of the Cato Institute, writes that, 'Libertarianism is the view that each person has the right to live his life in any way he chooses to long as he respects the equal rights of others' and that, 'Libertarians defend each person's right to life, liberty, and property - rights that people have naturally, before governments are created'". (2)
As a libertarian, I am therefore committed to supporting First and Second Wave Feminism as the necessary right of women to choose the kind of economic and social lifestyle that they want irrespective of whether I agree with that lifestyle or not. But as a libertarian I am also implaccably opposed, and hostile, to both the stated and unstated aims of Third Wave Feminism which is essentially to use the state to force these feministic values on everyone else whether they agree with them or not. And as we shall see now, Third Wave Feminism is almost certainly one of the main forces opposing homeschooling. It was used by the likes of Lotta Edholm and her ilk in vehemently opposing the decision by a Gothenburg regional court in permitting a Lubavicher Jewish family from homeschooling their children because of Judaism's views on gender distinctions and rôles.
Homeschooling, in its very nature, requires at least one adult to remain at home to supervise, monitor, guide, teach and facilitate the learning process of the home-educated child. Though like myself there are a few men who teach at home, most homeschooling supervisors are stay-at-home mothers. These mothers make typically are either supported economically by a husband or partner with a high-paid job or they run their own home-based businesses as single or married mothers.
One objective of Third Wave Feminism, as we have seen, is (as it was in the former Soviet Union and East Europe, and as it continues to be in suviving communist countries like China and Vietnam) to force women into the workplace, small children into day care and older children into state-run schools, and to tax families so high that both parents are forced to get jobs in order to survive economically. With 78% of Swedish women in the job market (4) - a number that would be considerably higher were it not for unemployment - it's not easy to find full-time Swedish homemakers any longer. Not that Sweden and its Third Wave Feminism is by any means unique, for in the European Union as a whole, the same objectives steer its Liberal/Marxist integrationist policies, with the United Kingdom not far behind Sweden now with 70% of women there in the job place.
It is my contention that Third Wave Feminism isn't classical feminism at all - it's just a form of radical, extreemist Marxist statism that has co-opted a term to suit its own designs. If it is true, as one feminist woman claims, that
"Feminism has given me the permission and ability to define who I am on my own terms. I am not who society wants me to be; I am not who my husband wants me to be; I am not who my family want me to be; I am not who my friends want me to be. I am who I want me to be" (5)
then it is surely a feminist principle and option for a woman to elect to remain at home to home educate her children if that is how she wishes to define herself and her lifestyle. Homeschooling mothers rarely get economic support from the state of any kind so she is not "burdening the taxpayer". Also, she cannot, by her absence from the work force, be said to be failing to contribute wealth to society overall, otherwise it could be said that school teachers are failing also, for they are in precisely the same business. Indeed, as far as the burden on the tax-payer is concerned, the homeschooling mother is far more economical for the state than a state-employed teacher: she is not claiming a salary and is not usually claiming money for resources. Far from being a burden on the tax-payer, she is demonstrating social responsibilty for the whole community by reducing the economic burden! By giving quality education, as homeschooling parents have been proven scientifically to do, they are enriching society and not taking from it.
The problem with Third Wave Feminism is that it is not so much about the rights of women but about the establishment of a totalitarian ideology and society that wishes to mould everybody in exactly the same way. And that ideology is, as I have demonstrated elsewhere, essentially an anti-individualist Marxist one in outlook.
If statist Third Wave Feminism is actually "feminism" at all, then it only one kind. It is not Liberal feminism which seeks individualistic equality of men and women through political and legal reform without altering the structure of society. It is not Conservative feminism which may be said to be conservative relative to the society in which it resides. It certainly is not Libertarian feminism which conceives of people as self-owners and therefore as entitled to freedom from coercive interference. It is not Separatist feminism which does not support heterosexual relationships. And it may not even be Lesbian feminism, at least of the non-Marxist kind. Most of these feminist groupings are critical of one another, such as those who oppose Separatist feminism as sexist. So what kind of feminism is behind Third Wave Feminism, so-called?
We are left with Radical feminism which considers the male-controlled capitalist hierarchy as the defining feature of women's oppression. These Marxist, totalitarian feminists believe that the total uprooting and reconstruction of society is necessary to attain their aims, and by force if necessary. Allied to these might be the Ecofeminists who view men's control of land as responsible for the oppression of women and destruction of the natural environment though Ecofeminism tends to be harshly criticised by materialist Marxist Radical feminists for focusing too much on a mystical connection between women and nature.
This Marxist feminism, which dominates the Swedish politics of both "left" and "right" (in reality, there is no "right" in mainstream Swedish politics any longer), argues that capitalism is the root cause of women's oppression, and that discrimination against women in domestic life and employment is an effect of capitalist ideologies. Socialist feminism distinguishes itself from Marxist feminism by arguing that women's liberation can only be achieved by working to end both the economic and cultural sources of women's oppression.
Finally, the anti-statist Anarcha-feminists believe that class struggle and anarchy against the state require struggling against patriarchy, which comes from involuntary hierarchy.
There are those who argue that Third Wave Feminism lacks a cohesive goal. Apart from the Statist feminists who want a totalitarian society (and practically have it socially now in Sweden), I would agree that the non-statist feminists are probably goal-less, in line with Swedish society as a whole - see my article, Sweden: A Society Without a Goal. But statist pseudo-liberals Stockholm City Education boss like Lotta Edholm, who is all in favour of expanding Domenic Johansson-type state kidnappings and the mass state abduction of the children of anyone who keeps their children away from state school, is probably typical of the political class of both "left" and "right" Swedish politicians who care little about family or individual rights. The aim of these people is ever increasing state control.
It would therefore be inaccurate to say that all feminists are against homeschooling for there are clearly those who would contend that it is a woman's right to remain at home and homeschool if she so wishes. It is the statist feminists like Lotta Edholm and her male counterparts who are the menace to liberty and to the homeschooling movement in this country.
Homeschooling, being fundamentally about liberty, is not anti-feminist but anti-statist where states refuse to grant autonomy in education as is guaranteed by the United Nations and the European Union's charters on human rights. Though there are most likely individual homeschooling mothers who are anti-feminist, homeschooling itself is not inherently anti-feminist if it as libertarian as most homeschoolers I know are.
To criticise any kind of feminism in totalitarian Sweden is, however, still largely taboo and politically incorrect as little distinction is made between the different kinds of feminism in public political discourse. To be opposed to any kind of feminism, as I am of the statist variety, more often than not will provoke social ostracisation, harrassment, discrimination and persecution.
However, in order to homeschool the question of feminism must be analysed as I have sought to do today because the very notion of a parent remaining at "home" to homeschool is to challenge the "conventional political wisdom" in a number of key areas. With a few members of parliament of only two smaller mainstream parties in power supporting the homeschooling movement, the pervasiveness of totalitarian social statism is pretty evident everywhere. The only objection that these relics of the Soviet Gulag era have against homeschooling is purely ideological.
Homeschooling and homeschoolers are only a "problem" to those for whom logic is an enemy and the truth a menace which is why, in the end, we cannot fail to win the battle to establish our rights. The alternative - outright communist dictatorship - is too ghastly to consider and something I don't believe your average Swede would ever countenance. The presently docile Swedish population will only allow itself to be pushed so far in spite of the controlled media spewing out its statist propaganda. Our task now is to show Sweden and Swedes that the statist social dictatorship is already here and that is is time to say NO, reverse the Marxist tide, make Sweden more libertarian and emancipate homeschoolers.
(1) Wikipedia, Libertarianism
(2) Wikipedia, Feminism
(3) See Section C of Freesweden.net's Political website
(4) The Economist, A big crush on Sweden, 16 March 2013
(5) Melissa McEwan, Five Things Feminism Has Done For Me