It used to be when you talked to a woman and asked her what the definition of feminism was, the general answer would be “equal rights.” Once upon a time, that was exactly what the feminist movement was about – they pushed for the right to vote, equality in the workforce …
Somewhere along the way in the 60’s, when the resurging feminist movement really started gaining momentum, the group splintered between women who wanted to continue to fight for that equality and women who wanted to go even further in order to be ‘liberated’ from society’s ‘constraints’ (like marriage and traditional family, for example – remember the quote commonly attributed to Gloria Steinem: “A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle”?). Women’s libbers of the late 60s and all through the 70’s pushed that theme, and we’re seeing the fruits of their ‘labor’ even today (more people choosing to live together than marry, women ‘choosing’ to be lesbians because men are such ‘oppressors’, children being born out of wedlock, etc). In other words, radical women’s libbers from the era earlier mentioned have essentially been a bane to a mature, responsible social culture amongst women.
A young attendee (Samantha Soller, Bucknell University student) to a recent NOW annual conference found out first hand just how far (out) the women’s lib crowd from the 70s had come from their days of bra-burning and filed this report, which I’ll excerpt (caution: some language/terms might not be suitable for young folks to read):
In a workshop designed to determine why young people are hesitant or resistant to identify themselves as feminists, participants were asked to describe what it means to be a feminist. Responses to the question of what a feminist is included “a recognition that men and women are not politically, socially, or economically equal” an acknowledgment that “women are better than men” and an “undermining of certain constructions of gender.” The woman leading the exercise admitted she wasn’t a feminist, “but a womanist, since [she's] a woman of color.” Boisterous applause filled the room with each description of feminism.
So, why are young women hesitant to call themselves feminists? The instructor told us that feminism is very political, and the negative backlash is “due to a threat to the power struggle.” She also said that “the stigma to feminism is attached to homophobia.”
Amidst NOW’s “soap opera of feminism” which included braless women, booths with banners declaring “I love female orgasms” women who used to be men, current and former prostitutes, open displays of intimate affection, people referring to NOW President Kim Gandy as “my leader” and an affirmative reply to a question asking if clothing is optional, the “veteran feminists” just couldn’t seem to figure out what was scaring off young people.
The “I’m Not a Feminist, butâ€¦” Workshop was designed to explore feminist stereotypes. The audience determined that the average person thinks feminists are butch, sex-crazed, pro-abortion lesbians who never want to get married or have babies. If NOW members want young women — and the rest of the world — to respect them and their ideas and not accept these stereotypes, they ought not to perpetuate them.
Based on my exposure to feminists at Bucknell, the Conference, however, was exactly as I expected it to be. Women with spiked hair and tattoos walked around clad in tee shirts reading “I love my vibrator.” They detailed inane grievances, like the fact that men get more magazines than women get in prisons. Many also showed their age by expressing anger that back in the ’60s, everyone did drugs and that generation turned out fine, but now people spend years and years in jail for using illegal substances.
The NOW feminist leaders praised women’s studies classes that focus on activism, and denounced people and groups that did not see a “rainbow of genders.” I even learned some of their language and which words are taboo: guys = bad; girls = good; ladies = bad, women = good; gal = always bad; babe = good if hippie singer/songwriter Ani DiFranco says it. Statistics were cited, like those regarding the number of women abused by the sex trade, and I was pleasantly surprised to hear the speaker announce that “the numbers are not reflective of the current status.” At least now they’re admitting their “facts” are, well, not facts.
Even while tackling tough, important issues, the feminists turned them around. We were discussing the horrors of human sex trafficking and “sex tours” and although the oppression and degradation of women was mentioned, many women in the room were more outraged that the services cater to men, the enemy!
I’ve come across a similar attitude as well on the issue of sex, when talking with the few modern day feministas who will actually have anything to do with a repressed conservative held-back-by-men woman such as myself. Here’s how a typical conversation usually goes:
Feminist: “I think it’s outrageous the way men can get away with having multiple sex partners [note from ST: not at the same time!], but when women do the same, they’re considered ‘loose’, and frowned upon.”
Sister Toldjah: “So what are you saying? That you think it should be encouraged that men refrain from having multiple sex partners so the standard for men and women on that issue might one day be the same?”
ST: “What do you mean, then?
F: “What I mean is that I want to feel like I can have multiple sex partners, come in and talk about it at my work on Monday amongst the gals, and not have the guys nearby look at me like I’m loose.”
ST: (perplexed) “So you’re saying you want the standards for women to be lowered?”
F: (blinks) “Uhhm, well – no. I just want to be able to sleep with who I want, when I want, be able to talk about it, and be treated just like men are when they brag about it.”
ST: “In other words, your answer to my prior question was ‘yes, I do want our standards lowered.'”
F: (becoming agitated) “No, that is not what I’m saying. I just want the playing field leveled.”
ST: “Yes, you’re saying you want it lowered to be on the same level we have for any male who is promiscuous.”
F: (huffs) “You’re putting words in my mouth.”
ST: (chuckling internally) “Nope – just following what you’re saying to its logical conclusion.”
F: “How’s that?”
ST: “By saying, in terms of sexual encounters, you want women to be treated in the same way men who have lots of casual sex are. Do you think that standard we hold for men on promiscuity is a high one or a low one?”
F: (no answer)
ST: “That’s what I thought. Instead of setting the standard higher for men, you want to lower it for women. Sorry, but if being ‘liberated’ equates to being able to go in to work on Monday to brag about how many sexual partners you had over the weekend, count me out.”
Usually around that point I get accused of being a subservient ultra-right winger who doesn’t appreciate what ‘women before me’ have done to help pave the way for the woman I am today. Which is entirely wrong. I appreciate the women of yesteryear fighting for the right of women to vote. I appreciate the women of yesteryear pushing for equality in the work place (real equality, not the affirmative action stuff). What I don’t appreciate the latter-day uber-fems of the late 60’s and 70’s doing is 1) denigrating the very thought of responsible sexual behavior, 2) not understanding that men are not the root of all evil, 3) encouraging women who became pregnant from irresponsible sexual behavior to abort their ‘inconvienience’, and 4) rejecting the concept of marriage along with the traditional two parent family. I think all of the above have had disastrous consequences on society and (with the ‘aid’ of the “Great Society” programs from the 60’s) have led to so many of the social problems we see today (which I noted earlier). As far as I’m concerned, radical feminists from that era didn’t “pave” any roads for modern day women. They bulldozed them.
Sadly, today’s uber-feminists don’t seek to moderate or tone down such attitudes and/or behavior. As Soller notes, it’s only getting worse. Which is why ‘subservient ultra right wing women’ like myself must never give up the fight against them.
Update I: Wanted to add some book recommendations that discuss this subject more in depth:
– The Death of Right and Wrong: Exposing the Left’s Assault on Our Culture and Values (also by Tammy Bruce)