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by Suzanne Fields
Sexual stereotypes often go to war against political stereotypes in Washington. Not since Anita Hill was mocked as a “scorned woman” and Clarence Thomas accused his enemies of attempting “a high-tech lynching” have so many sexual and political stereotypes clashed in confirmation hearings for a nominee to the Supreme Court. Martha-Ann Alito’s tears all but drowned the Democrats who had spent the week accusing her husband Sam of abusing women and children.
Certain professional women, who work hard at being as tough as men, were embarrassed by her tears. Women who stay home with their children, content with the role of “wife of,” were angered by the suggestion that Mrs. Alito was weak or soft simply because she reacted in an emotional way to attacks on the man she loves. The Washington “wife of” usually hasn’t developed the tough, scaly skin she needs to withstand the slings and arrows aimed at her husband’s outrageous fortune.
Others in the salons and saloons of the capital accused Mrs. Alito of cynical exploitation of the feminine wiles once thought to have been consigned to the ash heap of history. The judge in turn was accused of hiding behind his wife’s skirts. Liberals said her crying game was a fake; conservatives who notice that the differences between the sexes are still with us — the Democrats were both astonished and devastated when they saw how the episode was playing out beyond the Washington Beltway — said nothing is more natural, after all, than a loving wife shedding tears at the sight of her husband relentlessly attacked as a monster of narrow-minded attitudes by a bullying senator with a history of ethical challenges.
As melodrama, the episode was delicious. There was the chivalric Southerner, Sen. Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, galloping to the rescue on a white charger, describing the judge as a “decent, honorable man” and apologizing on behalf of his colleagues to both husband and wife for “having to go through this.” Mrs. Alito rewarded him with a hug and a smile.
All’s well that ends well, and we’ll see how well it ends for the Alitos next week, when the Senate votes. But it’s already a demonstration to both red and blue states of how Washington works: Less important than what you see is how you spin it. The Democrats are the sensitive Mommy Party, eager to make government ever more maternal; the Republicans are the severe Daddy Party, eager to make the citizens ever more independent and self-sustaining. But the Mommy occasionally lapses into insensitivity, as when Teddy Kennedy blusters and badgers like a resurrected Joe McCarthy, less to elicit information than to project guilt by accusation.
Republicans are instinctively more sympathetic to women who are full-time mommies, Democrats more sympathetic to women who need government day care. Mrs. Alito, who was once a law librarian, sometimes works as a substitute teacher. She’s a traditional suburban mother who left her career behind to become the full-time mother of two. She teaches Bible classes at her church. She’s educated, gregarious in private conversations and supportive of her husband’s career, and she recognizes the hazards of speaking out on politics. She’s the kind of woman who is once more under attack in the covens of radical feminism.
Post-feminism affects to emphasize “choice” — a woman can choose motherhood or career — but feminist rhetoric always tilts toward women who choose careers outside the home. Nevertheless, many thoughtful women, like Mrs. Alito, continue to choose to make the family the priority. Such full-time motherhood enrages the likes of Linda Hirshman, who sounds the alarm in an essay titled “Homeward Bound” in American Prospect, a liberal magazine.
Women, she argues, must wise up, to acknowledge that feminism hasn’t gone far enough: “The family — with its repetitious, socially invisible, physical tasks — is a necessary part of life, but it allows fewer opportunities for full human flourishing than public spheres like the market or the government.” In her telling of it, home and family is still the deadly trap for women, a trap that Betty Friedan once called “a comfortable concentration camp.”
What’s lost here are considerations for the deep comforts of emotional attachment to children and husband, bonds that reward the heart and renew the spirit. Women who appreciate these gifts of the heart can cry when they come under attack. Martha-Ann Alito got a little sound advice from Laura Bush, who told her to “hang in there.” The first lady gave the Washington politicians a piece of her mind, too: “I think when anyone is up for confirmation for justice of the Supreme Court or any other job that requires Senate confirmation, it’s incumbent upon senators to be respectful.”
LONDON — Violence against women is the world’s most pervasive form of human rights abuse, a United Nations report released Tuesday said.
“In today’s world, to be born female is to be born high risk,” Carol Bellamy, executive director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), said at the launch of its “Progress of Nations” report.
From genital multilation in African nations and dowry killings in India to domestic violence in the United States, millions of women from every class and in every country live under the threat of physical abuse.
The report found that more then 60 million women who should be alive today are “missing’ because of violence associated with gender discrimination, predominantly in south and west Asia, China and North Africa.
“The shadow of violence under which girls and women live debilitates them physically, psychologically and socially. It affects the healthy social and economic development of all societies.”
Bellamy described the annual document as a report card of nations on their performance on issues affecting the health, welfare and rights of children. It offers a compilation of statistics on each country’s progress toward reaching goals for basic human needs.
The report detailed progress in some areas, including a decrease in mortality rates among children under five and an increase in availability of safe water supplies, but it made grim reading on the conditions faced by women and children.
It noted that between 25 and 50% of all women have been physically abused by their intimate partners. Up to 130 million women and girls in the world today have had their genitals removed in a ritual practice that is common in at least 28 countries.
More than one million children, mostly girls and mainly in Asia, are forced into prostitution every year, and in India more than 5,000 women are killed because their in-laws consider their dowries inadequate.
UNICEF said the forms of violence against women and children are both subtle and blatant but violence’s impact on development is profound.
“It is so deeply embedded in cultures around the world that it is almost invisible,” the report said.
Bellamy told the news conference the key to improving the condition of women and children throughout the world was education, the impowerment of women and legal protection.
Out of the 193 nations in the world, just 44 have enacted legislation against domestic violence, only 27 have laws against sexual harassment and just 17 regard marital rape as a crime.
In 12 Latin American countries a rapist can be exonerated if his victim agrees to marry him. Son preference is so prevalent in some countries that genetic testing for sex-selection, although outlawed, has become a booming business.
Bellamny urged governments to read the report, to do something about the conditions in their own countries and to increase aid to help other nations.
“There is such a great deal to be done,” she said. “It (the report) is a call on the nations of the world to respond.”
A TRIBAL jirga (jury) may not have any legal sanction, but it continues to operate in many parts of Pakistan, where tribal and feudal systems are still dominant.
In most cases, such a jirga is used by the tribal chiefs to maintain their grip on power. In remote rural areas, people go to a jirga instead of going to the police for resolution of inter-tribal disputes and matters related to “honour”.
Under tribal codes, women are seen as men’s property and an allegation of “unfaithfulness” is punished by death.
Thousands of women fall victim of this oppressive system in Pakistan every year.
A woman suspected of having extramarital relations is declared a kari (sinful) and tribal honour requires a family member to kill her.
Until recently, honour killings under the law would not receive capital punishment. The law was changed after a prolonged protest by women’s and human rights groups. But that has not helped to alter the situation.
According to one report, more than 300 women are killed every year in Pakistan in the name of “honour.”
An inter-tribal dispute is often resolved under the jirga system by giving a woman to marriage to the rival group.
Punishing an innocent women for a crime committed by male member of the family is quite common in some parts of the country. Even in urban areas, migrants from tribal regions often form jirga to settle disputes.
This extra-legal system has been strengthened because of ineffectiveness of the official legal system and the falling faith of the population in the police. In most cases people grudgingly accept the jirga verdict because they do not expect any remedy from the State. The fear of being ostracised by the tribe forces people to comply.
The radical feminist agenda has gone global and the United Nations is leading an attack on both family values and the traditional role of women.
For example, the United Nations now recommends that Catholic hospitals, such as those in Italy, offer abortions even if medical personnel have religious objections. Specific nations have been reprimanded. Belarus has been publicly criticized for maintaining “such symbols as a Mothers’ Day and a Mothers’ Award” which promote female stereotypes. Libya has been asked “to reinterpret the Koran so that it falls within Committee guidelines” on women.
The committee being referenced is CEDAW, which regularly reviews the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women, adopted by the United Nations in 1979. Signatory nations agreed to abide by CEDAW and to attempt implementation of the committee’s recommendations. (The United States has yet to ratify CEDAW.)
Austin Ruse — president of the Catholic Family & Human Rights Institute — described how the committee has assumed broad powers to reinterpret the original convention. For example, it “ordered the government of China to legalize prostitution even though the Convention expressly forbids the trafficing [sic] and prostitution of women.”
The United Nations itself evolved from the Declaration of United Nations (1942) through which 26 nations pledged to support the Allies during World War II and to work toward peace thereafter.
For those who still think of the United Nations as a peacekeeper, it may seem unbelievable that the agency is trying to restructure “the family” and impact such personal decisions as birth control and abortion. To those who view the United Nations as a want-to-be global government, it comes as no surprise.
Today, conservative groups are openly attacking the United Nations’ politically correct (PC) policies.
The Family Research Council recently published an anthology entitled Fifty Years After the Declaration, in which nearly two dozen experts condemned the United Nations’ social polices. The Heritage Foundation has issued a report entitled How U.N. Conventions on Women’s and Children’s Rights Undermine Family, Religion, and Sovereignty by Patrick F. Fagan, a former Bush administration official. Fagan accuses committees such as CEDAW “and the special-interest groups assisting them” of being anti-family and pro-feminist.
It has taken years for the United Nations’ anti-family agenda to receive public attention, partly because the shift toward PC policies has been gradual. Moreover, the policies are often embedded in thick and tedious documents. They are described in “U.N. speak” — phrases that sound innocuous but are politically charged.
But conservatives are now casting a spotlight on these policies and radical feminists are responding.
A report entitled Right-Wing Anti-Feminist Groups at the United Nations — written by Anick Druelle and funded by the Canadian government — was a response to the presence of conservatives at the 44th session of the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women (March 2000). In a blatant distortion, the report accuses critics of believing “that the traditional patriarchal family be the only type of family to be recognized. ...” Yet much of the criticism I have read says only that the United Nations has no business influencing personal relationships within a family, traditional or not.
To understand this sexual war, it is necessary to translate another piece of U.N. speak: the word “gender.” For CEDAW, gender is a social construct. That is, gender does not refer to biological difference of male and female. Rather, it refers to the sex roles that have been artificially constructed by the institutions of society, such as the family or government.
Such social institutions impose gender roles — e.g. maleness, heterosexuality — upon individuals. Thus, according to the U.N. Office of the Special Advisor on Gender Issues and the Advancement of Women, gender is defined as “the social attributes and opportunities associated with being male and female ... These attributes, opportunities and relationships are socially constructed and are learned through socialization processes.”
This is opposite of what has been called “sexual essentialism,” a theory which roots sexuality and sex roles in biology, rather than culture. Sexual essentialism argues that such phenomena as motherhood and heterosexuality are biologically driven. By contrast, radical feminists maintain that these phenomena result from cultural indoctrination.
The main theorist of this view in America, Catharine MacKinnon, has praised radical feminism for exposing “marriage and family as institutional crucibles of male privilege” and has defined “the institution of intercourse, as a strategy and practice in subordination.”
Radical feminism seeks to deconstruct gender and put it back together according to a PC design. The key to doing so lies in controlling the institutions of society, especially the law and the administration of law. This is what CEDAW aims at doing through its reinterpretation of the original convention and the monitoring of how their recommendations are implemented.
Thus CEDAW told Armenia to combat the stereotype of motherhood. Azerbaijan was encouraged to establish a national plan “to enhance gender awareness and ... to combat traditional stereotypes.” Colombia was urged to eliminate all sexist stereotypes in the media. German “measures aimed at the reconciliation of family and work” were said to “entrench stereotypical expectations.”
The list of CEDAW’s attempts to redefine social norms scrolls on. Although the recommendations do not carry the force of law, nations that signed CEDAW are pledged to enforce its provisions. Moreover, they understand that United Nations’ funding and other assistance may rest on their co-operation with policy.
Fagan concludes his critique with the only reasonable explanation of the United Nations’ recent PC policies. He wrote, “If the objective is to increase state control of all functions of society, then the U.N. approach makes sense.”
by Zahid Hussain
Our correspondent reports from Meerwala in southern Punjab on the horrors of ‘honour’
MUKHTAR MAI wept continually as she described how she had been gang-raped on the orders of an unofficial tribal jury as a punishment for her brother’s alleged affair with a woman of a higher caste.
Wrapped in a brown shawl, the 18-year-old village teacher told how her screams had been drowned by laughter and jeers from a crowd of 500 people as she was dragged into a mud house by gunmen. Inside she was raped in turn by four men — including one of the members of the jury or jirga, a local court without official status.
“I begged and pleaded with them, but they were like animals,” Miss Mai said as she struggled to come to terms with her suffering. “One of them put a gun on my head while the others tore up my clothes.” Her father, a poor farm worker, and an uncle heard her cries, but were helpless in the midst of hostile armed tribesmen.
It was around midnight when a battered Miss Mai emerged, almost naked, from the house. The crowd started to disperse as she crawled back to her home few hundred yards away, helped by her father, Ghulam Fareed.
For more than a week after the attack on June 22, nobody took any notice of a crime that is seen almost as routine in Pakistan’s backward tribal regions. Her small, remote village lies in the feudal southern end of Punjab province, where women are treated virtually treated as chattels and often fall victim to tribal honour.
The poor farmer could not dare to challenge the powerful and politically influential tribal jury. “They threatened us with dire consequences if we reported the crime to the police,” Mr Fareed said. “We are poor people and cannot think of taking them on.”
Nevertheless, eventually the crime became national news after a local newspaper reported it on June 30. The police, who had tried earlier to cover up the crime, finally acted, but it was too late. The main accused — including the members of the tribal jury — had already fled. Six people who abetted the crime were arrested after the Punjab Government sacked the local police chief.
The ordeal of Mr Fareed’s family, who belong to the socially low Gujjar tribe, began when his 12-year-old son, Abdul Shakoor, was accused of having an affair with a 22-year-old woman of the higher-caste Mastoi tribe. The boy was brutally beaten and locked up by his alleged lover’s family, who said that their honour had been offended and called for revenge.
“Our honour can only be restored after we disgrace one of the boy’s sisters,” the family reportedly told the tribal jury.
Shakoor denied the allegation of having “illicit” relations with Salma Bibi, but his plea was rejected. The jury, dominated by Mastoi tribesmen, ordered Mr Fareed to produce one of his daughters. He had no choice but to comply.
Miss Mai, the eldest of his five daughters who gave Koran lessons to the village children, had agreed to go with her father. “I never thought that they will give such a ruling,” she said.
“I am like your daughter and a sister. Don’t do this to me,” she shouted as the jury passed the order. But they would not listen. An elderly jurist joined two brothers and a cousin of Salma in carrying out the verdict. “My life was destroyed after that humiliation. I thought of committing suicide,” she said.
Yet the nationwide protest that has followed news of the rape and the Pakistani Government’s promise to take action has given her some ray of hope that she might receive some justice. “I want them to be publicly hanged,” she said.
Tribal jirga, which continue to exist in many remote and backward regions, do not have any legal sanction in Pakistan, but they are used by tribal leaders to maintain their influence.
The military Government has ordered tough action against the police officers involved in the apparent cover-up and failed arrests of the culprits. But the villagers are sceptical that the main accused would ever be punished.
Despite the Government’s instructions, the police are reluctant to take action against the influential feudal and tribal lords who have allegedly provided shelter to the criminals. It has been reported that the police are pressurising Mr Fareed and his daughter to change their statements. “We are not sure whether the tribal jury could give such a ruling,” a senior officer said when asked about the investigation.
While the police denied that any other similar incident had taken place, the villagers said that the use of gang-rape as a device to avenge “the honour” was quite common in the area. According to a report in a local newspaper a young girl committed suicide after she had been gang-raped.
There have also been reports of murder of a large number of women, particularly in the tribal areas, in the name of honour. There have been many cases in which a woman was killed only on suspicion of having had extramarital sex.
The independent Human Rights Commission of Pakistan has expressed concern over the increasing incidents of crime against women. “The gang-rape of a young girl as a form of punishment presents an alarming picture of the conditions in which so many women live and the atrocities they face,” Afrasiab Khattak, the commission chairman, said.
He said it was clear that such a crime could not take place without the connivance of the local authorities, especially the police. The commission has demanded the immediate disbanding of all tribal jirgas.
By Kelley Beaucar Vlahos
WASHINGTON — A researcher of women’s organizations is accusing bedrock feminist groups of threatening legal pressure and public embarrassment of corporations and schools if they don’t contribute millions of dollars and alter policy to their liking.
Author Kimberly Schuld, who recently published a Guide to Feminist Organizations, breaks down the membership, personnel and funding of nearly 40 established women’s organizations, think tanks and health groups.
“They use each other, they are very closely aligned and they don’t work independently,” Schuld told Foxnews.com. “The MO of these feminist organizations is to threaten with lawsuits and threaten with embarrassment. They don’t care about women, they care about their own power.”
The groups targeted by Schuld’s critique, including the National Organization for Women, the National Council of Women’s Organizations, and the National Women’s Law Center, dismiss Schuld’s claims as conservative paranoia, and say all they are doing is fighting for issues important to women like child care, Social Security and equality.
“If we did not exist, [conservatives] would have nothing better to do, that’s all they exist for, to tear down what we do,” said Martha Burk, head of NCWO, which is currently engaged in a campaign against the men-only Augusta Golf Club in Georgia.
Burk said her coalition has never threatened a lawsuit or a boycott and it does not take corporate dollars.
“[Schuld] doesn’t know what she is talking about. Our agenda does help women, pushing our agenda is what we’re all about and our agenda is for equal access for women in our society,” she said.
Schuld contends that it’s more about money than principle and says several major corporations have found through experience that it is easier to upgrade their policies beyond existing federal and state law than to tangle with the likes of groups like NOW.
“[Women] have workplace protections up the wazoo, we are probably the most protected class in the country.” Schuld said. “But this is just a shakedown over public relations. The last thing [corporations] need is a story in The New York Times saying their corporation is being sued.”
For instance, Schuld said, in 1999, NOW-NYC activists pressured more than 900 women employees to sue Merrill Lynch for gender discrimination on the job. The stock trading company settled with individual plaintiffs, and Merrill Lynch donated $25,000 to the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund in 2000.
“Sometimes the law doesn’t work perfectly, and sometimes we’re just pointing out that rights are being violated. No money is exchanged,” said Nancy Duff Campbell, co-president of the National Women’s Law Center. “I disagree that the law is perfect and nothing needs to be changed.”
NWLC received $158,000 in legal fees in 2000, as well as $3.8 million in corporate, public and government funding.
Corporate dollars don’t always stop the lawsuits, however. Merrill Lynch gave $10,000 each to NOWLDEF and NWLC in 1998. Donors like May Department Stores, which operates Lord & Taylor, has given money to NOW for many years. In recent years they have been sued several times, including by a male employee who wanted diaper-changing stations in the men’s restrooms.
Officials at NOW did not return calls for comment. Between NOWLDEF, NOW and the NOW Foundation, the operation raised more than $12 million in revenues in 2000, though membership has been in decline for a decade, said Schuld.
Another breeding ground for lawsuits is on college campuses, where schools are required under federal Title IX statutes to give women equal access to athletic programs in public institutions that receive federal funding.
Under the threat of legal action, schools have cut longstanding swimming, football and baseball teams. Brown University is currently engaged in a lawsuit over female athletic participation rates — even though it has more teams for women than for men on campus.
Schuld said the women’s groups are in cahoots to “basically throw the fishnet out for plaintiffs” on campuses across the country, encouraging girls to seek legal assistance if they feel spurned by the system.
Campbell said she would not describe it that way.
“We are about trying to advance the legal rights for women and that includes educational programs about what their legal rights are. Women do have legal rights. They come to us to ask what their rights are,” she said.
David Gillespie may be an unlikely Rosa Parks, but we have to take our civil rights heroes where we find them. Mrs. Parks rebelled because, being black, she was told to ride in the back of an Alabama bus while whites got to sit up front. Mr. Gillespie could not tolerate paying a $5 cover price on ladies’ night at a New Jersey bar while females were getting in free.
This being a civil rights drama, you can guess how it ends. Mr. Gillespie took legal action, and last week, the walls of discrimination came tumbling down. The state Division on Civil Rights ruled that giving women a special incentive to patronize a drinking establishment is illegal.
“Once a place of public accommodation makes its goods or services available to the public,” the division said, “it is bound to treat all members of the public alike.” To allow exceptions to the policy “would be to disregard its intended goal, which is nothing less than the eradication of the cancer of discrimination.”
That last sentence brings to mind what Oscar Wilde said about an emotional scene in Charles Dickens’ “The Old Curiosity Shop”: “One must have a heart of stone to read the death of Little Nell without laughing.” American history holds numerous examples of discrimination that are thoroughly malignant. This is not one of them.
When it comes to relations between the sexes, a little common sense goes a long way. It’s not sex discrimination to bar men from women’s locker rooms. It’s not sex discrimination to let only females audition for the role of Juliet. It’s not sex discrimination to roughly balance males and females in an entering college class. And it should not be sex discrimination to offer favors to one sex in order to benefit people of both sexes.
Why, after all, would a bar offer discounts to women? Not because the owner harbors a deep-seated hostility toward men, perpetuating centuries of oppression. People who run such establishments understand that a lot of men patronize taverns partly to meet women, and that they will come more often and stay longer if women are abundant than if they are scarce.
Since females are generally less attracted to the bar scene, discounts may be needed to draw them out in respectable numbers. The owner of the Coastline Restaurant and Bar in Cherry Hill, the target of the complaint, said after the ruling came down that his male customers are unhappy “because they’re wondering, ‘Are the girls going to show up?’ “
Unlike Mr. Gillespie, those guys realize that they’re not victims here, because there are no victims. Women get to enjoy a night out at a bargain rate, while feeling less isolated in a sea of males. Men get to enjoy a night out with a better chance of meeting someone of the opposite sex. Pre-existing couples save some money. Misogynists have the chance to confirm their prejudices.
By contrast, it’s hard to see how David Gillespie will be better off once these discounts have been consigned to the dustbin of history. Saloon managers are not likely to cut prices for men to match the specials offered to women. Mr. Gillespie will merely get to sip his beverage of choice at full price — and chances are better than before that he’ll be doing it in solitude.
His supporters insist that what’s important is upholding the principle of nondiscrimination. To allow ladies’ nights to go on, we can deduce, would invite the return of Bull Connor and the abolition of women’s suffrage. Offering a discount for women, to George Washington University law professor John Banzhaf, is no more defensible than charging whites less than blacks. “Sex discrimination is wrong, no matter whose ox is being gored,” he declares.
But context is crucial, and relations between the sexes are different from relations between the races. We don’t accept racially segregated restrooms, but we do accept sexually segregated restrooms. All-white colleges would be offensive, but all-female schools are not.
Charging whites less than blacks would suggest a desire to drive away black customers because of racial animus. Charging women less than men suggests nothing comparable. No reasonable man is going to feel the sting of humiliation when a tavern offers women something he can’t have. No reasonable woman is going to feel insulted by the differential treatment.
Only people with a rigidly dogmatic mindset and an aversion to reality could think ladies’ nights are part of “the cancer of discrimination.” But in New Jersey, unreasonableness rules.
Steve Chapman is a nationally syndicated columnist.
by Florence King
EDITOR’S NOTE: Herewith one of the Queen of Spleen’s first forays into the pages of National Review was the following article that appeared in the November 18, 1992, issue (the cover story: “The Goddess that Failed — Reflection on Feminism”). Who better than Florence to reflect upon “a society that has had all the feminism it can stand?” She is, as usual, too funny, and you must, as usual, read this.
Another must is STET, Damnit, The Misanthrope’s Corner, 1991 to 2002 — the complete and unabridged collection of Miss King’s eye-poking back-page NR columns. This wonderful book is available only from NR.
EVE FATIGUE is an affliction that comes over a society that has had all the feminism it can stand. Say, for example, you are shopping by phone and the person taking your order for a shower curtain asks you what color you want.
“You have a choice” You don’t even hear the rest; your mind shuts down because every lurching move a woman makes is called a choice. The nullipara of all choices is, of course, abortion, but now feminists are saying that women should be able to choose whether to serve in combat, and rape victims should be allowed to choose whether to let their names be published.
On June 18, during Senate Armed Services Committee hearings, the chiefs of the four military branches voiced such blunt objections to women in combat that they sounded Pattonesque. The Air Force representative frankly admitted that he considers male gender the premier qualification for a fighter pilot, and calmly justified his views with the first completely guiltless and public utterance to fall from the lips of a white male in two decades: “Maybe I’m wrong, but I can’t help it, that’s the way I feel.”
Another sign that the Pentagon may be moving from the Potomac marshes to Eve Fatigue Flats was a July 1 news story about Captain Linda Bray, America’s first war heroine, who liberated a dog kennel during the Panamanian action in 1989. Linda Bray is no longer in the army. She is now a housewife, her sporty look exchanged for frosted hair and long pointed nails painted “Maui Mango.” As they say in Gothic novels, What terrible thing happened to Linda Bray?
She was hounded out of the Army.
Writes Scripps Howard reporter Peter Copeland: “When she and her company returned home to Fort Benning, Captain Bray was visited by investigators from the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division asking what had happened to the dogs at the kennel. A Panamanian soldier had accused American soldier of killing the dogs several days after the invasion.”
No one is more susceptible to Eve Fatigue than former feminist role models. Warning women against careers in the infantry, the five-foot-one, 105-pound Linda Bray recites a cautionary tale worthy of Phyllis Schlafly: “I carried too much weight. I always felt pressure in the military. ‘You don’t have very much weight in your rucksack. Why don’t you carry a little more?’ I kept adding more until my hips broke. I can’t run, jump. I can’t even go grocery shopping without having to sit down because it hurts.”
Eve Fatigue replaced the seventh-inning stretch on July 5 when Washington’s Orioles’ baseball channel ran a Children’s Defense Fund public-service ad. It shows a crowd of concerned citizens picketing a white marble government building. Some of the picketers are male, but the camera lingers on careerish women in business suits. One such woman has brought her baby in a carriage, but she gets so immersed in clamoring and petitioning that she leaves the carriage perched precariously at the top of a long marble staircase.
As the voice-over recites statistics on America’s soaring rates of infant mortality, malnutrition, and child neglect and abuse, the baby carriage starts to roll backward down the steps. The statistics fly faster and faster, and so does the carriage. Finally the politically active mother remembers her child and turns around, but it’s too late. As she watches in helpless horror, the bough breaks and down goes baby, cradle, and all.
Running this ad during a baseball game, when the viewership is overwhelmingly male, meets the definition of that ubiquitous act of our times known as “sending a message.” Eve Fatigue is “on the table,” and feminists are so panicked that Washington Post columnist Judy Mann detects that old devil “linkage” between a Betty Friedan speech and another news event of the same day.
“Ten minutes after she finished speaking, President Bush nominated Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. Four times, the President referred to him as the ‘best man’ for the job, suggesting that only men were considered. It was one of many ominous signs of what’s to come.”
Paranoia doesn’t get any better than this.
“Are there are any registered vaginas in the house?”
“Step into your vaginas and get the vagina vote out!”
These were some of the comments shouted at the celebrity-packed “Vaginas Vote, Chicks Rock” night in New York City this September. Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem were among the laudables at the event that urged women to register to vote in order to promote “women’s issues.”Underlying the surreal rhetoric is the idea that women share special political interests around which they should rally and vote as a solid block.
This is different from appealing to statistics. Saying “most women voted in X manner during the last election” is data analysis. Each party quite reasonably pores over such analysis to determine what it means and how it can be used to best advantage.
Saying all women should vote in the future according to the issues defined by their vaginas is an ideological contention.
Much could be said of the idea that all women have shared political interests. For one thing, it is false. Looking at just one election issue — abortion— there is no consensus among women who seem to be split equally into pro-choice and pro-life camps. Only by demeaning pro-life women as being “unenlightened to their own vaginal interests” can the advocates of shared-identity politics explain this schism.
Women don’t seem to vote on the basis of their genitalia. Instead, they vote for the candidate most closely aligned with their view of the world. Indeed, it seems bizarre for gender feminists to argue that a woman should think and vote as a sex organ. Whatever happened to their anger at the objectification and portrayal of women as body parts?
Nor is it obviously true that women’s interests differ dramatically from those of men. For example, it is difficult to see how pivotal election issues such as gun control, Iraq, the price of oil, better schools or terrorism are more important to one sex than the other or have a significantly disparate impact on either one.
The theory underlying the “Vote Your Vagina” assumption is that women have a shared political interest. The theory has many labels, but it is commonly referred to as “identity politics.”
A fairly standard definition of the term is: “Identity politics is the politics of group-based movements claiming to represent the interests and identity of a particular group, rather than policy issues relating to all members of the community. The group identity may be based on ethnicity, class, religion, sex, sexuality or other criteria.”
Identity politics divides society into distinct political classes and declares them to be antagonistic to each other’s interests: blacks against whites, women against men, gays against heterosexuals. The focus is on the “rights” of the specific group— that is, those things the group claims to deserve and wishes to acquire by law. The “rights” are commonly based on the existence of historical oppression.
Identity politics is a sharp departure from the traditionally American ideal that rights are universal, not particular. That is, that all human beings possess the same rights, which are not determined by differences such as sex or race.
The presence of slavery in the United States into the 19th century reminds us that the ideal was not always realized, and sometimes not even closely. Nevertheless, it was the ideal of the Declaration of Independence—”all men are created equal” — toward which politics consistently moved.
The abolition of slavery said race was irrelevant to the rights an individual could claim. The enfranchisement of women said much the same thing. When Susan B. Anthony argued for women’s rights, she did not ask for special treatment, only for the full embrace of human rights. She wrote, “We [women] have stood with the black man in the Constitution over half a century…Enfranchise him, and we are left outside with lunatics, idiots and criminals.”
Identical rights under the law carries a strong presumption that all individuals share the fundamental political interest of having those rights respected. Consider freedom of speech. A woman benefits from the protection of free speech no less than a man does. Arguably, a history of oppression makes freedom of speech more personally important to a woman; it is part of what will allow her to rise through education and merit.
By contrast, identity politics says that women and men do not share a similar interest in freedom of speech. For example, if a man expresses sexist views, he is said to “silence” women and, so, his speech should be restrained through policies such as sexual harassment laws or campus speech codes. Thus, freedom of speech is converted from a human right into a tool of oppression that must be blunted by force.
Only if you advocate group rights and reject individual ones does it make sense to cry out for sexual solidarity in voting. Ironically, such a call reverses the political trend that secured the vote to women in the first place. Namely, the demand for inclusion in human rights. The demand by women to have their rights equally recognized so they were no longer in a separate legal category “with lunatics, idiots and criminals.”
The early feminists who fought for true equality did not speak of “special interests.” They spoke of human rights. The call for women to “step into their vaginas” dishonors the brave women who refused to define themselves as body parts and longed, instead, to participate fully in the richness of a broader humanity.
Wendy McElroy is the editor of ifeminists.com and a research fellow for The Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif. She is the author and editor of many books and articles, including the new book, “Liberty for Women: Freedom and Feminism in the 21st Century” (Ivan R. Dee/Independent Institute, 2002). She lives with her husband in Canada.
The “mommy wars” have been raging for decades now, with seemingly no end in sight. Both sides — the defensive, righteous working moms and the superior, righteous stay-at-home moms — act the same. They trot out statistics to prove children grow up better their way: Day care either ensures your child will get into Harvard, or ensures he won’t. They celebrate their choices as best for all women: Getting out of the home and into the office is liberating and satisfying; staying at home with the children is the only path to female fulfillment.
Neither side asks the simple question, Is it right for mothers to leave their children regularly in the care of others? Even the promoters of at-home motherhood do not see the issue as a moral one. Like the feminists, they focus on two questions: Does traditional parenting provide better results in the end? And is traditional parenting more rewarding for the woman?
Which is why Mary Eberstadt’s “Home-Alone America” is such a surprising book. Unlike most entrants in the debate, she is unconcerned with whether children in institutionalized care (her apt phrase for day care) turn out better or worse readers than their home-parented counterparts. Her worry is how those institutionalized children feel. Her goal, lofty as it sounds, is to make the debate not about numbers but about the real children who live without their parents.
It may seem a bit counterintuitive to focus on the immediate effects of leaving your children for 10 or more hours a day, instead of the long-term effects. But Mrs. Eberstadt makes a compelling case that a sense of abandonment leaves scars that are not quick to heal. She often marshals those same statistics she decries to make her case.
Day care, a veritable breeding ground for bacteria and other nasties, makes children sick. It leads some children to become more aggressive. Stress levels, in most of us at their peak in the morning, actually grow as the day progresses for institutionalized kids. And statistics show compelling connections between maternal work outside the home and overweight children — kids fare poorly when mothers aren’t there to supervise eating and exercise habits.
We’ve all seen these arguments before. It is when she leaves the numbers behind that Mrs. Eberstadt transcends this overworked genre. Her chapter on music approaches a revelation. You are prepared for yet another socially conservative, pro-censorship, ineffective rant on how rock music is killing our youth. But she surprises by asking a different question entirely: “What is it about today’s music, violent and disgusting though it may be, that resonates with so many American kids?”
Bill O’Reilly, as she notes, calls Eminem “as harmful to America as any al Qaeda fanatic.” But Mrs. Eberstadt takes the rapper at face value and questions why kids buy his records — and those of other angry young men and women — in the millions. Her answer is simple: “If yesterday’s rock was the music of abandon, today’s is that of abandonment.” With an all-too-rare pop culture savvy, she examines the lyrics of many of today’s top-selling acts, in a refreshingly sympathetic way: “Contrary to what critics have intimated, the misogyny in current music does not spring from nowhere; it is often linked to the larger theme of having been abandoned several times — left behind by father, not nurtured by mother, and betrayed again by faithless womankind.”
Mrs. Eberstadt does fall prey to one of the same criticisms as many of her pro-home-parenting brethren, however. A well-known commentator, this research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and consulting editor to Policy Review works from home so she can spend more time with her four children. But how many other women have that option? Few jobs afford the flexibility that writing does. From her home office, Mrs. Eberstadt is able to tell other women that they should choose home over work. For most of them, it may not be such an easy — or available — choice.
That does not detract from Mrs. Eberstadt’s crucial point, however. Children are simply better off spending more time with their parents. No amount of data massaging can change that fact. “But what ‘meta-analytic’ could possibly measure, say, the emotional hole in today’s teenage music?” she asks. “What data do we use to capture the chronic low-intensity sadness of a yearning baby who just plain misses her mother day in and day out?”
As Mrs. Eberstadt understands, “the genies of modernity will not go back into their bottles.” But we can decide whether the huge social experiment we have conducted over the last few decades was the right thing to do. “Home-Alone America” is a fine first salvo in what may be a changed war.
Kelly Jane Torrance is arts and culture editor of Brainwash and a books columnist for the American Enterprise Online.
Say you are a clever university president named Larry. You have an old friend, Marty, whose own institute is situated just down the road from you. You have a few problems at your university, and when you get an invitation to hash through them at Marty’s, you zip right over. After all, the arguments at Marty’s are provocative, intense and factual. There is nothing you love better than such rip-roaring exchanges. Besides, some good may come of it. Anything that is debatable is soluble.
The Larry in this instance is, of course, Larry Summers of Harvard, former US Treasury secretary during the Clinton presidency. Marty is the economist Martin Feldstein of the National Bureau of Economic Research. And the conference, hosted by another economic eminence, Richard Freeman, did not turn out well for Mr Summers. For - as is known by now - one challenge that Mr Summers sought to address was that women today are not winning as many tenured posts in the “hard” sciences, such as advanced maths or physics, as might be expected in the post-feminist era. Another was that more males than females tend to score in the very top range of maths aptitude tests. Mr Summers also touched on the proposition that there might be a genetic difference between men and women when it came to performance in hard sciences.
This last little hypothesis was enough to bring the entire educational establishment down upon Mr Summers’ head. A week ago, Mr Summers issued his first apology, and he has been apologising ever since.
The controversy is part of a Larry pattern. While at the Treasury, he angered plenty of people with his handling of the Mexican bail-out of the mid-1990s; he angered others - and apologised - when he charged citizens who supported repeal of inheritance taxes with “selfishness”. At Harvard, he infuriated law school teachers by reasserting the president’s authority over the choice of dean. Eminent professors departed for other universities after he assailed departments for grade inflation. Yet more outrageous - at least from the point of view of some senior professors - was his requirement that academic stars should do more teaching. His call for a patriotic response from Harvard following the attacks of September 11 2001 angered left-leaning faculty. And now, the woman gaffe.
One might conclude from this record that Mr Summers is too arrogant for his current job title. Controversial arguments are fine when they come from a whizz-kid. And Mr Summers, the nephew of two Nobel Prize winners in economics, was a whizz-kid - an irritatingly high scorer. His doctoral dissertation won him a tenured spot a Harvard before he was 30.
A university president is like a chief executive. There are clearly things he can and cannot say.
But this argument misses the point. The trouble is not that Mr Summers is too self-satisfied. It is that Harvard is. Harvard - and US universities like it - tend to promulgate a set of views - global warming is a crisis; the US is to blame for the world’s troubles; governments of developed nations ought to be large; and quotas or some form of affirmative action is required when it comes to the advancement of women and minorities. These same universities often shut out, or look away from, arguments that do not support these beliefs. The result is not “neo-Stalinist” monoliths - novelist Michael Crichton’s description of universities in his current bestseller, State of Fear. But it is universities that are boring, provincial, shut in.
Mr Summers was trying to kick open doors - to recapture for Harvard the sense of intellectual possibility that leads to progress. The “woman” controversy is a good example. The fact that more maths prodigies are boys is not even hypothetical; the data have been out there for decades. When tested in hard sciences girls tend to clump in the middle of the statistical range. Boys, by contrast, are more spread out - hitting stellar highs and humiliating lows more frequently.
If, after decades of promoting girls, boys still do better, it is not crazy to wonder whether the difference is hardwired. And since the Harvards of the world tend to take only the tip-top scholars of hard science, it stands to reason they would hire more males than females. As Steven E. Rhoads, the author of a new book on sex differences points out, to acknowledge this specific hard science difference is not to deny the advance of women in other fields, even those once perceived as patriarchal: the law, medicine.
What is more, this knowledge does not necessarily mean that women physicists will never get tenure. It also does not mean there is no discrimination against women. If statistics dictate that you will never meet a woman Einstein, you may not be able to recognise her when you do meet her. The reality - as most working adults know - is that modern universities and corporations are both sexist and sanctimoniously politically correct. Such are the nuances Mr Summers and colleagues might have been able to work through - if the prissier among them had not walked out and called The Boston Globe.
After all, everyone can agree that if you deny a problem, you ensure that you cannot correct it. In short, places such as Harvard need people such as Mr Summers. Larry: stop apologising.
By Judith Kleinfeld
Last week the country got a taste of academic politics when: (1) the president of Harvard, Larry Summers, raised the possibility at an academic conference that “innate sex differences” might be one of many reasons explaining why fewer women reach the top in science;
(2) MIT professor of biology Nancy Hopkins flounced out of the conference, telling the media she would have “blacked out” had she stayed; and
(3) Summers made a Soviet show-trial confession of sin.
The feminists won the political fight in the academy (of course), but politics can’t change the facts. Here they are:
Sex Hormones Influence an Ability Important to Success in Certain Scientific Fields
The fetus begins development as a female. At about the third month of pregnancy, if the male Y chromosome is present, male sex hormones start to circulate. These sex hormones not only shape external sexual organs, like the penis and testicles. These sex hormones also affect the neurological structure of the human brain.
Male sex hormones shape a cognitive ability important to success in physics and engineering, the ability to visualize three-dimensional objects in space. Take a condition called “congenital adrenal hyperplasia” (CAH). Females with CAH are exposed in the uterus to abnormally high levels of male sex hormones. As adults, these females score substantially higher in spatial abilities. As children, they prefer to play more with “boy toys” and less with “girl toys,” starting them off on a path that develops their spatial skills.
When female-to-male transsexuals are given high doses of testosterone in preparation for sex-change therapy, their visual spatial skills improved dramatically and their verbal skills (where females on average surpass males) decline.
The average difference between males and females on psychological tests of these abilities is huge. Among young adults, six out of every seven males outperform the average female in the ability to create dynamic mental representations of the physical world.
The crucial issue for who is going to be a Harvard or MIT professor of physics is not who falls at the average but who falls at the extremes. Even a small difference in averages creates extreme differences at the top, the people who fall in the far right hand tail of the normal curve. It’s off-the-map talent, not just being good at something, that earns you a full professorship at elite universities like Harvard or MIT. Some will be female, but more will be male.
Males Are More Apt to Be the Oddities at the Top of the Heap and the Bottom of the Barrel
Few people are aware of a fascinating phenomenon that explains a disturbing fact — why so many males appear to be in the ranks of the most distinguished scientists, such as Albert Einstein or Richard Feynman or Stephen Hawking.
On most intellectual abilities, the differences between males and females are trivial, if they exist at all. But males are more variable. The normal curve can be either high and tall (typical of females) or flat and wide (typical of males). The male style curve has longer tails. Males are more apt to fall at the extremes, whether at the very top or at the very bottom.
Charles Darwin drew attention to the greater variability of males in The Descent of Man, first published in 1871. Not only are males more diverse than females, Darwin concluded, after a long study of domestic animals. Males also have more “abnormalities.”
That more males appear in every category of neurological impairment is undisputed. These afflictions show up even before birth, before cultural influences have had a chance to kick in. Miscarriages, where the fetus is defective, for example, are more likely to be male.
Exceptional intellectual ability of any kind is an oddity. We do not call individuals with characteristics our culture values “oddities,” but they are oddities all the same. The other side of the coin is that fewer females have neurological deficits. But women are more apt to look upward with anger than downward with relief.
Mathematically Precocious Young Girls Have Higher Verbal Ability and Broader Interests
Talent searches for mathematically precocious youth, which began at John Hopkins University in 1971, have included well over a million students. The program selects students who score over 700 on the mathematical section of the Scholastic Aptitude Test at the early age of 13, before many have had formal instruction in advanced mathematics. The difference in favor of males is astonishing: 13 males for every 1 female.
Plenty of girls also have high levels of mathematical ability. But mathematically precocious girls typically have higher levels of verbal ability than mathematically precocious boys, and the girls have far broader interests. More of the girls take advantage of their strong verbal skills to select careers in areas other than the physical sciences and engineering.
This fight boils down to a paltry point — more males than females are apt to have the off-the-map talent that lands them professorships in fields like physics, especially at elite universities. Yes, we should be sensitive to subtle forms of gender discrimination and social stereotyping. But no one could be doing more to reinforce damaging social stereotypes about women than Nancy Hopkins, the MIT professor of biology who started this flap. She didn’t offer argument or evidence. She flounced off, fearful of swooning. This is the behavior of a southern belle of another century, now designed for the quite contemporary political purpose of punishing speech she classified as politically dangerous. We’re entitled to a higher level of civility in academic discourse than Hopkins displayed. And we’re entitled to truth.
— Judith Kleinfeld is a professor of psychology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks and has written extensively on gender issues.
Hysteria — A functional disturbance of the nervous system, characterized by such disorders as anaesthesia, hyperaesthesia, convulsions, etc., and usually attended with emotional disturbances and enfeeblement or perversion of the moral and intellectual faculties.
— Oxford English Dictionary
WASHINGTON — Forgive Larry Summers. He did not know where he was.
Addressing a conference on the supposedly insufficient numbers of women in tenured positions in university science departments, he suggested that perhaps part of the explanation might be innate — genetically based — gender differences in cognition. He thought he was speaking in a place that encourages uncircumscribed intellectual explorations. He was not. He was on a university campus.
He was at Harvard, where he is president. Since then he has become a serial apologizer and accomplished groveler. Soon he may be in a Khmer Rouge-style re-education camp somewhere in New England, relearning this: In today’s academy, no social solecism is as unforgivable as the expression of a hypothesis that offends someone’s “progressive” sensibilities.
Someone like MIT biology professor Nancy Hopkins, the hysteric (see above) who, hearing Summers, “felt I was going to be sick. My heart was pounding and my breath was shallow.” And, “I just couldn’t breathe because this kind of bias makes me physically ill.” She said that if she had not bolted from the room, “I would’ve either blacked out or thrown up.”
Is this the fruit of feminism? A women at the peak of the academic pyramid becomes theatrically flurried by an unwelcome idea and, like a Victorian maiden exposed to male coarseness, suffers the vapors and collapses on the drawing room carpet in a heap of crinolines until revived by smelling salts and the offending brute’s contrition.
Hopkins’ sufferings, although severe, were not incapacitating: She somehow found strength quickly to share them with The Boston Globe and the “Today” show, on which she confided that she just did not know whether she could bear to have lunch with Summers. But even while reeling from the onslaught of Summers’ thought, she retained a flair for meretriciousness: She charged that Summers had said “that 50%” of “the brightest minds in America” do not have “the right aptitude” for science.
Men and women have genetically based physical differences; the brain is a physical thing — part of the body. Is it unthinkable — is it even counterintuitive — that this might help explain, for example, the familiar fact that more men than women achieve the very highest scores in mathematics aptitude tests? There is a vast and growing scientific literature on possible gender differences in cognition. Only hysterics denounce interest in those possible differences — or, in Hopkins’ case, the mere mention of them — as “bias.”
Hopkins’ hysteria was a sample of America’s campus-based indignation industry, which churns out operatic reactions to imagined slights. But her hysteria also is symptomatic of a political tendency that manifested itself in some criticism of President Bush’s inaugural address, which was a manifesto about human nature.
This criticism went beyond doubts about his grandiose aspirations, to rejection of the philosophy that he might think entails such aspirations but actually does not. The philosophy of natural right — the Founders’ philosophy — rests on a single proposition: There is a universal human nature.
From that fact come, through philosophic reasoning, some normative judgments: Certain social arrangements — particularly government by consent attained by persuasion in a society accepting pluralism — are right for creatures of this nature. Hence the doctrine of “natural right,” and the idea of a nation “dedicated,” as Lincoln said, to the “proposition” that all men are created equal.
The vehemence of the political left’s recoil from this idea is explained by the investment political radicalism has had for several centuries in the notion that human beings are essentially blank slates. What predominates in determining individuals’ trajectories — nature or nurture? The left says nature is negligible, nurturing is sovereign. So a properly governed society can write what it wishes on the blank slate of humanity. This maximizes the stakes of politics and the grandeur of government’s role. And the importance of governing elites, who are the “progressive” vanguards of a perfected humanity.
The vehemence of Hopkins’ recoil from the idea that there could be gender differences pertinent to some cognition might seem merely to reflect a crude understanding of civic equality as grounded shakily on a certain identical physicality. But her hysteria actually expresses the left’s ultimate horror — the thought that nature sets limits to the malleability of human material. Summers should explain this to her, over lunch, when he returns from camp.
The feminists, who have no sense of humor, have given Americans a big belly laugh, but it’s no laughing matter to the principals involved. The feminists lassoed Harvard University President Lawrence Summers, no less, and dragged him groveling through the ivy until they wrung from him all they wanted and more.
The most intolerant feminists are on the faculties of elite colleges and universities. The Communists used to severely punish as “deviationists” all those who strayed from the party line, but feminists have taken adherence to orthodoxy to new heights.
It didn’t help Summers that he was president Bill Clinton’s secretary of the treasury. Summers thought he was chatting off the record with intellectuals who had the maturity to engage in a little light banter combined with a provocative suggestion for academic research or possibly a new doctoral dissertation.
He was wrong. To liberals, some subjects are not only non-debatable, they are non-researchable because they think they already know the answers and they don’t want to be confused by facts.
The cornerstone of the political correctness that dominates campus culture is radical feminism. And the first commandment of feminism is: I am woman; thou shalt not tolerate strange gods who assert that women have capabilities or often choose roles that are different from those of men.
Summers said that he had tried gender-neutral upbringing on his little daughter by giving her toy trucks to play with. She immediately pretended they were dolls and named them “daddy truck” and “baby truck.”
Summers wasn’t proclaiming a new scientific discovery. Sex differences from the cradle are known to every parent and were explained to the public in delightful detail in John Stossel’s famous ABC documentary called “Boys and Girls Are Different.” But a lot of feminists are still in the dark on this matter because they don’t have any children or at least don’t have both sons and daughters.
Then Summers suggested that some studies be undertaken to see whether there are any innate gender differences that might explain why fewer women than men have succeeded in science and math careers in academia.
That was the torch that ignited an international media firestorm. Abandoning all dignity, Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Nancy Hopkins slammed down her laptop and stormed out of the room because, she said, “I would’ve either blacked out or thrown up.” Her stereotypical behavior confirmed speculation that women might be unable to face scientific issues scientifically.
Another feminist demanded that Summers immediately submit to a week of “intense discussions” to get him to admit his guilt. Other feminists ran to the Internet and to friends in the media to activate an orgy of indignation and personal attacks.
Congressional liberals got into the act, too. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Ore., was quoted nationally that Summers “knows that he clearly crossed the line.”
Summers didn’t say anything that hasn’t been said by a few courageous scholars many times before. For example, University of Virginia Professor Steven Rhoads’ book “Taking Sex Differences Seriously” (Encounter) is copiously documented.
But, as the dean at the very feminist Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Studies said, Summers gave us “an opportunity that didn’t exist before” and we took it “to see that the changes at Harvard get made.”
After two weeks of flagellation by the liberal media plus those “intense discussions” (a k a Soviet-style re-education) to force Summers to accept liberal dogma and use only feminist-permitted language, a contrite Summers apologized over and over again. It was unconditional surrender.
Summers appointed not one but two task forces: one on women in the Harvard faculty and another specifically on women in science and engineering, to recruit, support and promote women.
The task forces, which must report by May 1, are made up of 22 women and 5 men - the feminist version of gender equality. The chairman of the task force on women in science and engineering told the press she took the assignment only on Summers’ promise that he will “act immediately on the suggestions.”
It’s doubtful that the task forces will make any suggestions - more likely they will issue orders. The announcement didn’t include any caveat that new female hires be as qualified as the men who would be passed over, because Summers is already on record as endorsing affirmative action.
In one more Summers capitulation, he will appoint a commissar of faculty diversity. Perhaps we should say a commissarina since there’s no need to speculate about her gender.
When will American men learn how to stand up to the nagging by the intolerant, uncivil feminists whose sport is to humiliate men? Men should stop treating feminists like ladies, and instead treat them like the men they say they want to be.
Judith Warner calls the problem, “this mess.” Author of Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety, Werner has issued a manifesto for postmodern motherhood. As she sees it, motherhood has been transformed into a trap for young women, who find themselves torn between impossible expectations and a lack of self-fulfillment. Her new book, along with a major cover story in the February 21, 2005 edition of Newsweek, represents a battle cry for a new feminist generation.
Warner, a biographer of Hillary Rodham Clinton and co-author of a book with Howard Dean, interviewed 150 women over a four year period in order to take the pulse of motherhood today. Her book, featuring a title that implies desperation, depicts modern motherhood as an impossibility. To make her case, she first rejects what she characterizes as two erroneous understandings of motherhood. The first is that offered by traditionalists, who argue that a mother’s first responsibility is to her home and to the nurture of children. Warner quickly dismisses this picture as a relic of a bygone past.
At the same time, Warner dismisses the early feminists—including figures such as Betty Friedan—as neglecting the possibility of a woman’s choice to find fulfillment in motherhood.
Actually, Warner has not moved as far from the early feminists as she thinks. Her portrait of motherhood is deeply rooted in the ideological foundations of modern feminism. She may refer to the present as a “postfeminist era,” but her basic assumptions about a woman’s place in society and the nature of male oppression reflect decidedly feminist sentiments.
The “mess” Warner portrays consists of mothers who are deeply unfulfilled and conflicted. Speaking of these women, Warner summarized her concern: “By any objective measure, they had easy lives—kids in good schools, houses in good neighborhoods, dependable husbands whose incomes allowed them to mostly choose what they wanted to do with their time. Most had chosen to pursue Mommy Track jobs—part-time work, a big cut in ambition and salary. But they didn’t mind that; they knew that that was a privilege. Still, there was something that bugged them. It ate away at them. It cast a pall on all the rest. What they couldn’t make peace with was the feeling that somehow, more globally, they were living Mommy Track lives.”
These “Mommy Track lives” are “filled with kneepads and bake sales and dentists’ appointments and car seats.” Warner’s sense of crisis is directed at the sense that these mothers live less fulfilling lives than their husbands. The feminist dream promised more than this.
Judith Warner recognizes that her concerns are characteristic of her own generation. But, this is a generation largely shaped by a therapeutic concept of the self and a vision of life as a continuing experiment in self-expression and fulfillment. For many of these women, motherhood has become a trap, a prison of confinement that locks them out of a world others inhabit.
“I think of ‘us’ as the first post-baby boom generation, girls born between 1958 and the early 1970s, who came of age politically in the Carter, Reagan and Bush I years. We are, in many ways, a blessed group. Most of the major battles of the women’s movement were fought—and won—in our early childhood. Unlike the baby boomers before us, who protested and marched and shouted their way from college into adulthood, we were a strikingly apolitical group, way more caught up in our own self-perfection as we came of age, than in working to create a more perfect world.”
Choice stands at the center of this younger feminist worldview. “Most of us in this generation grew up believing that we had fantastic, unlimited, freedom of choice,” Warner argues. Nevertheless, she laments the fact that many of the women in her generation face choices far more limited than they had imagined. “You can continue to pursue your professional dreams at the cost of abandoning your children to long hours of inadequate childcare. Or: You can stay at home with your baby and live in a state of virtual, crazy-making isolation because you can’t afford a nanny, because there is no such thing as part-time day care, and because your husband doesn’t come home until 8:30 at night.”
Clearly, Warner and her friends really did think they could have it all. As she acknowledges, they envisioned motherhood and professional life as a matter of “balancing” responsibilities and fulfillments. It didn’t work. Warner presents motherhood as a pathology of stresses and frustrations. “I read that 70% of American moms say they find motherhood today ‘incredibly stressful’,” Warner reports. “Thirty percent of mothers of young children reportedly suffer from depression. Nine hundred and nine women in Texas recently told researchers they find taking care of their kids about as much fun as cleaning their house, slightly less pleasurable than cooking, and a whole lot less enjoyable than watching TV.”
By any measure, this is a very sad and disturbing vision of motherhood. When Newsweek puts this article on its cover, it is sending a significant signal to the culture at large.
Warner does have some legitimate concerns. She writes about the stresses of motherhood in an age of frantic activity and constant entertainments for children. She laments the exhaustion that comes from ferrying children from one soccer practice to another and the sense of responsibility, felt by many women of her generation, to be the “perfect mom” of the post-feminist fairy tale.
Then again, the fairy tale was a fantasy from the start. Parenthood is not a matter of perfection, and the nurture of children is one of the most time-consuming, demanding, and unrelenting responsibilities that can fall upon any human being.
Perhaps the most remarkable aspect of Warner’s article is the fact that it is so decidedly focused upon the mother rather than the children. The mother stands at the center of her narrative, and the mother’s needs—perceived and real—frame the “reality” around which her proposals are formed.
In an Op/Ed column in The New York Times published on Valentine’s Day, Warner cited a report by the National Marriage Project at Rutgers University to say that “children are a ‘growing impediment’ to a happy marriage.” Just in case anyone missed her point, she suggested the following question: “Is our national romance with our children sucking the emotional life out of our marriages?”
No doubt, Judith Warner must love her children. Nevertheless, she writes as if her children are an imposition in her otherwise untroubled life. She blames “the motherhood religion” for this sense of oppression, arguing that “motherhood in America has been unmoored from reality and turned into a theology.”
She roots this “religion” in the Victorian cult of motherhood and argues that America’s social institutions failed to adjust this myth in the wake of the feminist revolution.
Whether she recognizes this factor or not, Warner’s concerns are almost entirely limited to relatively well-off mothers with substantial education and professional opportunities. Her concerns do not easily translate to the single mother who must work in order to keep food on the table.
Furthermore, her economic concerns are transparent. She complains that “middle class life is now so _____ _____ _____ expensive that in most families both parents must work gruelingly long hours just to make ends meet.”
Warner reveals a bit of her own economic background in the narrative of her book. She spent a considerable amount of time in France, where she learned to love the welfare state. She writes as if the opportunities she has known can be easily and legitimately generalized to an entire generation.
In reality, the economic aspirations of those who identify themselves as “middle class” have been skyrocketing over the last generation or two. What was considered safely middle class as a lifestyle just a generation ago is now considered to be insufficient.
Accordingly, Warner’s most practical suggestions amount to a Europeanizing of American society. She suggests tax subsidies that would encourage corporations to adopt “family-friendly policies,” as well as “government-mandated childcare standards and quality controls that can remove the fear and dread many working mothers feel when they leave their children with others.” It doesn’t take long to realize that Warner is calling for government-subsidized childcare for all citizens.
She also calls for “flexible, affordable, locally available, high-quality, part-time day care so that stay-at-home moms can get a life of their own.” Consider just the last few words of that sentence. Without skipping a beat, Warner argues that stay-at-home moms do not have a life of their own unless they can put their children into another’s care for some considerable amount of the day.
Beyond this, she calls for “creating vouchers or bigger tax credits to make childcare more affordable,” for paid family leave for women, and for other forms of government support. “In general,” she argues, “we need to alleviate the economic pressures that currently make so many families’ lives so high-pressured, through progressive tax policies that would transfer our nation’s wealth back to the middle class.” Well, here we meet the economic proposal in its bare political form. She wants someone else to do much of the nurturing and spend much of the time required by children, especially in their younger years. Someone else should do a lot of the paper-cutting, the party-planning, and the educating of children so that mothers can have “a life of their own.” Following the European example, employers should be forced to pay maternal leave and to hold jobs open for as many as three years after a baby’s birth.
What is sadly missing from this entire picture is the affirmation that motherhood—like every other major responsibility—necessarily brings limitations. The myth of the “perfect mother” is not corrected by marginalizing motherhood as a hobby for women who want it all. Everyone experiences limitations, and no one—male or female—enjoys a life of unlimited choices. This is the real world, after all, so those who are driven by Warner’s mix of ambitions are almost certain to be frustrated.
The last thing we need is for our children to be nurtured in institutional settings and for government to become the surrogate parent for our children—part-time or full-time. Newsweek’s cover story and Judith Warner’s new book serve as a significant cultural alarm that should awaken us to the fact that motherhood has been pervasively redefined in our generation.
In reality, motherhood is one of the highest callings on earth. Inevitably, the experience of being a mother brings limitations into a woman’s life. At the same time, those limitations represent the liberating lines of transcendent purpose.
Judith Warner presents bold arguments and depicts the motherhood crisis in colorful terms. Without doubt, we must recover a higher concept of motherhood than this. Accepting Judith Warner’s proposals for fixing the motherhood crisis would be, in itself, a form of perfect madness.
R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
The shadows of children allegedly raped by United Nations peacekeepers in the Congo and the women allegedly molested by a top U.N. official fall across the 49th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women.
From this past Monday to March 11, the U.N. will meet in New York City to review global progress on the “women’s human rights agreement” known as the Beijing Platform (1995).
Over 6,000 advocates of women’s rights will attend.
How can a self-respecting woman, let alone a feminist, legitimize the U.N. through her presence? The CSW should be in the forefront of those crying out for justice and U.N. accountability. Instead, the CSW will almost certainly call for expanding the U.N.’s power and funding.
Rage will be directed instead at President Bush who has already created pre-meeting controversy. On Thursday, the Bush administration signaled its refusal to renew an unconditional commitment to the Beijing Platform, a declaration of women’s rights promoted by the Clintons, which many consider to be a radical feminism’s global agenda.
Bush is balking because the declaration is seen to legitimize abortion as a “human right.” Given the widespread reports that the U.N. was complicit in China’s forced abortion policy, the administration’s caution about how the Platform will be interpreted and implemented is justified.
But if abortion is center stage, a more fundamental question still remains: By what moral standard is the U.N. a proper stage on which to negotiate women’s rights? How much blood and corruption has to splatter before the U.N.’s moral authority is washed away?
Its credibility on human rights has been broken beyond repair by the oil-for-food scandal that, as a FOX News series stated, “ended up with Saddam Hussein pocketing billions to become the biggest graft-generating machine” in history.
Its integrity on women’s rights was destroyed in 2001 by the surging traffic in under-aged prostitutes in Bosnia. The traffic was not only created by the arrival of tens of thousands of male U.N. personnel who sought prostitutes but also by behind-the-scenes involvement by U.N. personnel.
The female staff member who blew the whistle was fired, later to be exonerated as the evidence unfolded.
The intervening years have not improved the U.N.’s record.
Approximately 50 U.N. personnel currently face some 150 allegations of sexual abuse, most of them involving children, in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The situation has been labeled “the sex-for-food scandal” because children traded sex for the handful of food they needed to live.
Reports from the Congo surfaced last year. An article in December’s London Times stated, “When the police arrived the man was allegedly about to rape a 12-year-old girl.”
The accused serial rapist and pedophile was a U.N. expert in the $700 million-a-year effort to rebuild the war-ravaged nation. Anneke Van Woudenberg of the Human Rights Watch organization, states, “The U.N. is there for their protection, so when the protectors become violators, this is particularly egregious.”
The U.N. tends to stonewall such accusations despite its “zero tolerance” policy toward sexual abuse. When ABC’s 20/20 confronted William Swing, head of the Congo’s U.N. peacekeeping mission, he blamed the problem on a small number of miscreants. He emphasized the remedial measures taken— such as curfews and prohibitions against fraternization with prostitutes.
ABC’s cameras, however, caught a group of peacekeepers out after the curfew with prostitutes at a bar. When Swing commented, “Perhaps my senior management…wasn’t aware of it,” ABC pointed out that several people at the bar were from senior management.
Investigative journalist David Ross explains that the abuse is a by-product of the de facto immunity from law enjoyed by U.N. personnel. Ross writes, “Peacekeeping troops come from U.N. member states and are only accountable to their own governments. U.N. civilian employees enjoy immunity from local prosecution and as a result tend not to face charges in countries where they are stationed.”
Perhaps this explains why investigative reports now suggest that sexual abuse by U.N. “peacekeepers” is worldwide.
This could be good news. If there is a structural “incentive” to abuse, then abuse could be minimized by changing the structure. But reform requires the one thing that the U.N. seems determined to avoid: taking responsibility.
Consider the Lubbers scandal that played out earlier this month.
Ruud Lubbers, U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees, was accused of “unwanted physical contact” with a female staff member in December 2003. The scandal emerged only after the Independent, a UK newspaper, published details of a confidential July, 2004 report from the U.N.’s Office of Internal Oversight Services, which pointed to a pattern of sexual harassment.
Until then, Secretary General Koffi Annan declined to act.
The Independent’s expose was published on Feb. 18; on Feb. 20, Lubbers resigned at Annan’s request.
The UN is no more forthcoming on the sex-for-food scandal. In response to a blistering commentary by Michelle Malkin entitled “U.N.’s Rape of the Innocents,” Jane Holl Lute, Assistant Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations, repeated the standard line. A zero tolerance policy is being enforced.
Moreover, she called Malkin “negligent” for not reporting on the U.N.’s remedial measures.
This is not an agency that shoulders responsibility.
Which returns us to the question, why are feminists pretending that the U.N. is a proper stage to discuss women’s rights? No self-respecting woman would walk through its doors.
Wendy McElroy is the editor of ifeminists.com and a research fellow for The Independent Institute in Oakland, Calif.
You know it’s a slow news month when statements by the president of Harvard University make headlines for weeks on end. Over six weeks ago, Larry Summers speculated that innate difference between genders may play a role in the under-representation of women among top scientists. The initial flurry of stories has since been followed by a CNN report, a series of Washington Post front-page articles, and countless hours of television punditry — all covering the clash in Cambridge and how professors and students plan to reprimand their wayward leader.
Many believe this episode reflects an out-of-control campus culture that makes politically incorrect inquiry a near crime. Commentators — myself included — reveled in the caricatured reaction of professors like MIT’s Nancy Hopkins, who nearly fainted upon hearing Summers’ words. Intellectuals have debated the merits of Summers’s hypothesis: Does the evidence suggested that more men are naturally gifted in math and science?
A less-examined aspect of the Summers’s soap opera is how the anti-Summers campaign fits in to the larger feminist game plan. Feminists are looking for opportunities to prove their relevance and power. Toppling Larry Summers would fit the bill nicely.
It’s been a rough year for old-guard feminists. Their archenemy, President Bush, was re-elected and the Democrat’s advantage among women all but vanished. Many liberal stalwarts, including a defeated John Kerry, speculated that Democrats’ stance and statements on abortion — largely the product of feminists’ influence on the issue — alienated voters and needs moderation. Feminists watched as Senator Hillary Clinton, poster-woman for the feminist movement, launched a deliberate campaign to appear moderate and distance herself from the liberal left.
Another blow came when an ex-board member of the National Organization for Women in New York released Why Men Earn More. This book shatters the idea that the “wage gap,” or the difference between the median wages of “working” men and women, is the result of discrimination.
Warren Farrell isolates the many decisions that affect how much individuals get paid: from the types of jobs they choose to their willingness to move locations and work long hours. Farrell details how women tend to make choices that mean they earn less than men. Women are less likely to work in hazardous jobs and jobs that are include physical discomfort, like being outdoors. Women gravitate to jobs that offer greater flexibility, more time off, and less travel. It’s clear from Farrell’s analysis that women’s decision to opt for lower pay is not in itself a problem. In fact, it could be characterized as a healthy tendency in women, to place greater value on their time and quality of life than the extra dollars.
These developments are bad news for entrenched campus feminists loath to admit that, in the real world, women often act differently than men. The breaking of ranks among their key constituents — from reliably liberal politicians to notoriously leftist Harvard University — has to be alarming.
The effort to take down Summers, for what objectively appears a modest infraction against feminist orthodoxy, parallels the strategy advocated by many hawks in the war on terror. Toppling Saddam was a strategic move, they argue, because other countries are now more wary of crossing the United States. If Larry Summers is ousted for failing to tightly tow the liberal line, the feminists will prove their ability to punish future would-be dissenters. That’s appealing for the gender warriors, but terrible for a Democratic party scrambling to project empathy for middle-American values.
The Larry Summers saga may seem like old news, but it speaks volumes about the prospects of the feminist movement and the Democrats who answer to them.
Carrie Lukas is the director of policy at the Independent Women’s Forum.
Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D.
At Beijing +5, former first lady Hillary Clinton told the delegates and representatives of nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) that the Beijing documents were “promises agreed to” and that those promises were both “a road map” and a “rallying cry.”
Beijing +10 was to be the radical feminists’ finest hour –– the culmination of Mrs. Clinton’s prediction that “women’s rights” would become “human rights.” She made it clear that “women’s rights” included abortion, “gender mainstreaming,” preferences and quotas.
Yet, the timing of Beijing +10 couldn’t be worse for radical feminists. They were counting on this conference to be the capstone of “women’s rights,” yet they are farther from their goals now than at either Beijing (1995) or Beijing +5 (2000). The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe is releasing a document essentially admitting that the Beijing platform has been a failure and asking for a Fifth World Conference on Women because “since the year 2000 [there has been] a global backlash.” Their document also admitted that “in this negative climate, reopening the point agreed upon in the platform for action [in Beijing] for renewed debate is out of the question.”
The radical feminists were riding so high after Beijing and for the first five years afterward. What went wrong?
They sold out pure and simple reason. In spite of their sense of entitlement, the radical feminists no more represent women than Jesse Jackson represents blacks. They turned blind eyes to the womanizing of Bill Clinton and Ted Kennedy. They ignored the whole range of issues affecting women’s well-being in order to push for abortion rights worldwide and for the whole range of preferences and quotas that are embodied in the mantra “gender mainstreaming.”
In the year 2000, Hillary Clinton praised the U.N. for “defining and guaranteeing” women’s rights around the globe. Such remarks seem hollow in light of recent revelations about the U.N.’s corruption and the abhorrent behavior of U.N. personnel in nations around the world. To add insult to injury, feminists have remained silent about these egregious and widespread abuses of women. Instead of calling the U.N. to accountability for its corruption, radical feminists are depending upon the U.N. to formulate into policy and then mainstream their global agenda.
In her recent Fox.com article, Wendy McElroy itemized the many ways that the U.N. has squandered its moral authority.
* On human rights, the oil-for-food scandal lined Saddam Hussein’s pockets to the tune of billions while he raped, tortured and killed Iraqi citizens.
* U.N. personnel –– tens of thousands of them –– created the demand for under-aged prostitutes in Bosnia.
* In the Congo, about 50 U.N. personnel face 150 charges of sexual abuse, mostly with children who were desperate for food –– creating what is being called the “sex-for-food” scandal.
* There are rampant reports of sexual abuse by U.N. “peacekeepers” worldwide.
* The corruption extends to the highest levels with the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees accused of sexual harassment and forced to resign.
One would never know about this extensive corruption from the NGOs who depend upon the United Nations to provide a forum through which to ram through their provisions and shape policy. They also use the U.N. to implement that policy by manipulating member nations and using strong-arm tactics to deal with those who dare to think for themselves.
The so-called “promises” of Beijing are looking less and less likely to be implemented. The Beijing documents are highly controversial and, contrary to the claims of the Left, they were never accepted universally; many nations have refused to “affirm” them –– forcing some NGOs to call for “removing the brackets” (meaning to reject the formal objections filed by nations about specific provisions in the documents). The Left is pinning their hope now on forcing the U.S. to sign the old Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW) treaty and promoting the new Millennium Declaration goals as a means of slipping in their pet causes. They are turning to the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) to “promote political, economic and social empowerment of women.”
The United States is standing firm in calling all U.N. member nations to examine the flawed utopian perspective that is the foundation for so many of the U.N.’s programs –– many based on faulty data and logic. These policies often violate national sovereignty and denigrate the moral principles and cultural traditions of developing countries and assume that Western, developed nations know what is best for them.
No amount of high-sounding rhetoric can cloak the radical social engineering being proposed at the U.N. Nor can we ignore the U.N.’s heavy-handed imposition of its radical ideology, and that it will siphon funds that ought to go for women’s legitimate needs around the world.
In ancient times, the men who hunted birds were called “fowlers.” They used a method of hiding behind their horses until they got close enough to capture their prey. That’s where we get our phrase “stalking horse.” The horse out front is meant to deceive –– behind it lurks an unseen threat. Today, at the U.N., there are yet fowlers among us. They are hiding behind horses named Beijing, CEDAW and UNIFEM. Our job, as Americans at this time, is to expose those “stalking horses” lest we be caught in the fowler’s snare.
Janice Crouse trained a team of NGOs who attended the Beijing Conference and she wrote a Beijing Bulletin about the daily activities at the conference. She also attended and wrote about Beijing +5, and is at the United Nations for Beijing +10, where she is writing and reporting on the negotiations for Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization and an accredited NGO at the United Nations.
In the school where I once taught, they used to tell the story of the smart-alecky boy in chemistry class who, upon being given meticulous instructions as to the day’s classwork, put his hand up and asked: “Please, sir, why do we need to do this experiment? You already know how it comes out, and we don’t care.” It was a sentiment to which the bosoms of at least half the all-male school instantly returned an echo. Not only did most of those on the artsy side of the arts-sciences divide not care, they passionately didn’t care. Very possibly the numbers of the uncaring and the unmotivated in a girl’s school would have been even higher. The difference is that nowadays no one cares about the boys who don’t care, but the girls who don’t care are thought to be letting down their sex.
The cover story by Amanda Ripley in March 7 issue of Time is headlined “The Math Myth: The Real Truth about Women’s Brains and the Gender Gap in Science.” Scientists who are still working their slow way towards “the Real Truth” on this subject will doubtless be grateful to Time, with its customary enthusiasm for gross simplification, for straightening them out and so making an awful lot of laborious investigation and data-collection unnecessary. Nor will it surprise those who are already acquainted with Time to learn that the Real Truth bears a remarkable resemblance to the politically correct account of male-female learning disparities. For even though there are differences, including physiological ones, between the brains of men and women, they are unlikely to be important. “Men and women perform similarly on IQ tests. And most scientists still cannot tell male and female brains apart just by looking at them.”
Most can’t but some can? And which ones can’t? Physiologists or nuclear physicists? Time does not tell. Anyway, the important datum is that even where different aptitudes in the two sexes show up on tests, it is a simple matter of proper education to annihilate them. “There is plenty of evidence that when young women are motivated and encouraged, they excel at science,” Ms. Ripley tells us. As an example, she tells us, girls in Iceland and Sweden are better than boys in math and physics, and because the gap is widest in the remote regions of Sweden, Ms. Ripley and her tame expert, a Danish professor of educational psychology, find it an easy leap to the conclusion that “That may be because women want to move to the big cities farther south, where they would need to compete in high-tech economies, while men are focused on local hunting, fishing and forestry opportunities.”
The assumption here seems to be that motivation is an entirely extrinsic phenomenon. The scientifically minded girls are presumed to have become so because of an accident of geography, while the non-scientifically minded ones who haven’t had the luck to have been born in some place like Jokkmokk in Swedish Lapland have become the way they are because, presumably, society has let them down and failed to perform its manifest duty of ensuring equal outcomes for the two sexes. Either way, the only intrinsic differences between the sexes that are supposed to matter are cognitive ones — and of course they don’t matter. But what if motivations are also inborn? What if little girls are by nature disposed not to care how the experiment comes out in even greater numbers than little boys? On what grounds do we tell them that they have a duty to care — at least beyond the conclusion of their minimal scientific education?
The answer can only be that we derive such a duty from the political imperative to make sure that all social outcomes are the same for the two sexes, as only thus can we be sure that one — that is to say, women — is not being oppressed or exploited by the other — that is to say, men. And yet what a procrustean bed we make for ourselves with such a reduction of the personal to the political. Surely it is ideology and not reason which forces us to suppose that natural differences in the moral and emotional dispositions of the two sexes can only be the result of one’s exercising an illegitimate power at the expense of the other?
I can think of two analogies. One is the contortions that educational institutions are forced by Title IX to engage in in order to find women who care about participation in sports and games and athletic events, whereas there is never any shortage of men. Of course, the PC account of this phenomenon is likely to be the same as it is in the case of female scientists and engineers: somehow they have been brainwashed by “society” into thinking they can’t do these things and therefore they don’t want to do them. It seems to me that all the brainwashing these days is going the other way, and yet there are still many fewer women wishing to take part in athletic competition than men. But let that pass. Perhaps the more telling example of inborn differences in what an earlier generation would have called “the passions” is in the sexes’ attitudes to the cleanliness of their environment.
Like most people who have lived with members of the opposite sex, I have always taken it for granted that women in general will care more about keeping clean than men in general. Of course this too may be “only” on account of social conditioning — as if social conditioning were merely arbitrary and alterable at will — but it is hard to see when and how such conditioning takes place. Even back in the bad old days of the 1950s when I was growing up, children of both sexes were enjoined to keep their rooms clean, but my sister cared about this without prompting while my brothers and I did not. Even threats rarely moved us. In every survey, women are found still to do the vast majority of the housework that is done in America. Is this only because of “sexism”? Or is it because the women by nature find it as hard not to care as men do to care that housework should be done? I’m only asking. But there seems enough of a doubt in this case, as in that of the women scientists, for people of good will to wish that politics might not bring its coercive force to the matter of making people do what they are disinclined to do.
James Bowman is a resident scholar at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, media essayist for the New Criterion, and The American Spectator’s movie critic.
A new page has been written in the war between the sexes and it’s mean and nasty. Unlike a war between the states, it’s a tempest parading as a tsunami.
Michael Kinsley edits the op-ed pages of the Los Angeles Times. Susan Estrich is a professor at the University of Southern California and lusts fiercely to write an essay for the Kinsley pages.
When he rejected one of her essays, as editors are entitled to do, Miss Estrich threw what we used to call a hissy fit. She accused him of suffering a “Larry Summers problem,” recalling the president of Harvard who questioned whether there may be innate qualitative differences in male and female talents for math. The “Summers problem” is the newest diagnosis for any man who doesn’t agree with absolutist beliefs of certain feminists.
The professor counted the number of op-ed essays by women in the Los Angeles Times and discovered - horrors! - men outnumber the women on the pages. No beans are too small to count for the masters (and mistresses) of the computer keyboard. Had Estrich wanted to make a profitable critique of the Los Angeles Times op-ed pages, she might have examined the ratio of liberals to conservatives, but affirmative action only counts when you employ it in behalf of yourself.
Estrich, who ran the Dukakis presidential campaign into the ground nearly two decades ago, became so irrational (dare I say hysterical?) and mean and nasty that she even told Michael Kinsley that his affliction with Parkinson’s disease “may have affected your brain.” Kinsley obviously resisted the temptation to indulge in medical diagnosis and did not accuse her of suffering menopausal hot flashes.
Estrich grossly distorts women’s gains in the newspaper punditry. When I began writing a column 21 years ago, there were only a handful of women writing on anyone’s op-ed pages. Today nearly all major newspapers publish a variety of women on their op-ed pages. Four women write regularly on the op-ed pages of The Washington Times, my own newspaper.
Counting beans is more fun than actually examining the merits of political argumentation, or the quality of the writing, but the success of women in the media mirrors the successes of women in other fields. This is what raises the Estrich-Kinsley contretemps above the level of newsroom gossip.
Susan Estrich is playing a dog-eared victim card and in doing so reveals herself as well behind her curves. Three-fourths of American women between 25 to 34 are in the workforce, up from half in 1975. A report by the World Future Society finds that Generation Xers and their younger counterparts in the millennial generation toil in a workplace that is all but “gender-blind.” Fully 57% of American college students are women.
The old-boy school of the entrepreneurial world has given way to the “new girl” school, with women more and more starting their own shops and companies. Life insurance companies sell more policies to women than to men. As women continue to draw on experience and education, they’re accelerating their numbers in upper management, too. Top salaries for women are not yet as high as those for men, but women’s salaries have been rising faster in America for 30 years. Trends suggest that the average woman’s income may exceed that of the average man within a generation.
The power of women is spreading globally, too. Rarely is George W. Bush described as a hero of women’s liberation, but he’s a hero of women in Iraq and Afghanistan. New ministers for women’s affairs in Iraq and Afghanistan reminded a press conference last week just how far women have come in that backward part of the world.
Massouda Jalal, a presidential candidate in Afghanistan’s first free election, reminded everyone that under Taliban rule women “couldn’t live like full human beings.” Now they can. Forty percent of the registered voters in Afghanistan are women and they’re beginning to move into the private sector. Namin Othman recalled how the Baathist regime in Iraq sold young girls to Saudi Arabia and Egypt, executed prostitutes without a trial, and identified women who protested against the government as prostitutes so they could be executed. In the old Iraq, women had rights only in theory. More than half of the voters in the January election were women, exercising their rights for real.
Both women asked the men and women of the Western media to tell the whole story, particularly the advances of women. “We really need the help of the media,” Namin Othman told the New York Sun. “We need a real media - an honest, truthful media . . . showing the negative and the positive, not all the negative.”
That’s more important than the beans at any newspaper.
A coalition of 75 women of faith called on the global community to support the “human rights goals of gender equality, development and peace,” during the 49th Session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. The group, which calls themselves “Ecumenical Women 2000”, represents dozens of denominations and ecumenical organizations that have long worked for gender equality within the body of the church.
“We affirm and encourage the continuing efforts to advance the human rights, dignity and status of all women around the globe, especially those who face discrimination in the inter-sectionality of gender with race, class, ethnicity, age, and sexual orientation,” the coalition said in their statement, presented during the 2-week UN gathering in New York.
The group noted that churches, like many institutions, “struggle with patriarchy and political processes that exclude and marginalize women.”
At that light, the coalition called on churches in particular to “strengthen” their “commitment to the implementation” of the Beijing Platform for Action – a statement for gender equality that was drafted by a UN Commission ten years ago and reaffirmed by the thousands of international delegates at the UN Commission this week.
The coalition also called on governments to “fully and effectively implement the Beijing Platform” and “ensure full participation of women at all levels of decision making.
The following is the full text of the Ecumenical Women 2000 Coalition, as released by the Anglican Communion News Service (ACNS) on March 9:
Delivered at the 49th Session of the Commission on the Status of Women
Ecumenical Women 2000 is a coalition of Christian denominations and ecumenical organizations at the United Nations focusing on the global intersections of religions, human rights and gender. As a delegation of seventy-five women of faith representing all regions of the world, we unequivocally support the Political Declaration unanimously adopted last Friday March 4th that reaffirms the Beijing Declaration and Platform for Action and calls for its full and effective implementation.
The Ecumenical Women 2000 coalition strongly supports the realization of the human rights goals of gender equality, development and peace which is the basis of the Beijing Platform. We affirm and encourage the continuing efforts to advance the human rights, dignity and status of all women around the globe, especially those who face discrimination in the inter-sectionality of gender with race, class, ethnicity, age, and sexual orientation.
Our faith traditions have a shared commitment and history for social justice, peace-building, and respect for dignity of all people, the integrity of creation and fullness of life. An example of this commitment is our involvement in the Decade to Overcome Violence (2001-2010), an initiative of the World Council of Churches that strives for unity and peace in a broken world.
Our churches, like many institutions, struggle with patriarchy and political processes that exclude and marginalize women. Furthermore, our churches have been slow to adequately respond to urgent issues such as the HIV/AIDS pandemic, racism, environmental degradation and sexism among others. This underscores the churches’ need to strengthen our own commitment to the implementation of the Beijing Platform for Action and the outcome of the 23rd Special Session of the General Assembly.
Ten years after the adoption of the Beijing Platform, women and girls around the world continue to suffer much of the burden of war, poverty, all forms of violence and discrimination, and economic injustice. In the last ten years increased militarization, trafficking in persons, the rise of all forms of fundamentalisms, negative effects of globalization and neo-liberal economic policies have had a disproportionate harmful impact on women and girls.
Now, more than ever, we call on governments to:
1. Fully and effectively implement the Beijing Platform for Action;
2. Ensure full participation of women at all levels of decision-making; [Kwing Hung: meaning abortion rights]
3. Guarantee women’s health care, sexual and reproductive rights and services
4. Dedicate sufficient resources to address poverty and unemployment, especially among young people
5. Reduce military expenditures, arms trade, investment for arms production and acquisition and reallocate resources to social and economic development, poverty alleviation, promotion of human security and the advancement of women.
Finally, we would like to stress that gender equality, protection of women’s human rights and empowerment of women are essential in achieving the internationally agreed development goals contained in the Millennium Declaration. The Beijing Platform as a general framework and the Millennium Development Goals as a strategy offer hope and help us to move forward in empowering the most vulnerable women and girls in all regions.
Do men earn more money thanwomen in comparable jobs with comparable responsibility? Most people seem to think so. During one of the presidential debates, John Kerry complained that full-time working men made a dollar for every 76 cents paid to women for the same work. President Bush didn’t challenge the statement, and reporters let it go by as well. “The average woman is cheated out of about $250,000 in wages over a lifetime,” said an article in Ms. Magazine. The AFL-CIO estimates that working families lose $200 billion of income annually to the male-female wage gap.
Oh, really? The Census Bureau did find that women earned 76 cents for every dollar paid to a male (now up to 80 cents on the dollar), but that was a raw number, not adjusted for comparable jobs and responsibility. A new book, Why Men Earn More by Warren Farrell, goes further, examining a broad array of wage statistics. His conclusion: When reasonable adjustments are made, women earn just as much as men, and sometimes more.
Some of Farrell’s findings: Women are 15 times as likely as men to become top executives in major corporations before the age of 40. Never-married, college-educated males who work full time make only 85% of what comparable women earn. Female pay exceeds male pay in more than 80 different fields, 39 of them large fields that offer good jobs, like financial analyst, engineering manager, sales engineer, statistician, surveying and mapping technicians, agricultural and food scientists, and aerospace engineers. A female investment banker’s starting salary is 116% of a male’s. Part-time female workers make $1.10 for every $1 earned by part-time males.
Surprisingly, Farrell argues that comparable males and females have been earning similar salaries for decades, though the press has yet to notice. As long ago as the early 1980s, he writes, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics found that companies paid men and women equal money when their titles and responsibilities were the same. In 1969, data from the American Council on Education showed that female professors who had never been married and had never published earned 145% of their male counterparts. Even during the 1950s, Farrell says, the gender pay gap for all never-married workers was less than 2% while never-married white women between 45 and 54 earned 106% of what their white male counterparts made.
Citing Internal Revenue statistics, Farrell notes that women who own their own businesses net only 49% of what male counterparts make. Since it can’t be that male bosses are holding them back here, women seem to be seeking certain lifestyle trade-offs-forgoing the highest possible income for more free time and flexible hours. They also seem to be avoiding some high-paying jobs. Female engineering managers make on average $83,000, but only 10% of the managers are female, indicating that many women are bypassing careers that could pay them more.
Farrell argues that many men outearn women by a willingness to take risky and dangerous jobs as well as work that exposes them to stress and bad weather or that requires a transfer to an undesirable location in another city or country. Women are more likely than men to pick glamorous jobs that tend to pay less. A London School of Economics study tracking 10,000 post-1993 United Kingdom graduates from 30 universities found that males were earning 12% more than women. The men tended to stress salary and were more likely to take up engineering, math, and computing. The women were more apt to seek socially oriented jobs and as undergraduates had favored majors in education and the arts.
Much of Farrell’s book is written in the style of a self-help book. It lists 25 ways women can improve their earnings, 10 of them advising the careful selection of high-paying fields and subfields. In nursing, an anesthesiology nurse can make more than the average doctor. An Army therapist is better paid than many other therapists. In the field of languages, Farrell advises, skip French and learn Arabic or Farsi. You will earn more.
Farrell was a board member of the National Organization for Women in the early 1970s but broke with the movement over its antimale excesses. He believes that the academic world and the news media have been incurious custodians of the myth that male oppression prevents women from achieving equal pay. It’s a sturdy myth, and data that contradict it are typically buried or never updated. Given the current campus climate, no broad and honest academic study of women’s pay is possible today. Farrell bluntly advises women to put the victimization rhetoric on hold and just do what it takes to get the high-paying jobs. Good idea.
Walter E. Williams
Dr. Larry Summers, Harvard’s president, remains under siege for remarks made in his Jan. 14 address to the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). Dr. Summers suggested that there might be three major reasons why women are underrepresented in the higher reaches of science and ranked them in order of importance.
First is what Dr. Summers calls the “high-powered job hypothesis,” where success demands putting in 80-hour weeks, and men are more willing or capable to do so. In support of how marriage and family impact women’s careers, he added that when one does see women in the higher reaches of science, they tend to be unmarried or have no children.
Dr. Summers’ second hypothesis is that there are sex differences in IQ and aptitude at the high end, and his third is that socialization and discrimination might explain some of the underrepresentation.
It’s Dr. Summers’ second hypothesis that caused MIT biologist Dr. Nancy Hopkins to leave the lecture, explaining to a Boston Globe (Jan. 17, 2005) reporter that, “I would’ve either blacked out or thrown up.” Previous temper tantrums served Dr. Hopkins well as reported in the Women’s Freedom Network Newsletter (Jan./Feb. 2000), “MIT Tarnishes Its Reputation with Junk Gender Science,” by Judith Kleinfeld. After claiming sex discrimination, “Professor Hopkins received an endowed chair, a 20% salary increase, $2.5 million of research funds from internal MIT sources, a 5,000 square foot laboratory, an invitation to join the prestigious National Academy of Sciences, and an invitation to the White House where president and Mrs. Clinton praised her courage and expressed the hope that other institutions would follow the MIT example.”
Virtually all academic literature on sex, IQ and aptitude reach the conclusion that there are differences between men and women. While the mean intelligence between men and women is similar, the variance differs significantly. Women cluster more about the mean while men are more spread out. That means fewer women, relative to men, are at both the low end and the high end of the intelligence and aptitude spectrum. That might partially explain why so many men are in jail compared to women, and why more geniuses like Mozart and Einstein are men. On last year’s SAT math test, more than twice as many boys as girls scored in the top range (750-800).
The only debate among scholars isn’t whether these patterns exist but whether they reflect acculturation or genetics. A substantial body of work suggests genetics. The fact of business is that we do differ genetically by race and sex, not only in intelligence and aptitude, but in physical ways as well.
Why in the world would we deny these differences, and deny their effects on observed outcomes, particularly in an academic setting where there’s supposed to be open inquiry? I think we do so for a couple of foolish reasons. First, most of us share the value of equality before the law. We falsely believe that equality before the law requires that we must in fact be equal. In my book, being a human being is the only condition for equality before the law. The second reason has to do with human arrogance. If a particular outcome is deemed undesirable and it’s genetically determined, our hands are tied and we just have to accept it.
Dr. Summers has responded to the criticism created by his NBER remarks with serial mea culpas, groveling and apologies. He’s in deep trouble. Faculty members don’t differ that much from chickens in a barnyard. The sight of the boss chicken bleeding is all that’s needed for the vicious pecking to commence.
If there’s a legitimate criticism that can be made about Dr. Summers’ NBER comments, it’s that he didn’t exercise discretion. There are certain things best left unsaid in front of children. Children have little understanding and can be easily offended by unvarnished truths.
From the March 7, 2005 issue: What do academic women want?
AT LAST WEEK’S HARVARD FACULTY MEETING, President Larry Summers saved his job, but he took a pummeling from his angry critics. Summers is easily the most outstanding of the major university presidents now on the scene—the most intelligent, the most energetic, as well as the most prominent. So, alarmed at his abilities and intentions, the Harvard faculty decided it would be a good idea to humiliate him.
Summers has supporters, and not all the faculty joined in the game of making him look sick. But the supporters, like Summers himself, were on the defensive, making concessions, and the critics were not. The critics consist of feminist women and their male consorts on the left. But since the left these days looks opportunistically for any promising cause, it is the feminists who are the core opposed to Summers. Together the feminists and the left make up perhaps half the faculty, the other half being moderate liberals who are afraid of the feminists rather than with them.
Summers saved his job by skating backwards, listening to his critics without demur and occasionally accepting their harsh words by saying he agreed with them. At no point did he feel able to say yes, but . . . in order to introduce a point of his own in response. His accusers were relentless and, as always with feminists, humorless. They complained of being humiliated, but they took no care not to humiliate a proud man. They complained too of being intimidated, but they were doing their best to intimidate Summers—and they succeeded.
At the meeting many said that the issue was not academic freedom vs. political correctness, as portrayed by the media, but Summers’s style of governing. The point has a bit of truth. Summers is an economist, and there is almost no such thing as a suave economist. The great Joseph Schumpeter, a Harvard economist of long ago, claimed to be the world’s greatest lover as well as the world’s greatest economist (it is said), but he was a singular marvel. The reason why economists are blunt is that words of honey seem to them mere diversion from reason and self-interest, which are the only sure guides in life.
More than most people—to say nothing of university presidents—Summers lives by straightforward argument. He doesn’t care whether he convinces you or you convince him. He isn’t looking for victory in argument. But his forceful intelligence often produces it, in the view of those with whom he reasons. Sometimes the professors he speaks with come out feeling that they are victims of “bullying,” as one of his feminist critics stated. As if to reason were to bully.
One faculty colleague said in response to this, “Can anybody on earth have less reason to fear than a tenured Harvard professor?” True enough, a Harvard professor has both the prominence to awe and, if that doesn’t work, the security to escape. But feminists do not think like this. They insist on a welcoming atmosphere of encouragement to themselves and to their plans. If they do not get it, they will with a straight face accuse you of intimidating them even as they are intimidating you.
It takes one’s breath away to watch feminist women at work. At the same time that they denounce traditional stereotypes they conform to them. If at the back of your sexist mind you think that women are emotional, you listen agape as professor Nancy Hopkins of MIT comes out with the threat that she will be sick if she has to hear too much of what she doesn’t agree with. If you think women are suggestible, you hear it said that the mere suggestion of an innate inequality in women will keep them from stirring themselves to excel. While denouncing the feminine mystique, feminists behave as if they were devoted to it. They are women who assert their independence but still depend on men to keep women secure and comfortable while admiring their independence. Even in the gender-neutral society, men are expected by feminists to open doors for women. If men do not, they are intimidating women.
Thus the issue of Summers’s supposedly intimidating style of governance is really the issue of the political correctness by which Summers has been intimidated. Political correctness is the leading form of intimidation in all of American education today, and this incident at Harvard is a pure case of it. The phrase has been around since the 1980s, and the media have become bored with it. But the fact of political correctness is before us in the refusal of feminist women professors even to consider the possibility that women might be at any natural disadvantage in mathematics as compared with men. No, more than that: They refuse to allow that possibility to be entertained even in a private meeting. And still more: They are not ashamed to be seen as suppressing any inquiry into such a possibility. For the demand that Summers be more “responsible” in what he says applies to any inquiry that he or anyone else might cite.
Of course, if you make a study of differences between the sexes with a view to the possibility that some of them might be innate, no violence will come to you. You will not be lynched. But you will be disliked, and you will have a hard time getting appointed at a major (or a minor) university. Feminists do not like to argue, and they consider you a case if you do not immediately agree with them. “Raising consciousness” is their way of getting you to fall in with their plans, and “tsk, tsk” is the only signal you should need and will get. Anyone who requires evidence and argument is already an enemy because he is considering a possibility hurtful to women.
Feminist women rest their cause on “social construction” as opposed to nature. The patriarchal society that has been made by humans can be unmade and remade by humans. But how do we know that the reconstruction will be favorable to women and not a new version of patriarchy? To avoid a resurgent patriarchy or other injustice, society, it would seem, needs to be guided by a principle beyond human making, the natural equality of men and women.
Accepting that principle would require, however, thinking about how far it goes and what natural inequalities in the sexes might exist. This might in fact be a benefit if it induced women to think more about what they want and like, and about what is fair to men and good for children. We do need feminism, because women are now in a new situation. But we need a new feminism conceived by women more favorable to liberty and the common good than the “feminists” of today.
Harvey Mansfield is the William R. Kenan Jr. professor of government at Harvard University.
How many people have to die before the country stops humoring feminists? Last week, a defendant in a rape case, Brian Nichols, wrested a gun from a female deputy in an Atlanta courthouse and went on a murderous rampage. Liberals have proffered every possible explanation for this breakdown in security except the giant elephant in the room – who undoubtedly has an eating disorder and would appreciate a little support vis-à-vis her negative body image.
The New York Times said the problem was not enough government spending on courthouse security (“Budgets Can Affect Safety Inside Many Courthouses”). Yes, it was tax-cuts-for-the-rich that somehow enabled a 200-pound former linebacker to take a gun from a 5-foot-tall grandmother.
Atlanta court officials dispensed with any spending issues the next time Nichols entered the courtroom when he was escorted by 17 guards and two police helicopters. He looked like P. Diddy showing up for a casual dinner party.
I think I have an idea that would save money and lives: Have large men escort violent criminals. Admittedly, this approach would risk another wave of nausea and vomiting by female professors at Harvard. But there are also advantages to not pretending women are as strong as men, such as fewer dead people. Even a female math professor at Harvard should be able to run the numbers on this one.
Of course, it’s suspiciously difficult to find any hard data about the performance of female cops. Not as hard as finding the study showing New Jersey state troopers aren’t racist, but still pretty hard to find.
Mostly what you find on Lexis-Nexis are news stories quoting police chiefs who have been browbeaten into submission, all uttering the identical mantra after every public-safety disaster involving a girl cop. It seems that female officers compensate for a lack of strength with “other” abilities, such as cooperation, empathy and intuition.
There are lots of passing references to “studies” of uncertain provenance, but which always sound uncannily like a press release from the Feminist Majority Foundation. (Or maybe it was The Pew Research Center for the People and the Press, which recently released a study claiming that despite Memogate, “Fahrenheit 9/11,” the Richard Clarke show and the jihad against the Swift Boat Veterans, the press is being soft on Bush.)
The anonymous “studies” about female officers invariably demonstrate that women make excellent cops – even better cops than men! One such study cited an episode of “She’s the Sheriff,” starring Suzanne Somers.
A 1993 news article in the Los Angeles Times, for example, referred to a “study” – cited by an ACLU attorney – allegedly proving that “female officers are more effective at making arrests without employing force because they are better at de-escalating confrontations with suspects.” No, you can’t see the study or have the name of the organization that performed it, and why would you ask?
There are roughly 118 million men in this country who would take exception to that notion. I wonder if women officers “de-escalate” by mentioning how much more money their last suspect made.
These aren’t unascertainable facts, like Pinch Sulzberger’s SAT scores. The U.S. Department of Justice regularly performs comprehensive surveys of state and local law enforcement agencies, collected in volumes called “Law Enforcement Management and Administrative Statistics.”
The inestimable economist John Lott has looked at the actual data. (And I’ll give you the citation! John R. Lott Jr., “Does a Helping Hand Put Others at Risk? Affirmative Action, Police Departments and Crime,” Economic Inquiry, April 1, 2000.)
It turns out that, far from “de-escalating force” through their superior listening skills, female law enforcement officers vastly are more likely to shoot civilians than their male counterparts. (Especially when perps won’t reveal where they bought a particularly darling pair of shoes.)
Unable to use intermediate force, like a bop on the nose, female officers quickly go to fatal force. According to Lott’s analysis, each 1% increase in the number of white female officers in a police force increases the number of shootings of civilians by 2.7%.
Adding males to a police force decreases the number of civilians accidentally shot by police. Adding black males decreases civilian shootings by police even more. By contrast, adding white female officers increases accidental shootings. (And for my Handgun Control Inc. readers: Private citizens are much less likely to accidentally shoot someone than are the police, presumably because they do not have to approach the suspect and make an arrest.)
In addition to accidentally shooting people, female law enforcement officers are also more likely to be assaulted than male officers – as the whole country saw in Atlanta last week. Lott says: “Increasing the number of female officers by 1%age point appears to increase the number of assaults on police by 15% to 19%.”
In addition to the obvious explanations for why female cops are more likely to be assaulted and to accidentally shoot people – such as that our society encourages girls to play with dolls – there is also the fact that women are smaller and weaker than men.
In a study of public-safety officers – not even the general population – female officers were found to have 32% to 56% less upper body strength and 18% to 45% less lower body strength than male officers – although their outfits were 43% more coordinated. (Here’s the cite! Frank J. Landy, “Alternatives to Chronological Age in Determining Standards of Suitability for Public Safety Jobs,” Technical Report, Vol. 1, Jan. 31, 1992.)
Another study I’ve devised involves asking a woman to open a jar of pickles.
There is also the telling fact that feminists demand that strength tests be watered down so that women can pass them. Feminists simultaneously demand that no one suggest women are not as strong as men and then turn around and demand that all the strength tests be changed. It’s one thing to waste everyone’s time by allowing women to try out for police and fire departments under the same tests given to men. It’s quite another to demand that the tests be brawned-down so no one ever has to tell female Harvard professors that women aren’t as strong as men.
Acknowledging reality wouldn’t be all bad for women. For one thing, they won’t have to confront violent felons on methamphetamine. So that’s good. Also, while a sane world would not employ 5-foot-tall grandmothers as law enforcement officers, a sane world would also not give full body-cavity searches to 5-foot-tall grandmothers at airports.
Janice Shaw Crouse, PhD
During the first week of deliberations at the U.N.’s Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) the U.S. delegation offered an amendment to the draft resolution that would ratify the original Beijing Declaration. The resolution made two basic points about the Beijing Platform for Action (PFA): (1) the PFA did not designate abortion as a universal human right and (2) the PFA created no new human rights.
Chaos erupted, and the U.S. delegation was attacked from every corner except Costa Rica and the Holy See.
The head of the European Union delegation, Mady Mulheims, was “shocked” and expressed fear that there would be “no declaration and nothing to show for 10 years of efforts for women.”
During the ensuing deliberations, various nations and NGOs stated that the U.S. amendment was unnecessary since acceptance of the Beijing document does not constitute an endorsement of abortion or create any new rights. Having these statements on the record accomplished the U.S. goal of ensuring, in the words of Ambassador Ellen Sauerbrey, that no “activist NGOs in the U.S.” can “take the original language of the Beijing Declaration and put new meaning to it.”
Now having statements on record denying that the PFA supported abortion or created new human rights, the U.S. shifted to a two-pronged strategy. First, the U.S. withdrew the amendment to avoid a vote. In the moral bankruptcy of the U.N., the measure would have failed. Many would have interpreted this as an implied endorsement of abortion and other elements of the radicals’ agenda. Second, by withdrawing the resolution, the U.S. enabled the CSW to move forward and ratify the draft resolution by consensus; however, under the rules of the proceedings, any nation has the right to have its reservations appended to the resolution. The U.S. made clear that it would make a statement opposing the view that abortion constituted a universal human right and encouraged other like-minded delegations to do so as well.
It is disheartening to report but according to my count (which may not be complete given all of the commotion created by the demonstrations in the gallery) only the Vatican and Costa Rica joined the U.S. in making pro-life interventions. That is, they requested recognition of the chair and stated a reservation regarding abortion as a right.
All other interventions consisted of statements aimed at countering the pro-life view, and attempts to implicitly expand the scope of the PFA by referencing other declarations such as CEDAW (the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women). Despite its idealistic-sounding title, CEDAW is actually a power grab by the radicals and thus has not been ratified by the U.S. As usual, radicals couched these pro-choice, pro-quota statements in coded phrases to obscure their meaning and scope. This, of course, greatly increases the likelihood that in the future some judge could give the broadest possible interpretation (the very thing the U.S. was fighting against by its statement that the PFA did NOT create any new human rights). The two most troubling phrases were those in support of: (1) ensuring “a woman’s right to complete control of her sexuality,” and (b) advancing “the mainstreaming of gender equality.”
“A Woman’s Right to Complete Control of Her Sexuality”: It is important to understand all that is implied by the radicals’ interpretation of the phrase “a woman’s right to complete control of her sexuality.” First, it obviously means that a woman or even a young female minor has a right to have access to abortion on demand. Furthermore, it is the government’s responsibility to ensure that access is available by funding the cost of abortions and by requiring that health care providers include abortion among their services or lose their license to operate. It also means that doctors who refuse to perform abortions could lose their positions on hospital staffs or even lose their right to practice medicine. Second, it means that prostitution should be legal, and the status of “sex worker” should be recognized and protected like any other profession. This would greatly weaken the possibility of prosecuting sex traffickers.
“The Mainstreaming of Gender Equality”: The tentacles of the provision are too numerous to enumerate here. Most importantly, this phrase means the adoption of preferences and mandatory quotas in all phases of social and political life — note I did not say preferences mandating “equal representation for women” but equal “gender” representation (which leaves the door open for the many varieties of “gender.”) The scope and intrusiveness envisioned by the slogan are beyond belief, extending even into family decisions about the sharing of household tasks and resources. Already Iraqi women are rejoicing about their goal of 55% representation of women in governing bodies and national leadership positions.
Consider for a moment the consequences of such provisions. Most women, who are busy caring for the needs of their families, do not have the inclination or the time needed to serve in such positions, which would take them away from their families for extended times. As a result, that leaves the field open to: (a) the privileged elites who have abundant leisure time to dabble in the exercise of power and (b) the radicals whose consuming passion in life is forcing those in the mainstream to not only accept, but to approve of, their deviant values and lifestyles.
As proof of my point, look at the radicalization of the Democratic party in the U.S. since it instituted mandatory quotas for various interest groups (women, minorities, etc.) during the last 35 years. And look at what has happened to the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women as well. Seeing militant harassment of the U.S. delegation (whose only offense was a principled stand for the rights of the unborn) made me cringe and fear for the future. Certainly there is no hope for the morally bankrupt U.N. to serve as a defender of freedom and justice. Witness the Oil-for-Food scandal and the unchecked sexual exploitation of women and children by U.N. peacekeepers.
Under the savvy leadership of Ambassador Ellen Sauerbrey, the Bush administration has taken a hard-line, principled stance. Concerned Women for America’s representatives are an important part of the pro-life and pro-family coalition, whose presence and influence provides a much-needed counter balance to the numerous NGOs who lobby for the radical feminist agenda. Though we are greatly outnumbered, by the grace of God we once again averted disaster.
In this struggle, though, there is no such thing as a decisive victory; there is only a lull before the next battle.
Janice Shaw Crouse, PhD
It is hard for the average person to take the recent Harvard fracas over sex differences seriously. Only residents of the Ivory Tower could possibly be overwrought at the mere suggestion that there are innate differences between men and women. Who else would be outraged at the idea that the differing percentages between the sexes concentrating on various subjects might have something to do with males having particular aptitudes that cause them to tend to cluster in certain disciplines while women have aptitudes that incline them to pursue careers in other subjects?
But there is more to the Harvard imbroglio than the question of Larry Summers’ tenure as president of Harvard. In time, I predict, we will look back on these events as the high-water mark of radical feminists’ influence in academia, the beginning of the ultimate collapse of feminism in its last bastion of power.
Their irrational rage over the idea that a lack of parity in all disciplines could be evidence of anything other than discrimination has come as a revelation to ordinary, fair-minded women who know, in their heart of hearts, that there are some things that they are better at than others.
One of the first acts of the second Han Dynasty was the writing of a History of the Former Han Dynasty. The purpose of the Chinese chronicle was to legitimate the dynasty’s ascension to power by documenting how the first Han Dynasty — whose rule had initially been benevolent and consistent with the moral order — lost the Mandate of Heaven and thus its right to rule.
It seems that the time has come to write the history of feminism in order to document its loss of mandate and its claim to speak for all women. Radicals hijacked a movement which had originally fought for ordinary women to have equal opportunity in society (the right to vote, to own property, to be educated, and, yes, not to be discriminated against — all things consistent with the true moral order) and converted it into something abhorrent to nature. These second-wave feminists come in several stripes ranging from sexual libertines, as promiscuous as any man could be, to man-hating lesbians.
In either case, their determination was to take the traditional Judeo-Christian values that had regulated the sexual affairs of women through the ages and turn them upside down.
Marriage and motherhood were viewed as primary obstacles to the careers that would provide independence from men. The traditional family had to go. No-fault divorce and abortion on demand became vital weapons with which to assault the old social order. Borrowing from the civil rights movement, feminists jumped on a bandwagon to obtain judicially imposed quotas and preferences, the weapons of choice to besiege the political and economic order. Certainly very real sex discrimination needed to be rooted out. But parity soon gave way to a bloodlust for power and the war between the sexes went from the occasional skirmish to trench warfare. The mounting toll of this vicious combat has been staggering: 43 million abortions, 35 million children affected by divorce, 50 million women living a lifestyle for which the Census Bureau uses the bland category (tragic in its implications) “unrelated individuals.”
For the radical feminists, equality of opportunity is not enough. It is no longer sufficient to have empowerment to achieve their potential. They seek control: acquiring pure power for its own sake. They realize that acquiring power hinges upon successfully demanding equality of outcome. But this aim, this result, can only be justified if men and women are identical in their aptitudes in all areas. Males and females must be interchangeable in their roles, positions and behavior.
Such interchangeability is so contrary to nature that any assertion in its support calls into question a great many things. Not the least of these is the fitness of these so-called intellectual giants to teach our daughters — particularly to teach them anything that bears on understanding the true nature of life and their roles within it.
These Harvard faculty members — well-compensated, enormously privileged women — by their over-bearing actions have stripped away the veil hiding the tyrannical impulses that lie behind their pretentious rhetoric. When feminist history is complete, it will show what a Pyrrhic victory was won by the women of Harvard when they humbled its president and, in the process, demonstrated that their mandate was certainly not one from Heaven.
Janice Shaw Crouse, Ph.D., former university professor and academic dean, is Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute.
Your 8-year-old son who has trouble reading or little interest in picking up a book could benefit from the Larry Summers controversy.
That’s because from out of the ashes of the Harvard conflagration is rising a nugget of something valuable. The Harvard president, as everyone now knows, speculated at a seminar that men might be overrepresented for genetic reasons in the top jobs in science and engineering at universities. While Summers surely would now retract his comments, if nothing else, he struck a blow against the dreary orthodoxy of gender sameness.
In response to the flap, Time magazine ran a cover story featuring the work of Leonard Sax, author of the new book Why Gender Matters: What Parents and Teachers Need to Know About the Emerging Science of Sex Differences. Sax might simply have been dismissed as a Neanderthal not too long ago. The Washington Post ran a piece exploring the different ways boys and girls learn to read.
As Sax explains, at the heart of the debate about gender is a paradox: To ignore the hard-wired differences between boys and girls is to perpetuate gender stereotypes. That’s because ignoring those differences means we will continue to fail to teach many boys how to read and many girls how to do math and science. Reaching a reasonable accommodation requires some give from both sides of America’s culture wars.
Liberals are often loath to admit that anything is hard-wired, believing that as long as toy trucks are thrust on girls and dolls on boys they will exist in one happy unisex stew. Conservatives, on the other hand, tend to consider the current high proportion of men in math and science as an ineluctable fact to be accepted by all but the dreamiest gender utopians.
As it happens, the gender-insensitive American education system hurts everyone. Take boys and reading. According to a National Endowment for the Arts survey, between 1992 and 2002 the gap between young women and young men in reading widened considerably. High-school seniors who are girls score on average 16 points higher than boys on a reading test given by the National Assessment of Educational Progress. As an NEA official wrote recently, “What was formerly a modest difference is fast becoming a marker of gender identity.”
Do boys not have an intrinsic aptitude for reading? No. But those parts of the brain involved in language develop more slowly in boys than in girls. According to Sax, the average 5-year-old boy is two to three years behind his female counterpart, and the average 14-year-old is four to five years behind. Eventually it evens out, but the danger is that by pushing a boy to read too soon, or to keep pace with the girls when he can’t, you turn him off reading forever. Also, boys have different reading interests than girls (and their largely women teachers): war stories, technical information, potty humor. There is no better way to turn a generation of boys against reading than to assign them “Are You There, God? It’s Me, Margaret.
The flip side of this is girls when it comes to math and science — they develop more slowly. They will suffer the same discouragement as boys if they are pushed too soon, or in the wrong way. Sax says that at age 12, for instance, girls are less interested in “pure math” than boys, so problems have to be presented with practical applications.
It is obviously difficult to be mindful of these differences in coed classrooms, let alone coed classrooms devoted to the proposition that gender is a meaningless social construct. The institution of single-sex education, long ago tossed in the ash bin of history, would better serve both genders. Girls who go to all-girl schools are six times more likely than girls in coed schools to major in math or science in college.
The first step to overcoming gender, it turns out, is admitting how much it matters.
Sadly, we now live in a world where differences between the sexes are the object of unrelenting attack, whether from political demagogues or campus deconstructionists. The struggle for “pay equity” is one way of blurring the lines between men and women; “pay equity” advocates state that as long as the pay outcome is unequal, we’re doing something wrong. Blaming pay inequity on anything but sexism betrays “insensitivity.”
Of course, pay inequity is almost entirely due to beautiful and important distinctions between the sexes. Warren Farrell, Ph.D., author of “Why Men Earn More,” attributes the imbalance in pay to differences in life goals for men and women. According to Farrell, there are “25 differences in men and women’s work-life choices. All 25 differences lead to men earning more money, but to women having better lives … Men’s trade-offs include working more hours (women work more at home); taking more hazardous, dirtier, and outdoor jobs (garbage collecting; construction; trucking); relocating and traveling; and training for more technical jobs with less people contact (e.g. engineering). Women’s choices balance income with a desire for fulfillment, safety, flexibility, 35-hour weeks and proximity to home. These lifestyle advantages lead to more people competing for those jobs and thus lower pay.”
It’s difficult to credibly blame pay inequity on societal sexism, as Farrell points out: “Women who have never been married and never had children earn 117% of their male counterparts. Why the reversal? When men have never been married nor had children, they take more fulfilling jobs, work fewer hours, are willing to travel less … In brief, when men’s family responsibilities are similar to women’s so are their work decisions, and the men earn even less.”
And yet liberal politicians continue to trumpet the idea of social constructs holding women back. Sen. Clinton’s husband created “National Pay Inequality Awareness Day” back in April 1997 to push the idea that women are victims of our sexist society. Never mind the fact that women’s salaries had risen from 59% of men’s salaries in 1970 to 71% as of 1997; never mind that any half decent businessman would bend over backward to hire women if they were doing equal work so cheaply. Never mind that men and women are naturally different, and have different job goals. No, this was all due to some horrific scheme by men to keep women down. And Sen. Clinton, victim of sexism that she is, continues to champion that message today.
The campaign to paint masculinity and femininity as social constructs is in full swing on college campuses. The only difference between Princeton and the Democrats in the Senate is that at Princeton, students and administrators don’t have to couch their idiocy in a cloak of quasi-rationality. So instead, the president of Princeton University may sit in open approval of cross-dressing, the Daily Princetonian may refer to men as “she” and women as “he” and drag queen Rachman Blake (Class of ‘07) may explain that he gets his biggest thrill “when people say, ‘You’re better off as a woman than as a man.’”
I used to think social liberals wanted to celebrate diversity. Now it’s clear social liberals want to obscure all distinctions between men and women so that all choices, sexual and behavioral, are equal. Just call it the “melting pot of gender.” Or the melting down of America.
Feminists keep demanding new laws to protect women from the so-called wage gap. Many studies have found that women make about 75 cents for every dollar a man earns. Activists say the pay difference is all about sexism.
“No matter how hard women work, or whatever they achieve in terms of advancement in their own professions and degrees, they will not be compensated equitably!” shouted Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., at a “wage equity” rally in Washington, D.C.
But how could this be possible? Suppose you’re an employer doing the hiring. If a woman does equal work for 25% less money, businesses would get rich just by hiring women. Why would any employer ever hire a man?
Martha Burk, chair of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, gave me this simple answer: “Because they like to hire men, John. They like to hire people like themselves and they darn sure like to promote people like themselves.” In other words, men so love their fellow men that they are willing to pay a premium of, say, $10,000 on what would otherwise be a $30,000-a-year job, just for the sheer pleasure of employing a man. Nonsense. It’s market competition that sets wages.
Men do care about money — and that, not wage discrimination, is why men tend to make more of it.
“Women themselves say they’re far more likely to care about flexibility,” says author Warren Farrell. “Men say, I’m far more likely to care about money.”
Farrell spent about 15 years going over U.S. Census statistics and research studies. His research found that the wage gap exists not because of sexism, but because more men are willing to do certain kinds of jobs. “The average full-time working male works more than a full-time working female,” Farrell said.
Farrell illustrates his findings at lectures by asking men and women to stand in answer to a series of questions about job choices, such as whether they work more than 40 hours a week, outdoors or in a dangerous job. Again and again, more men stand.
Job choices explain the pay difference, Farrell argues in his recent book, “Why Men Earn More: The Startling Truth Behind the Pay Gap.”
They also explain, Farrell said, why more top corporate executives are men.
“We have been suckered into believing that because there are more men at the top than women at the top, that this is a result of discrimination against women. That’s been the misconception. It’s all about trade-offs. You earn more money, you usually sacrifice something at home,” Farrell said.
Suppose two people have equal potential, but one takes on more demanding, consuming, lucrative jobs while the other places a higher priority on family. The one who makes work the focus will be more productive for an employer than the one who puts his or her home life first. The latter will get more of the pleasures of family. So he (and it tends to be “he”) will make more money, even though she would be equally productive and equally rewarded if she made the same choices.
“Women and men look at their life,” said Farrell, “and women say, ‘What do I need? Do I need more money, or do I need more time?’ And women are intelligent enough to say, I need more time. And so women lead balanced lives. Men should be learning from women.”
One irony is that some people, especially young women, may make the choices that lead to the pay gap precisely because they have been taught the job market shortchanges women. Women who see the market as hostile may put their hearts into their homes instead of their careers — thus making less money.
But the market isn’t hostile. The market is just. It rewards you for the work you do, not for the work you choose not to do. If men want the family time many women have, we must accept lower financial rewards — and if women want the money, they have to work like money-grubbing men.
It’s our choice.
If Republicans are looking for a way to return to their principles of limited government and reduced federal spending, a good place to start would be rejection of the coming reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act sponsored by Sen. Joe Biden, D-Del. It’s a mystery why Republicans continue to put a billion dollars a year of taxpayers’ money into the hands of radical feminists who use it to preach their anti-marriage and anti-male ideology, promote divorce, corrupt the family court system, and engage in liberal political advocacy.
Accountability is supposed to be the watchword of the Bush administration, but there’s been no accountability or oversight for the act’s spending of many billions of dollars. There is no evidence that the Violence Against Women Act has benefited anyone except the radical feminists on its payroll.
The Senate Judiciary Committee, which is gearing up for a battle royal over the Supreme Court vacancy, has scheduled a hearing on the act for mid-July. It’s apparently designed as a be-nice-to-Biden-before-the court-fight event, since no critic has been invited to speak.
Let’s have a reality check. The Violence Against Women Act’s gender-specific title is pejorative: it’s based on the false, unscientific, unjust and blatantly offensive premise that men are innately violent and abusive toward women, making all women victims of men.
The president of Harvard University was publicly pilloried for months earlier this year for implying innate differences between men and women. But the act is spending a billion dollars a year to inculcate that very notion in the minds of men and women who are having marital difficulties, as well as police, prosecutors, psychologists and family court judges.
Feminists staged tantrums at the suggestion of innate math-aptitude differences between men and women, but the whole premise of the Violence Against Women Act is that men have an innate propensity to violence against women. It’s not because some are bad individuals or drunks or psychologically troubled, but because men want to keep women subservient in an oppressive patriarchal society.
The Violence Against Women Act was passed using such bogus statistics as “a woman is beaten every 15 seconds” and “80% of fathers who seek custody of their children fit the profile of a batterer.” Remember the Super Bowl hoax, the ridiculous claim that “the biggest day of the year for violence against women” is Super Bowl Sunday? It’s an assertion conclusively refuted by Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers’ research.
The Violence Against Women Act comes out of Andrea Dworkin’s tirades of hate such as, “Under patriarchy, every woman’s son is her betrayer and also the inevitable rapist or exploiter of another woman.” The act comes out of Gloria Steinem’s nonsense, such as “the patriarchy requires violence or the subliminal threat of violence in order to maintain itself.”
Here is some mischief in act-funded activities that should be investigated in the coming Senate Judiciary Committee hearing.
The act refuses to provide any help whatsoever for male victims of domestic violence. Let’s hear from professor Martin Fiebert of California State University at Long Beach who compiled a bibliography of 170 scholarly investigations, 134 empirical studies and 36 analyses, which demonstrate that women are almost as physically abusive toward their partners as men.
The act encourages women to make false allegations, and then petition for full child custody and a denial of all fathers’ rights to see their own children.
The act promotes the unrestrained use of restraining orders, which family courts issue on the woman’s say-so. This powerful weapon (according to the Illinois Bar Journal) is “part of the gamesmanship of divorce” and virtually guarantees that fathers are expelled from the lives of their own children.
A woman seeking help from an act-funded center is not offered any options except to leave her husband, divorce him, accuse him of being a criminal and have her sons targeted as suspects in future crimes. The Violence Against Women Act ideology rejects joint counseling, reconciliation and saving marriages.
The act denies that alcohol and illegal drugs are a cause of domestic violence, a peculiar assumption contrary to all human experience. In fact, most domestic violence incidents involve those components.
The act uses a definition of domestic violence that blurs the difference between violent action and run-of-the-mill marital tiffs and arguments. Definitions of abuse can even include minor insults and refusing to help with child care or housework.
The act funds the re-education of judges and all law enforcement personnel to teach them feminist stereotypes about male abusers and female victims, how to game the system to empower women, and how to ride roughshod over the constitutional rights of men.
The act forces Soviet-style psychological re-education on men. The accused men are not given treatment for real problems, but are assigned to classes where feminists teach shame and guilt because of a vast male conspiracy to subjugate women.
The Violence Against Women Act-funded centers engage in political advocacy for feminist legislation such as the “must-arrest” laws even if there is no sign of violence and even if the woman doesn’t want the man arrested, and political advocacy against non-feminist legislation such as shared parental rights.
It’s time to stop the act from spending any more taxpayers’ money to promote family dissolution and fatherless children.
Female Chauvinist Pigs:
Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture,
by Ariel Levy
(Free Press, 240 pp., $25)
I used hot-pink post-it notes to mark the pages of this book; it seemed appropriate, since they matched so perfectly the book’s hot-pink cover. The cover, in turn, is highly appropriate for the book’s contents. Its author, New York magazine contributing editor Ariel Levy, has spent several years looking at today’s young women — how they dress and behave, what they watch and whom they admire — and she is very, very perplexed.
It’s not just that when she turns on the TV, she finds strippers in pasties giving advice on “ how best to lap dance a man to orgasm”; or that when she walks down the street, she sees young women in jeans that expose their “butt-cleavage” topped with minuscule T-shirts emblazoned with Playboy-bunny logos. Of even more concern to Levy was her discovery that “people I know (female people) liked going to strip clubs (female strippers). It was sexy and fun, they explained. It was liberating and rebellious. My best friend at college, who used to go to Take Back the Night marches on campus, had become captivated by porn stars.”
Yikes! Yes, the daughters of mothers who burned their bras and picketed Playboy and staged a sit-in at Ladies’ Home Journal to force the magazine to promote feminism have decided that they are now empowered enough to get Brazilian bikini waxes, adopt Pamela Anderson’s dress sense, and indulge — wholeheartedly — in the frat party of popular culture.
Understandably, Levy has trouble making this all add up. What happened to second-wave pornography-hating feminism, in this post-feminist pornography-proliferating world? To find out, she explores the many byways of “raunch culture,” including the making of Girls Gone Wild videos, in which young women on spring break appear eager to flash for the camera. These particular videos are now a huge business, allegedly worth $100 million dollars to Joe Francis, its creator. She also attends an evening organized by CAKE, “a hypersexed sorority” that deftly mixes political action — they arranged for a bus to take women to Washington for the April 2004 pro-abortion march — with sex-toy parties.
Part of Levy’s thesis is that young women today basically want to act about sex the way young men always have. Some of the women want to take this idea to its literal extreme. Levy spends a very long, distasteful chapter — which, like a number of other chapters, began its life as a New York magazine article — describing lesbians who are trying to turn themselves, through testosterone shots and double mastectomies, into young men.
The author does a very good takedown job on the women who are profiting from raunch culture. Notable among them are Christie Hefner, who has spent years defending her father’s dozy Playboy, and trying to revive it; and the much-lauded Sheila Nevins, head of documentaries at HBO, known for her risky, cutting-edge taste. Levy describes how Nevins, who has won numerous honors, rips apart a woman who dares to question why she is producing G-String Divas, a late night soft-core docu-soap. “Everyone has to bump and grind for what they want,” Nevins, the Jewish Woman of Inspiration award-winner, replies with a snarl; she goes on to defend the strippers who star in her program by saying, “Their bodies are their instruments, and if I had a body like that I would play it like a Stradivarius.” Nevins is using here a typical Female Chauvinist Pig strategy: Make anyone who questions or disagrees with you seem prudish and uncool.
Levy’s heroines remain the feminists of the 1960s: women like Susan Brownmiller, Erica Jong, and Andrea Dworkin (indeed, Levy wrote very sympathetically about Dworkin after her recent death). She believes that the raunch trend has arisen because conflicts between the women’s movement and the sexual revolution were left unresolved 30 years ago. She also thinks it’s a way young women can thumb their noses at the grimly intense fervor of old-style feminists. “After all,” she writes, “nobody wants to turn into their mothers.”
Yet Levy touches only lightly on how the media and the marketing industry have also combined to turn feminism into a type of Sex and the City narcissism in which women feel most empowered when they are shopping. And she dwells too briefly on the effect of the media’s fascination with the outrageous behavior of celebrities. (Think Paris Hilton.)
Most important of all, she leaves unexplored the idea that young women might benefit greatly from a societal endorsement of a sense of morality — and that acting as crudely as a very crude guy not only diminishes a woman’s potential for real “feminist power,” but also wreaks havoc on her self-respect. In her chapter on teenagers (titled “Pigs in Training”), Levy reports on the shocking behavior of a number of girls — including an eighth-grader at Horace Mann, an elite New York private school, who made a digital recording of herself masturbating and simulating fellatio on a Swiffer mop. Soon everyone at school had seen her performance. But did it shame her? Not at all. Allegedly, she was walking around the school, giving out autographs. Levy also points out that today’s young girls often compete to dress the “skankiest”; one girl says that “since seventh grade [when she was twelve], the skankier, the smaller, the most cleavage, the better . . . I wanted guys to want me, to want to hook up with me . . . I always wanted guys to think I was the hottest one.”
Reading this, I wondered: Since twelve-year-olds are not able to purchase skanky Abercrombie & Fitch skirts, no wider than a belt, without the family credit card, what was her mother thinking? Why did she allow a twelve-year-old even to try to look “hot”? But Levy never even comments on — never mind criticizes — such a lack of involved parenting. She decides instead, in this very chapter, to let loose on the Bush administration’s increase in funding for abstinence education. She ignores the fact that such education has, in recent years, seemed effective in reducing the rate of teenage pregnancy, and takes refuge in snide mockery. She recounts that she spent a day at a meeting of the New Jersey Coalition for Abstinence Education: “That night, I dreamed I got a rare form of lethal mouth cancer from a particularly passionate French kiss. I woke up anxious and aroused.” This is exactly the kind of Female Chauvinist Pig sneer she complains about when other women engage in it: a cheap way of dismissing attitudes with which one disagrees.
Levy’s book offers very limited answers, but it asks some very interesting questions. And we can all be comforted to know that just as most women were not the angry rip-snorting feminists of the 1960s, most young women today — no matter how hard the media try to sell them on the notion — are not post-feminist bimbos. That’s because for many young women today, sex and moral beliefs remain intertwined, a proposition Ariel Levy, unfortunately, does not seem to want to consider.
Myrna Blyth, former editor of Ladies’ Home Journal and founding editor of More, is the author of Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness — and Liberalism — to the Women of America.
Does a boy need a dad? Peggy Drexler argues that a new generation of boys is being raised by a corps of “maverick moms” who are redefining parenthood, reshaping masculinity, and proving themselves to be superior to fathers in the raising of sons.
In her new book, Raising Boys Without Men, Drexler claims to present findings from her research project on moms raising boys without men. An assistant professor of psychology and psychiatry at Cornell University and “a former gender scholar” at Stanford University, Drexler is an ardent advocate for the normalization of single motherhood and lesbian parenting. Her new book represents a manifesto for the redefinition of marriage, parenting, masculinity, and issues beyond. The book has been warmly received by the mainstream media and is likely to be cited long into the future.
Drexler begins by noting and celebrating the modern assumption that “the mom-dad-and-kids version of family is now less than definitive.” She gets right to the trend that has caught her interest: “More and more children in the Western world are being raised not in the traditional nuclear family but by single or divorced parents, stepparents in ‘blended families,’ adoptive parents, and grandparents. An increasingly large number are being raised by mothers who are single and who have not divorced a husband or been abandoned by a man; these mothers are single by choice and have made a conscious decision to have a baby and find a sperm donor to do it. Lesbian couples and single mothers by choice are pioneering new ways of getting pregnant via donor insemination.”
Following the familiar feminist line of argument, Drexler charges that, in the aftermath of Freud, “mothers have been inculcated with the idea that we need to cut our sons’ cords to make them men ready to take on masculine roles in the world, from working towards worldly success to making war.” She notes that the traditional understandings “contended that mothers who reared sons without the presence of an active father—or who were married but ‘overbearing’ or raising ‘mama’s boys’—instill lifelong psychic disability, schizophrenia, or, worst, homosexuality in their sons.”
The phenomenon of mothers raising sons without men became Drexler’s research project for her doctoral degree. As she concedes, “The idea of lesbian mothers raising America’s sons causes many raucous debates.” Some readers will be startled by her claim that there may be as many as five million lesbian mothers currently raising children in the United States. Thus, Drexler focused her research project on one simple question: “Could sons prosper through the power of mothers alone?”
Drexler’s research focused on single moms raising boys without husbands, and then shifted to lesbian moms and “single mothers by choice,” who conceived sons by donor insemination. Drexler spent hours interviewing the moms and their sons, and Raising Boys Without Men is, at least in part, the distillation of Drexler’s research.
Nevertheless, Drexler often shows her hand when it comes to the ideological bias that pervades her work. In the first place, Peggy Drexler is not a disinterested researcher. She is an advocate for homosexual marriage and the transformation of gender roles. Her “research” involved as participants women—and lesbian couples—who volunteered for the project and were quite willing to have Drexler “investigate” the status of their parenting and the developmental progress of their boys. Given the structure of the study, the “results” are entirely predictable. Beyond this, Drexler at times acknowledges the ideological foundation of her work. After referring to the dominant theory that the presence of a father is important to the development of his son, Drexler retorts: “While the implicit presumption governing the discourse is that healthy child development depends upon parenting by a heterosexual couple, I came to rely on a controversial literature that challenges the commonly accepted risks of fatherlessness.” This new book adds one more volume to the library of that “controversial literature.”
Drexler’s book is subtitled, “How Maverick Moms Are Creating the Next Generation of Exceptional Men.” The “maverick moms” that Drexler describes are a “new breed of mothers” who are raising children without fathers. “This new breed of mothers without fathers is likely to be financially secure, straight or gay, and of any age and any race,” she explains. “Whether these women are divorced or never married, mothering singly and in pairs has not only entered the popular culture and become acceptable; it also is now considered chic.”
Those who assume that Drexler’s argument comes down to the fact that single moms can raise healthy boys are in for a surprise. In essence, Drexler argues that moms—singly or in lesbian pairs—are actually superior to heterosexual couples in raising boys.
Early in the book, Drexler points to what she calls “the dark side of matrimony.” Pointing to married couples in conflict, she asserts: “A high-conflict marriage or a marriage that isn’t working can negatively affect children in a way that might never happen in a single-mom family.” That is a ridiculous argument, of course, for a single person cannot possibly experience marital conflict. Arguing that single parents are free from the risk of marital conflict is like arguing that those who do not eat thereby reduce the risk of food allergies.
Why do so many in our society view single motherhood in a negative light? This problem is often posed with specific reference to the role of single mothers in raising sons. Drexler acknowledges that researchers often identify the absence of a father as a major statistical indicator of boys having problems. Yet, Drexler simply dismisses this entire body of research by suggesting that the researchers are “blaming the mom instead of the economic situation of the family.”
In response to the prevailing research and dominant moral understandings, Drexler makes her case: “I have found there is absolutely no reason to expect that single or gay moms cannot raise sons on their own.” Further, “They are real mothers raising real boys, boys who should not be marginalized in the least. These boys may not live with biological fathers, but they are in no way illegitimate. The families their moms have created are as real and as legitimate as any other, and have much to teach everybody who cares about children.”
No one should doubt Peggy Drexler’s enthusiasm for these sons being raised without fathers. She identifies “mom-raised sons” as “avatars of a new social movement” that is producing a new and vastly improved understanding of manhood and masculinity.
These boys do understand that they are unique. Many refer to an anonymous sperm donor as their “seed daddy.” The sixteen boys she studied in her research had no father in the home. “Many of them did not even know the names of their fathers—nor did their mothers. Thanks to the technological revolution of anonymous-donor insemination, the identity of a founding father may not even be part of the basic proposition of a two-mother family or a single-mother family.” Donor insemination now “yields many different sorts of families,” she celebrates.
The social status of her research subjects is not without importance. “The lesbians I studied were mostly white-collar workers who have succeeded as business people or in their professions,” Drexler acknowledged. She identified these women as “social saboteurs,” who have “exhibited the will and temperament to buck prevailing notions and create their own family structures, with very few models from which to work.” They see themselves as pioneers of a new social movement.
What about the boys? Drexler insists that the boys “were not sissies or mama’s boys.” She rejects the argument that boys raised by mothers alone compensate for the lack of a father figure with exaggerated aggressiveness. She further insists that boys raised by lesbian mothers “are no more likely to become homosexual than they would if raised in heterosexual families.” She does acknowledge that, certainly by the time of their adolescence, “sons of gay parents will have to establish the terms of their sexuality with more self-consciousness than most other teenage boys will.”
How do these boys deal with the absence of a father? Drexler is forced to acknowledge that many of these boys “still long for a live-in father.” But is this a sign of “father hunger” as commonly assumed to be found among fatherless boys? Drexler dismisses the very idea. “As any parent will tell you,” she asserts, “children are not born asking for Daddy, nor do they have any idea what ‘daddyness’ means to their mother except through her own expressions. If the lack of an everyday live-in father is not an issue for a loving and attentive maverick mom or two, so-called father hunger might not be an issue for her son.” Then again, Drexler must realize that this argument is not going to get her very far.
“Will some little boys trail after men they don’t even know, perk up at those lower-decibel voices, or hang on to the pant legs of the men who cross their paths? Maybe. Do they need a male to take them to the bathroom? Okay. But is that pathological father hunger? I don’t think so,” she insists. Drexler actually goes so far as to argue that sons “with secure attachments to their female caretakers are no more at risk of experiencing ‘father hunger’ than boys in the general population.”
So, how does Drexler explain the fact that boys without fathers want a dad? “It’s only natural to long for what you don’t have,” she claims.
But Drexler doesn’t end with this dismissive (if utterly unconvincing) assertion. She goes on to argue that boys raised by moms alone are likely to develop a superior masculinity to that of boys with fathers. “Sons have a hard time accepting those characteristics in their fathers that cannot be changed, and even into adult life spend enormous amounts of energy wishing, hoping, fantasizing, and trying to transform their fathers into the loving models they never were and most likely can’t be,” she insists. Once again, Drexler’s logic crosses into absurdity. She focuses on the virtues of highly motivated “maverick moms” and on the liabilities of dead-beat dads and simply chooses not to acknowledge the obvious benefit boys receive by the presence of loving, masculine, supportive, normal fathers.
Boys without fathers have “the opportunities to select role models from a myriad of sources” Drexler explains. This offers “psychological benefits and [may] even serve as an antidote to the intensity of the often strained, distant, or hostile relationships that some boys from heterosexual families have with their fathers.” Drexler actually celebrates the fact that boys without fathers never have to worry about earning “daddy’s respect.”
One lesbian mom quickly pointed to the fact that her son was never pushed toward success and risk by a father. “Not having a dad has let Henry off the hook,” she explained, “since he doesn’t do well if he’s pushed into things.”
As Drexler sees it, boys without fathers are free to choose whatever role models in the larger society may seem most admirable and attractive. “With their mothers acting as their guides, the sons and the nonconventional families I studied actually ended up with a wider selection of male role models than the boys from the more traditional families, where the father was often the sole adult male in his son’s life.”
The book does include some humorous anecdotes, sure to bring a smile to any male brave enough to read it. One lesbian mom lamented the rambunctious nature of her son’s behavior. She gave him a blow-dryer so that he could pretend to be a hairdresser. “The first thing he did when he pulled this baby blue hairdryer was to hold it up like a gun and point it at me and go, ‘Ooh!’ He didn’t say, ‘Bang, bang,’ thank God, but it was like ‘I’m going to get you!’ and I thought ‘Oh, nooo. Where did this come from?’” Another “single-by-choice” mom attempted to shield her sons from all notions of aggression. Nevertheless, “By age 7, despite his mother’s ban on plastic toy guns, Mac and his younger brother chewed their morning toast into a pattern to make pistols and shoot each other.”
Raising Boys Without Men is a sign of things to come. The utopian fantasy presented within this book is the ultimate fulfillment of the feminist dream—the evolution of a society that transcends manhood and the need for fathers. The women Peggy Drexler celebrates in this book need and want nothing more than the use of gametes from “seed daddies” who have no further role in the lives of their sons.
Of course, the feminists would never allow this equation to be reversed, even in hypothetical form. A book arguing that young girls do not need mothers and that girls raised by homosexual men are likely to be healthier than those raised by moms because they can select their own female role models and pioneer a new paradigm of femininity would be roundly condemned and probably never published.
Raising Boys Without Men is a clear indicator of the lengths to which the feminist movement is willing to push its radical vision. The ultimate realization of this vision really comes down to the last two words of this book’s title—without men.
R. Albert Mohler, Jr. is president of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary in Louisville, Kentucky.
by Suzanne Fields
You won’t hear them say it, but the rejection of Harriet Miers was a triumph for feminists. She was scrutinized as rigorously, criticized as mercilessly and treated as harshly as any man seeking to rise in the power structure of Washington.
If Samuel Alito is confirmed, there will be one less woman on the court, but no one can say (although Laura Bush implied it) that Harriet Miers got a hard time because she’s female. She was, in part, chosen to replace a woman, but that obviously wasn’t a good enough reason.
No one suggested that she got where she got as a lawyer on anything but by her merits as a professional, and it speaks well for her that she was back at work after the humiliation of withdrawal, as well as for the president who continued to take her advice about who should succeed her as the nominee. He got good advice. Sam Alito appears to be the goods the president’s friends were waiting for. Now the phony war is over, and the real one begins.
There’s a larger lesson here for the feminists. What women fought for was to be treated equally — no better than men, no worse. Women just didn’t know what “for worse” could be. Many women taken in by the feminist rhetoric didn’t find the Promised Land. Instead they confronted a harsh landscape of uneven possibilities. We’ve taken unexpected turns on the way to the 21st century.
More moms are now staying home with their children than working outside the home; it’s the sharpest decline in the numbers of working mothers since 1976. In their book “What Women Really Want,” pollsters Celinda Lake (a Democrat) and Kellyanne Conway (a Republican) found that seven in 10 women say they would stay home with their kids if they could afford it. Sleep deprivation may be part of it. When the pollsters asked both men and women if they would prefer more sex or more sleep, women overwhelmingly asked for more sleep. Men were dreaming of more sex: “So one difference between men and women is what they prefer between the sheets.”
The feminine mystique has wound up in a cul-de-sac. Columnist Maureen Dowd, who styles herself as one of the big boys at The New York Times, is posed in the newspaper’s Sunday magazine as a fetching vixen in black mesh stockings and red stiletto heels, perched on a leopard-skin barstool. The tricks of the trade are back in fashion, and she’s not above turning these tricks. “It was naive and misguided for the early feminist to tendentiously demonize Barbie and Cosmo girl, to disdain such female proclivities as shopping, applying makeup and hunting for sexy shoes and cute boyfriends, and to prognosticate a world where men and women dressed alike and worked alike in navy suits and were equal in every way,” she writes. She finds it equally misguided for young women to fritter away all their time shopping for “boudoirish clothes” and “text-messaging about guys,” while disdainfully ignoring “gender politics.”
But the pendulum that swings to also swings fro, and women are weary of the feminized man who, in reaction to their demands, tries to make himself over into the sensitive female image. (Think Arlen Specter, who try as he might will never make enough amends for his tough questioning of Anita Hill.) Even Ken, who was dumped by Barbie years ago, is getting a masculine makeover by Mattel, the toy manufacturer, to make him more appealing. Yet, despite burnt bras and androgynous clothes, young women lose when they make over their bodies. A majority of women say they would rather look thinner than younger as they increasingly employ cosmetic surgery to aim for thin and young. More alarming, in one survey, elementary school girls say they would prefer to live through a nuclear holocaust, lose both of their parents or get sick with cancer rather than be fat.
Although abortion is often presented as a “woman’s issue,” the moral concerns over “the ethics of life” criss-cross both sexes. Women remain deeply (and almost evenly) split over pro-life/pro-choice concerns; large majorities continue to oppose partial-birth abortion. The vast majority of women are most interested in issues of health care, war, financial security and national security.
Whenever abortion comes up in the public debate over Supreme Court nominees, there’s an assumption that how a judge “feels” about abortion will determine how he will find in a given case. But Judge Alito has already disproved that. While he wrote, in a dissent, that a woman should tell her husband before she has an abortion, he held against a ban on partial-birth abortion. The senators will question him again on these cases, but it’s his judicial philosophy that requires attention. That’s what women (and men) really should want to know.
Suzanne Fields is a columnist with The Washington Times.
IT’S A TESTAMENT to feminism’s success that so many people, over so many years, have been so eager to write its obituary. From the 1970s onward, the public has been treated to regular bulletins announcing that feminism has failed, is finished, has expired of natural causes or been slain in a gangland-style hit involving, in no particular order, Ally McBeal, Phyllis Schlafly, the editors of Maxim, Martha Stewart and the Republican party.
Last summer, feminism’s failure was proclaimed by Judith Warner, whose charmingly solipsistic Perfect Madness trumpeted the difficulties that well-off women in the Greater Washington, D.C. area endure while trying to balance their careers and the demands of motherhood—or as she put it, the “choking cocktail of guilt and anxiety and resentment and regret poisoning motherhood for American women today.” (A moment’s pity, if you will, for the travails of the Mid-Atlantic upper middle class.) But her tone was mild and reasonable compared to this winter’s entrant in the “after-feminism” sweepstakes, (liberal faminist) Maureen Dowd’s Are Men Necessary: When Sexes Collide—which, if the excerpt in this Sunday’s Times Magazine is any guide, will be a lot less entertaining than its title might suggest.
Dowd isn’t interested in anything so minor-league and mundane as the work-life balance: She thinks the whole world of women and men has been going to hell for years, and she’s not going to take it any more. Having missed out on the glory days of feminism—in the 1970s, she longed for the “Art Deco glamour of ‘30s movies,” and left the revolution to her “earnest sisters in black turtlenecks and Birkenstocks”—she’s appalled at her youthful self for failing to realize that “the triumph of feminism would last a nanosecond while the backlash lasted 40 years.”
Everywhere she looks, Dowd sees feminism in retreat. Women don’t want to split the checks anymore; they favor Mrs. over Ms.; they still flirt and play hard to get and wear makeup and agonize over whether to return a man’s calls; they take their husband’s name, and in higher percentages than in the halcyon year of 1990; they read superficial, sex-obsessed glossy magazines; and some of them even dare to stay at home with the kids, eschewing both the fast track and the Friedanian idea that domestic life is at best a “comfortable concentration camp.”
As for men—and Dowd reserves her real contempt for them—the poor boobs never quite managed to shed the “atavistic desire to be the superior force in the relationship.” They want to pay for dinner and they’re easily intimidated, both by Times columnists and by the girls (sorry, women) from Harvard Business School; they think their wives and girlfriends should have Pamela Anderson-sized breasts and speak only when spoken to; they want nothing more to marry a docile, not-too-desperate housewife and then divorce her a few decades later to take up with “their secretaries, assistants, nannies, caterers, flight attendants, researchers and fact-checkers.”
AS WITH MUCH of what Dowd writes, it’s hard to know how seriously to take her mix of cheap shots and caricature. Still, it’s worth at least suggesting, by way of counterpoint, that the world we inhabit isn’t one in which the feminists have been backlashed into retreat for the last 40 years—it’s a world where feminism won, at least insofar as it could, and the sexual confusion that so dismays Dowd is the unexpected consequence of its victory.
Admittedly, some of what we call “women’s liberation” had more to do with inexorable economic trends, pushing females out of the home and into the workforce, than it did the activism of bra-burning ex-bluestockings. But to the extent that feminism was a realistic political movement with realistic goals—as opposed to a utopian fantasy—its achievements have been remarkable. Women have moved into nearly every professional arena in American life, from law and politics to ministry and the military, and an edifice of regulation has sprung up to protect them from gender discrimination and sexual harassment, and to encourage their hiring and promotion. Laws against rape and domestic violence have been strengthened, public awareness of both has been dramatically raised, and the rates of these crimes have been falling for some time. Abortion and birth control are not only widely available, but enshrined as constitutional rights. Real sexism has been banished beyond the pale of public discourse: Whatever men mutter to each other on poker night, no public figure would dare to suggest that a woman might not be qualified for any position, anywhere, simply because of her sex. Even suggesting the possibility of the existence of meaningful gender differences can get you tarred and feathered and forced to recant, as Larry Summers recently discovered.
There’s more: today’s women are dramatically better-educated than men, something that would have been unthinkable half a century ago, and by nearly every available metric, the young female of the species is healthier than the young male—less prone to suicide, drug addiction, and alcoholism, better-adjusted and higher-achieving, more ambitious and happier. Even sports, the most guy-ish of all the guy things, has been overrun by women—thanks in no small part to a feminist-inspired legal apparatus devoted to leveling the playing field in colleges and universities, even if it means bulldozing successful male athletic programs in the process.
And women have achieved all this while shaking off much—though not all, admittedly—of the old sexual double standard. Yesterday’s sluts are today’s healthy, empowered young women, today’s sluts are celebrities (insert obligatory Paris Hilton joke here), and even the raunchiest guy-magazines take time out from the leering and the dirty jokes to instruct readers on how to satisfy their girlfriends in bed.
In the marriage market, too, despite what Dowd claims, women are facing less of a choice between love and self-improvement than ever before. She cites, for instance, a much-quoted study showing that women’s marriage chances drop as their IQs rise. But she fails to mention—understandably, since it tended to be ignored by the breathless press reports—that the study was conducted on a population of women born in 1930s Great Britain. More up-to-date analyses suggest that the trend is moving in the opposite direction, and highly-educated women are considerably more likely to get married than in the past. A recent study noted that in 1980, a woman in her early forties with 19 years of education under her belt (i.e., a college degree and some graduate work) had just a 66% chance of being married, whereas a fortysomething female who left school after high school had an 83% chance of wedlock. But today the gap has disappeared: highly-educated women are just as likely to wed as the secretaries, nannies, flight attendants and “upstairs maids” that Dowd is convinced are poaching all the men.
OF COURSE, some of these highly-educated brides may be dumped eventually, during their hubby’s midlife crisis, for a bright young fact-checker. But this points to the problem with nearly all the “what-happened-to-feminism?” arguments—they ignore the extent to which the problems post-feminist women face aren’t the result of feminism’s failure, but byproducts of its success. The “trophy wife” phenomenon is a case in point. Feminists wanted women to be able to leave loveless marriages and escape abusive husbands, so they backed the push for easy divorce—and sure enough, no-fault split-ups have made it easier for women to shake free of miserable unions. But they’ve also made it much, much easier for Woody to leave Mia and shack up with Soon-Yi.
Similarly, Dowd laments the coarsening of American sexual culture—the piggishness of men’s magazines, the Cosmo features urging women to “lace a glazed doughnut around your man’s member, then gently nibble the pastry and lick the icing,” the pressure on women to become “self-actualized sex kittens.” But these excesses don’t suggest that feminism has failed—just that its victory came with certain (fairly predictable) side-effects. Those sober feminists in turtlenecks wanted sexual equality, where a woman could be as free with her body, as sexually empowered, as any man. Well, they got it—and it’s unfortunate, but probably unavoidable, than many of the liberated women have ditched the turtlenecks and decided to behave, as the title of a recent book would have it, like Female Chauvinist Pigs. And it’s similarly predictable that sexual liberation has been a much better deal for the women of Dowd’s class, the urban upper-bourgeoisie, than for the growing ranks of single mothers further down the income ladder.
Even the work-life difficulties that a book like Perfect Madness decried—and that Dowd touches on, briefly, when she complains that high-achieving men are more likely to have kids than high-achieving women—exist precisely because feminism has succeeded so dramatically at integrating women into the workforce. Once there, many of them discovered that it was next-to-impossible to be a perfect mother and have a perfect career. But is this tension really a “problem” that feminism failed to fix? As Ruth Franklin sensibly wrote in a New Republic review of Judith Warner’s book:
It is time to recognize that there is no inherently perfect balance of work and family, and that no amount of intensive parenting can take away the sadness of not being with one’s children as much as one would like. Children’s needs and desires, and parents’ needs and desires, are constantly in flux. If we are fortunate, we will be able to adjust our lives in accordance with them; and like any contortion, it will require some stretching, some groaning, and some pain. The tension that we feel is not the problem afflicting mothers in America today. It is the solution.
But such hard-won realism runs counter to feminism’s utopian strain, the strain in which every tension in human life can be eliminated and every problem smoothed away—and the strain that was cuttingly described by Joan Didion, writing in feminism’s infancy, as “the voices of women scarred not by their class position as women but by the failure of their childhood expectations and misapprehensions.” It’s this form of feminism, not the practical form that won so many practical victories, that drives the “who-lost-feminism” debate, and keeps alive the peculiar notion that if the woman’s movement had only been more successful, if only there hadn’t been a “backlash,” we wouldn’t have to deal with Britney and the Desperate Housewives, Cosmo and Maxim—with men picking up the check and cheating on their wives and marrying their secretaries; with women taking their Ivy League degrees and going into full-time motherhood; with the tension between work and parenthood that affects the lives of career women, for reasons both cultural and biological, far more than the lives their male competitors.
“Little did I realize,” Dowd writes, “that the feminist revolution would have the unexpected consequence of intensifying the confusion between the sexes, leaving women in a tangle of dependence and independence as they entered the 21st century.”
But surely anyone with an iota of common sense would have predicted exactly this—that a movement aimed at reshaping society would lead to both great goods and unexpected evils, that it would make some women’s lives better than ever before and others worse, that its brave new world would be bright and shining and also leave something to be desired. Feminism didn’t lose or fail or falter, it won—and if its victory didn’t turn out quite the way people expected, well, they should have expected that.
Ross Douthat is an associate editor at the Atlantic Monthly, the author of Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class, and a contributing writer to The Daily Standard.
Every generation confronts the poses and attitudes that define the era, and supplies the ammunition required to keep the war between the sexes going. Flappers learned to drink and smoke in public, just like men. This was liberation that lasted, but nevertheless requires constant reinvention. The Charleston, with swinging arms and crazy legs, morphed into cozy cheek-to-cheek slow dancing to Sinatra, strings and brass.
The Sexual Revolution, abetted by the Pill and feminism, brought rage to sex; men and women remained opposites while attracting each other. They learned to overcome hostilities to take advantage of new possibilities. They worked out some of the kinks through rock and roll. Burning bras was both angry gesture and sexy signal. Women felt freer and men felt freer with them. But that had a downside, too.
In the postfeminist world, buttons and bows are back, but more women have careers, leaving aggressive posture at the office to indulge laid back behavior when the sun goes down. Not always an easy transformation.
No matter where a woman finds herself on the timeline of gender politics, the key word, as any social Darwinian could tell you, is “adaptation.” We’re not exactly hard-wired for the social changes. So men and women trapped in transition, looking for a mate to survive among the fittest, naturally take casualties. The political implications of all this can be enormous, too, as any pol trying to figure out ways to exploit the gender gap could tell you.
Maureen Dowd, the tart tart of the New York Times op-ed page, reveals herself to be one of the walking wounded in her new book, “Are Men Necessary?” Hers is an Ideology of One. Beneath the wit, the intelligence, the brittle one-liners, the insights, you can hear the voice of a little girl crying in the night. She’s a lot like the character Margo Channing in “All About Eve,” played by Bette Davis, whom Mo loves to hate and quote.
“Funny thing about a woman’s career — the things you drop on the way up the ladder so you can move faster,” muses Margo Channing. “Nothing is any good unless you can look up just before dinner or turn around in bed and there he is. Without that you’re not a woman. You’re something with a French provincial office, or a book full of clippings, but you’re not a woman.” In spite of herself, Maureen bears witness to the truism even as she pins the blame on men. She believes, devoutly, that she has been rejected because men won’t marry a powerful woman.
As photographed for the New York Times Sunday magazine, Miss Dowd wears red shoes as a badge of courage, but she’s tormented when she looks around at the terrible aimlessness and arbitrariness of the bodies strewn on the field of sexual warfare. She draws on pithy allusions from movies and poetry, which she shoots like scattershot. But it’s the peek into her personal life, from interviews and publicity as well as several choice anecdotes, that suggest she’s really writing a postmodern lament of love.
She could have called her book “The Love Song of Maureen Dowd.” Like T.S. Eliot’s J. Alfred Prufrock, she can’t understand how she got to this “tedious argument of insidious intent,” which boils down to why, at 53, she’s a childless spinster. Instead of asking, “Do I dare?” she asks, “Why didn’t I?” Instead of measuring her life in demitasse spoons, she pays it out in cold column inches. She counts the most sophisticated men and women of stage, screen and video as her friends, who “come and go/Talking of Michaelangelo.” But they can’t answer exactly what went wrong with her love life, either.
Like so many authors, Miss Dowd suggests that universal experiences grow from the acorns of her life and from those she has interviewed. But no great oaks here. The scientific research that answers the central question that men will eventually be irrelevant, or at the very least demoted to a nice but not really necessary second sex, is cleverly engaged but runs aground deep into the shallows. She’s especially retro quoting Norman Mailer’s jape that women have never needed a lot of men to perpetuate the species: “...all women needed were about a hundred semen slaves that they could milk every day...and they could keep the race going. So they don’t need us.” She concludes that she has no conclusions. She has no answers for women (or men, either), only questions. She asks for no sympathy, but in the end remains a middle-aged female Prufrock, who could have written: “I am no prophet — and here’s no great matter.”
Kate O’Beirne calls feminists on their bad ideas.
Q&A by Kathryn Jean Lopez
“They talk “freedom of choice,” but feminists are too contemptuous of dissenting women to allow them to choose freely how to live their lives without ridicule and disdain,” Kate O’Beirne writes in her new book, Women Who Make the World Worse: and How Their Radical Feminist Assault Is Ruining Our Schools, Families, Military, and Sports. And she would know. Having taken on some feminist stalwarts on Capitol Hill and the likes of Crossfire, Kate puts a final (or so we can hope) nail in feminism’s coffin in her new book, calling their bad ideas out with facts and figures and good sense.
NRO Editor Kathryn Lopez recently talked to NR Washington Editor Kate O’Beirne about Women Who Make the World Worse.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: Kate, knowing you and your reputation, I was not surprised to read that you were a traitor to your sex even in law school. Does wanting to see other women fail just come naturally to you?
Kate O’Beirne: Having been raised with three sisters and educated by women in a girls-only high school and all-female college, it was jarring to find myself labeled as a traitor to my sex. Some of my best friends were women! But I never believed that men and women were interchangeable, that marriage was a patriarchal plot, or that women’s equality rested on abortion rights. So wanting to see feminists fail came naturally to me.
Lopez: You mentioned the influence of the women in your background. But does being the mother of boys make you especially sensitive to women who make male lives worse?
O’Beirne: The men in our lives can shape our views on the most destructive ideology afoot. I have long thought that if high-school boys had invited homely girls to the prom we might have been spared the feminist movement. We live with the destructive feminist agenda because the fathers or husbands of so many of them, including Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, Germaine Greer, and Jane Fonda, never failed to fail them. The views of these angry, abandoned women inform the modern women’s movement.
Lopez: You write that “A battle was won when the ETA was defeated, but feminists went on to win the war.” How did they win — it lost, for Pete’s sake — and if they won why don’t they act like winners?
O’Beirne: What feminists couldn’t impose by constitutional amendment (thanks to Phyllis Schlafly) they have imposed through the schools, college faculties, and the culture, by judicial fiat and advocacy dressed up as legislation. Don’t be fooled by their militant insistence that women’s equality has been thwarted. These women are chronically dissatisfied and qualified for only one job: professional feminist. They are generously paid, largely by taxpayers, but also by corporations anxious to look good on “women’s issues.” The fact that American women are the most privileged women in the history of mankind (woops!) must be vehemently denied.
Because their goal of a sex-blind society is frustrated by biology (see my last chapter — “Mother Nature Is a Bitch”), feminists’ schemes are increasingly coercive. In that sense, they are losers.
Lopez: You write that “The Jobs Rated Almanac reveals that twenty-three of the twenty-five jobs rated as the worst are over 90% male.” I bet a man wrote that.
O’Beirne: That’s just one of the many uncomfortable facts that feminists ignore in order to make their dishonest claims. Men make up 54% of the workforce, but account for 92% of job-related deaths. Jobs that are flexible, fulfilling, and safe (so typically favored by women) pay less. Feminists hate it when that happens.
Lopez: Seriously though, feminist always go on about unequal pay when most pay discrepancies simply make sense and are, in fact, fair, right? Why can’t anyone get them to shut up?
O’Beirne: The persistent fable that women are denied equal pay for equal work has been a never-empty tank of gas that fuels feminism. A sympathetic public is largely unaware that the claim that women face widespread wage discrimination is a myth aggressively advanced by feminists. Disparities in wages exist between women with children and men and single women. This is not sex discrimination, but if that were better understood feminists would have to get real jobs.
Lopez: Abortion gets the rap as the topic you can’t bring up in polite company, but daycare is pretty incendiary too. Talk about day care’s healthy and developmental drawbacks and you’re mommy warring. But our reticence to talk about it is a problem, isn’t it?
O’Beirne: Any discussion of day care’s drawbacks invites the wrath of the child-care industry and their friends in the media. Proponents of the male model of career success for women and substitute care for young children — typically working mothers themselves — use subterfuge and censorship to thwart the free choices women make. As you’ll learn in Chapter 2, “Day Care Good; Mother Bad,” the propagandists don’t just insist that day care benefits children, they see stay-at-home mothers as a timid and fearful lot whose full-time attention damages their children.
Lopez: In 1977, Jean Stapleton, hanging out with Bella Abzug announced that Edith Bunker would support the ERA “if she understood it.” Does that pretty much sum up what the feminist establishment thinks of many American women?
O’Beirne: The modern feminist movement has never enjoyed the allegiance of a majority of American women and that condescension represents feminists’ explanation when confronted with the evidence. The rest of us are too stupid to recognize our oppression. One of the most celebrated feminists you’ll meet in the book dismisses the surveys reporting that married women are happier than single women by attributing their contentment to being “slightly mentally ill.”
Lopez: “Modern feminism’s biggest enemies are the smallest humans.” Without caricaturing the Left too much: What about “Her body, her choice?” People get into tough situations. Is it really fair to characterize it as a war against unborn children?
O’Beirne: Feminist fundamentalism holds that the battle of the sexes can’t be won unless women make war on the tiniest enemies of their independence. How can we be the equal of men when our bodies betray us? These women aren’t arguing that abortion must be available for the hard cases. They believe that women’s fertility makes us inherently inferior to men, so there can be no restrictions at all on abortion. Lacking the public’s support for their radical abortion agenda, they wrap their demands in a tissue of euphemisms and lies and fiercely fight to keep the issue in the courts insulated from public opinion. The majority of the public, including the majority of women, oppose the majority of abortions.
Lopez: Why do you raise questions about women in the military while we’re at war? Don’t we need every man or woman we can get in our overstretched military?
O’Beirne: In the lull of peacetime, regulations that kept women in uniform at a safe distance from combat were lifted. We are now paying the price and being made to think that our national defense rests on the ability to deploy teenage girls and single mothers. What a disgrace. In the name of a phony equality, the military shouldn’t ask women to serve where they don’t have an equal chance to survive. Experience with integrating the service academies and the great majority of military specialties has shown that women can’t and don’t meet the male physical standards. The institutionally self-confident Marine Corps hasn’t integrated its basic training and has little trouble recruiting the kind of good men who recognize that women should be protected from physical threats.
Lopez: Do you want men to beat their wives? How can you be against the Violence Against Women Act?
O’Beirne: It’s possible to recognize that physical abuse within a relationship shouldn’t be considered a “private matter” and not support enacting an ideological agenda dressed up as legislation. The feminist conviction that marriage is inherently abusive and all men potential assailants won a federal imprimatur, and well over $1 billion, with this legislation that congressmen were too intimidated to resist. This program, packed with feminist pork, has the female psychologist who declared that “all female-male relationships [are] more or less abusive” on the public payroll training police, prosecutors, and judges.
Lopez: Was there ever a gender gap? There had to be a problem selling George W. Bush to women or the campaign would have never bothered with a “W Is for Women” gimmick, right?
O’Beirne: What can I say? Republicans can be dopey about the so-called gender gap. It was first aggressively promoted in 1980 when Ronald Reagan beat Carter among women voters, but by a smaller margin than his win among men. Hyping the supposedly intractable gender gap was useful to browbeat Walter Mondale into picking a female running mate. While Geraldine Ferraro was busy making history on the other ticket, Reagan was winning over women voters — by a margin of 56 to 44. As I show, convincingly I hope, there is no monolithic women’s vote and there is no monolithic women’s agenda.
Lopez: What’s the worst thing that women who make the world worse do?
O’Beirne: They put us at war with the men in our lives, the fathers, husbands, and sons who love and support us. Because men don’t like arguing with women and naively assumed that if they gave feminists what they wanted they would be left alone, the allegedly fierce patriarchy collapsed in the face of the feminist assault. The moral intimidation feminists inflict on men means that other women have to take on the modern, destructive women’s movement. In the pages of my book you will meet some of the smart, admirable women who take on the feminists. The feminist message is crippling to our daughters, but we mothers of sons in particular have to defend our offspring. We are not raising unindicted co-conspirators in the gender wars!
Lopez: Has Hillary Clinton’s work making the world worse only begun? Would a President Rodham Clinton unleash a destructive feminist nightmare on the world much worse than anything Geena Davis could ever portray?
O’Beirne: Oh boy. Hillary Clinton is a committed feminist. She’s a true believer in the grievance agenda and promotes the myth of stunted progress for women’s equality. She would reliably be one of the women who make the world worse by endorsing all of feminism’s pet causes — strict sex quotas for college sports, “girl power” in our schools, the “epidemic” of domestic violence, abortion on demand (despite her phony rhetoric), universal, federally funded day care, enforced “equal pay for equal work” and women in combat. I have to lie down now.
If the unflattering portrayal of feminist icons Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Hillary Clinton, and Jane Fonda on both the cover and between them in Women Who Make the World Worse hadn’t already infuriated women’s-studies types, book-buying habits this weekend may do just that.
On Saturday, Kate O’Beirne’s Women Who Make the World Worse: and How Their Radical Feminist Assault Is Ruining Our Schools, Families, Military, and Sports topped Amazon.com’s “women’s studies” bestseller list.
In Women Who Make the World Worse, O’Beirne, National Review’s Washington editor, writes:
The modern women’s movement is totalitarian in its methods, radical in its aims, and dishonest in its advocacy. Coercion is employed through the courts to enforce its unpopular agenda, on issues like abortion and gender quotas. Radical feminists warn of the perilous gender gap threatening any politician who doesn’t knuckle under to their demands, but rarely seem able to win elections. They confidently predicted the defeats of Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush at the hands of angry women.
O’Beirne says that, “Kate Michelman, Faye Wattleton, Gloria Steinem, Gloria Feldt, Eleanor Smeal, and their abortion allies have been promoting an antiwomen agenda in the name of women’s liberation by waging a campaign for ‘choice’ on behalf of women who often feel they have no choice at all.”
With O’Beirne ranked at 67 vs. Kate Michelman’s With Liberty and Justice for All : A Life Spent Protecting the Right to Choose at #44,064, Amazon readers made their choice on Saturday. An appropriate one, given that O’Beirne notes in Women Who Make the World Worse that “The modern feminist movement has never enjoyed the allegiance of a majority of American women.”
by Jonah Goldberg
Let me just say up front this column contains a riot of conflicts of interest. My friend and colleague Kate O’Beirne has written a new book. It’s called, with no undue subtlety, “Women Who Make the World Worse: and How Their Radical Feminist Assault Is Ruining Our Schools, Families, Military, and Sports.” I think it’s a great book, and I truly would not say so if I thought otherwise. Also, Kate praises my lovely wife as a woman who makes the world better, an opinion I could hardly quibble with save to say it’s a grotesque understatement as far as I’m concerned.
And since we’re in full disclosure mode, let me upend the bucket completely.
I went to an all-women’s college. Mine was the first “integrated” class at Goucher College, a fine, historically single-sex liberal arts college in Baltimore. As you might imagine, many of the young women there, some egged on by very ideological feminist professors, had opposed the decision to admit men. The fact that my freshman year was also the year Robert Bork was nominated to the Supreme Court and Glenn Close boiled a bunny in “Fatal Attraction” might give you a sense of the larger cultural climate as well.
While my undergraduate experience was not exactly the late-night Cinemax adventure some imagine when they hear that there was a roughly 30-to-1 female-to-male student ratio, I did find the experience rewarding on several fronts. One of them was that I learned quite a bit about feminism and feminists (I was certainly exposed to more feminist theory than I was to, say, the U.S. Constitution or the American founding).
I discovered that there were many different kinds of feminism. For some, feminism is a heartfelt dedication to women’s equality, variously defined. For others, it is a shabby form of identity politics that serves as a crutch to compensate for low self-esteem and lazy thinking. And some brands of feminism aren’t really about women at all. They’re about using the “feminist perspective” to smash the “socially constructed reality” or the “patriarchy” or “bourgeois capitalism” in order to sneak into the mainstream debate various Marxist and postmodern nostrums that would never survive without the aid of victim-politics guilt trips. After all, the attack on “dead white males” wasn’t an explicitly feminist enterprise so much as a broader left-wing assault on a whole bunch of things.
But, most often, feminism is a mixture of all of these things. Moreover, many of the dedicated feminists I knew and befriended (and, yes, dated) sincerely believed in the cause. I have no doubt that there are literally no feminists anywhere who believe they are making the world worse. But that doesn’t mean the title of Kate’s book is inaccurate.
The great sin of feminism, like all identity politics, is its narcissism. Feminists honestly believe they are speaking for all women; I think this way, I am a woman, I must represent all women. This is, of course, nonsense. For example, you wouldn’t know from the conventional public debate over abortion that roughly half of American women are generally opposed to abortion. A large majority of women oppose the NARAL party line of abortion on demand. John Kerry won the overall women’s vote by 3 points but lost the white women’s vote by 11 points. (This is particularly ironic since self-identified feminists are overwhelming white.)
When presented with this sort of evidence, feminists trot out various arguments trying to demonstrate that conservative, or otherwise un-feminist, women don’t understand their own interests. This is a vestigial Marxist argument known as “false consciousness.” If women only understood the truth, the way feminists do, they would agree with feminists. If you doubt the persistence of nostalgic Marxist thinking in feminist rhetoric, check out the reader reviews of Kate’s book at Amazon.com. You’ll learn that Kate is a self-hating woman and a fascist doing the work of her knuckle-dragging male paymasters. Anyone who’s met Kate (or actually read her book) knows this is nonsense on stilts. A successful and independent-minded career woman and proud mom, she’s equal parts Joan of Arc and mentoring den mother.
In the broad mainstream of American life, feminism has become an anachronism with as much relevance as, say, Fabian socialism. But, institutionally, feminists punch well above their weight. Like their brothers and sisters in the New Left, they succeeded in their long march through American institutions, transforming them in profound ways. Many of the changes wrought by the first generation of feminists were important and valuable. But those battles were won a long time ago, and yet the would-be revolutionaries won’t lay down their weapons or change their very stale talking points, casting age-old progressive schemes and newfangled feminist ones as essential tools in the battle against “discrimination.” And women who don’t get on board aren’t “authentic” women, just as black conservatives aren’t really black.
The tragic illiberalism of this perspective should be obvious. And it will be to anyone who reads this book.
by Mona Charen
Some women protest, “I’m a feminist, just not a radical feminist.” Kate O’Beirne is impatient with such qualifications. She is not any kind of feminist, and when you finish her sparkling new book “Women Who Make the World Worse,” you won’t be one either.
Feminism, far from promoting the happiness and well-being of women and society, has instead left great swaths of melancholy in its wake. O’Beirne cites “One large study of well-being data on one hundred thousand Americans and Britons from the early 1970s to the late 1990s found that while American men had grown happier, women’s well-being had dramatically fallen during the period . . . women were 20% less happy.”
The so-called “women’s movement” was and is a misnomer. Most women reject the anti-male, anti-family bias of the professional feminists. But a dedicated cohort of humorless, bitter, crusading women — mostly from miserable families — was able to dictate policy in some of the most important realms of life.
Feminists now claim that they were never against marriage and family. But O’Beirne has kept the quotes in her files. In 1971, Ms. Magazine founder Robin Morgan called marriage “a slavery-like practice,” adding that “We cannot destroy the inequities between men and women until we destroy marriage.” Australian feminist guru Germaine Greer recommended that all women leave their husbands in search of more satisfying “rambling organic structures” (sounds vaguely unhygienic). And Jessie Bernard, a Pennsylvania State University sociologist, asserted that the “destructive nature” of marriage was both figuratively and literally making women sick.
Strangely, while feminists were burning with indignation toward men, they also enthusiastically endorsed promiscuity. O’Beirne quotes Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon, who notes that early feminists who sought the vote and other rights “saw that the ready availability of abortion would facilitate the sexual exploitation of women . . . they regarded free love, abortion and easy divorce as disastrous for women and children.” Modern feminists, by contrast, were characterized by a “puzzling combination of two things that do not ordinarily go together: anger against men and promiscuity; man-hating and man-chasing.”
It is peculiar, but it grew, like so many feminist fantasies, from one foundational error: the idea that men and women are in all important respects alike, and where they are different it is because society has trained them to be so. There are thousands of studies, examples and life experiences that put the lie to this notion, and O’Beirne quotes many. But one stands out particularly. In gauging the attitude of college students toward casual sex, a researcher recently asked college students to approach a member of the opposite sex and say, “I’ve been noticing you around campus. I find you very attractive. Would you go to bed with me tonight?” Seventy-five percent of men said they’d happily carry out the assignment. None of the 48 young women assented.
Feminists have peddled more than their share of myths over the past 40 years — that women earn less than men for the same work; that domestic violence is rife within the traditional nuclear family; that women do not want to take care of their young children and therefore require government-funded day care; that children do better in group care than with their mothers — and Kate O’Beirne debunks them all. But one area in particular deserves wider acknowledgment and that is what feminism has done to the military. Against the better judgment of generals and admirals, women have been given more and more access to combat, to the point where scores of women have been killed and wounded in Iraq.
Many did not even recognize, when they entered the service, that they would be deployed so close to the front lines. It isn’t just women who suffer. Large numbers of women soldiers are mothers (single or married), leaving behind babies and young children. Nor is the participation of women in combat situations good for readiness or morale. Women have far higher rates of injuries and sick days than men, to say nothing of pregnancy, which in one famous case sidelined 10% of the women sailors on a Navy ship. But O’Beirne’s argument is completely politically incorrect and completely on the money as to the most profound reason to keep combat an all-male occupation. She quotes historian S.L.A. Marshall, who found that a man will overcome his fear and do what he must because he risks losing “the one thing he is likely to value more highly than life — his reputation as a man among men.”
Kate is fearless and funny and a must read.
Feminists have made the workplace worse by waging an ideological campaign to portray working women as a victimized class, discriminated against in pay and persistently preyed on by male oppressors. Not content with the equal opportunity women presently enjoy, the feminists reject other women’s free choices and demand a strict regime to dictate wages.
The persistent fable that women are denied equal pay for equal work has been a never-empty tank of gas that fuels feminism. Since the 1960s, when feminists sported “59 cents” buttons, they have loudly claimed that the disparity between the average wages of men and women is the result of rampant sex discrimination. The demand that people be paid the same salary for doing the same job, regardless of their sex, naturally enjoys broad support. But a sympathetic public is largely unaware that the claim that women face widespread wage discrimination is a myth.
Disparities in wages do exist — but they are largely between women with children, on one hand, and men and single women, on the other. This is not sex discrimination, but rather the result of choices mothers freely make in their desire to balance work and family responsibilities.
Since the Equal Pay Act of 1963, sex discrimination in hiring, promotion, or pay has been illegal. While there might be isolated examples of sex discrimination in the workplace, our competitive economy demonstrably provides equal opportunity for women. But the wage warriors peddle victimhood and demand equal outcomes, regardless of individual priorities and choices. To make the case that women remain victimized, feminists point to average overall male and female wage numbers, rail against a “glass ceiling” that blocks women’s ascent to the top ranks of American businesses, and decry “undervalued” women’s work that condemns women in predominantly female fields to toiling in a “pink ghetto.”
Like so many other female scribes, reporter Rachel Smolkin of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette cited job segregation as strong evidence of sex discrimination in 2001, writing, “Women make up only 1.3% of plumbers, pipe fitters and steamfitters and only 1.2% of heating, air conditioning and refrigeration mechanics. . . . These occupations offer men with high school educations well-paying opportunities that remain largely closed to women.” Feminist dogma demands that all discrepancies be seen as evidence of sex discrimination that will be eliminated only when women have achieved parity with men in all occupations. So American women, the most accomplished and liberated women in the history of the world, need gender preferences in the 21st century in order to compete. Only preferential treatment will achieve the longed-for goal of having women make up 50% of plumbers or pipe fitters.
If it is true that women work for salaries that are 25% less than what men with similar educations, skills, and job experiences would earn, American employers are guilty — of violating the law of supply and demand. With a cheap female-only workforce, an employer could bury his competition. (For a time: The resulting competition would bid up the price of female labor until we reached equal pay for equal work — which is what we have now.) Recent Census Bureau data reveal that, in 2003, college-educated black women, on average, earned more than college-educated white women ($41,100 a year versus $37,800). The report didn’t raise outraged cries of discrimination against white women. Instead, it offered the uncontroversial explanation that minority women tended to work longer hours, hold more than one job, and take less time off after having a child. But such differences are dismissed out of hand when they apply to the wage gap between men and women.
In a classic example of how feminists ignore evidence against the existence of discrimination in order to make the case that women face bias in the boardroom, authors Suzanne Nossel and Elizabeth Westfall devoted a book to the desperate plight of female lawyers. Presumed Equal: What America’s Top Women Lawyers Really Think About Their Firms concluded that “systemic forces hold back women’s progress and will continue to do so until institutional and societal changes are made,” despite women’s parity in law-school admissions and success in landing top legal jobs. Yet in Nossel and Westfall’s own survey, women associates said that their prospects for promotion were equal to those of their male colleagues, “provided they [were] willing and able to put in the long hours and enormous energy.” The attrition rate for women lawyers was admittedly higher than for men, largely owing to “the difficulty of sustaining a law firm career once one has children.” The women surveyed by the authors showed “a keen awareness that the women who had achieved the greatest success in their firms did so at considerable cost.”
A MATTER OF TRADEOFFS
Many of the women lawyers whose frustrated career aspirations were chronicled by Nossel and Westfall had clearly made personal decisions that affected their lives at the office. These tradeoffs between work and family explain some of the gap between the average wages of men and women, and are responsible for the figures that supposedly show a glass ceiling.
These differences reflect, in part, the different priority men and women place on the demands of their families. In 1991, women without children earned 95% of men’s salaries when other factors like education levels and experience were taken into account, but mothers, on average, made 75% of men’s wages. Numerous other studies also find that although marriage doesn’t lower earnings, having children does. Being a woman is not in conflict with having a demanding career, but being the kind of devoted wife and mother many women choose to be is. As law professor and author Kingsley Browne notes, “Those individuals, whether male or female, who are inclined toward competition, risk taking, and status seeking are more likely to reach the pinnacle of organizational hierarchies than those who are not.”
In Why Men Earn More, Warren Farrell shatters the myth of sex discrimination in salary disparities. He pays women the enormous compliment of assuming them capable of understanding the choices that affect salary rates and of taking lessons from the comprehensive jobs data he presents. Farrell provides far more help for working women than the wage warriors’ agenda does.
Farrell explains that in the old days, when he served on the board of the National Organization for Women in New York City, he proudly wore a “59 cents” button, not yet wondering why anyone ever hired a man when women allegedly did the same jobs for far less. While working on his doctorate at New York University, Farrell studied government data that refuted the feminist line. He learned that, as far back as the 1950s, the gap between the average wages of never-married women and never-married men was less than 2%. Never-married white women between the ages of 45 and 54 actually earned 106% of their never-married white male counterparts in Lucille Ball’s day. And well over 20 years ago, men and women were paid equally when they had the same title and the same responsibilities.
One can imagine how lonely Farrell must have felt when, like a good feminist, he was claiming discrimination against women professors but simultaneously discovering that women professors nationwide who had never married and never published earned 145% of their male counterparts’ average salary.
He figured that the data showing never-married, educated women earning 117% of never-married, educated men’s salaries reflected the superior ambition and work ethic of these women. But it wasn’t just these educated women who made more than similarly situated men. Census data also told him that women who work part-time make $1.10 for every dollar earned by male part-timers who work the same number of hours.
While Farrell cites the most current data, he notes that, when it comes to examining gender discrimination in the workplace, the books are cooked. “At this moment in history, gender-specific research is funded with a consciousness toward making women in the workplace look equally engaged but unequally paid.” He explains that if studies focused on the employment decisions many women make, such as choosing flexible, fulfilling jobs, working fewer hours, declining to move to undesirable locations, or taking more family leave, it would be clear that these preferences explain disparities in average wages.
When Farrell helpfully turns his attention to giving women advice on boosting their earnings, he examines about two dozen causes of the disparity between the average wages of men and women and highlights all the fields where women earn significantly more than men. The 39 occupations where women earn at least 5% more than men range from aerospace engineering (111% of male wages) to financial analysis (118%) to speech pathology (129%) to auto repair (129%). Over two dozen college majors, including computer engineering, civil engineering, and history, lead to higher pay for women than for their male colleagues. He cites a United Kingdom study that found the choice of college major explained 80% of the discrepancy between men’s and women’s average wages. Farrell notes that “the subjects most popular with women, such as literature and art, are also more likely to leave women unemployed and overeducated.” Women are 53 times more likely than men to get master’s degrees in education rather than the physical sciences, and this number has increased over the past ten years.
PRETTY IN PINK
One woman has done more to advance the financial independence of American women than all the theorists, academics, columnists, and counselors who push the agenda of feminist liberation. When Mary Kay Ash died at age 83 in 2001, she left 850,000 sales consultants in 37 countries with both the independence that comes from running their own small businesses and a philosophy of personal achievement that transforms lives. In 1963, after working for 25 years in the man’s world of direct sales, Mary Kay, whose father was an invalid, rejected the idea that “God wanted a world in which a woman would have to work fourteen hours a day to support her family, as my mother had done.” But she didn’t take to the streets, convene a seminar, lobby for legislation, or whine about the male patriarchy. With a $5,000 investment, Mary Kay Ash founded the cosmetics empire that now has over $2 billion in yearly sales. She launched her fleet of pink Cadillacs as the showy status symbols of her vision to provide women with unlimited opportunity for personal and financial success.
Mary Kay Ash counseled that women could “have it all” if they prioritized their lives with God first, family second, and career third. I have witnessed her legacy firsthand. My sister Virginia Rowell is one of the company’s most successful consultants. Hundreds of thousands of women have realized Mary Kay’s dream. The charitable foundation she created raises money to combat domestic violence and cancers affecting women.
Fortune named Mary Kay Cosmetics one of the “100 Best Companies to Work For in America.” Mary Kay told an interviewer in 1996, “As far as I am concerned, our legacy will be that we have helped hundreds of thousands of women find out how great they really are. And that they can do anything in this world they want to do if they want to do it bad enough — and are willing to pay the price.”
Mary Kay Ash had the confidence in American women that their supposed feminist champions lack. Unlike the wage warriors who sell victimhood rather than empowerment, this entrepreneurial woman understood and respected the choices women make in balancing work and family — and the sacrifices they make on behalf of their children and the men they love.
Reprinted from Women Who Make the World Worse.
Kathryn Jean Lopez
What’s this we have here?
Well, naturally, it’s a book review from Amazon.com!
Back in late December, when we put together our annual New Year’s prognostications, National Review’s John J. Miller predicted “a student group called the Womyn’s Liberation Front will sponsor a ceremonial burning of our friend and colleague Kate O’Beirne’s best-selling book Women Who Make the World Worse: and How Their Radical Feminist Assault Is Ruining Our Schools, Families, Military, and Sports .”
John was kidding (sort of). We all knew the moment we heard the deliberately provocative title of Kate’s book that it would get some colorful responses. After all, it comes complete with Roman Genn caricatures of Gloria Steinem and Hillary Clinton, among others, on the cover. And yet, we underestimated how “unhinged” some on the Left can be.
Conservative Pundit’s Sordid Kennedy Connection — Revealed!
Besides a little book-cover graffiti that comes and goes, at a quick glance, you might think that Kate O’Beirne should be pretty pleased. It would appear that, as of Thursday morning, not only had at least 500 people read her new book, but it had made enough of an impression on them that they were compelled to review it on Amazon.com. After all, she’s packed a lot of damning research and arguments between those book covers, and wanted to get something worthwhile started.
But, of course, that’s not quite how it works. There are no truth tests to make sure you actually read a book you claim to be reviewing. And, as anti-Women Who Make the World Worse Internet efforts make clear, the Amazon customer-review and ratings system appears to be easily susceptible to juvenile ideological manipulation.
Kate’s book has been an Amazon bestseller — including, memorably, a “women’s studies” bestseller — since its December 31 release. For the last two weeks, it has lingered among the top 100 sellers on Amazon, and among the top ten in non-fiction. It remains in the top 50 among non-fiction books, despite being inundated with attacks in the customer-review section. It is dramatically beating its most natural competitor, abortion-rights icon Kate Michelman’s memoir, despite left-wing rallies for Michelman’s book. Kate Michelman’s sales rank was 86,239 on Thursday morning. Reading Kate O’Beirne’s Amazon page on that same morning (or Wednesday, or Tuesday…), you might think she deserved a sales rank in the 86,000s as well. Hundreds of Amazon.com visitors have either trashed or applauded the trashing of Women Who Make the World Worse.
To give you an idea of what the comments look like, here’s what I saw when I checked Thursday morning: 124 of 143 people found the review noting Women Who Make the World Worse’s revelation that Kate “slept with Ted Kennedy” helpful. The Ted Kennedy thing does not, as you might have guessed, appear in the book. (And, uh, didn’t happen. National Enquirer, don’t come knocking at NR for your next “love child” story.)
These haven’t been 500 random people taking it upon themselves to do the trashing of Kate’s Amazon page. It’s been a little more coordinated than that. Taking a quick Google tour of the Women Who Make the World Worse mentions, we see that one blogger gives kudos for faux reviewers’ work: “I want to thank everyone who aided in the sacking of Kate O’Beirne’s book Women Who Make the World Worse over at Amazon.”
Here’s how another blogger gave his marching orders:
Go on over there. Get yourself an Amazon account if you don’t have one and write yourself a review of Ms. O’Beirne’s book. You can sign your review with an Amazon ‘pen name’ if you don’t want to be spammed with conservative hate-dreck. The goal is to ensure that Ms. O’Beirne’s book has a one star rating so no one will go out and buy it who would not have already done so.
But, hey, it could be worse, I suppose. At least the majority of the Amazon spammers (maybe that’s the word to apply here? They’re not who I’d invite to my book party.) haven’t told Kate to drop dead, as a poster on the popular Daily Kos site did.
And don’t get me wrong. Her critics have every right to hate a book they haven’t read. It’s a free country. And some who disagree with her actually have taken the time to read the book, as did this Salon writer, who noted after lunch with Kate that she is “the kind of woman you wish you had on your team.” But, elsewhere in cyberspace, the angry campaign to discourage others from reading WWMTWW often doesn’t even pretend to make an effort to respond to the quotes, facts, and arguments Kate effectively marshals. As Craig Matteson, an independent reviewer — one of Amazon’s top 100 — wrote in a prescient review that managed to get taken down from the O’Beirne page (long before the she-slept-with-Ted-Kennedy one and hundreds of other silly ones): “I am afraid that Kate O’Beirne will suffer many personal attacks because of this book. Her opponents will simply try to shout her down because they are unable to debate her careful research and clear thinking. Of course, you should read this book and decide for yourself.”
…What the Meaning of “Review” Is…
The whole “sacking” is a shame. Women Who Make the World Worse should incite a constructive debate. That’s not what we’re watching happen on the Net at the moment, however. It’s pretty evident that the most unhinged and motivated of Kate’s detractors have neither read her book nor intend to. Back on DailyKos, “Drop Dead” makes clear: “I haven’t read her book. I wouldn’t read her book. “
Of course, we didn’t really need the admission; the lead customer review on Amazon for a few days now — besides citing “her frequent attacks against the television show, ‘Sex in the City,’” (good luck finding them in the book — they aren’t in there) — says:
As much as I enjoyed this book, I can’t give it more than a single star because it has a fatal flaw. It promotes the most destructive myth of all, the existence of lesbianism. Mrs. O’Beirne discusses it throughout the book as if it is something that is real. She doesn’t seem to be able to understand that women can’t have sex with each other.
There’s not a single mention of lesbians in the book. That reviewer’s got his own vast-right-wing-conspiracy book fantasy going on.
To quote “one sick gook” Michelle Malkin, it would appear the Left, if it is in any way represented by these efforts, has “serious issues” — and not only because Kate O’Beirne just wrote the definitive book on the failure of the Ms. Revolution. Much of the WWMTWW debate on Amazon.com is simply juvenile and speaks for itself. I’d just ignore it, but in the interest of making the world better (that’s the kinda woman I try to be) I’d like to get some of this on record. Maybe it will help the Left admit it has a problem.
“I’ve never seen such a cynical attempt by liberals to torpedo a book’s Amazon ratings,” Kate’s editor at Sentinel, Bernadette Malone, told National Review Online earlier this week. “It’s particularly galling since hardly any of the reviewers seem to have even bought or read the book.” Unfortunately, it may be a trend in the making, however. By late Thursday, I had received book-smearing reports involving Mark Levin’s Men in Black on activist judges and Fred Barnes’s upcoming Rebel-in-Chief on President George W. Bush, too.
Meanwhile, while Kate’s Amazon page is living La Vida Loca, feel free to buy Women Who Make the World Worse at the NR Book Service. Credit to Amazon.com, though, for doing some massive clean-up work on her page Thursday afternoon
And just a final word to the subjects of our intervention attempt here. Don’t worry: Reading Women Who Make the World Worse is Step 2 — right after admitting you have a problem. You’ll be helped yet. Just lay off the “reviews,” and get reading.
A colleague of mine remarked the other day that as far as the elite press was concerned, there has never been a successful anti-feminist book. (He meant intellectually successful, rather than commercially successful. The people he has in mind would regretfully concede that some anti-feminist books had sold well.) He was speaking, of course, about Women Who Make the World Worse, by another colleague and friend, Kate O’Beirne.
It’s not just that feminists, and social liberals in general, are overrepresented in the media (although they are: even some liberals who dispute the idea that the media has a liberal bias are willing to concede this point). What Kate’s book, and the reactions to it, demonstrate is that feminists have constructed an impregnable (sorry! sorry!) fortress against criticism.
If a critic of feminism takes after well-known feminists, then her criticisms are “stale” and “predictable.” If the critic dissects the views of little-known feminists, her criticisms can be dismissed because her targets are “obscure” and “fringe.” (Kate’s book has been dismissed for both reasons.) Female writers are disqualified from criticizing feminism because they (allegedly) owe it so much. Male writers are disqualified because they’re men. No criticism can run this gauntlet successfully.
Another common tactic for deflecting criticism has also been deployed. Kate is said to have painted feminists with a broad brush, ignoring the diversity of views among feminists. It is true that there are many, many feminisms. There are equity feminists and Third Wave feminists and libertarian feminists and “sex-positive” feminists and Christian feminists and difference feminists and on and on. (One magazine a few years ago even tried to invent a category of “do-me” feminists.)
But there are certain views held by most self-described feminists, disagreement with which will cause most of them to resort to the label “anti-feminist.” It’s simply not true that Kate attacks views that only a fringe group of feminists hold. Chapter by chapter, she takes apart myths in which nearly all feminists have invested. How many feminists oppose day care? Or women in combat? How many feminists recognize the “pay gap” as largely the result of choices by women?
How many feminists oppose abortion, as Kate does? Yes, I know about Feminists for Life — as does Kate, who writes about the group. How many feminists consider the group an ally? There is a feminist orthodoxy (just as there is a conservative orthodoxy): The label means something, which is why heterodox feminists are trying to contest that meaning.
Kate’s book takes on feminists where they’re strongest, not where they’re weakest. She has been accused of “smearing” feminists, essentially by quoting them. But I am aware of no attempts to demonstrate that any of the quotes were taken out of context. Kate, on the other hand, has been taken out of context. Several of her critics have seized on this line: “A woman being brutally killed alongside men is a long-awaited feminist dream of equality.” The implication is that Kate has ascribed a desire to see our troops killed to feminists. That would be a smear. But Kate is simply putting a justifiable gloss on the preceding sentence, which the critics don’t mention. In that sentence, Kate quotes an influential proponent of women in combat exulting in the public’s acceptance of the death of female troops in Iraq as a normal part of wartime. (Kate’s chapter on women in combat is, incidentally, a handy refutation of most of the drivel that gets published on the subject.)
Might the feminists be wrong about the military, or the wage gap, or any other point of their orthodoxy? Far less than adherents of other orthodoxies, they will never have to think about it. They have well-honed defense mechanisms to deal with any challenges. Those mechanisms may help feminism politically, at least in the short term, but they cannot help but ossify it.
— Ramesh Ponnuru, an NR senior editor is at work on a book about the sanctity of life and American politics.
Women Who Make the World Worse, and How Their Radical Feminist Assault Is Ruining Our Schools, Families, Military, and Sports, by Kate O’Beirne
(Sentinel, 256 pp., $24.95)
Swedish newspapers recently ran an unusual story about the misdeeds of feminist professor Eva Lundgren. Lundgren, a gender scholar who holds a chair in sociology at the prestigious Uppsala University, had been investigated by a university committee for maligning Swedish men. She had publicly claimed to have proof that bands of male Satanists had ritually murdered hundreds of the nation’s infants. She also “found” that fully half of Swedish women were victims of male violence. Members of the committee investigating the professor’s sensational assertions found them baseless, but they absolved her of deliberate fabrication. Still, they said there were “serious problems in Lundgren’s research,” and they faulted her for failing to be “critical and reflective.” What is extraordinary about this episode, from an American perspective, is that a reality-challenged women’s studies professor who made outrageous, bizarre, and wholly unsubstantiated claims was censured at all. In the United States, she would get a grant — and a raise — to help her pursue her “courageous” and important research.
Kate O’Beirne’s acute, funny, and irreverent new book introduces us to the armies of Eva Lundgrens who have been marching unopposed in sisterly solidarity through America’s major institutions for more than three decades. O’Beirne cites such leading feminists as Gloria Steinem, Eleanor Smeal, and Kate Michelman, along with celebrated political figures, including Hillary Clinton and Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She also introduces readers to a large network of gender-equity apparatchiks who work tirelessly behind the scenes to transform American institutions according to strict feminist specifications. These women fervently believe they are improving the world — but, as O’Beirne clearly shows, they are adding to its miseries.
O’Beirne deploys a tactic that orthodox feminists consider grossly unfair: She quotes them and highlights their claims. Then she responds. Here is feminist author Anne Wilson Schaef lamenting the ravages of the American patriarchy: “To be born female in this culture means that you are born ‘tainted,’ that there is something intrinsically wrong with you that you can never change, that your birthright is one of innate inferiority.” Oh really? says O’Beirne. “She should have been on Knickerbocker Road in Manhasset, New York. In our conventional, 1960s middle-class culture, we girls ran the neighborhood. We’d jump rope by the hour, with one end of the rope anchored to the bumper of a Rambler and some hapless little boy turning the other end until we released him from his duties.”
O’Beirne brings wit and common sense to bear on the weird and rancorous world of orthodox feminism. She is a veteran editor at National Review and was a longtime member of the now (sadly) defunct Capital Gang debate program on CNN. Her new book explains to readers exactly what it is these impassioned women believe and how they have changed and will continue to change American society as long as they remain unchallenged.
In O’Beirne’s book, readers will meet American women who make Sweden’s Eva Lundgren appear restrained. Profs. Dee Graham and Edna Rawlings, for example, are University of Cincinnati psychologists who report that “all male-female relationships [are] more or less abusive” and that “women’s bonding to men, as well as women’s femininity and heterosexuality, are paradoxical responses to men’s violence against women.” Both Graham and Rawlings, notes O’Beirne, received large grants from the Justice Department and are featured speakers at training workshops for police, prosecutors, and judges. They and their like-minded sisters even managed to get an expensive federal program of their very own: the Violence Against Women Act.
This $1.6 billion initiative has been aptly described by Rutgers University anthropologist Lionel Tiger as a “civic celebration of antipathy to men.” As O’Beirne explains, domestic violence is a serious problem and we need good policies and good law enforcement to deal with it; what we do not need is an expensive federal bureaucracy that rewards and employs fanatics like Graham and Rawlings. Yet that is what we got. Why? Because no member of Congress dared oppose Big Sister. No one mentioned the fact that the bill was based on feminist propaganda, as opposed to reputable research.
O’Beirne reminds us of such truths, and more. She shows us a modern women’s movement that has contempt for the women it claims to represent. Rather than find out what women want and help them achieve it, professional feminists take it upon themselves to decide what women’s goals should be. “NOW Knows Best,” says O’Beirne. Most women want children and the time to take care of them, but the major women’s organizations — such as the National Organization for Women, the Ms. Foundation, and Planned Parenthood — are focused on instructing women how not to conceive a child, how to abort it once conceived, and how to place it in full-time daycare should it actually materialize.
Women Who Make the World Worse documents a 30-year war against the idea that the mother/child bond is unique. O’Beirne quotes the public comments of Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a committed feminist, on the topic of maternal love: “Motherly love ain’t everything it has been cracked up to be. To some extent it’s a myth that men have created to make women think that they do this job to perfection.” In a similar mood, Yeshiva University professor Louise Silverstein called motherhood an “idealized myth” invented by men “in an attempt to encourage white, middle-class women to have more children.” Prof. Gretchen Ritter, director of women’s studies at the University of Texas, goes so far as to condemn full-time mothers as harmful to children: “It teaches them that the world is divided by gender.”
The good news is that women don’t seem to be paying attention to the self-appointed feminist mentors. Nor is Mother Nature cooperating. O’Beirne notes that mothers continue to fall madly in love with their babies in ways even the most devoted fathers do not. Despite two generations of “wage warrior” feminism, only 10% of mothers with young children want to work full-time. Hardliners are exasperated by such “stereotypical” behavior: Until a majority of mothers work full-time, or men stay at home in equal numbers — as orthodox feminists insist is only fair — the sisterhood will not be able to realize its dream of a unigender society. Until women become like men (or better yet, men like women), the pay gap, caused mostly by women’s “excessive” preoccupations with their children, will remain significantly wide and the glass ceiling won’t shatter.
Ignoring the spurious scholarship of the gender experts, O’Beirne cites a large body of empirical research that documents the advantages of marriage for women. The standard feminist view of traditional marriage was stated with dramatic succinctness by women’s-studies pioneer Jessie Bernard in 1972: “Being a housewife makes women sick . . . To be happy in a relationship which imposes so many impediments on her as traditional marriage does, women must be slightly ill mentally.” For these and other such insights the Center for Women’s Policy Studies now awards the Jessie Bernard “Wise Women Award.”
Full-time mothers and traditional wives are not the only targets of feminist disapproval. O’Beirne exposes a relentless campaign against boys and young men: “We parents of boys have meekly allowed gender warriors to treat our sons like unindicted co-conspirators in history’s gender crimes.” When her son was in third grade, the teacher had the children perform a newly written, politically correct, nonsexist fairytale. The kingdom’s empowered girls slayed the dragon and defended the castle while the boys stood by passively and absorbed the lesson. O’Beirne tells readers that that was the day she resolved to “move him to a friendlier kingdom.”
Today, says O’Beirne, “Women make up 57% of undergraduates and earn a majority of all master’s degrees. But feminists aren’t content with this remarkable educational success, because female students aren’t playing sports to the same extent as men.” They become furious if anyone brings up the possibility that boys are by nature more interested in watching and playing sports than girls. The fact that millions of men — and relatively few women — subscribe to sports magazines or watch athletic events on television (including women’s basketball!) signifies nothing to the feminists, except the power of sexist conditioning under the patriarchy.
These gender feminists have succeeded in enforcing their point of view in the nation’s high schools and institutions of higher learning. Most coaches find they cannot attract men and women in equal numbers. To avoid lawsuits, many have had to eliminate men’s teams. “The result,” says O’Beirne, “is that men’s participation in sports is capped at the level of women’s interest.” Such policies please the radicals, but no fair-minded person can believe they are improving our society.
O’Beirne also introduces readers to a noisy pack of lobbyists and legislators who rail against the military’s “warrior culture” and demand that women be fully integrated into all combat positions. Reasonable people can disagree about suitable roles for women in the modern military; unfortunately, the feminist ideologues make reasonable discussion impossible. They want full parity. Police and fire departments face similar pressures from equal-outcome feminists. But the fact is, only the top 5% of women can perform at the male median. According to one study of ROTC cadets, cited by O’Beirne, the typical woman in her twenties or thirties has the aerobic capacity of a 50-year-old man. Our world is not improved when women are forced into roles they cannot properly perform.
For O’Beirne, much of the mischief that modern feminists have wrought in our schools, workplaces, and social institutions is traceable to their success in convincing educators and political figures that gender is a social construction. To counter this idea, O’Beirne points to a vast and growing literature that suggests that many gender preferences have a biological basis. But it is clear that nothing will persuade the hardliners to change their position; their angry march continues apace.
Meanwhile, how has the so-called patriarchy responded to the feminist onslaught? “The fearsome male patriarchy,” says O’Beirne, “folded like a cheap Kate Spade knockoff . . . The shrill feminists who made men the enemy took shrewd advantage of the fact that men hate arguing with women.” It is therefore fortunate for us that O’Beirne loves to argue and does it with style, logic, and humor. Unlike the gentle Swedish academic committee that delivered a mere slap on the wrist to their outrageous feminist colleague, O’Beirne does not hesitate to deliver harsh verdicts. She won’t be winning the Jessie Bernard “Wise Women Award” any time soon. But she has written a rousing, scintillating, and badly needed book.
Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at the American Enterprise Institute. She is the author of Who Stole Feminism? and The War Against Boys.
by Karin Agness
While most people were celebrating or searching for love on Valentine’s Day, groups of women throughout the country decided to forego this lovely holiday to talk about their vaginas.
Women have the choice to do this. I am thankful for that choice. But this choice to participate in The Vagina Monologues is the latest manifestation of feminism gone wrong in America. These “Vagina Warriors” have become those monsters, men, who they feared and hated for so long for exploiting women. They are their own worst enemy, objectifying and abusing themselves and other women.
Feminists have long complained that they are only valued for their physical and sexual attributes. In The Vagina Monologues, the feminists objectify women worse than the way they claimed men did. Feminists argued that men oppressed them in the home and did not treat women as full humans, through patriarchal institutions such as marriage. This is shown in the 1966 Statement of Purpose of the National Organization for Women, “If it is necessary to mobilize the votes of men and women who believe in our cause, in order to win for women the final right to be fully free and equal human beings, we so commit ourselves.”
These feminists sought education to correct this problem, “We believe that it is as essential for every girl to be educated to her full potential of human ability as it is for every boy...”
They sought equality in economic opportunities. They sought freedom from men and male institutions that did not treat them as full human beings, but as property and objects to be admired, used and abused.
Now feminists have reversed the scenario, and women are exploiting themselves. Throughout the play, women claim their body parts define them. In one monologue, a woman describes her experience at a Vagina Workshop. Her instructor told her to draw a picture of her own vagina and look at it with a hand mirror. This woman said, “She [the instructor] then told me my clitoris was not something I could lose. It was me, the essence of me....I didn’t have to find it. I had to be it.” She embraces and accepts this definition of herself.
The woman in this monologue has clearly reduced herself to a body part. This is way worse than the supposed objectifying that feminists claimed men did in the 1970s. Can you imagine if a man then or today would say to a woman, “Your clitoris is you?” No, only a leftist woman can get away with saying this.
Unfortunately, these Vagina Warriors have chosen to focus on their body parts rather than their brains, talents or achievements. As such, they have effectively reduced themselves to the very thing they did not want to be defined by: their intimate anatomy.
Feminists also loudly complained in the 1970s that men used their structural power to abuse women. In a monologue titled, “The Little Coochi Snorcher That Could,” a 24-year-old woman invites a 16-year-old girl into her car. The 16-year-old says, “She asks me if I like to kiss boys, and I tell her I do not like that. Then she says she wants to show me something, and she leans over and kisses me so softly on the lips with her lips and then puts her tongue in my mouth. Wow.”
It gets worse.
The 24-year-old asks her to spend the night, feeds her vodka, slides into lingerie and then teaches the young girl how to play with herself.
If this is not abuse, I don’t know what is.
Still, this is not condemned in the play. Rather, the young girl says, “I realized later she was my surprising, unexpected, politically incorrect salvation. She transformed my sorry-ass coochi snorcher and raised it up into a kind of heaven.” In The Vagina Monologues, then, a rapist is compared to “salvation” and as giving “heaven” to her victim. She is the heroine of the monologue.
In turn, feminists have become the dominating, oppressive force, which they condemned in the 1970s when it was supposedly men acting this way, committing crimes and creating victims. These feminists are the monsters they once despised, abusing women and then celebrating it.
The feminist movement has always been quick to point out the objectification and abuse they felt men were committing against women. I think it’s time that the feminists realize that they have become their own greatest enemy.
WASHINGTON – Watch network sitcoms and you will find the dolts are usually men.
In TV commercials, it’s always the kids or the mothers who know the real score, not the fathers.
Affirmative-action programs by definition mean women get preference in hiring, school admissions, contracts and promotions.
While some social scientists may see these facts as harmless – or possibly even necessary reconditioning of society to correct past injustices against women – others are beginning to conclude that men are the real victims of discrimination so virulent it is shortening their life spans, causing them to be self-destructive and suicidal, crippling their educational opportunities and destroying a generation of fatherless children.
Here are some sobering facts:
* Men, whose average life expectancy was formerly on a par with women, are now dying 10 years earlier. [KH: no, it has for a long time been 5 years difference.]
* Boys have inferior reading and comprehension scores and lower graduation rates than girls.
* Men are much less likely to pursue secondary degrees and university graduate programs.
* The suicide rates for boys, young fathers and older men range from four to 10 times higher than for their female counterparts.
* According to Dr. William Pollack of the Harvard Medical School Center for Men, the general health of American males is in a state of serious crisis.
* Men spend more and more time at work, as compared to women in similar full-time jobs, and they engage in considerably more demanding and dangerous career choices.
Those are just a few of the findings of a report of the New Hampshire Commission on the Status of Men, one of several state panels convened to re-evaluate assumptions about the role of men in society.
“That men would need help by way of a chartered commission to improve their status seemed counterintuitive given the popular image of men as independent, self-sufficient survivors, able to overcome the most difficult of life’s challenges on their own,” said the commission in its report issued in November. “Modern pressures, however, find men and their families experiencing significant difficulties due to evolving values, health problems, growing educational deficiencies and new socio-economic family standards.”
The commission found the school drop-out rates of boys much higher than for girls. It found men treated unfairly by the family court system. It found men often falsely accused of domestic violence not getting due process. It found government programs for women getting far more funding than programs for men.
In matters of health, for instance, breast cancer, a threat to women, receives far more government funding for prevention and research than does prostate cancer, a threat to men.
Nationwide, about 9% more men develop prostate cancer than women develop breast cancer. Yet the federal government spends approximately seven times more on breast cancer research ($550 million) than it does on prostate cancer research ($80 million).
In fact mortality rates from all causes – cancer, diabetes, heart disease, injuries, suicide – are significantly higher for men than women. The New Hampshire commission found men are more than five times more likely to kill themselves than women.
Perhaps nowhere is the bias against men so obvious than in matters of child custody and support, the panel found. Fathers get custody of children in uncontested cases only 10% of the time and 15% of the time in contested cases. Women get sole custody 66% of the time in uncontested cases and 75% of the time in contested cases.
This might make sense, the commissioners suggested, in a society in which the workforce was dominated by men. However, according to the latest statistics of the U.S. Department of Labor, women now make up 47% of the total labor force.
“Given the plethora of evidence documenting the benefits of involved fathers with their children, and the present rate of female participation in the workforce, the custody imbalance between fathers and mothers seems difficult to justify,” concluded the commission. “This commission suggests that the governor of New Hampshire issue a proclamation declaring that both parents are equally important for their children.”
But the bias against men in the family courts is not limited to custody cases, according to the commission.
“Men came forward during our public meetings to allege unfair treatment in family court domestic violence proceedings and to allege that unsubstantiated charges of domestic violence were being improperly used as tools to place them at a distinct disadvantage in civil matters before family court,” the New Hampshire commissioners reported.
The word on the street, the commissioners learned, was that a woman could readily gain immediate possession of children, home and other assets by filing an “emergency” ex-parte domestic violence petition, claiming to be in fear of her safety. The accused would then have an immediate restraining order placed against him on a “temporary” basis without any hearing or defense.
The commission also cited studies that show more than half of all domestic violence is actually directed against men. It points out that the American Judges Association website notes solemnly: “Every 15 seconds a women is battered somewhere in the United States.” What the website doesn’t mention is that every 14 seconds women batter their partners.
Kathryn Jean Lopez
I simply have no patience for women.
Odds are I don’t mean you, your wife, or your mother. I do mean, however, the type of gal who tends to grace the likes of the New York Times editorial pages.
I’m thinking in particular of Judith Warner. Warner is the author of a book called Perfect Madness: Motherhood in the Age of Anxiety. In memorializing the recently deceased feminist “founding mother” Betty Friedan (as she is frequently described) in the New York Times earlier this month, Warner heralded Friedan’s 1963 The Feminine Mystique as “surprisingly relevant today” — indeed, “horribly familiar.”
To understand Warner, one must understand Friedan. The Feminine Mystique, a feminist classic, has a chapter entitled “The Comfortable Concentration Camp.” Friedan was a seriously desperate housewife, comparing women raising kids at home to the hopelessness of American POWs in Korea. She was married and unhappy and based a philosophy on her personal coping strategy. Friedan moved on, but not without leading others astray with her ideas.
As my friend and colleague Kate O’Beirne writes in her book, Women Who Make the World Worse, Friedan got a divorce, “but unfortunately not before she expounded on the merits of Marxist economics, persuaded far too many women that a selfless devotion to their families was a recipe for misery, helped create the National Organization for Women (NOW), and destructively politicized relations between the sexes.”
Likewise in 2006, Judith Warner seems to want to base a revived Friedanism — and reinvigorate “destructively politicized relations between the sexes” — on personal choices she’s not entirely delighted with. Her problem seems to stem from a husband who doesn’t clean up his socks. Warner writes, “The outside world has changed enormously for women in these past 40 years. But home life? Think about it. Who routinely unloads the dishwasher, puts away the laundry and picks up the socks in your house? Who earns the largest share of the money? Who calls the shots?”
Warner seems to consider the life of a mom who can choose to stay at home with her children, working at writing for minimal hours, wrought with “soul-numbing sacrifices.” Obviously, some women will find motherhood and home life not for them. (Though even some hardened feminists have written about the reality check that falling in love with their baby meant for their own gender biases.) But Warner’s answer is to universalize her experience and encourage women to put their kids’ childhoods into the “soul-numbing sacrifice” category. Some women rather celebrate the opportunity.
Warner, as she explains it in her book, believes that the village should raise the children. In Perfect Madness, Warner calls for “institutions that can help us take care of our children so we don’t have to do everything on our own,” wanting French-style month-long mommy vacations and other big-government solutions.
Now, don’t get me wrong, a month off sounds great in a “Calgon take me away” kinda way. And I don’t mean to diminish the stress and anxiety that comes with families making hard choices, sometimes a single parent making it. But ... can we be serious?
Her thinking is pulled straight out of Betty Friedan. Friedan wrote: “But even if a woman does not have to work to eat, she can find identity only in work that is of real value to society — work for which, usually, our society pays.” Warner, who has, in fact, been dubbed “The New Betty Friedan,” would easily run the hysteria marathon with the feminist torch of victimization held high. But that’s nothing to award a gold medal for.
Friedan/Warner thinking is a slap-in-the-face to stay-at-home moms who are home because they actually want to be there. And it’s an attitude that is damaging to children. O’Beirne summarizes the research and debates well in a chapter of Women Who Make the World Worse called “Day Care Good; Mother Bad.” Besides the ear infections and other physical disadvantages of sending your kid off to an institution, one expert on the first three years of childhood O’Beirne cites says it all — and it’s all so natural: “babies form their first human attachment only once. Babies begin to learn language only once ... The outcome of these processes play a major role in shaping the future of each child.”
I’m not looking to inflame so-called “Mommy Wars” here, but it’s pretty simple: If you can stay home with your kid, it’s a good thing. Embrace it. Don’t let modern-day bottle burners tell you any differently.
by Mike S. Adams
Hi Cicely ( email@example.com ):
I received (and actually read) your recent letter in response to Part VI of my series of columns called “Why I don’t take feminists seriously.” While I ended up writing seven columns in the series, I am writing this installment just for you. As Vice President of the National Organization for Women’s Orlando, Florida chapter, this column will give you all the respect that you deserve, not to mention all the attention that you crave.
In your letter, you asked me why I use the term “ridicule” to characterize my response to feminists. Adding that feminism is a term used to describe people who believe in “gender equality,” you demanded to know “what is ridiculous about that?” Since I had already explained that in another part of the series, I was forced to draw my first conclusion about your organization:
1. NOW Orlando feminists are too lazy to read. Between masturbation workshops and partial-birth abortion advocacy, you should take the time to pick up a book or read a series of columns without starting in the middle.
Click to learn more...
Later on in your missive, you stated that you read in my biography that I was “working to end diversity in academia.” Since that statement does not appear anywhere in my biography, I am led to another conclusion:
2. NOW Orlando feminists are either semi-literate or actually illiterate.
Maybe that helps to explain, in part, my first conclusion.
Of all you had to say in your manifesto (not an intentionally sexist term), this was my favorite part:
“It appears that you are scared of losing that little niche cut out especially for white, Christian boys, well ridiculous or not, feminists, women who don’t call themselves feminists, Black people, Hispanic people and whomever else you feel does not deserve a piece of your elitist pie, are coming for it.”
That forces me to conclude the following:
3. NOW Orlando feminists are so detached from reality that they believe they can launch an unarmed revolution culminating in the seizure of property from armed adversaries.
Good luck with that one, Cicely. We’ll be watching you through our rifle scopes long before you reach the front door. Don’t bother ringing the doorbell, sister.
You also berated me by saying that “it shows a significant lack of forethought to berate women who choose to obtain an abortion for a packet of cells that if allowed to, would become a human being. It is NOT murder, and it is certainly not comparable to killing a living, BREATHING, full born and grown human.”
This produces an inevitable conclusion:
4. NOW Orlando feminists have less respect for the fetus because it is smaller or “not fully grown.”
You also state that my “hyperbolic comparisons to Communism gone wrong are a gross misrepresentation of any form of reality.”
The next conclusion is obvious:
5. NOW Orlando feminists think there is such a thing as “right communism” that can simply go “wrong.”
Finally, you state that “Since 1 in 3 women choose to not commit themselves to a lifetime of caring for another human being, a choice you, as a man will never have to make, it is blatantly a needed and justified means of establishing equality in our political system.”
Forgive me for the blunt language contained in the next conclusion:
6. NOW Orlando feminists are stupid enough to think that they can achieve political equality by killing their off-springs.
Since I have listened to all you have to say, I would like you to consider a piece of friendly advice. I want the National Organization for Women, NOW, to change its name to Totally Hysterical Emotional Nabobs, or THEN. This will warn potential members that you are not only irrational but hopelessly caught up in the past.
Finally, I noticed that your “extreme opposition” link took some pot shots at my friends at Concerned Women for America and my dear friend Phyllis Schlafly of the Eagle Forum. But that’s not why I’m mad. I’m actually upset that I wasn’t on the list. Could you please add me to the following link?:
I have a feeling that after this column others will be mailing you with similar requests. Thank you and have good day.
Mike S. Adams
by Carey Roberts
Call it one of those simple yet profound truths: only a father can help a boy become a man. And only a daddie can teach a girl about healthy male-female relationships.
Both dads and moms are unique and special. Maybe that’s why dads love to mix it up with rough-and-tumble play. Perhaps it’s why fathers teach kids a thing or two about risk-taking. And no doubt it has something to do with that tough love thing.
Countless studies point to the same conclusion: kids with hands-on dads do better in school, in the community, and in life. I could almost write a book about it – and fortunately, someone already has: www.fatherhood.org/fatherfacts.asp .
But there’s a somber side to this story. Kids who lose their fathers are two to three times more likely to get in trouble with the law and are more likely to suffer from a broad array of social pathologies.
The saga can be traced back to the mid-1960s, when marriage was portrayed as an oppressive institution and no-fault divorce laws arrived on the scene. Within 10 years, the U.S. divorce rate almost doubled.
And what happened to the million-or-so kids whose parents divorced each year? Operating under the “tender years doctrine,” family courts almost always awarded custody of the youngsters to mothers.
But the tender years apple cart was upset in 1971. That year the Supreme Court ruled in the landmark Reed v. Reed case that the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment prevents courts from basing opinions on sex. Before long, gender-neutral custody statutes had replaced maternal preference standards in almost every state.
Despite those changes in the law, judicial bias persisted. In 1994, mothers were awarded custody in 85% of cases. Eight years later, according to the U.S. Census Bureau, that number remained unchanged.
Keep in mind, every time a father is relegated to the status of an every-other-weekend visitor, it’s the children who lose out. It’s those same kids who end up as social misfits and statistics in your newspaper police report.
So children’s rights advocates began to push for laws based on a presumption of joint physical custody.
Not only is joint custody firmly rooted in the notion of gender equality, it’s also ideal for kids. As Dr. Joan Kelly, former president of the Academy of Family Mediators concluded, shared parenting “is a desirable outcome which clearly is in the best interests of children and families.” By 1991, over 40 states had shared parenting laws in place.
But the M.O.M.s – Mothers Opposed to Men – were not going to remain silent. In 1996 the National Organization for Women passed a resolution that began with this chestnut: “many judges and attorneys are still biased against women, and fathers are awarded custody 70% of the time when they seek it.”
So there you have it – the fact that mothers were winning custody 85% of the time was proof of widespread anti-female bias in the legal system.
The M.O.M.s then proceeded to do everything in their power to throw dirt on the joint custody idea. But nobody would listen to them. In fact, powerful politicos – Republicans and Democrats alike – began to speak out on the importance of fatherhood.
So three years ago the M.O.M. Squad met at tiny Siena College in upstate New York to plot their next move. This time they decided to drag the domestic violence boogeyman out of the closet.
Soon the M.O.M.s were cranking out red-meat claims like, “In custody cases where the mother alleges battery by the father, the father is awarded custody two-thirds of the time.” That shrill allegation made its way into the recent PBS fake-umentary Breaking the Silence.
But once again, the M.O.M.s were blowing smoke.
Despite the fact that kids with involved dads do better, regardless of all the joint custody laws, and in spite of the laughable antics of the M.O.M. brigade, mothers continue to be favored in custody decisions by a 7 to 1 margin.
All this, of course, is done in the name of the “best interests of the child.”
Family researcher Judith Wallerstein once lamented, “I have been deeply struck by the distress children of every age suffer at losing their fathers.” Maybe we should all begin by listening to the voices of the little ones.
LESS THAN FIVE MINUTES into the opening ceremony of the National Organization for Women’s 40th Anniversary Con ference here, New York state NOW president Marcia Pappas announces that we are present at a “herstoric event.” They really do talk like that.
NOW, of course, is the nation’s largest feminist organization. Founded in 1966, it reached the apex of its visibility and influence in the late 1970s and early ‘80s, when it went all out for the Equal Rights Amendment—and lost to Phyllis Schlafly’s conservative legions. Today, weakened and marginalized, it staggers on, attempting to recapture the old fire. But the anniversary conference, held July 21-23, has attracted just 712 participants, a mere 0.1% of the over 500,000 contributing members NOW’s website claims.
(Not that the group’s official figures are necessarily reliable. At two different sessions here, Muriel Fox, a NOW founder and longtime communications guru, admitted that she fudged the early numbers: She didn’t want the press to know how small NOW really was, so she’d heavily inflate the membership and number of chapters in her press releases. Sometimes she’d brush off queries with a breezy claim of “millions” of chapters.)
The whole gathering, moreover, has a distinctly retro air. Everyone I talk to seems to be a sixtysomething women’s studies professor or a fiftysomething social worker named Fran. The T-shirts in evidence everywhere say things like “Doing My Part to Piss Off the Religious Right,” “Born-Again Pagan,” and “Thelma and Louise Finishing School” (remember the 1991 movie about the housewife and coffee shop waitress who kill an attempted rapist, then take off on the lam, and on a crime spree, in a 1966 convertible?).
The highest-ranking politician to address the conference is New York Democratic congresswoman Carolyn Maloney—a true “shero,” according to NOW president Kim Gandy. And the biggest celebrity, received with much excitement, is Tyne Daly, who played Lacey on Cagney and Lacey, a show that’s been off the air for nearly twenty years.
Where are the Hollywood starlets who line up to perform in the Vagina Monologues or stump for Hillary Clinton? For that matter, where is Hillary Clinton? Senator Clinton, after all, is the first serious female presidential contender in history, and the conference is in her home state at a time when she’s up for reelection, yet her name is hardly mentioned.
Many of the breakout sessions, which make up most of the conference, are devoted to policy issues—education, abortion, immigration, and so on. But the presenters are usually NOW employees or NOW chapter chairs, either unqualified to speak on their given issues or vastly unprepared (like the discussion leader who informs us she’ll be speaking “off the cuff”). The workshop titles display the trademark radical-feminist crudeness (“It’s My Cleavage so Sue Me! Fashion and Feminism”), tedium (“Immigration is a Feminist Issue”), and overkill (“The War on Contraception”), not to say delusion (“Educational Equality Under Attack! Learn How to Protect Your Rights”).
Instead of delving into policy analysis, the workshops emphasize emotion, through small-group conversation and “pair-share” exercises. The conference guidelines encourage attendees to “speak in ‘I’ terms, e.g., ‘I think . . . ,’ ‘I feel . . . ,’ and ‘I believe . . . ‘“ Ideas, as a result, are few and far between.
For the most part, what the participants feel like doing is reliving past glories. The favorite subject is the Equal Rights Amendment, which went down to defeat in 1982. Speakers from Tyne Daly to a screaming Eleanor Smeal (twice president of NOW, in 1977-’82 and 1985-’87) call for the return of the ERA, to rabid applause from an audience that includes many veterans of the fight a quarter-century ago. Even at the Youth Feminist Summit on the first day of the conference, it’s the old guard that dominates the podium and the floor.
In addition to the talk, there is genuine celebration. Feminist folk artist Sandy Rapp (“Dylanesque,” according to the program) provides musical entertainment at the birthday party on Saturday night. This evolves into a giant sing-along complete with clapping, dancing, and chanting lyrics like “Get your laws off me / I’m not your property” and the catchy refrain “We were marching with Molly Yard” (president of NOW from 1987-’91). For one brief, shining moment, the revolution lives.
But fewer than half of the attendees stick around to close out the conference, and virtually none under the age of forty are visible in its last hours. In a twist straight out of a bad Lifetime coming-of-age drama, the radio on the shuttle back to the airport is blasting Jennifer Warnes and Bill Medley’s Dirty Dancing theme song, “(I’ve Had) The Time of My Life”—a sentiment about as true to life for this attendee as Eleanor Smeal’s impassioned proclamation to the sisterhood, still ringing in my ears: “The best is yet to come!”
Allison Kasic is director of campus programs at the Independent Women’s Forum.
It is research that is guaranteed to delight men - and infuriate the women in their lives. A controversial new study has claimed that men really are more intelligent than women.
The study - carried out by a man - concluded that men’s IQs are almost four points higher than women’s.
British-born researcher John Philippe Rushton, who previously created a furore by suggesting intelligence is influenced by race, says the finding could explain why so few women make it to the top in the workplace.
He claims the ‘glass ceiling’ phenomenon is probably due to inferior intelligence, rather than discrimination or lack of opportunity.
The University of Western Ontario psychologist reached his conclusion after scrutinising the results of university aptitude tests taken by 100,000 students aged 17 and 18 of both sexes.
A focus on a factors such as the ability to quickly grasp a complex concept, verbal reasoning skills and creativity - some of they key ingredients of intelligence - revealed the male teenagers had IQs that were an average of 3.63 points higher. The average person has an IQ of around 100.
The findings, which held true for all classes and levels of parental education, overturn a 100 year consensus that men and women average the same in general mental ability. They also conflict with evidence that girls do better in school exams than boys.
But Prof Rushton, who was born in Bournemouth and obtained his doctorate in social psychology from the London School of Economics, argues that the faster maturing of girls leads to them outshining boys in the classroom.
And since almost all previous data showing an absence of difference between the sexes was gathered on schoolchildren, the gender difference could easily have been missed.
‘It looks like up until late adolescence, the females have the advantage over males because they mature faster, which masks the underlying difference, he said.
Although experts have accepted that men and women differ mentally, with males averaging higher on tests of ‘spatial ability’ and females higher on verbal tests, it was assumed the differences averaged out, leaving no difference in overall intelligence.
Prof Rushton believes the differences are directly linked to brain size, with other studies showing men having slightly bigger brains than women.
‘We know that men have larger brains, even when you take into account larger body size,’ said the researcher. ‘That means there are more neurons. The question is what these neurons are doing in a man - and they probably have an advantage in processing information.’
It is thought the difference may date back to the Stone Age, with women seeking out men who are more intelligent than them in a bid to pass on the best genes to their children.
‘Some people have suggested it evolved because women prefer men who are more intelligent than they are for husbands,’ said the professor.
‘Just as they prefer men who are taller than them, they also prefer a male who is a little ahead of them in IQ.’
Critics claim Prof Rushton’s results could have been skewed by the inclusion of more test results from females than form males.
Prof Rushton, who four years ago triggered a scientific row by claiming intelligence and behaviour are influenced by race, with blacks being more likely to be involved in crime and Asians having a greater chance of high IQs, however, stands by his results.
‘These are unpopular conclusions,’ he said. ‘People should not be made to feel afraid to study controversial issues.
‘We have the right to find the truth. One should really look at the facts.’
His work appears to confirm British research which showed men have bigger brains and higher IQs than women, which may explain why chess grandmasters and geniuses are more likely to be male.
The analyses of more than 20,000 verbal reasoning tests taken by university students from around the world revealed that women’s IQs are up to five points lower than men’s .
Women needn’t feel despondent, however, as the scientists believe women can achieve just as much as men - as long as they work harder.
Are American evangelicals charting a new path into theological liberalism? That is the serious question posed by Wayne A. Grudem in Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? This new book is one of the most urgently needed resources for evangelical Christianity, and it represents one of the most insightful and courageous theological works of our times.
Wayne Grudem is no stranger to controversy. Currently Research Professor of Bible and Theology at Phoenix Seminary in Arizona, Grudem is the author of several important volumes on a range of theological issues. Most importantly, he is the author of his own Systematic Theology and Evangelical Feminism and Biblical Truth. He also co-edited the landmark volume, Recovering Biblical Manhood and Womanhood, with John Piper.
In Evangelical Feminism, published by Crossway Books, Grudem argues that evangelical feminism now represents one of the greatest dangers to the continued orthodoxy of the evangelical movement. “I am concerned that evangelical feminism (also known as “egalitarianism”) has become a new path by which evangelicals are being drawn into theological liberalism,” he explains.
In this new book, Grudem considers twenty-five different patterns of argument put forth by evangelical feminists, and demonstrates that every single one of them either contradicts or compromises the authority of Scripture.
In considering the arguments put forth by evangelical feminists, Grudem is careful to avoid ad hominem attacks on egalitarian scholars and spokespersons. Instead, he considers each of their arguments with considerable scholarly care and attention, drawing the logical conclusions from the methodological assumptions the egalitarian scholars embrace.
At the same time, Grudem is careful to specify and name the scholars whose proposals he considers, and the book is carefully footnoted and documented so that readers can follow the arguments for themselves. Grudem’s use of the term “theological liberalism” is certain to be controversial. After all, the very genesis of the evangelical movement in North America was grounded in an effort to avoid the errors of theological modernism and liberalism that had already, by the midpoint of the last century, overtaken the mainline Protestant denominations. Grudem defines theological liberalism as “a system of thinking that denies the complete truthfulness of the Bible as the Word of God and denies the unique and absolute authority of the Bible in our lives.” In defining evangelicalism over against theological liberalism in this way, Grudem returns to the Scripture Principle that stood as foundational to the evangelical movement.
Grudem is equally careful in defining evangelical feminism as “a movement that claims there are no unique leadership roles for men in marriage or in the church.”
A work like Evangelical Feminism has been desperately needed, and Grudem’s new book arrives just in time. A new generation of younger evangelicals is facing the challenge of evangelical feminism just as the current and the larger culture are moving even more swiftly against biblical authority. Grudem understands that the temptation toward evangelical feminism is the same as that which has attracted so many theologians, pastors, and denominations in recent decades. As a matter of fact, he correctly observes that “evangelical feminists today have adopted many of the arguments earlier used by theological liberals to advocate the ordination of women and to reject male headship in marriage.” Interestingly, Grudem provides an historical overview which traces the emergence of evangelical feminism and egalitarian theory to 1974, when Letha Scanzoni and Nancy Hardesty published their work, All We’re Meant to Be and Paul Jewett of Fuller Theological Seminary published Man as Male and Female. As Grudem observes, “While egalitarian positions have been evocated since the 1950s by theologically liberal Protestant writers, no evangelical books took such a position until 1974.”
The mainline Protestant denominations began to ordain women in the mid-1950s, and it took some evangelicals less than twenty years to move in the same direction. Grudem’s concern is to demonstrate that the hermeneutical moves necessary to justify the ordination of women to the pastorate subvert biblical authority. Furthermore, these same interpretive maneuvers open the door for a complete reshaping of Christianity.
In a brief historical analysis, Grudem demonstrates that denominations move through “a predictable sequence” of theological liberalism. First, biblical inerrancy is abandoned. Then, in turn, the denomination endorses the ordination of women, rejects biblical teaching on male leadership in marriage, sidelines pastors who are opposed to the ordination of women, approves homosexual conduct as morally valid in at least some cases, ordains homosexuals, and elects homosexuals to “high leadership positions in the denomination.”
As Grudem observes, the Episcopal Church USA has, to this point, been alone in taking this sequential progression to its ultimate conclusion with the election of an openly gay bishop. Nevertheless, virtually all of the mainline Protestant denominations are embroiled in deep conflict over these very same questions. Indeed, these denominations have already moved so far along this line of progression that stopping at any point short of the ordination of homosexuals to ministry appears purely arbitrary.
The heart of Evangelical Feminism is a consideration of the patterns of argument put forth by advocates of egalitarianism. Some evangelical feminists simply deny the authority of the Genesis account of creation, at least as this account deals with the creation of man and woman. Some, like Rebecca Groothuis argue that the Genesis account tells us “nothing about God’s view of gender” because the gender issues are simply rooted in the “patriarchal” nature of the Hebrew language. Of course, this means that biblical inerrancy is now compromised by the assertion that we cannot actually trust the language accurately to convey what God intended. Similarly, other figures argue that Genesis 1-3 can be relativized on the issue of gender relations by arguing that parts of the Genesis account are nothing more that literary devices.
Egalitarian theorists must deal with the Apostle Paul, and Grudem traces the move of Jewett and others in claiming that Paul must be understood as limited in his understanding of gender relations due to his own rabbinical training and the fact that he had not carefully resolved these issue by the time he wrote his epistles. Grudem documents how some figures make this argument by suggesting, for example, that Paul incorrectly understood Genesis 2-3, or that he willingly presented what he knew to be a false argument in order to reach his audience. As Grudem explains, if the Bible is the Word of God, then Paul’s interpretations of the Old Testament are also God’s interpretations “of his own Word.”
Again and again, Grudem allows the advocates of egalitarianism to reveal their own efforts to get around the clear teachings of Scripture on the different roles assigned to men and women. Gordon Fee, for example, argues that 1 Corinthians 14:34-35 are “certainly not binding for Christians” because these verses, he argues, were not actually written by Paul, but were additions of a later scribe. As Grudem demonstrates, not one single ancient manuscript has ever omitted these verses.
One of the most important sections in Evangelical Feminism is Grudem’s consideration of the so-called “trajectory hermeneutics” now gaining favor in many evangelical circles. Grudem traces this hermeneutic to Krister Stendahl, a former dean at Harvard Divinity School. As far back as 1958, Stendahl was arguing that the church must not be trapped in a first century understanding of gender issues, but must press forward to a new reality, even as the New Testament pressed beyond the Old. Thus, evangelical figures such as R.T. France have argued for the ordination of women on the basis of a “historical trajectory” traced from the Old Testament through the New Testament and pointing beyond to the present age.
This approach is made clear by David Thompson in a 1996 article: “Sensing the direction of the canonical dialogue and prayerfully struggling with it, God’s people conclude that they will most faithfully honor his Word by accepting the target already anticipated in Scripture and toward which the Scriptural trajectory was heading rather than the last entry in the biblical conversation.”
As Grudem observes, “This means that the teachings of the New Testament are no longer our final authority. Our authority now becomes our own ideas of the direction the New Testament was heading but never quite reached.”
At this point, a crucial question arises. If this hermeneutical method is legitimate, how can we stop at the ordination of women? This is the very argument made by proponents of normalizing homosexuality and ordaining homosexuals to the ministry. If the New Testament is to be superseded by a later reality based in a more modern understanding, how can the church justify relativizing some texts without relativizing others?
Grudem also offers a careful critique of William Webb’s “redemptive-movement” approach, which, as he observes, casts the entire ethical structure of the New Testament into doubt. Grudem goes to some length to demonstrate that Webb’s approach undermines the church’s ability even to understand the New Testament text. Webb’s cumbersome and elaborate criteriology for deciding these issues puts the question outside the reach of all but a tiny priesthood of scholars. Even more importantly, it points to something outside the New Testament as our authority. As Grudem notes, this is “a huge step down the path toward liberalism.” In other chapters, Grudem considers the fact that many evangelical feminists claim the right to prioritize certain biblical texts, while relativizing others. Others attempt to dismiss certain passages as “disputed” in order to eliminate their functional authority in today’s church. Grudem effectively undermines these arguments, showing once again that the acceptance of these arguments requires the subversion or outright rejection of biblical authority. These maneuvers are absolutely incompatible with an affirmation of biblical inerrancy.
In a series of capable considerations, Grudems looks to a host of alternative arguments made on behalf of the ordination of women, ranging from those who claim an authority of experience or “calling” above Scripture to others who claim that women can teach and preach in the church so long as they do so under a male pastor’s authority.
Finally, Grudem returns to the issue of homosexuality, arguing that the hermeneutic employed to advocate egalitarianism leads, if pressed consistently, to the normalization of homosexuality as well. “The approval of homosexuality,” he notes, “is the final step along the path to liberalism.”
The great value of Wayne Grudem’s new book is its combination of cogent argument and fair presentation. Grudem is careful to acknowledge that many, if not most, evangelical feminists have not moved completely along the trajectory toward the full embrace of theological liberalism. Nevertheless, his surgical approach to their theological arguments and hermeneutical proposals reveals the clear and present danger to evangelical orthodoxy posed by egalitarian theory and practice. Evangelical Feminism is truly a tract for the times—a manifesto that should serve to awaken complacent evangelicals to the true nature of the egalitarian challenge. Furthermore, the book serves as an arsenal of arguments to use in revealing the crucial weaknesses of the egalitarian proposal.
Nothing less than the future of the Christian church in North America is at stake in this controversy. Evangelicals no longer have the luxury of believing that this controversy is nothing more than a dispute among scholars. Evangelical Feminism: A New Path to Liberalism? has arrived just in time. Get this book quickly—and read it with care.
By Kathryn Jean Lopez
Most of us have been so distracted by real (and “real”) news — madmen with bombs (or the desire for them), elections, Madonna’s adoption — that we haven’t had time to notice a milestone cultural event. At last, this fall, on the cover of Ms. magazine, liberal feminism officially jumped the shark.
Most well-informed Americans probably have had little indication since bra-burning days that old feminism’s flagship magazine still existed. It does, unfortunately, and its most recent edition is quite a shameful display. The fall cover proclaims “We Had Abortions,” as if it were a badge of honor — as if anyone could believe such a thing.
If abortion really were so conducive to women’s happiness and success, seems strange that we have groups and websites dedicated to post-abortion healing. We even have the occasional abortion clinic that gives women a time and place to mourn their lost children.
The Ms. magazine cover wasn’t the first time the magazine has done such a thing. In its heyday, the gals ran a similar proclamation. In the latest issue, the sisters recall, “In its 1972 debut issue, Ms. magazine ran a bold petition in which 53 well-known U.S. women declared that they had undergone abortions — despite state laws rendering the procedure illegal.”
So why scream it again now? Serrin Foster, president of Feminists for Life of America, views the Ms. antics as a good sign for her (and the rest of us). “We used to react to them. Now they’re reacting to us,” she tells me. The cover, no doubt, was in part a response to Feminists for Life and pro-lifers like them who have been focusing on a “Women Deserve Better” (than abortion) message in recent years.
Feminism isn’t just jumping the shark on abortion, though. At the same time Ms. magazine was trying to reclaim relevance — in about the most perverse way they possibly could — students at James Madison University were pushing back against Title IX, an amendment added to an education bill in Congress in 1972. The law was patterned on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, intended to keep discrimination out of education. Good goals. In subsequent years, however, it devolved into federally mandated quotas in high school and college sports.
Politicians have largely curtsied in obedience to the feminist police. But maybe not anymore.
Earlier this fall, Virginia’s James Madison University announced it was cutting seven men’s teams, as well as three women’s teams. The cuts would mean no teams for more than 140 students and 11 coaches. It was a response to federal “proportionality” guidelines: If a school’s student population is 60% women and 40% men, the sports programs have to reflect that breakdown exactly — even if 60% of the female students don’t want to play sports.
In light of protests there, Title IX reformists have gotten unprecedented attention. Jessica Gavora of the College Sports Council calls the developments “amazing.” “A story line is forming in the media around James Madison University’s decision to cut 10 teams to comply with Title IX and for the first time it’s this: that a perverted interpretation of the law — not football, not sexist university administrators, but the law — has resulted in a great injustice.”
In short — on issues that have long been monopolized by liberal feminists, mainstream culture may finally be graduating to good sense and reason. No cover antics will save Ms. magazine and the sisterhood now.
Beliefnet.com has published a debate of sorts on the “mommy wars.” Linda Hirshman, author of Get to Work: A Manifesto for Women of the World, returns in a lengthy interview to her argument that women who stay home to care for children are “letting down the team.”
I was invited to write an article in response to Hirshman. Both articles are available at Beliefnet.com.
In her interview, Linda Hirshman is as strident and radical as ever. After explaining that she had determined what “the standards of secular Western goodness” might be, she applied these to stay-at-home moms and found them morally wanting:
I applied those standards to the decision to stay home and tend children and the household, and I found that they were, in fact, lacking. These women are not using their full human capacity. They are not independent, and they are not doing more social good than harm.
So stay-at-home moms are doing more harm than good? She doesn’t stop there. They are also delusional.
I think they’re making a mistake. The most frustrating thing about the whole business is the nonsensical stories that they tell themselves and me about what they think they’re doing. The delusional quality of it is a little weird. . . .
I’m not sure what is going on. If they, in fact, believe the things that they tell me, then they are incredibly stupid and foolish. I’m hoping that they’re reciting it like a mantra: “choice, choice, choice, choice,” or “I never met a man who wished on his deathbed he spent more time at work.” These are mantras that these women recite; they send them to me in e-mails. And so, when the whole society is telling you a set of things, it becomes very easy to just recite it. The interesting question is why they are unwilling to think through what they’re doing. And I think it’s because what they’re doing is destructive and dangerous and they’re afraid to face it.
The essence of Linda Hirshman’s argument is that what she calls “choice” feminism has led to disaster, because so many women are giving up promising professional lives and money (the very things Hirshman says they should most value) in order to stay at home and care for children — a task she infamously described as unfit “for a complicated, educated person.”
She calls for feminists to return to their “judgmental roots,” refusing to accept women who choose motherhood over career as morally responsible. In her book, she calls for women to go on a “reproductive strike” until they are freed, as a sex, from any imbalance in responsibilities for child-rearing.
She presents herself as surprised that her radical vision is attracting opposition. Take a look at this:
I got a flood of really rabid e-mail—very personal, very harsh. And unlike the usual e-mails, they also were notable for their bad grammar and spelling. So I couldn’t figure where this flood of e-mails was coming from, and then someone sent me a speech by Albert Mohler, the head of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. He said, “This woman is the instrumentality of the devil.” He lied about what I said, and then he told everybody that I was the end of civilization as we know it. That was my first clue that the forces of organized religion in America were going to be aiming at me.
Well, a little truth-telling will help here. I never said that Linda Hirshman “is the instrumentality of the devil.” As a matter of fact, I have not said that of anyone. Then she says that I identified her as “the end of civilization as we know it.” She flatters herself. I do believe that her ideas—if taken seriously by many persons—would be the end of civilization as we know it. There would be no one left to care for the children.
I have never given “a speech” about Linda Hirshman, so I must assume that she refers instead to my commentary on her and her ideas. The article is a straightforward analysis of her writings and media appearances. Judge for yourself. The problem is her ideas. It is virtually impossible to present her proposals as more radical than they are.
In my Beliefnet.com article, I responded to her book and proposals. She says that she fears “the forces of organized religion” in opposition to her. She can let go of that fear. It’s America’s moms who are in an uproar. As I wrote in the article: “Hirshman has little to fear from conservative Christian men–it’s the moms she had better look out for.”
The actual work of motherhood disgusts her. After reading the diaries of mothers, she notes: “their description of their lives does not sound particularly interesting or fulfilling for a complicated person, for a complicated, educated person.” Being herself a complicated, educated person, she cannot understand why a woman would, for example, wipe the soiled bottom of her baby. Complicated, educated women just must not do such things, she insists–or they are letting down the team. She even compared mothers to the “untouchables” of India–a caste consigned to sweep bodily wastes and care for the bodily needs of others. “Get to Work” will attract attention, of course. The book is so radical and strident in its tone that the media will not be able to resist its allure. Nevertheless, a half-century after the feminist revolution was launched, women simply aren’t buying its message–not if it means that women who love motherhood are “letting down the team.” The persistence of motherhood is a sign that women really do know what they want.
Let’s all be very thankful for that fact — and honor those women who take up the complicated and educated task of raising the next generation, starting at the cradle.
By Karin Agness
The first Women’s Studies Program in the U.S. was created in 1970 at San Diego State College. Over 35 years later, there are now Women and Gender Studies Departments on college campuses throughout the country. Based on the benign title, Women and Gender Studies, it would be easy at first to mistake these bastions of feminism as unbiased intellectually honest academic departments.
After digging deeper, however, it is clear that these departments are dominated by radical feminists and radical feminist ideas. For example, the description for the Studies in Women and Gender (SWAG) Department introductory course at the University of Virginia last year, “Women’s Lives in Myth and Reality,” reads, “This course will explore women’s past and present circumstances and envision future possibilities and alternatives, analyze issues of gender in relation to class and race, and work toward a framework for understanding the world and our place in it.” The future for many women includes aspirations to have traditional families and this course states that it will “envision future possibilities.” The course, however, does not have any sections devoted to studying the traditional family structure. Instead, it attempts to influence the next generation of women with its feminist propaganda. For instance, one of the two main textbooks used in the course is titled Listen Up: Voices from the Next Feminist Generation, which includes articles such as “Lusting for Freedom,” “Taking It to the Streets’ and “Bringing Feminism a la Casa.”
According to the SWAG Department website, “Studies in women and gender is an interdisciplinary program that seeks to analyze history and culture from women’s perspectives and to deepen the methods of academic pursuit by acknowledging the critical place of gender.” I was unable, however, to find a work by a conservative woman on any SWAG Department course syllabi. From the description above, it seems that the SWAG Department does not think that views held by countless conservative women represent “women’s perspectives,” since these views are conveniently and conspicuously absent.
Radical feminists have been wildly successful in creating their own academic departments—purportedly for the benefit of all women—that exclude all views but their own under the guise of an innocuous-sounding name. Countless women each year enter colleges around the country, sign up for classes such as “Gender and Sexuality in Pop Culture” and are clueless that they will be fed radical feminist ideas.
Unfortunately, this is not an isolated peripheral effort. Rather, this is a central part of the radical feminist strategy not only to get their ideas heard, but to drown out any competing ideas. We see this once again in the implementation of Women’s History Month.
Women’s History Month grew out of National Women’s History Week, which grew out of International Women’s Day, which grew out of the socialist movement. Why do feminists proudly celebrate Women’s History Month? Because this is another chance for them to create something, dominate it and destroy the opposition. For example, the big Women’s History Month event at University of Virginia is a talk by Bella DePaulo, author of Singled Out: Taking on Singlism and Matrimania. To give you a taste of the event, DePaulo writes on her website, “I’m on a mission to expose the misrepresentations of singles as the inane caricatures that they are. I also like to mock the swooning over marriage and coupling that seems so fashionable these days.” What message does this send? That the celebration of Women’s History Month means ridiculing marriage? That marriage is bad for women so we should denigrate it during Women’s History Month?
Just as in their push for Women and Gender Studies Departments, radical feminists have also pushed for Women’s History Month and then tried to control its meaning.
While many conservatives have long ignored Women and Gender Studies Departments, hoping they will just go away, we must not ignore Women’s History Month. The place and importance of women in history should be revered regardless of personal political philosophy. Besides, we conservatives have just as many women who deserve recognition during this month, from public figures such as Phyllis Schlafly and Condoleezza Rice, to the millions of mothers who have devoted their lives to raising their children.
In an effort to sincerely celebrate Women’s History Month, the Network of enlightened Women Chapter at the University of Virginia is cosponsoring a debate as part of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute’s Cicero’s Podium debate series. Two well-known, but ideologically opposite, authors, Dr. Jennifer Roback Morse and Amy Richards, will engage many pressing questions about the legitimacy of Women and Gender Studies Departments. Rather than ignoring the complexity of current issues and hiding from women who do not share the same principles, the women of NeW seek to foster true intellectual diversity.
March is Women’s History Month, not Radical Feminist’s History Month; it is up to conservative women to speak for ourselves in a movement and a month that fail to accurately speak for us.
By Carol Platt Liebau
Flush with their new Congressional majority, Democrats seem intent on resurrecting one of the worst ideas of the 1970’s. Like a horror film with a monster that just won’t die, the Equal Rights Amendment is once again rearing its ugly head.
The ERA, of course, is the feminist cause celebre that had passed the Senate and House overwhelmingly by 1972, before failing to win ratification in three-quarters of the state legislatures – despite repeated time extensions – thanks mostly to the determined leadership of Phyllis Schlafly. The wording of the amendment itself is deceptively simple: Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Sounds harmless, doesn’t it? But within that seemingly innocuous statement lies the potential for government to impose radical changes on American society. The ERA’s force comes from its legal effect, which would be to subject legal claims of gender discrimination to the same strict scrutiny given by courts to race-based discrimination.
It’s worth pausing a moment to consider what that means. Surely most Americans agree that there should be some “compelling governmental interest” before the government makes racial distinctions between its citizens. But do Americans really want all-boy or all-girl education (or sports teams), for example, to be deemed as constitutionally suspect as a plan to constitute an all-black or all-white school (or sports team)? Are we ready for gay marriage to be imposed by the courts under a perfectly legitimate interpretation of the ERA – for if sex discrimination is unlawful, how, exactly, can one justify restricting marriage to couples consisting of a man and a woman? And in a country with an Equal Rights Amendment, wouldn’t men be perfectly within their rights to insist that women (even young mothers), be required to register for the draft and, if necessary, serve in military combat?
In fact, couldn’t supporters of the amendment even argue that it enshrines abortion rights in the Constitution? Just last Friday, an LA Times editorial argued that “because only women can get pregnant, denying them contraceptives can amount to discrimination.” The same logic could be applied – with some legitimacy – to abortion rights if a guarantee of “equality of rights” were added to the U.S. Constitution.
Certainly, any assurances coming from amendment proponents about its likely interpretation or effects are meaningless – as empty as Hubert Humphrey’s sincere pledge that the Civil Rights Act of 1965 would never be used to justify race quotas or preferences. And it’s disquieting to realize that many ERA supporters are being deeply disingenuous in their arguments for why the amendment is allegedly necessary.
In an effort to broaden the ERA’s appeal, its proponents often insist that it’s designed simply to secure basic rights to economic fairness and protection under the law. Yet equal pay has already been mandated by existing legislation, including the Equal Pay Act of 1963; the Civil Rights Act of 1964; and the Equal Employment Opportunity Act of 1972, among others. Likewise, the topic of equal protection under the law has been addressed by federal legislation such as the Fourteenth Amendment; the Comprehensive Health Manpower Training Act of 1971; the Higher Education Act of 1972; and the Federal Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1975.
To the extent that true injustices still exist, they result from a failure to enforce existing laws, rather than the absence of them. Even alleged inequities in education have been addressed by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 – much to the detriment of men’s college athletics across the United States.
In truth, despite their ringing perorations on gender equality, many of the ERA’s supporters are pursuing a much broader, pernicious agenda. In an effort to force the restructuring of American society at a fundamental level, they’re seeking to use the heavy hand of government to eradicate even natural, wholesome and appropriate distinctions between the sexes. Indeed, many amendment supporters are loath to admit that even the most obvious differences exist, or that they’re worthy of recognition.
At the moment, the newly revived Equal Rights Amendment – now renamed the Women’s Equality Amendment – has 194 House cosponsors, with 10 in the Senate. Unlike its hoary predecessor, it contains no deadline for ratification. It will be interesting to see whether feminists will succeed in their newest efforts to impose unnecessary and largely unwanted gender-equity measures on the rest of the country or whether Americans will drive a stake through the heart of the ERA once and for all, rejecting it as a bad idea whose time will never come.
By Jennifer Roback Morse
I hesitate to proclaim the death of feminism, since it seems to be alive in the public square. Men are still being persecuted on trumped up rape charges. Fathers are still being kept out of their children’s lives. The abortion lobby is still whining about crisis pregnancy centers. But judging from my recent debate at the University of Virginia, I’d have to say there ain’t much intellectual life left in the old feminist corpse. (You can read the text of my prepared remarks here.)
At the debate, sponsored by the Intercollegiate Studies Institute, and the Network of Enlightened Women, I made the argument that the taxpayers of Virginia should not be asked to pay for the support of an ideological department that supports the political interests and activities of left-wing women. The taxpayers should equally fund a Men’s Studies department, or a Life Studies Department, to provide gender and ideological balance to Women’s Studies. My opponent, Amy Richards, co-founder of the Third Wave Foundation, did not dispute the claim that Women’s Studies departments are ideological. Instead, she offered two defenses of Women’s Studies. First, students who don’t agree with the ideology can learn critical thinking by having their preconceived ideas challenged. Second, students who do agree with the ideology can feel good about themselves.
You don’t need Women’s Studies for the former objective: old-fashioned liberal arts distribution requirements served exactly that purpose. Students learn logical and critical thinking through philosophy, math and economics classes. And the second objective is not a legitimate aim of an academic department. Students shouldn’t be going to classes to feel good about themselves.
The defender of Women’s Studies made a couple of serious admissions. When a student asked why a particular class at the University of Virginia on gender differences was no longer cross listed in Women’s Studies, the speaker demurred, saying she needed to know all the details. So I asked her directly: if a proposed class included Harvey Mansfield’s Book, Manliness and Steven Rhoads’ book, Taking Sex Differences Seriously in the curriculum, would you support its inclusion in the Women’s Studies program? She said yes. I imagine this will be news to Professors Mansfield and Rhoads.
She argued that marriage was nothing more than a civil contract. I think she thought this was a devastating point in favor of an invent-your-own approach to marriage. So I asked her: should we enforce marriage like a real contract, and abolish no-fault divorce, which imposes no costs on spouses who renege on the most basic marriage responsibility of fidelity? She said she favored ending no-fault divorce. I told her I was glad to hear it.
Despite the lack of intellectual heft displayed at this debate in defense of Women’s Studies, there are over 750 such programs around the country. Their left-wing graduates join the ranks of opinion-making and policy-making professions, including the media, academia, government, women’s magazines, private foundations, the judiciary, and human resources departments. Wherever gender issues are discussed and decided, women’s studies graduates play a dominant role, subsidized unwittingly by the tax dollars of janitors and cooks and cabdrivers and garbage collectors. It is time to end the One Party System of Gender Politics. It is time that conservative women as well as men of all political persuasions had a seat at that table.
Or, just shut down the Women’s Studies Departments.
By Kevin McCullough
For years the modern feminists have attempted to completely obliterate the need for men in society. They have argued in favor of, marched for, and protested on behalf of the ideas that women can provide everything that a woman needs.
Go into any women’s studies program on the campus of any major university and you will learn that women don’t need men for economic provision, physical protection, or to even achieve sexual orgasm. Our daughters are being taught that to believe men are necessary for anything is not only pure bunk, but actually a sign of intellectual weakness.
As a result women have shunned personal relationships and sky-rocketed to the top of the business world. Their incomes have increased as they have put off having children, not to mention the thought of getting married till far later in life.
They’ve gotten themselves into the gym and lifted weights and learned kick-boxing so that at least theoretically they could ward off an attacker. (Of course they haven’t been encouraged to pack fire-arms or conceal handguns because for some reason its more “progressive” for a woman to take male hormones and resemble eastern European male wrestlers than it is for the most lady-like among us to blow someone away if their life depended on it.)
Women have been inundated with auto-eroticism methodologies and lesbian love making techniques not only in these women’s studies courses but also through popular culture, women’s magazines, and cable television. They are also told by that same culture, be it prime time media or TIME magazine, that men at best “are clumsy” in this area, and at worst “just plain don’t know what they’re doing.”
In making all these “advances” there has still been one major stumbling block for the argument of a completely female universe. That has been the production of sperm, male DNA, the missing element to creating a child when paired with a woman’s egg. Without this necessary ingredient the entirety of the female-only existence is impossible, women’s studies departments are useless, and feminism is nothing more than mindless brainwashing.
This week in what should have been reported as a miraculous breakthrough for traditional families and barren couples, feminists and the generation of media they have spawned hijacked the news of a new scientific development in the creation of sperm cells from a donor’s bone marrow stem cells. On a side note chalk it up as one more victory for adult stem cells in terms of actual medical breakthroughs - whereas embryonic cells have still resulted in no known cures.
The way the process works is that adult stem cells can be “coached” into become sperm cells that can be implanted into the egg, fertilized, and hypothetically be brought to term as a human child. The process is in its early stages and even the medical researchers involved in the project are only cautiously optimistic about the practicality of such a discovery.
But that didn’t stop the media for immediately lunging for the headlines that embraced first and foremost the idea of a “women’s only” future. In fact the stories were also quick to point out that in taking the necessary cells from women’s bone marrow that the Y chromosome would be missing therefore such conceptions would only be able to produce - guess what - daughters only.
But the question that came to mind was - “why?”
What is it that so scares feminists about the existence of men that all they can do is long for the day when they no longer exist or serve any useful purpose?
Surely the feminists know that for every talk-radio host who refers to women as “nappy-headed hos” that there are more than a dozen, who are sincerely, fall down head over heels in love with their wives. Surely the feminists can see that while there are some public figures like Barack Obama who are forced to nuance why they appear with hip-hop icons like Ludicrous who prefer to think of women as “hos” and “bitches”, that there are others like Dr. James Dobson who have advocated for the deep respect women deserve from the culture and society.
It has to be obvious to the angry feminists today that in fact the happiest women in America are those who have a caring, life giving, spiritual, emotional, and physical relationship with a man they are married to.
Though the feminists will never admit it, real women know the score. When we talked about the possibility of the “all female conception” on my radio show this week - not one phone call came in support of such a perverse outlook.
The feminist jig is up. Women like men - real men that is. Women love a man who will provide economic security for them. They want a man who will be their rock and shield in a time of crisis or attack. And women prefer the joy of being sexually complete in the intimate bodily embrace and the emotional, spiritual, and physical connection to a man as God designed it.
The ideas of artificial sperm and an all female universe actually horrify normal women - and despite what the media may say - that’s never going to change.
By Jennifer Roback Morse
In March, I had two major speaking engagements, which together showed me the real condition of the women’s movement. At the University of Virginia, I debated the state of Women’s Studies programs. In Harrisburg, PA, I presented The Smart Sex Workshop to a statewide network of crisis pregnancy center counselors. These contrasting audiences revealed this surprising truth. The self-styled women’s advocates housed in Women’s Studies are now the Establishment. The new underground, counter-cultural radicals, the really committed advocates for women, are the women of the Pro-Life movement.
At the University of Virginia, I had the curious experience of attacking feminism against opponents who neither defined nor defended feminism. They were not prepared for a serious discussion. The student feminists identified themselves by wearing little pink stickers saying, “This is what a feminist looks like.” There were probably 30 self-tagged feminists. Because there was solid phalanx of them, I expected confrontation, or at least some energy. But no. They asked a few lame, almost rote, questions. They had no urgency, no passion, no fire in the belly. They are used to getting what they want without significant opposition. After all, no right-thinking person disagrees with the basic tenants of feminism: 1. Women and men are the same except women are better. 2. Women have been systematically oppressed. 3. Women’s Studies compensates for these innumerable and obvious injustices.
Two weeks later, I addressed the Real Alternatives training conference, an audience of abstinence educators and crisis pregnancy counselor from across Pennsylvania. I looked out into the audience of about 100 and saw five men. In an instant, it became real to me that the Pro-life Movement is the New Women’s Movement. These are the women out in the community, talking to other women about their hopes and fears for their unborn children. Pro-life women actually walk that nine month walk from conception to birth, with mothers who want to care for their children, but who aren’t sure they can.
Abortion advocates never admit that women in crisis face an extremely lopsided “choice.” A woman can end her pregnancy at any time. The abortion clinic provides her with an immediate solution to her “problem.” She can walk in pregnant, and walk out not pregnant. Abortion counselors, assuming there are any, have no particular incentive to provide for her longer term needs, or to get to know her and her problems.
By contrast, the decision to carry a child to term has to be renewed on a daily basis. Throughout the pregnancy, the mother may have moments of fear or fatigue or indecision. Her boyfriend or her mother may be working on her to abort. If her conviction wavers, for even a single afternoon, she can get an abortion. Her child will be gone forever.
That is why workers in a crisis pregnancy center must have a whole different level of commitment than those in an abortion clinic. Pro-life counselors know perfectly well the client has a “choice,” other than returning to their center, so they have to make their services appealing. Pro-life counselors get to know the woman, her life, her problems, sometimes even her boyfriend or her mother. They help clients with housing, medical care, jobs, transportation and child care. The Real Alternatives program in Pennsylvania for instance, has a mandate to assist the woman for a year after her baby is born.
The modern feminist movement is a Marxist knock-off, committed to transforming class warfare into gender warfare. Under the guise of equalizing income for men and women, the feminist movement made in-roads into the power structures of America, inroads that would have been impossible any other way. Since babies account for so much of the gender difference in earnings, Girl Marxists need to neutralize the impact of babies: hence their commitment to all abortions, all the time.
The struggle feminism created is not now, nor has it ever been, solely between women and men. The struggle is between women who want their babies, and women who want something else more. The conflict is between women who value marriage, and Marxists who see marriage as another manifestation of class warfare.
Don’t be fooled by the rhetoric of the Feminist Establishment. You’ll never hear this from the Main Stream Media, but pro-life women are the real champions of the most vulnerable women’s interests. The Pro-life Movement is the New Women’s Movement.
By Mike S. Adams
Just when I thought everything was going so well in the Baptist Church, another church came along and swept me away. In fact, from the moment I logged on to www.HerChurch.org I realized I had to move to San Francisco to join Ebenezer Lutheran Church (ELCA). Now that I’ll no longer be Baptist I can have sex standing up without the fear that people will think I’m dancing.
Another advantage of ELCA is that it dubs itself “A home for women’s spirituality” rather than a “house of God” (how boring is that?). It’s a sort of spiritual headquarters for the “Lutheran Feminist/Womanist Movement,” which exists to celebrate the feminine persona of the Goddess and “dimensions of the sacred as expressed in faith, worship, learning, mutual care, and acts of justice.” I assume their discussion of acts of justice omits the fate of places like “Sodom” and “Gomorrah.” Only a male God could be capable of that kind of justice.
I was initially attracted to ELCA because they claim to be “a diverse community.” As a professor at a university, I know that when people claim to be diverse they really mean it. Also, ELCA stands firmly within the Christian tradition in an effort “to re-image the divine” by focusing more on her feminine persona. I’m sick and tired of a God who made me in his image. I want to make up my own God. And I want him to be a chick - preferable a cute lesbian with lots of cute friends.
I also like that ELCA challenges the church’s restrictive language of the past. ELCA pays special attention to “images” and “metaphors” that seek to celebrate “divine fullness” offering a witness of, among other things, “inclusive justice.”
The people at my new church are not joking when they say that a new form of church is happening at Ebenezer Lutheran Church, which, by the way, is located at 678 Portola Drive in San Francisco, California. When people gather at 10:30 A.M. on Sundays for worship, it is lively, engaging, thoroughly inclusive, and feminist in nature. I’m hoping that the first Sunday of every month the church will eventually skip communion and have a pillow fight led by Pastor Stacy Boorn.
But, already, I’m finding that at ELCA the music and readings really reflect a commitment to reclaiming the feminine persona of the divine. Because the philosophy at ELCA is “Come as you are” anyone is sure to find hope, healing, and community. After all, ELCA explicitly says “All are welcome at this table!” Even if you’ve been out all night at a drag show or a gay bath house you can still make it to worship Sunday mornings at 10:30. (I hope that crack about the gay bath house doesn’t “bomb” as badly as my last one).
The ELCA feminist prayers are very inclusive and draw upon a “storehouse of tradition” to bring forth names like Mother, Shaddai, Sophia, Womb, Midwife, Shekinah, and She Who Is. They do so out of “renewed insights” into the nature of the Gospel empowered by the risen Christ-Sophia. These are things my former brothers within the Baptist Church failed to grasp all along.
At ELCA, we even have our own feminist version of the Lord’s Prayer, which goes something like this:
Our Mother who is within us
We celebrate your many names
Your wisdom come
Your will be done
Unfolding from the depths within us
Each day you give us all that we need
You remind us of our limits
And we let go
You support us in our power
And we act with courage
For you are the dwelling place within us
The empowerment around us
And the celebration among us
Now and forever
Aside from the sexist “Amen,” which should have been “Amyn,” you have to admit that it was a tear-jerking rendition of the Lord’s Prayer. It certainly beats the hell out of Jesus’ take.
ELCA believes that Christianity continues to “silence the voices and power of women, the divine feminine, and efforts to empower women and support the equality of all peoples.” So we all need to join ELCA and their feminist faith community in order to be agents for change in the church and, most of all, the oppressive patriarchal systems.
It was a big decision to leave the Baptist Church but, fortunately, ELCA gave me the following prayer of meditation to help ease the transition:
Goddess of struggle and blessing
We thank you that you are so willing to meet us in love here and now
As you meet our mothers and fathers, partners and lovers, siblings and children, Friends and strangers on their faith journeys
As you entered our human life in Jesus Christ-Sophia
Help us open our hearts to you in our time of remembrance and celebration
That we may grow in light and love toward you and all people
Through the gentle wind of your Spirit
When I prayed that simple prayer I finally realized that all my critics were right. I’ve been too critical of the gay and feminist movements in America. All they want is to be left alone. It’s not as if they want to overthrow our most sacred institutions.
Goddess Bless them, one and all.
By Ashley Herzog
During my three years as a columnist for my college newspaper, I’ve resisted frequent requests that I explain my opposition to feminism. Apparently, a lot of people are shocked to discover a female college student who does not spend her days singing the praises of the National Organization for Women. Feminists fight for my rights, my readers tell me – so why am I constantly criticizing them?
I usually decline to answer because I think my columns speak for themselves. However, since I’m currently working on a book about this subject, I’ve decided to answer the question I hear most often: “What do you have against feminists?”
Most people who ask me this question believe that feminists simply want to advance the interests of all women. No, they don’t. Contrary to popular perception, the modern feminist movement is not a movement to promote freedom and equality for all women. It is a rigid ideology dictating what women should think and how they should live. Women who don’t parrot the views of NARAL Pro-Choice America – especially conservative and religious women — are shunned from the feminist clique.
I’ve known this since my freshman year of college, when I cheerfully referred to myself as a “conservative feminist.” After all, what kind of forward-thinking girl wouldn’t embrace a movement that encouraged women to be strong, independent, and outspoken? I certainly wanted to be all of those things.
I realized about five minutes into my first women’s studies class that wasn’t enough. To the contrary, the feminist clique had a litany of complaints against me and other non-liberal women. We didn’t brand ourselves “Vagina Warriors” or chant obscenities in a crowded auditorium (see the feminist play The Vagina Monologues for details). We weren’t offended by suggestions that men and women are innately different. And, perhaps most egregiously of all, we didn’t consider the “right” to butcher unborn children essential to our liberty. The message from feminists was clear: accept our dogma, or remain permanently on the outs.
I wouldn’t have been surprised by their behavior if I had known the history of the feminist movement since the 1960s. Except for their slightly greater enthusiasm for abortion, the policy agenda of feminist groups like the National Organization for Women is indistinguishable from that of the Democratic National Committee. The self-appointed “women’s advocates” are only interested in advocating for leftist women.
In fact, most feminists don’t even include conservatives in the “woman” category. The godmother of the women’s movement, Gloria Steinem, famously called Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson a “female impersonator” and said, “having someone who looks like us but thinks like them is worse than having no one at all.”
Bailey Hutchinson is just one of many accomplished, independent women whom feminists hate, such as Phyllis Schlafly, Condoleezza Rice, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Laura Schlessinger, Bay Buchanan and Marji Ross (if I missed a few, don’t worry: they’ll all be mentioned in my book!).
So if feminism is not an ideology that encourages women to be strong and independent – no matter what their political persuasion — what is it? With few exceptions, most self-described “women’s rights activists” have no intention of encouraging women to think for themselves. Instead, they aim to mold all women into loyal, obedient liberals who demean dissidents as “female impersonators.”
I don’t particularly care if feminists hate me. I don’t even care if they want to promote only fellow liberals. Just don’t tell me they’re fighting for “my” rights.
OTTAWA — The earnings gap between young men and women narrowed only slightly in the 1990s, despite a dramatic increase in the proportion of young women with a university degree, a new study has found.
A Statistics Canada report released today used census data to determine what effect rising educational attainment among women has had on landing a full-time job and on earnings.
In the years between 1991 and 2001, the proportion of young women aged 25 to 29 who held a university degree rose dramatically from 21% to 34%.
In contrast, the proportion of men in the same age group who held a university degree only rose moderately from 16% to 21%.
“Despite the sharp increase in the proportion of young women with a university degree and the fact that university degree-holders generally earn more than other workers, the gender earnings gap only declined slightly over the period,” the study found.
Women aged 25 to 29 earned 20% less than men in 1991 and a decade later, the gap had only narrowed to 18%.
That reduction, though small, was almost entirely because of the rising educational attainment of young women and not other factors, the study concluded. Profession, city size, marital status, number of children and weeks worked were other factors that were taken into consideration in the analysis.
The 1980s saw a bigger decline in the earnings gap than the 1990s, the study said. In that decade, the earnings gap narrowed from 26% in 1981 to 20% in 1991, but that reduction had more to do with other factors than education, the report noted.
“One reason why the earnings gap only declined slightly in the 1990s, despite the rapidly rising educational attainment among young women, is that the gap among university graduates actually increased over the period. It went from 12% in 1991 to 18% in 2001,” Statistics Canada said.
The report explained that this was largely the result of real wage declines in female-dominated professions such as health and education, and real wage increases in male-dominated jobs like engineering, mathematics, computer sciences and physical sciences.
In terms of the relationship between higher education and job attainment among young women in the 1990s, the study suggests that the educational trends have not contributed towards a decline in the full-time employment gap.
It may seem odd that rising education attainment helped narrow the earnings gap (slightly) in the 1990s but played virtually no role in reducing the gap in full-time employment, but the study does propose an explanation.
“The answer may lie in the fact that education is simply more strongly associated with earnings than with locating full-time employment, and thus, similar increases in educational attainment would correspond to larger increases in earnings than in the probability of being employed full-time,” Statistics Canada said.
A moment of silence, please, for the waning of yet another sexual stereotype: Women don’t talk more than men, at least according to a study released yesterday that actually counted the daily word use of all those blabby guys and dolls.
The womenfolk used 16,215 words in the course of the conversations, the men 15,669. Do the math, and that makes a verbal gender gap of a mere 546 words.
But one thing’s for sure: The sexes still talk about entirely different subjects.
“Women and men both use on average about 16,000 words per day, with very large individual differences around this mean number,” said lead author Matthias Mehl, a psychologist with the University of Arizona.
Manly conversations revolved around technology, work and money; their talk tended to have more references to numbers in it. The ladies, however, fixated upon relationships, fashions and other proverbial girly things.
It took the researchers six years to document these revelations.
With the help of a separate team of psychologists at the University of Texas at Austin, Mr. Mehl painstakingly tracked the chattering of 345 American college students and 51 in Mexico — who each wore digital devices that recorded 30-second intervals of their lives every 12 minutes, some for as long as 10 days. The representative samples of talk or silence were than transcribed, and the estimated “daily verbiage” recorded for both sexes from 1998 to 2004.
The findings were in direct opposition to recent research that had posited the idea that women were hard-wired to talk more, and had better vocabularies besides. In the 2006 book “The Female Brain,” University of California at San Francisco neuroscientist Louann Brizendine asserted that garrulous females used 20,000 words a day to men’s spare conversations of 7,000.
The press seized upon the idea, offering such headlines as, “Women talk three times as much as men,” among others.
“We do what’s called overlapping speech a lot, where we talk over each other all the time,” Dr. Brizendine told CBS News at the time. “Men don’t like that. They think we’re interrupting them all the time.”
Dr. Brizendine, who runs the Women’s Mood and Hormone Clinic at the university, also suggested that chitchat had a druglike effect on females, setting off “a rush of chemicals in the female brain that is not unlike heroin for addicts.” [KH: !!!]
Well, maybe not, according to Mr. Mehl and company.
“The 20,000-versus-7,000 word estimates appear to have achieved the status of a cultural myth,” noted the study, which was published yesterday in Science.
“Those findings have been reported widely by national media and have entered the cultural mainstream,” said James W. Pennebaker, co-author and chairman of the psychology department at the Texas campus. “Although many people believe the stereotypes of females as talkative and males as reticent, there is no large-scale study that systematically has recorded the natural conversations of large groups of people for extended period of time.”“
The findings did confirm some extremes among the men, though. The blabbiest guy in the group used 47,000 words in one day. The least talkative only managed 500 words.
Men also have a penchant for cell-phone chatter, according to AT&T. Men average 458 minutes a month, women 453 minutes, according to a survey of 1,006 adults released last month. Five years ago, however, men were on the phone 589 minutes, women 394.
The AT&T research also revealed that women used the gaming, camera and text-messaging features on their phone more than the men, who spent more time on wireless e-mail and accessing the Internet than their feminine counterparts.
By Janice Shaw Crouse
The long march of women seeking election to Congress seems to be waning; instead of pressing onward toward the House, many are establishing their own businesses, often launched from home. The female share of Congressional seats seems to have reached a plateau at about one in six at the federal level and about one in four at state capitals. Currently, 86 women serve in the U.S. Congress –– 16 in the Senate and 70 in the House. Women hold 76 statewide elective executive offices across the country –– about a quarter of the total –– with 45 Democrats, 28 Republicans, three independents.
The future appears uncertain even at those low levels of women’s involvement in the political arena. According to the Cook Political Report, 14 women are among the 75 most vulnerable House members and numerous elections have no female challengers. Democratic pollster Celinda Lake predicts that the 2008 campaign will not favor women because the likely issues –– Iraq, immigration, national security –– are typically more favorable to male candidates.
Thus, while women are increasingly more important in elections –– outnumbering male votes by nearly 9 million in 2004 and predicted to cast 53% of the 2008 vote –– women are less likely than men to run for public office. Various experts give explanations for women not running for office: they typically run only when a specific issue propels them; they are less likely to run in a competitive race or to run against a man. Moreover, the left apparently did not realize when they unleashed the politics of personal destruction on Judge Robert Bork that it would in due time so pollute the political waters that decent candidates would become increasingly difficult to recruit. The slash-and-burn politics of the left do not encourage successful women –– or men –– to leave their homes or businesses for an election that is sure to be brutal and destructive. Whatever the specific reality, many potential women candidates and current office holders are seeking influence outside the halls of Congress.
For instance, Congresswoman Deborah Pryce (R-Ohio), is stepping down after almost 15 years of service because she has two aging parents and a daughter starting kindergarten. The feminists, of course, blame the culture for not making it easy for women like Mrs. Pryce. They also blame men’s chokehold on power. They see a society that hinders women from realizing their dreams and men who throw up barriers to keep them from achieving their goals. Typically, women’s groups complain that women are not recruited and society does nothing to convince them that they can do the job.
The women’s political groups are well-funded and well-organized. EMILY’s List brought in over $32 million in 2006, more than any other political action committee in the country. Yet, their record of success is abysmal. In 2004, EMILY’s List was involved in 13 competitive races, but won only three. In 2006 they participated in 18 races, winning only two. The problem is that they sing only one note; they are pro-abortion and only support women who endorse their radical agenda.
The bottom line is that while most people want equal opportunity for their daughters, the number of women who support the extreme “women’s rights” agenda is dwindling. The radical feminists who remain are well-connected (think Hillary Clinton) and give generously to the cause (think Teresa Heinz Kerry), but they have lost the mainstream and the young, who are focused on achieving the potential of their own future. The emphasis now is on getting women entrepreneurs to “take their success in business and turn it into political clout.” There is a large pool of female entrepreneurs –– between 1997 and 2006, the number of women-owned firms grew 42% compared to the rate of growth of all firms, which was only 23%. These women, though, would have to take time away from their businesses if they ran for office. Plus, most of them are happy with the federal and state policies that enabled them to get their business up and running profitably. They are not easy prey for the “victim” rhetoric of the major political women’s groups seeking candidates.
While women’s votes account for about 54% of the general electorate, Senator Hillary Clinton’s pollster, Mark Penn, says that women constitute 60% of the Democratic primary electorate. Mrs. Clinton and Barak Obama, both Democratic candidates for president, are targeting women by holding house parties to garner the women’s vote in towns and cities. Other candidates, too, are following that tactic with “Women for McCain” and “Women for Mitt” bus tours and organized statewide groups. John Edwards has hired Kate Michelman (former head of NARAL, an abortion rights group) to head women’s issues for his campaign. Michelle Obama has been front page news lately because of her success at speaking and campaigning for her husband. While the fight is on for the female vote, all these efforts are downplayed by the various campaign officials. Instead, they emphasize that their candidate is “bigger than one issue” and is a “tough candidate for commander-in-chief.”
In short, the women who are complaining loudest about women not being involved in politics want only a certain type of woman in office –– those who will support the so-called “women’s rights” agenda –– abortion-on-demand, the mainstreaming of lesbian and homosexual lifestyles, and condom-based sex education in the public schools beginning in kindergarten. Clearly, more and more women are rejecting that agenda in favor of the traditional Judeo-Christian values. The old-guard feminists are still around, but they are losing influence and a whole new generation of conservative young women is coming along to replace them in the halls of power.
Women are more likely to profess belief in a God, pray and attend religious services than men, according to a new analysis of survey data.
Ahead of Women’s History Month in March, the Pew Research Center’s Forum on Religion & Public Life offered new insight on sex and religiosity based on a previous survey.
After gleaning over its 2008 U.S. Religious Landscape Survey, the Pew Forum found that women are more religious than men on a variety of measures.
When it comes to women, 86% are affiliated with a religion, 77% have absolutely certain belief in a God or a universal spirit, 63% say religion is very important in their lives and 44% attend worship services at least weekly, according to survey results.
The proportion of men who claimed such religious behavior and beliefs was lower. Compared to women, only 79% of men are affiliated with a religion, 65% have absolutely certain belief in a God or a universal spirit, 49% say religion is very important in their lives and 34% attend worship services at least weekly.
Women were also more likely than men to have absolutely certain belief in a personal God, 58 to 45%.
The biggest difference in religious behaviors between men and women was their prayer habits. Sixty-six percent of women say they pray at least daily, leading men by 17%age points.
What accounts for this difference?
In a 2002 commentary for Gallup Poll, George H. Gallup Jr. suggested that women traditionally have tended to spend more time then men in raising children and thereby also spent more time overseeing their church activities. In the past, women usually tend to have more flexible schedules than men, permitting them the time for more involvement with the church, Gallup wrote.
Other factors, according to Gallup, that might explain why women are more religious than men included their tendency to be more open in sharing personal problems, be more relational and have more of an empirical rather than a rational basis for faith.
The Pew Forum Religious Landscape Survey, released in February 2008, also revealed that men were more likely than women to switch religious affiliation, 45 to 42%. Moreover, men are twice as likely to say they are atheist or agnostic compared to women, 5.5 to 2.6%.
Women are more likely than men to be affiliated with nearly every major Christian group, from Protestantism to Catholicism. But the situation was reversed when it came to non-Christian religions, including Judaism, Islam, and Buddhism, which more men than women are affiliated with.
The growing ranks of female physicians in Canada will slash medical productivity by the equivalent of at least 1,600 doctors within a decade, concludes a provocative new analysis of data indicating that female MDs work fewer hours on average than their male colleagues.
The paper comes just a year after a blue-chip list of medical educators publicly condemned what they called the scapegoating of women for Canada’s severe doctor shortage.
Dr. Mark Baerlocher, the study’s lead author, acknowledged he is tackling a thorny issue, but stressed he does not favour curbing the number of female physicians. Instead, the study calls for greater increases in medical-school enrolment to offset the phenomenon.
“It’s not meant to be a negative paper in any way,” he said in an interview. “It’s meant to take an objective, hard look at the work-hour differences that most people would agree are very real.... You can’t simply ignore it because it’s a sensitive issue.”
The researchers led by Dr. Baerlocher analyzed results from the 2007 National Physician Survey, a canvass of doctors sponsored by major medical associations.
The survey found that women, on average, provided 30 hours a week of direct patient care, compared to 35 from men, a result of female doctors - still burdened disproportionately with child rearing and other domestic tasks - doing less on-call work and being more likely to take leaves.
Those figures were then factored in with population numbers to calculate doctor productivity per capita.
In 2007, women made up 32% of doctors. But with female students accounting for about 60% of medical school classes now, the numbers are expected to even up within a decade. When the male-female balance reaches 50-50, overall productivity will have decreased by the equivalent of 1,588 male doctors or 1,853 female doctors, all else being equal, the study concluded.
The decreased productivity would be felt sooner in specialties already becoming female-dominated, such as pediatrics and obstetrics and gynecology, the researchers say.
The long surgical wait times and lack of family physicians that plague the Canadian health care system are largely blamed on the paucity of doctors. Their ranks - now at 67,000 - would need to jump by another 20,000 to reach the average for Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries.
Much of the problem is blamed on a decision by provincial governments in the early 1990s to slash medical-school enrolment, just as the ageing Baby Boom generation was producing more illness. In recent years, enrolment has been increased somewhat again.
Dr. Robert Ouellette, president of the Canadian Medical Association, said medical schools need to train even more doctors than they do now, but he steered clear of suggesting the lifestyles of female doctors are making the shortage more acute. The new generation of physicians - both male and female - tends to work fewer hours generally than older colleagues, he said. And there is evidence that women spend more time with patients, are better communicators and offer more preventive medicine.
“It’s not only the hours that count - it’s the quality of care that’s important also,” Dr. Ouellette said.
After a spate of media coverage of male and female doctors’ different work patterns, the deans of medicine and other senior administrators at the universities of Toronto and Western Ontario wrote an editorial in the Canadian Medical Association Journal last year that urged “ending the sexist blame game.”
“To disparage in any way the intelligent, dedicated women ... who have chosen to devote their lives to medicine is shameful,” they wrote.
Dr. Baerlocher, a radiology resident at the University of Toronto, said he agrees women should not be blamed, but lamented a general reluctance in the medical profession to examine controversial issues, such as gender differences and abortion.
“There are a lot of topics that aren’t adequately studied, because it’s deemed a socially sensitive topic.”
Radical theologian Mary Daly died Sunday at age 81, ending one of the most interesting and tragic careers in contemporary theology. Known for her exaggerated outspokenness, Daly took theological feminism to what she believed was its rightful and logical conclusion — to the absolute rejection of Christianity and all theistic conceptions of God.
In the first phase of her career she was known as a Roman Catholic, and she taught at Boston College for many years. Her tenure there could only be described as controversial. At the beginning her teaching career was marked by a fight over tenure. At the end she left Boston College after refusing to allow male students in some of her classes in feminist thought.
Her critique of the Roman Catholic Church as a bastion of patriarchy, expressed in her 1968 book, The Church and the Second Sex, was extended to the entire Christian tradition. She rejected Christianity’s focus on a monotheistic deity and what she attacked as its intrinsic patriarchy. She asserted that Christianity’s focus on Jesus Christ was just another dimension of its patriarchy — a Savior in a male body.
As Margaret Elizabeth Kostenberger explains, Daly’s “complete rejection of Scripture” on the basis of its “irremediable patriarchal bias” took her far outside the Christian faith. While other feminists called for the adoption of female or gender-neutral language for God, Daly attacked those efforts as half-measures that fail to take the phallocentricity of theism seriously.
Her famous dictum, “if the God is male, then the male is God,” stood at the heart of her radical revision of religion. She accused Christianity of “gynocide” against women and suggested that all monotheistic religion — and Christianity in particular — is “phallocentric.”
She referred to feminists as “pirates in a phallocratic society” and preached her version of feminist liberation, describing herself as a “radical lesbian feminist.” She rejected the biblical notion of sin and called for a celebration of lust and the breaking of all sexual rules. She attacked heterosexuality as inherently patriarchal and championed lesbianism as a means of the liberation of women from the “phallocratic” power system of the culture.
In her later years, Mary Daly identified herself as a “post-Christian” — a term that was, if anything, an understatement.
In the end, Mary Daly will be remembered for the radical lesbian feminist that she was. She must be given credit for her honesty in accusing theological liberals of lacking the courage of their convictions. As she saw it, they were clinging to the furniture of Christianity long after rejecting its central beliefs. She saw the entire structure as hopelessly patriarchal and called for a complete break with Christianity and theism.
In the largest sense, she was undoubtedly right in arguing that the logic of radical feminism is diametrically opposed to the truth claims of Christianity. She was, as she claimed, taking ideological feminism to its logical conclusion.
Interestingly, Mary Daly also serves as a reminder that radicals are seldom so comprehensively radical as they consider themselves. Daly was criticized by transgender and transsexual activists for her failure to see transsexuals as anything other than “death-loving Frankenstein monsters.” Womanist author Audre Lorde complained that Daly, though a radical feminist, did not recognize the role of race in patriarchy. Even the most radical thinkers among us apparently have a hard time keeping up.
According to The New York Times, Mary Daly died of “declining health,” not “gynocide.” Her intellectual work lives on among the radical feminists, but her influence extends far beyond those who would identify themselves as “post-Christian.” Many of today’s liberal denominations and seminaries have absorbed and accepted her basic critique of Christianity, but lack her boldness and intellectual honesty.
In one of her later books, Daly said, “There are and will be those who think I have gone overboard. . . . Let them be assured that this assessment is correct, probably beyond their wildest imagination.” The story of Mary Daly is, by any Christian measure, a tragedy. And, we must add, a tragedy with lessons we dare not miss.
by Paul Greenberg
[KH: funny article]
I’ve never been much of a believer in historical theories about the Indispensable Man. There may be some examples — Washington, Lincoln, Moses — but they are few. But the indispensable woman, I believe in. Call it Greenberg’s Law: Women are the innately superior sex. My theory may not be backed by any scientific evidence, but it’s something every man has surely felt. At least if he’s got a lick of sense.
You might even call it a prejudice — in the sense of Edmund Burke’s definition of prejudice as the body of judgments passed on as received wisdom from generation to generation, and that need not be proven anew in every age. The word for it in these fecund Southern latitudes is mother wit. Note that nobody ever called that kind of inner knowledge father wit.
When it comes to great truths, each generation shouldn’t have to work them out by itself. They don’t have to be written down, any more than the English constitution is. Every boy soon learns that women seem to know intuitively what the weaker male sex may grasp only by effort and education. Which is why it requires marriage and family to civilize the male animal. He needs a woman’s tutelage.
Brighter boys learn the lesson of female superiority early; dimmer ones may never catch on. A story: It was homecoming weekend many years ago in Pine Bluff, Ark., and a clump of us stood on Main Street waiting for the black college’s high-stepping marching band to come striding by, drum major and majorettes and 76 trombones and all.
A venturesome little boy in the group stepped off the curb to look way up the street — where the little girl on the Sunbeam Bread sign, a local landmark, still swings endlessly to and fro. Way in the distance, the boy spotted the prancing majorettes throwing their batons high, higher, highest, catching them on the beat. “Wow!” he exclaimed, returning to report what he’d seen. His conclusion: “Girls have to know so many things!”
Here’s another story about the natural wisdom of women, or at least their instinctive suspicion of grand-sounding male plans. It must have been back in early 1974, when Watergate was just a trickle in the news rather than the flood that would sweep away a president and all the president’s men.
I was at my desk at the Pine Bluff Commercial when the White House called. I know, I know, buildings don’t make phone calls. But I was younger back then, and so naive that when the presidential aide-to-an-aide called, I was much impressed, especially with myself.
It seems I’d written a column in praise of some aspect of Richard Nixon’s foreign policy at the time. One of the bigger papers had picked it up, and, Mr. Aide confided, The President had liked it very much. The way he pronounced The President, it was capitalized and italicized. It dang near had a halo around it. What’s more, The President had liked the column so much he wanted to know if I’d like to join the White House staff as a speechwriter.
Mr. Aide and I agreed that I’d think it over, and the White House would call me back in a day or so. Not that I was about to leave Arkansas — I’d already left a couple of times before and learned that I do not thrive above a certain degree of latitude. But I had to tell somebody about the call — somebody I wanted to impress. It’s a male thing, or at least a young male thing. So when lunchtime came, instead of walking down to the diner for a sandwich, I drove home to break the Big News to my wife. Like a puppy dog carrying a prize bone he’d just dug up.
When I told her about the call from the White House, trying to be suitably modest, her response was simple, immediate and to the point:
“Are you crazy?”
In my case, it might have been more accurate to say crazier, since I’d shlepped her off once before for the sake of a job. To Chicago. With our one-year-old in tow, just in time for a record snowfall. The charms of moving “up” in the world had been lost on her ever since.
Of course, the White House never called back. I realized later the call had been what was called a stroke — as when a politician strokes a columnist by telling him how brilliant he is. The younger the columnist, the more effective it can be. I had to learn as much; women seem to know these things without having to think about them.
It all came back to me on reading a review of the book, “The Politician,” by an aide (read: hanger-on, valet, toady and general cover-up man) to John Edwards, who used to be a figure of some note in American politics. If memory serves, he was the vice-presidential nominee on a national ticket one year — before he became just a figure of fun, the poor sucker. It turns out, like so many of the male persuasion, he had mainly suckered himself. Thanks to the typically masculine combination of ego, folly and over-active glands. And now an aide who had covered for him for a decade — big surprise — has written a tell-all book.
Naturally the aide had started off star-struck with his boss. The first time he heard John Edwards deliver his populist spiel, he’d turned to his wife and laid out his grand plan: “This guy going is going to be president some day. ... I’m going to find a way to work for him.” And ride all the way to the top with this shining star.
His wife, as wives will, had a different reaction to the oh-so-charismatic senator from North Carolina: none at all. “She looked at me, unimpressed, rolled her eyes, and said, ‘Let’s go to the beach.’ “ Which would have been a great career move compared to the 10-year dead end he subjected himself and his family to.
Oh, if I’d only listened to her — it’s a thought any male of a certain age has surely had. More than once. For we’re slow learners. Think of any hotshot politician (or, for that matter, financier, sports star or just celebrity in general) who’s come a-cropper. Regardless of age, position or politics. Think Mark Sanford. Or Tiger Woods. Or ... well, choose your own example from a long and always growing list.
No male ever goes wrong by seeking the advice of his better five-sixths.
Even the most sober and prudent of us. Consider dry-as-dust Henry Paulson, who was secretary of the Treasury when the Great Panic of ‘08-’09 was whirling out of control. One weekend he realized all his efforts to save Lehman Brothers would be in vain, and AIG was unwinding fast, too. He felt himself collapsing, too. But he still had enough self-possession to do the sensible thing. As he tells the story in his memoir:
“I knew I had to call my wife. ... ‘What if the system collapses?’ I asked her. ‘Everybody is looking to me, and I don’t have the answer. I am really scared.’ “ She responded immediately — by citing 2 Timothy 1:7: For God hath not given us the spirit of fear, but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.
I’m telling you, women know.
By R. Albert Mohler, Jr.
Anne Eggebroten visited Grace Community Church in Sun Valley, California, and what she found there shocked her. As a matter of fact, she was so shocked that she wrote about that experience in the July 2010 edition of Sojourners magazine. Readers of her article are likely to experience a shock of their own - they will be shocked that Eggebroten could actually have been surprised by what she found there.
In “The Persistence of Patriarchy,” Eggebroten writes about “the wide reach” of complementarian views of manhood and womanhood among conservative Christians. Her article is subtitled: “Hard to believe, but some churches are still teaching about male headship.” Hard to believe?
Can anyone really be surprised that this is so? In some sense, it might be surprising to the generally liberal readership of Sojourners, but it can hardly be surprising to anyone with the slightest attachment to evangelical Christianity. Nevertheless, Anne Eggebroten’s article represents what I call a “National Geographic moment” - an example of someone discovering the obvious and thinking it exotic and strange. It is like a reporter returning from travel to far country to explain the strange tribe of people she found there - evangelical Christians believing what the Christian church has for 2,000 years believed the Bible to teach and require. So . . . what is so exotic?
She begins her article at Grace Community Church in California, where, in her words, “God is male, all the pastors, deacons, and elders are male, and women are taught to live in submission to men.” That is a snappy introduction, to be sure, but it requires some unpacking. When Eggebroten says that, at this well-known evangelical church “God is male,” she is echoing the arguments of the late radical feminist Mary Daly, who famously asserted that “if God is male, then male is God.” At Grace Community Church, as in the Bible, references to God are masculine, but God is not claimed to be male. Interestingly, she also missed the fact that Grace considers the role of the deacon in terms of service, rather than authority, so women in fact do serve as deacons with responsibility for particular ministries.
Nevertheless, Eggebroten is certainly onto something here, especially when Grace Community Church is contrasted with the Episcopal congregation visited by her husband on that same Sunday. In that church, a woman is preaching the sermon. We can’t miss the point when Eggebroten writes:
These two different worlds exist side by side: congregations where men and women are equal partners in service of Jesus Christ, and others where gender hierarchy is taught as God’s will and the only truly biblical option. On Sunday morning we all drive past one flavor of gender teaching to worship in another.
Well, on this Sunday Anne Eggebroten did not drive past Grace Community Church. Instead, she heard a sermon by Dr. John MacArthur, who for more than 40 years has served as pastor of the church. Beyond that, MacArthur has become one of the most respected and influential preachers of our times, with perhaps the most widely-disseminated ministry of exposition in the history of the Christian church.
Eggebroten enjoyed the sermon, remarking that MacArthur’s message was “excellent.” She added, “I guess that’s how megachurches get started.” Well, one can hope.
The central part of her report from the trenches at Grace Community Church comes from an experience at a visitors’ reception after the sermon. Eggebroten asks a woman there (a physical therapist with a degree from the school where Eggebroten teaches), “Is women’s submission to their husbands stressed in this church?” The answer, of course, was yes.
I appears that Eggebroten could hardly have been surprised, for she wrote:
At least things aren’t as extreme as they sound on the church Web site. There, I had listened to Anna Sanders lecture women on how to live in submission to their husbands. “We need to beat down our desire to be right and have our own way,” she had said, citing John Piper, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and Martha Peace—all authors published in the last decade. “It’s his way, his rights, his expectations, and his plans. … Be a helper.”
So, there was little ground for surprise when Eggebroten asked the question at the visitors’ reception. But there was more to come. She writes, “I’m stunned to find that the 300-student Master’s Seminary on the church campus enrolls only men.”
Well, let’s see. The Master’s Seminary, according to it’s own mission statement, “exists to advance the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ by equipping men to be pastors and/or trainers of pastors.” The logic is simple and straight-forward. The church believes that the Bible restricts the office of pastor to men. The Master’s Seminary trains only pastors and trainers of pastors, thus it limits admissions to men. What could possibly be stunning about that?
As Eggebroten acknowledges, seminaries that train for roles beyond the pastorate may enroll women for those programs without compromising this conviction. But Master’s does not offer those programs, so what is possibly shocking?
In the course of her article, Eggebroten continues her reports of conversations with members of the complementarian tribe before getting to the more deeply theological portion of her essay. In this passage she gets to the core issue:
Here’s the question: Is God permanently committed to the kinds of social hierarchy that existed in the first and second millennium B.C.E. and continued until recently, when education and voting were opened to women? Or does the vision of Paul in Galatians 3:28—”There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus”—take precedence?
At this point the agenda becomes clear. Eggebroten argues that the church has simply perpetuated the patriarchal traditions of the Jewish and Greco-Roman cultures that formed the social context for the early Christian church. Against these she contrasts the Apostle Paul’s beautiful declaration in Galations 3:28 - “There is no longer Jew or Greek, there is no longer slave or free, there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus.”
But this is the kind of sloppy and agenda-driven exegesis that reveals the desperation of those who would reject the New Testament’s limitation of the office of pastor to men. In Galatians 3:28 Paul is clearly speaking of salvation - not of service in the church. Paul is declaring to believers the great good news that “in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith” [verse 26]. He concludes by affirming, “And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise” [verse 29].
To read Galatians 3:28 the way Eggebroten reads the verse, you would have to believe that the Apostle Paul was in direct contradiction with himself, when he restricts the teaching office to men in letters such as 2 Timothy and Titus.
Or . . . you can try to deny that Paul actually wrote those latter letters. Eggebroten accuses conservative evangelicals of ignoring “evidence that the ‘pastoral epistles’ (1 and 2 Timothy and Titus) were written in honor of Paul long after he died and reflect a second-century debate over women’s roles in the church–whether to conform to social customs for the sake of winning converts, or to advocate radical social equality (and even celibacy) in the last days before the Second Coming.”
What this reveals, of course, is the argument of many evangelical feminists that we can discard the teachings of the Pastoral Epistles. We can keep the Apostle Paul we like (taking Galatians 3:28 out of context, for example) and disregard the Paul we do not like.
Nor are the Pastoral Epistles the only biblical texts subverted by this line of argument. With reference to 1 Corinthians 14:35 (“Let a woman learn in silence with full submission”), Eggebroten suggests, among other options, that “verses 34-35 began as someone’s marginal comment, later copied right into the text.”
With this approach to the Bible, you can simply discard any text you dislike. Just dismiss it as a marginal comment, or deny that Paul even authored the text. This is where the denial of biblical inerrancy inevitably leads - the text of the Bible is deconstructed right before our eyes.
“So what is the will of God for women today: silence or preaching, subjection or mutual submission?,” Eggebroten asks. She adds, “Many Christians in all denominations, including evangelicals aren’t even asking this question any more-yet the neo-patriarchal movement remains widespread.”
The answer to that question, as Eggebroten’s essay helps to clarify, depends on your view of Scripture. In order to reach her conclusions, you must accept her evasions of the biblical text. If you are willing to do that on this question, you will be willing to do so on other issues as well. The central issue is, and will ever remain, the authority of Scripture.
Anne Eggebroten has written a fascinating report that, like so many others of its kind, reveals more about the reporter than the reported. Eggebroten teaches religion at California State University, Northridge and she is a founding member of the Evangelical and Ecumenical Women’s Caucus. In her other writings she has, for example, profiled “the reality of abortion as a morally responsible choice being made by countless Christian women of all denominations.”
In what sense can any of this be bent to fit within evangelical identity? This essay reveals again how these arguments - and the magazine that publishes them - are so very distant from the beliefs of most evangelicals. If there is anything genuinely shocking about this article, it is the fact that the writer would attempt to lay claim on evangelicalism.
In yet another twisted use of Scripture, Eggebroten concludes by citing Galatians 5:1, “For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery.” As Paul asserts, in Christ we are free from the slavery of attempting to prove our righteousness by the Law. Paul is not liberating the Church from the Bible.
In the end, that is the real issue. There are Christians who would demand to be liberated from the Bible? Now that is what really should be shocking.
Multiculturalism is getting a bad rap these days. No fewer than three European leaders — Angela Merkel of Germany, Nicolas Sarkozy of France and, most recently, David Cameron of Britain — have publicly renounced the policy.
“We have … tolerated segregated communities behaving in ways that run counter to our values,” Cameron said. He has called for a new policy of “active, muscular liberalism.”
One of the specific negative consequences of multiculturalism Cameron cited was “the horror of forced marriage.” (The U.K.’s “Forced Marriage Unit” has handled more than 1,500 reports this year alone.) He says organizations that do not believe in women’s rights will no longer get state funding.
Cameron is right to home in on the issue of women’s rights. A cultural community’s perception of the norms of sexual relations provides a good litmus test for what stage of integration into Western society they have reached. For a variety of reasons, integration happens more smoothly in some countries than others. While Canada has on record “only” 12 murders of girls and women officially recorded as honour-motivated, in Britain there are about 13 honour killings every year. For a 2006 BBC poll, 500 Hindu, Sikh, Muslim and Christian youth between the ages of 16-34, some second- or third-generation British citizens, were interviewed. Alarmingly, one out of 10 of the subjects believed that honour killings of girls and women can be justified.
Canada has not arrived at the state of social crisis we see abroad but, whether immigration rates rise or fall, our troubles could escalate without state intervention. Fortunately, strategies to diminish honour-motivated violence against girls and women in Canada are being mobilized by the federal government.
One such initiative was launched last week by Minister for the Status of Women Rona Ambrose. The Edmonton Indo-Canadian Women’s Association has received $241,000 for a 24-month project designed to empower immigrant girls and women, “Elimination of Harmful Cultural Practices: A Community-Centred Approach for Education and Action.” The project is a tangible outcome of meetings and conferences sparked by a July, 2010 Frontier Centre report on the troubling persistence of honour-motivated abuse into the second and third generation of South Asian communities.
Part of the money will fund a shelter, WIN House, reserved for refugee and immigrant women fleeing abuse, within which the program, “Changing Together,” will operate. A priority is information outreach — to inform immigrant women before they come to Canada, on their arrival, at settlement offices, banks, doctors’ offices and other frequent points of contact (including Facebook and Twitter) — about women’s rights here, reassuring immigrants that such practices as forced marriages and dowry fraud are not tolerated in Canada.
In her remarks at the press conference, Ms. Ambrose affirmed her personal commitment to this cause. She linked the Edmonton initiative to the new 2009 citizenship guide, specifically its warning that “Canada’s openness and generosity do not extend to barbaric cultural practices that tolerate spousal abuse, ‘honour killings’ … or other gender-based violence.” In a telephone interview, Ms. Ambrose told me of encounters with young girls who approached her privately to tell their stories, and how they strengthened her personal resolve to help them.
This project will, I think, be remembered as a turning point in the history of Canada’s multiculturalism adventure. Recall the horrific slaying of 16-year-old Aqsa Parvez by her father and brother in 2007 for the “crime” of wanting to live her life as an ordinary Canadian girl. Recall, too, that many who spoke the truth about it at the time — that it was a cold-blooded, ritual punishment linked to an imported honour code, rather than a spontaneous case of “domestic violence” that could have happened to any Canadian woman — were pilloried by both feminist and Muslim spokespeople as racist.
The Edmonton pilot project will, hopefully, succeed and be replicated in other Canadian cities where there is a need for such services. Ms. Ambrose is to be congratulated for refusing to let political correctness stand in the way of South Asian girls’ and women’s rights and security. Not to be (very) partisan, but I doubt that a Liberal government would have found the will to apply such “active, muscular liberalism” to the problem before a European-style crisis forced its hand.
As we approach the 50th anniversary of the publication of Betty Friedan's feminist magnum opus, "The Feminine Mystique," we can have a perspective on feminism that was largely unavailable heretofore.
And that perspective doesn't make feminism look good. Yes, women have more opportunities to achieve career success; they are now members of most Jewish and Christian clergy; women's college sports teams are given huge amounts of money; and there are far more women in political positions of power. But the prices paid for these changes -- four in particular -- have been great, and they outweigh the gains for women, let alone for men and for society.
The first was the feminist message to young women to have sex just like men do. There's no reason for young women to lead a different sexual life than men, they were told. Just as men can have sex with any woman solely for the sake of physical pleasure, women ought to be able to enjoy sex with any man just for the fun of it. The notion that the nature of a woman is to hope for at least the possibility of a long-term commitment from a man she sleeps with has been dismissed as sexist nonsense.
As a result, vast numbers of young American women had and continue to have what are called hook-ups, and for some of them it's quite possible that no psychological or emotional price has been paid. But the majority of women who are promiscuous do pay prices. One is depression. New York Times columnist Roos Douthat recently summarized an academic study on the subject: "A young woman's likelihood of depression rose steadily as her number of partners climbed and the present stability of her sex life diminished."
Long before this study, I had learned from women callers to my radio show (an hour each week -- "The Male-Female Hour" -- is devoted to very honest discussion of sexual and other man-woman issues) that not only did female promiscuity coincide with depression, it also often had lasting effects on women's ability to enjoy sex. Many married women told me that in order to have a normal sexual relationship with their husbands, they had to work through the negative aftereffects of early promiscuity -- not trusting men, feeling used, seeing sex as unrelated to love and disdaining their husband's sexual overtures. And many said they still couldn't have a normal sex life with their husbands.
The second awful legacy of feminism has been the belief among women that they can and should postpone marriage until they develop their careers -- and that only then should they seriously consider looking for a husband. Thus, the decade or more during which women have the best chance to attract men is spent being preoccupied with developing a career. Again, I cite women callers to my radio show over the past 20 years who have sadly looked back at what they now, at age 40, regard as 20 wasted years. Sure, these frequently bright and talented women have a fine career. But most women are not programed to prefer a great career to a great man and a family. They feel they were sold a bill of goods at college and by the media.
And they were. It turns out that most women without a man do worse in life than fish without bicycles.
The third sad feminist legacy: So many women -- and men -- have bought into the notion that women should work outside the home that for the first time in American history, and perhaps world history, vast numbers of children are not primarily raised by their mothers or even by an extended family member. Instead they are raised for a significant part of their childhood by nannies and by workers at day care centers. Whatever feminists may say about their only advocating choices, everyone knows the truth: Feminism regards work outside the home as more elevating, honorable, and personally productive than full-time mothering and homemaking.
And the fourth awful legacy of feminism has been the de-masculinization of men. For all of higher civilization's recorded history, becoming a man was defined overwhelmngly as taking responsibility for a family. That notion -- indeed the notion of masculinity itself -- is regarded by feminism as the worst of sins: patriarchy.
Men need a role, or they become, as the title of George Gilder's classic book on single men describes them, "Naked Nomads." In little more than a generation, feminism has obliterated roles. If you wonder why so many men choose not to get married, the answer lies in large part in the contemporary devaluation of the husband and of the father -- of men as men, in other words. Most men want to be honored in some way -- as a husband, a father, a provider, as an accomplished something; they don't want merely to be "equal partners" with a wife.
In sum, thanks to feminism, very many women slept with too many men for their own happiness; posponed marriage too long to find the right man to marry; are having hired hands do much of the raising of their children; and now find they are dating boy-men because manly men are so rare.
Feminism exemplifies the truth of the saying, "Be careful what you wish for -- you may get it."