Well, not quite. A few of us rebels still exist and I am very thankful for two of them in particular, Suzanne Venker and her aunt Phyllis Schlafly and their new book, The Flipside of Feminism. I knew I was going to love this book by the middle of the second paragraph when I read these words, "Many qualify their position by distinguishing among different kinds of feminism." I've never been a big fan of "isms" to begin with and qualifying the ism seems to me about as quixotic as the attempt to re brand conservatism as "compassionate conservatism". If a thing is worth defending, don't waffle, defend it. Then, in the very next paragraph they write:
Some have even tried to rehabilitate feminism by claiming conservative women belong to something called the "new feminism" or even "pro-life feminism" (Sarah Palin comes to mind) - as if there were such a thing.Feminism is feminism is feminism. It will always consume the modifier.
The first chapter, "Brainwashed", separates two types of feminists operating in the culture. The fringe feminists are the "out and proud" sort of feminists who are proud of the abortions they've had, for instance. I disagree with the authors when they say these fringe feminists are not the problem. They perform a vital function in furthering the feminist agenda - their vocal presence helps to desensitize and normalize the objectives of feminism. They soften the culture up for the elite power-broker feminists to come in and push forward with their "more reasonable" agenda. These elites rarely call themselves feminists and act more like nannies, always knowing what is best and punishing anyone who disagrees as a nanny would a naughty little girl in her care.
The next chapters provide a history and primer on feminism, including the disconnect between the suffragettes and "second-wave" feminists as well as the Marxist roots of the latter, the advent of absentee parenting and the never-ending search for empowerment and reproductive rights. The feminist air we breathe pushes sex education which leads to the hook-up culture, more sex education and so on, and their cultural icons never get herpes or genital warts, though they may suffer a sort of cartoon heartache. Neither the sex ed or the icons prepare real-life women to handle real life and real heartaches. Another chapter looks at why marriage has proven to be so elusive to the rising generations. None of these difficulties will improve, as Venker and Schlafly point out, until we remember who men and women are and what we mean to each other. There follows an excellent chapter on working mothers and the one way more women can have it all -- by "Sequencing" or taking their life in stages. And then there are the single mothers who replace husband and father in their lives and homes with Big Brother Government, another fruit of feminism.
In the final chapter, "A New Road Map for Women", the authors begin to map out the way forward. A quote from Ann Taylor Fleming pulls us up short. It is a simple question that helps us refocus, begin to recognize the rotten bill of goods we've been sold and move forwards on a new road:
Was you ideology worth the empty womb?
Feminism is a failed experiment in social engineering. The same women who have brought us feminism have, in consequence, given us girl firefighters who would have trouble carrying a medium-sized dog down multiple flights of stairs let alone carry an adult man out of a burning building. They have given us a whole new crime - date rape, as well as a new protected class of victim - the battered woman. This is the air we breath and the most difficult part of the way forward is removing ourselves from the culture to a great enough distance that we can begin to see things clearly.
The Flipside of Feminism is an engaging read that I highly recommend, especially to younger women who may thereby be able to avoid the traps that women of my generation found ourselves caught in without knowing it until it was too late.
*Note: Although Denver Seminary has pulled the video promoting the center, their professors continue to support the work of Pomegranate Place, and the seminary has failed to publish an assessment of the "ministry" of the women's center.