Posted on | September 13, 2014 | 89 Comments
Sally Miller Gearhart is a feminist and a lesbian (but I repeat myself) who as a professor at San Francisco State University in the 1970s helped develop one of the first Women’s Studies programs in the nation. For quite some time, I’ve seen a quote from Professor Gearhart posted in various places around the Internet:
“The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately 10% of the human race.”
This ne plus ultra expression of feminism’s genocidal hostility to men was sufficiently intriguing to me that I tracked down the source. Gearhart’s quote is from her essay, “The Future — If There Is One — Is Female,” which was included in the 1982 anthology Reweaving the Web of Life: Feminism and Nonviolence, edited by Pam McAllister.
Thanks to the generous support of readers — “Hit the Freaking Tip Jar!” — I obtained a copy of this book from Amazon. Here is an excerpt that provides the context of Gearhart’s infamous quote:
Enslaved by male-identification and years of practice within the system as we all still are to one degree or another, the assumption must be that the present system of monopoly capitalism and patriarchy must be replaced and that non-male-identified women must be the responsible ones. . . .
At least three further requirements supplement the strategies of environmentalists if we are to create and preserve a less violent world. I) Every culture must begin to affirm a female future. II) Species responsibility must be returned to women in every culture. III) The proportion of men must be reduced to and maintained at approximately 10% of the human race. . . .
To return species responsibility to women means in very practical terms that erotic and reproductive initiative must be restored to women all over the globe. . . . Make the decision entirely that of the woman as to how she will be impregnated and how often, if indeed she chooses to be so at all, and whether by heterosexual intercourse, artificial insemination or a form of ovular merging. Restore to each woman the inalienable right to say what shall become of any fertilized egg and to control absolutely the number of children she wishes to emerge from her body. . . . Make nonexistent any male’s say-so in the process of reproduction. Create and protect alternative structures of economic and psychological support for independent women — women not attached to men — who are child-bearers and child-raisers. . . .
Women will bear the number of children they know can be sustained not just by their own social group but by the wide ecological system. They will not bear the children that some man wants only to perpetuate his name or the family possession of his property; they will not bear the children they presently convince themselves they must have because their only role is obedient wife and mother; women will not have the children men think are necessary to perpetuate the tribe or the religion or the specific culture. Instead they will bear the children that they want, that they can care for, and that they assess are needed by the specific group and the entire species. . . .
In every culture it must be women in charge of the changes: women-identified women, no women who are pawns of men, not women who out of their fear of losing their lives or those of their children, still hold to the securities of that dangerous patriarchal culture, but women utterly free of coercion, free of male influence and committed to the principle that the right of species regulation is their own, and not the prerogative of any man. I suggest that lesbians and other independent women are already moving in this direction. . . .
To secure a world of female values and female freedom we must, I believe, add one more element to the structure of the future: the ratio of men to women must be radically reduced so that men approximate only ten percent of the total population. . . .
We now come to a critical point: how is such a reduction in the male population to take place? One option is of course male infanticide. It differs very little from the female infanticide that has apparently been carried out even into the twentieth century by some cultures. Such an alternative is clearly distasteful and would not constitute creative social change. . . .
[I]f women are given the freedom of their bodies then they may well choose [experimental “ovular merging” technology that produces only female embryos] in great enough numbers to make a significant difference in the sex ratio of women to men. A 75% female to 25% male ratio could be achieved in one generation if one-half of a population reproduced heterosexually and one-half by ovular merging.
Such a prospect is attractive to women who feel that if they bear sons no amount of love and care and nonsexist training will save those sons from a culture where male violence is institutionalized and revered. These are women saying, “No more sons. We will not spend twenty years of our lives raising a potential rapist, a potential batterer, a potential Big Man.”
What more needs to be said? Well, first, let us notice Professor Gearhart’s contrast between “male-identified” women and “woman-identified” women. These phrases recall the title of the 1970 Radicalesbians manifesto, “The Woman Identified Woman.” That is to say, “male-identified” women — “pawns of men,” as Professor Gearhart describes them — are simply heterosexual women, and “women-identified women” are lesbians. Professor Gearhart could assume that a feminist readership in 1982 would understand the meaning of the phrase. The book in which her essay appears also includes selections by such famed lesbian feminists as Barbara Deming and Karla Jay.
As for Professor Gearhart’s enthusiasm for “ovular merging,” her knowledge of science is about what you’d expect for a Women’s Studies professor. Such methods are still merely experiments with lab mice and, although there are methods of in-vitro fertilization (IVF) by which sex-selection is possible, the vast majority of human beings are still conceived the old-fashioned heterosexual way.
Her fantasy of achieving a 90% female population through advanced reproductive technology is therefore still a fantasy, more than 30 years after she wrote “The Future — If There Is One — Is Female.” By the way, Professor Gearhart never had children, while “patriarchal culture” has produced more than 2.5 billion children since 1982.