I'll admit-- I'm still surprised when I hear an anti-feminist argument coming from a woman. Women who don't just reject the label of "feminist" but are actually opposed to specific freedoms for womankind, forcefully opposed, take me aback. I don't understand how someone could want to be less free, and not just her but every other woman out there. My mind immediately jumps to "Look, lady. Just because it's legal/socially acceptable for you do _____, doesn't mean you have to! You can go right on living in your own private patriarchy if it pleases you. Don't try to force the rest of us in there as well."
But really, that's not the case-- we don't get our own private patriarchies. Sure, in a free society there exists the freedom to live as if men are the leaders and women are followers or "helpmeets" if you so choose, but you will get judged for it. You don't get the privilege of having your choices go unquestioned, assumed to be legitimate. And, let's be clear, that's how it should be. But when women push for men to be in charge, to dominate, they don't want that questioning-- they want it to be the standard. In order for it to be the standard in a free society, those who want less freedom are forced to create their own insular societies with their own rules which everyone follows and which children are raised not to question. But these little subcultures are under constant ideological attack by the outer freer world which has powerful weapons like information and the means to convey it cheaply and rapidly, aka the internet, and in comparison with these, less-freedom stands little chance against more-freedom.
And people who want to be less free know this. That's why they want everybody to be less free.
But why would a woman want to be less free?
The common explanation is that they've been "brainwashed." But that's not really an answer. That just means "they've been manipulated to accept ideas I think are bad," and it leaves out the answers to: Who is doing the manipulating? And how? And to what end? And what are these ideas, specifically? The problem with the word "patriarchy," which is why I rarely use it, has to do with this. The word patriarchy suggests a deliberate, organized agenda on the part of mankind in general to dominate women, which is grossly inaccurate and grossly unfair. Just gross, really. The single biggest misunderstanding of feminism is that it's a bunch of women who perceive everything men do as an organized plot to dominate and control them, and the word "brainwashing" sure buys into that. Brainwashing doesn't fit into my preferred definition of patriarchy, which is more of an overarching, implicit concept of men's interests being dominant. That definition involves a society in which men have privilege, but doesn't require it to be deliberate (privilege generally isn't) and doesn't require or suggest that all men are complicit. That's the kind of society that has existed in most of the world to greater and lesser extents for most of history, and that's what feminists have a problem with-- and which anti-feminists think is just peachy.
Okay. So, come on...get to the answer. Why would a woman be an anti-feminist?
Because patriarchy-- as I've defined it above-- is familiar, comfortable, and structured. The roles of men and women, male and female, are pre-established and come with obligations as well as rewards. Being a follower is easier than being a leader, and it means that-- if the leader is good-- you'll be taken care of. Feminists (according to this view) are people who don't want men to be the leaders, which must mean they don't want any leaders, which means chaos. Nobody gets taken care of. And that is deeply, deeply frightening.
The woman posting to me on the Cal Thomas column that abortion is an act of violence against women by men in order to shirk their (men's) responsibility is frightened. To her, women want babies. A woman's job is to want babies and to produce them, and a man's job is to find a woman, produce babies with her, and take care of her and the babies. Abortion is therefore a feminist plot to help men abdicate their responsibility and escape having to be leaders. In this view, feminists are "brainwashed" because they are serving the interests of men without realizing it. And, importantly, not men who are leaders, but men who refuse to be leaders. Men who are not holding up their half of the patriarchal bargain.
Which is, as is so often pointed out, how patriarchy hurts men too. Men who don't want to lead. Men who don't even want a woman. Men who, for whatever reason, don't conform to machismo. According to implicit patriarchal mindset, these men are not just different but bad-- they are violating the laws of nature (no, don't ask me how that's even possible-- I wonder it too) to pursue their own selfish interests. They are to be ridiculed, perhaps arrested or even killed.
I would say that, in arguing with a woman endorsing an anti-feminist position, this should be pointed out. But it isn't likely to accomplish much-- to such a person, the only men who are punished are the ones who are doing something wrong, just like the only women who are punished are those who want what women shouldn't-- independence, in general but particularly regarding their sexuality. Women should not want this, because that's abdicating our responsibilities. To be taken care of. To be led.