Book review: Enemies of Eros
Maggie Gallagher, Enemies of Eros. Chicago, IL: Bonus Books, Inc., 160 East Illinois Street, 1989. Hardcover, 283 pp. incl. Index. $18.95 ppd.
Maggie Gallagher graduated from Yale University and was formerly Article Editor for National Review. George Gilder says that Enemies of Eros is the "best book ever written on marriage and divorceman or woman, ignore it at your peril." Judge Robert H. Bork, whose candidacy for the U. S. Supreme Court abortionists and feminists succeeded in destroying, comments: "Gallagher demonstrates that our new right-thinkthat there are no important differences between male and femalehas proved disastrous to families and, most especially, to women. "
Enemies of Eros is a devastating attack on modern feminism. Its sarcastic gallows humor alternates with righteous, passionate anger over the well documented results of the sexual revolution in general and feminist fanaticism in particular. Gallagher's thesis is that most women, today as throughout history, place their family's needs above their careers away from home; that our culture has adopted the feminist myth of total sexual equality; and that our whole society, beginning with women themselves, pays for this distortion of reality in enormous suffering. Our very survival is at stake:
And all the while women are getting poorer, more exposed, more often beaten and abused, as the fabric of our family life ... unravels. Our children are fewer in number, too few now even to replace the population. Those that remain are more often battered, beaten, neglected, isolated, sexually used, or simply ignored.... The cycle repeats, spiralling progressively downward, all because of our determined ignorance of a few basic facts of life...
A society which tries to reduce sex to its pleasures, to cut off gender from sex, sex from Eros, Eros from children, cuts itself and its people off from the resources we need to survive and to triumph. For these are the bonds by which our fathers and mothers bequeathed our present pleasures to us. These are the only bonds strong enough to build a future which our children may enjoy. (pp. 270-27 1 )
A few highlights of Gallagher's thoroughly researched and brilliantly presented path to this conclusion include her description of the feminist "boogey woman," the "Devouring Housewife" modeled more or less slanderously after the feminists' own hated and despised mothers. Together with this distorted picture of the homemaker and stay-at-home mother goes the propaganda that motherhood is a trap. This lie "was invented, as it were, to give a rationale for reshaping our social institutions so that women could not safely choose family over career" (p.58).
A related lie whose results we see all around us in public school textbooks, the media, advertising and government tax policy is that the work women do at home is really superfluous. Mothering has a very low social status. Gallagher comments: "I think women remain family centered because we understand, even if the culture does not, that the work we do for our families is not superfluous at all. I think that the energy women put into their families is indispensable; the crime is that the work we do is so little acknowledged or respected, even among women" (p.65).
Gallagher cites recent statistics to show that societies deprecating motherhood commit literal suicide:
America's fertility rate has now fallen to about 1 .8 births per woman, well below the 2.1 replacement level. On Jan. 31, 1989, the Census Bureau projected that the U.S. population will peak in 2038, and decline thereafter. My son, currently six, may well live to see a rapidly depopulated United States. If you have ever lived in an area with a declining population, you know that is not a pleasant prospect...
America will begin to feel the effects soon, when the children who failed to be born in the late sixties and early seventies, fail to mature in the mid-nineties, precipitating both a labor, and eventually a consumer shortage (and depleting Social Security funds). In West Germany ... only 10 percent of post-war married couples believe that children are more important than consumer goods or careers ... By the end of the next century, if current trends continue, West Germany's population will dwindle from 61 million to 20 million; achieving, at last, a ghostly Lebensraum. (pp.82-83)
Of course, what may well happen instead in the United States, if the Lord tarries is a surge of Latin American immigrants, and in West Germany (as well as other child-poor, aging Western European countries) the increasing immigration and eventual takeover by Muslim "guest workers" from the near East and Africa. There will also be an increasing push for euthanasia for the aged, already semi-officially and widely practiced in Holland. This is the just penalty upon societies disregarding God's creation mandate to be fruitful, multiply, replenish the earth, and have dominion over it (Genesis 1:26). Gallagher, who does not write from the biblical Christian perspective, does not draw this conclusion.
Young parents contemplating the mother's return to work outside the home need to ponder the chapter on "Day Care and the Disposable Mother." Gallagher, an unmarried mother compelled to work, cites a study finding "what hundreds of social workers refused to: the pain, loneliness, confusion, and boredom of many toddlers in group day care. I have put my own son in four different day care centers in three different states, and I cannot disagree" (p.99). Higher infection and sickness rates are linked to group day care; long term psychological effects may be very harmful. Gallagher recommends child care by relatives, friends and neighbors, "though what the next generation is going to do, with hardly any siblings, and mothers, aunts and grandmothers all working full-time is anyone's guess" (p. 101).
One persistent feminist myth is the creation of the "new man", so gentle and nurturing that he can replace the mother. He has not been created; on the contrary, men evade their marital and paternal responsibilities more than ever, aided and abetted by the new "no-fault" divorce lows in most states.
As Gallagher writes, "Both married and absent fathers must be made to meet their responsibilities to their children. But that will never happen as long as the creators of taboo remain more appalled at the idea of gender, than they are by the increasing poverty of women and the anguished bewilderment of children abandoned by their fathers" (p.126). Gallagher obviously believes that cultural pressure will restore men to healthy marriage and fatherhood. This is the typical "decent non-Christian" delusion. God the Creator and Lord's mercy and grace through His prophets according to His Law is needed to "turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers" (Malachi 4:6), especially when a society has broken down as much as ours today.
Because Gallagher does not write as a biblical Christian and hence cannot refer to biblical creation as the foundation for man's nature, her chapter on sex roles ("The Search for the Secret Self") gets hung up on a critique of sociobiology and the old nature-versus-nurture arguments, without offering solutions. The same critique applies to the basic thrust of the book's section on "Sex and Justice," which discusses the feminist attempt to base the family on legal contract rather than "status." Without the biblical creation foundation, the argument for the family's supposed status established by nature is unconvincing. After all, if creation is false, then we got here by evolution; and what is then more clear than that nature changes, and man and his institutions with it? Nevertheless, this section is an excellent source of what marital instability and skyrocketing divorce have done to our society in general and to women and children in particular.
The endnotes after each chapter are well worth reading and full of useful information. Gallagher's absolute opposition to abortion deserves special commendation, as does her excellent discussion of surrogate motherhood and the "Baby M" case.
Recommended as an excellent source of information on what the feminist mentality has done to our society, in particular to women whom it claimed to "liberate."
Reviewed by Ellen Myers