It has been stated with eloquence elsewhere that modern feminism can be described as a revolt against nature. At its core, this feminism is at war with the essence of femininity. The following essay will explicate this struggle by resorting to the wisdom of William Shakespeare, who understood the nature of man (“man” means male and female) better than anyone in the Western Canon.
Mary Rose Somarriba has stated the feminist quandary thus: “Nature is the true obstacle to these women’s idea of justice”. Consider the stakes: contemporary feminists, far from decrying and fighting against the exploitation of women via pornography, instead choose to fight their battles against….Georgetown University! For not paying for their contraception! Somarriba continues: “Underneath sexual liberationists’ wish to overthrow patriarchal traditions of marriage and religious institutions’ principles of sexual ethics, there seems to be a wish to overthrow the most stubborn foundation of all—nature herself.”
Stated more inelegantly by myself, modern feminists are fighting an ultimately losing battle against their uteruses, vaginas, and menstrual periods. These are, after all, the limiting factors that constantly conspire to reduce women from full achievement in the male arena, and this is why modern feminists do everything they can to ignore, erase, change (whether surgically or chemically) the cards that nature has dealt them.
However, the harsh irony of their battle against themselves is that they end up losing what makes females unique: their femininity. This is why these modern day extremists were up in arms when TV sports announcer Brent Musburger said that the Alabama quarterback’s girlfriend, former Miss Alabama Katherine Webb, was “beautiful”. In the minds of these modern extreme egalitarians, is it inappropriate for a man to call an obviously beautiful woman “beautiful”. Political correctness has finally jumped the shark. (By the way, Katherine Webb, no feminist apparently, appreciated Mr. Musburger’s sincere compliments).
Let us turn now to a chilling scene in Shakespeare’s Macbeth, which for me personally, effectively encapsulates the modern dogma of contemporary feminism. Consider the context: Lady Macbeth, wife of hero Macbeth, has just received a letter from her husband that he is the subject of a prophecy that says that he will eventually be king. After reading the letter, her evil heart begins to conspire. I’ll let the Lady do the talking now:
Glamis thou art, and Cawdor, and shalt be
What thou art promised. Yet do I fear thy nature.
It is too full o’ the milk of human kindness
To catch the nearest way. Thou wouldst be great,
Art not without ambition, but without
The illness should attend it. What thou wouldst highly,
That wouldst thou holily; wouldst not play false,
And yet wouldst wrongly win. Thou’dst have, great Glamis,
That which cries “Thus thou must do if thou have it;
And that which rather thou dost fear to do
Than wishest should be undone.” Hie thee hither,
That I may pour my spirits in thine ear
And chastise with the valor of my tongue
All that impedes thee from the golden round
Which fate and metaphysical aid doth seem
To have thee crowned withal.
(Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 5).
Lady Macbeth, by the force of her personality and the ambition she holds, sounds more like a man than a woman. She accuses Macbeth, war hero and loyal to the king, Duncan, as “too full of the milk of human kindness”. It’s an interesting phrase, since milk immediately brings to mind the nursing mother’s kindness in feeding the child of her womb. If you read this play from beginning to end, you will not catch any kindness in this woman.
Immediately after this, an attendant informs her that her husband is coming to the castle – with the King Duncan himself! This fact then causes her to wax evil:
Come, you spirits
That tend on mortal thoughts, unsex me here,
And fill me from the crown to the toe top-full
Of direst cruelty! make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse,
That no compunctious visitings of nature
Shake my fell purpose, nor keep peace between
The effect and it! Come to my woman’s breasts,
And take my milk for gall, you murdering ministers,
Wherever in your sightless substances
You wait on nature’s mischief! Come, thick night,
And pall thee in the dunnest smoke of hell,
That my keen knife see not the wound it makes,
Nor heaven peep through the blanket of the dark,
To cry ‘Hold, hold!’”
(Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 5).
The key to this disturbing narrative, and the fundamental point I am trying to make here, is the chilling imperious command from the Lady: “Unsex me here!”
This is significant due to the modern feminists’ extraordinary animus against the limitations imposed on women by biology. There most ardent desire would be an “unsexing”. The image of the spirits coming to her breasts and taking the milk out and exchanging it for gall is enough to make this one of the creepiest images in all of Shakespeare. Her cry to “make thick my blood;
Stop up the access and passage to remorse” is a call for an end to menstruation. In the words of Harry V. Jaffa, “in perhaps the most astounding of her rejections of nature”, she says:
I have given suck, and know
How tender ‘tis to love the babe that milks me:
I would, while it was smiling in my face,
Have plucked my nipple from his boneless gums
And dashed the brains out, had I so sworn as you
Have done to this.
(Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 5).
We see shades of abortion on demand. Granted, in the play it’s infanticide, but partial birth and second trimester abortions are just as morally repugnant to millions around the world.
Shakespeare understood the human condition – male and female – better than any other writer in the Western literary tradition. There is a reason why Shakespeare, and Shakespeare alone, sits atop the apex of the Western Canon. His play Macbeth is a haunting tale of a good man undone by ambition, yet it is an ambition inspired by a woman who acts unlike any other woman and who guides her husband to a throne obtained by murder.
We can learn from Lady Macbeth about the fruits of said ambition. We can learn what happens when we revolt against nature and against the fundamental moral order. We can glean insights from Shakespeare (whom Harold Blooms calls secular scripture) about the nature of humanity. If Shakespeare has any meaning in our modern times, it is to wake us up to the reality that we are not smarter or more special than those who have gone before us. And I daresay we can learn about the consequences of modern feminism’s revolt against nature.
In essence, in just about every respect, Lady Macbeth is an anti-woman in this play; in material respects, she is the apotheosis of the ideal woman according to contemporary feminists: a woman in charge, giving orders, not menstruating or producing milk, killing the fruit of her womb (the ultimate symbol of her sex) and guiding her husband to a throne of power. Yet, I think we know who’s really in charge here.