The Sisterhood, Defrocked January 16, 2006Posted by June in Communism, Liberalism, Politics, Socialism, Women's Issues.
The Sisterhood, Defrocked
Kate O'Beirne provides a reality check for anyone who thinks "feminist" means "pro-woman."
BY MELANIE KIRKPATRICK
Thursday, January 12, 2006 12:01 a.m. EST Kate O'Beirne is ill-served by the lurid cover of her new book, which features unflattering caricatures of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Hillary Clinton, Jane Fonda and Sarah Jessica Parker (a k a Carrie Bradshaw of "Sex and the City"). The Ann Coulter-ish title–"Women Who Make the World Worse"–is almost as off-putting. Uh-oh, is this going to be another one of those right-wing rants?
Happily, it is anything but. Mrs. O'Beirne's book is a serious examination of 30-plus years of feminist folly and the conservative counter-approach. And while the National Review columnist and TV commentator is not shy about saying what she thinks, the only rants that appear in her pages here are those she quotes from some well-known feminist icons.
In fact, one of the most striking features of "Women Who Make the World Worse" is its "I can't believe she said that" quality. Mrs. O'Beirne informs her chapters on the family, day care, education, politics, the military and sports with a review of the radical feminist dogma on her subject. Anyone still operating under the delusion that "feminist" is synonymous with "pro-woman" should find this a useful reality check.
Where to begin? There's Robin Morgan, one of the founders of Ms. magazine, saying in 1970 that marriage is "a slavery-like practice" and arguing that "we can't destroy the inequities between men and women until we destroy marriage." Or move forward a couple of decades to the 1990s, when University of Texas professor Gretchen Ritter, who favored then-First Lady Hillary Clinton's plan to "liberate" women by putting children in federally funded day care, expresses the view that stay-at-home mothers are shirking their duty "to contribute as professionals and community activists."Also from the Clinton era is Duke University law professor Marilyn Morris, who in her role as an adviser to the secretary of the Army urges the elimination of the "masculinist attitudes" of the military, such as "dominance, assertiveness, aggressiveness, independence, self-sufficiency, and willingness to take risks." Another Clinton adviser complains that the Little League encourages "aggressive violent behavior."
A line that should go down in political history comes courtesy of the late Democratic Rep. Bella Abzug, who in 1984 confidently predicted the victory of the Walter Mondale-Geraldine Ferraro ticket as "women . . . join across all racial, social, and regional lines in stark opposition to President Reagan and his policies." Women went for Reagan by a margin of 56% to 44%.
One of the contributions of Mrs. O'Beirne's book is that she marshals data that effectively shatter the demeaning liberal myth that women vote on "women's issues." She notes, for instance, that when the Gallup organization polled voters monthly during the 2004 presidential election year about the subjects they cared most deeply about, "not even 1% mentioned issues like pay equity, child care, or discrimination and violence against women." Men and women polled equally in their concern about race relations, health care, military strength and so forth.
Also in the realm of politics, Mrs. O'Beirne recounts the hypocrisy of feminist leaders during the Clinton years, comparing them to battered spouses willing to endure any humiliation so long as they don't lose their man. "As long as Bill Clinton supported abortion rights, affirmative action, and federal child care," she writes, "it didn't matter that he was a sexual predator."
Then there's the feminist myth that women are denied equal pay for equal work. No one doubts that this was the case several decades ago–and isolated cases persist–but today women's pay overall is on a par with men's. Discrepancies are generally explained by the personal-employment choices that many women make, such as flexible hours, part-time work or other family-friendly options. She lists 39 occupations–aerospace engineer, speech pathologist, financial analyst–where women earn at least 5% more than men.
Mrs. O'Beirne's assessment of the effect of the feminist agenda on women in the military is especially relevant. There are 213,000 women on active duty, including more than 24,000 single mothers and 29,000 married women with children. The first female casualty in Iraq was Army Pfc. Lori Piestewa, a 24-year-old single mother of a 4-year-old son and a 3-year-old daughter.
The Pentagon's "risk rule," which used to prohibit assigning women to units that were at risk of attack or capture, was repealed in 1994. Mrs. O'Beirne believes that women in the military–especially mothers–belong well behind the front lines. I'm not sure I agree, but I know her analysis has made me think harder about what's at stake not just for the military or women but for our society.
One of the values of this volume is that it reviews the antifeminist research on the family, education, abortion and more. Mrs. O'Beirne is generous in citing the work of scholars such as Mary Ann Glendon, Diana Furchtgott-Roth, Elaine Donnelly, Karlyn Bowman and others. Radical feminists may have the loudest megaphones, but they aren't the only voices. "Women Who Make the World Worse" is a brief history of how wrong the gender warriors have been about virtually every aspect of American life. But it offers hope for the future in highlighting the scholarship of many women who have made the world better. Ms. Kirkpatrick is associate editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page. You can buy "Women Who Make the World Worse" from the OpinionJournal bookstore.