Karl Marx taught that if women desired to free themselves from the shackles of patriarchy, they first had to wrest control over the means of reproduction. Now birth rates in Europe have plummeted, choking off the inflow of young workers and imperiling the financial viability of the social welfare state.
The situation is especially acute in Germany, where the population is projected to decline from the current level of 82 million to 70.8 million persons by 2050. The fertility fall-off stems from a disintegration of family relationships - 83% of Germans say their main reason for not having children is their inability to find a partner or stable relationship.
In Europe, gender equality programs march under the flag of what the European Union bureaucrats call "gender mainstreaming."
So blithely ignoring its impending demographic time-bomb, the German Ministry of Education and Research has announced a new gender mainstreaming program designed to entice even more women out of the home and into the workforce.
Advocates of gender mainstreaming claim they are merely trying to promote equal rights for the sexes. But in practice, this grand-sounding concept doesn't quite work out that way.
For example, men in Austria live 76 years, while women enjoy a full 82 years of life. But that six-year disparity in life expectancy didn't stop the government from establishing the Bundesministerium fur Gesundheit und Frauen - Ministry for Health and Women.
In Austria, some deaths apparently are more equal than others.
In sun-drenched Spain, gender equality meant passing a law that requires husbands to "share domestic responsibilities and the care and attention" of children. Like most countries, the most laborious and dangerous occupations in Spain are virtually all-male. One only hopes that in this new era of gender enlightenment, the Spanish senoras will soon be casting off their mantas to help out as hod carriers and to work the olive groves in the sweltering heat.
In Norway it was announced that women compose only 11% of members of corporate boards of directors, those bastions of male power and privilege. So minister Laila Daavoey recently decreed that henceforth all companies would be obliged to meet a 40% female board quota - or else face closure.
Once those companies shut down, I'm sure the E.U. will be more than happy to subsidize the checks for all those unemployed workers, male and female.
But it's Sweden where the Sisterhood has made the most progress toward true gender equality. There, almost half of the entire workforce and 45% of the members of Parliament are female.
Given these signs of an imminent gender paradise, one might expect the Swedish fems to embrace the now-deposed patriarchs and break into a heart-warming round of Kumbaya. But funny, that's not what happened.
One of the more colorful Swedish politicos is one Gudrun Schyman, an alcoholic who got caught not paying her taxes and was forced to resign as a leader of the Left Party, the former Communist Party of Sweden. Schyman apparently forgot that in socialist societies, paying taxes is more inevitable than death.
That scandal didn't stop Schyman from hatching her ultra-radical Feminist Initiative, which is now threatening the coalition government of the ruling Social Democrats. The FI's shrill manifesto makes Schyman sound a lot more like David Duke than Mother Theresa.
Early last month a group of Stockholm women put the Feminist Initiative message to the test. One night they showed up at a local strip club wielding baseball bats and umbrellas. Police ended up arresting 16 women after the melee.
And to think all these years, I had thought that women were genetically incapable of inflicting violence.
In 1620 a small band of Pilgrims fled Europe in a pluckish effort to escape tyranny and secure their religious freedom. That experience weighed heavily on the minds of our nation's forefathers as they forged a new country based on limited government, free markets, and individual liberties.
Nearly 400 years later, a new totalitarianism is blossoming in Europe. Under the seductive guise of gender equality, this ideological tyranny resorts to over-heated rhetoric, intrusive government, and intimidation tactics.
Maybe Europe hasn't progressed as far as we'd like to think.