When I asked a friend what the general assessment of the book was, he replied, "Briefly, conservatives like it and it makes liberals squirm." After having finished my first reading, I'd say that assessment is spot on. Long before Evangelicals started arguing about slippery slopes and fallacies, Weaver had this to say about the destructive forces present in our society (it applies equally well to the religious feminist who would discard orthodoxy for the sake of self determination):
For as the course goes on, the movement turns centrifugal; we rejoice in our abandon and are never so full of the sense of accomplishment as when we have struck some bulwark of our culture a deadly blow.
From attributing fear to those who would oppose them to their denial of the fraternity that runs deeper than their precious "equality" to their similarity to the prisoners in Plato's cave who cannot perceive the truth to the bitterness that results from loss of piety to the brutality that refuses to recognize bedrock distinctions, Weaver has our religious feminist friends pinned to the wall with an accuracy that astounds. He does this because ideas have consequences and those ideas which spring from the same root will have the same consequences.
Here is an extended quote from the last chapter, Piety and Justice:
I put forward here an instance which not only is typical of contempt for natural order but which also is of transcendent importance. This is the foolish and destructive notion of "equality" of the sexes. What but a profound blacking-out of our conception of nature and purpose could have borne this fantasy? Here is a distinction of so basic a character that one might suppose the most frenetic modern would regard it as part of the donne to be respected. What God hath made distinct, let not man confuse! But no, profound differences of this kind seem only a challenge to the busy renovators of nature. The rage for equality has so blinded the last hundred years that every effort has been made to obliterate the divergence in role, in conduct, and in dress. It has been assumed, clearly out of this same impiety, that because the mission of woman is biological in a broader way, it is to be less admired. Therefore the attempt have been to masculinize women. . . A social subversion of the most spectacular kind has resulted. Today, in addition to lost generations, we have a self-pitying, lost sex.
There is a social history to this. At the source of the disorder there lies, I must repeat, an impiety toward nature . . .Woman has increasingly gone into the world as an economic "equal"and therefore competitor of man (once again equality destroys fraternity) . . . The ultimate reason lies in the world picture, for once woman has been degraded in that picture -- and putting her on a level with the males is more truly a degradation than an elevation -- she is more at the mercy of economic circumstances. . . And, in fact, they are not treated as equals; they have been made the victims of a transparent deception. Taken from a natural sphere in which they are superior, they are set to wandering between two worlds. Women can neither have the prestige of the former nor, for the fact of stubborn nature, find a real standing in the latter.
Weaver goes on to wonder that women have not themselves worked to rectify this mistake. Perhaps Weaver is right -- that the decay of piety which swept aside chivalry has proven too much for women. "After the gentleman went, the lady had to go too."
Women of the world's ancien regime were practitioners of Realpolitik in this respect: they knew where the power lies. . . They knew it lies in loyalty to what they are and not in imitativeness, exhibitionism, and cheap bids for attention. Well was it said that he who leaves his proper sphere shows that he is ignorant both of that which he quits and that which he enters. Women have been misled by the philosophy of activism into forgetting that for them, as custodians of values, it is better to "be" than to "do".
Long-haired men and short-haired women, indeed.