March 8th was International Women’s Day. In fact, this month marks the 100th anniversary of the international feminist celebration initiated by Clara Zetkin, a socialist German politician who took the last name of her Russian lover, eventually married a fellow eighteen years younger than herself and became an executive member of the Comintern.
Well, I don’t suppose many of us women have much in common with her. What does the feminist legacy of Zetkin and others mean to females in my generation?
Throughout my girlhood, I viewed feminism as a sort of lingering ball and chain more than a movement to be proud of. It was something that commanded girls to be in perpetual competition with men whether we wanted to be or not. The presence of feminism was like a ghostly matriarch frowning over me with disappointment in even the subtlest matters.
When I casually wore my favorite denim skirt or floral print dress, I encountered interrogation from observers: “Why do you like to wear 18th century clothes?” “What cult are you a member of?” “Why do you always wear dresses?”
Those are real questions – I didn’t make any of them up. What I began to realize, much to my distaste, is that dresses with hemlines past the knees are subliminally perceived as prison garbs from days gone by. Liberal feminism fought to emancipate women from dresses, from kitchens, from homes and from babies. To embrace any of those things is to disrespect the goddesses of women’s rights.
But colloquialism aside, there are no such things as “women’s rights”. There are only human rights.
Abigail Adams promoted this concept in her famous March 31, 1776 letter to her husband:
“They have time and warning given them to see the Evil and shun it. — I long to hear that you have declared an independency — and by the way in the new Code of Laws which I suppose it will be necessary for you to make I desire you would Remember the Ladies, and be more generous and favourable to them than your ancestors. Do not put such unlimited power into the hands of the Husbands. Remember all Men would be tyrants if they could.
If perticuliar care and attention is not paid to the Laidies we are determined to foment a Rebelion, and will not hold ourselves bound by any Laws in which we have no voice, or Representation. That your Sex are Naturally Tyrannical is a Truth so thoroughly established as to admit of no dispute, but such of you as wish to be happy willingly give up the harsh title of Master for the more tender and endearing one of Friend. Why then, not put it out of the power of the vicious and the Lawless to use us with cruelty and indignity with impunity.
Men of Sense in all Ages abhor those customs which treat us only as the vassals of your Sex. Regard us then as Beings placed by providence under your protection and in immitation of the Supreem Being make use of that power only for our happiness.”
Well, our second first lady warned us. If women didn’t have basic civil rights in the first place, things might foment out of control one day – which is exactly what happened.
Barbara Kay summed up the matter in two brilliant sentences: “The feminist revolution began as a necessary reform movement, but unfortunately evolved into a marxism-imbued, revolutionary one. Second-wave feminism’s focus soon shifted from women’s equal rights (which are limited to those defined by law) to women’s interests (which are limitless), as perceived through a victim’s lens.”
As Clare Boothe Luce is said to have quipped, “No good deed goes unpunished.” The quest to get women treated as equally human in the face of government was too good for parasitic ideologues to let alone. Women have since been victimized and exploited for the sake of advancing agendas they otherwise wouldn’t be interested in.
Liberal feminists have made it their business to dictate what women want, apparently oblivious to the contradictions they demand us to accept. We are supposed to be rightfully disgusted by female genital mutilation abroad, yet see nothing wrong with desecrating the female reproductive system internally.
We are supposed to want to see women be “nurtured and protected”, but then demand that sexuality be degraded to a touring freak show in schools. We are supposed to glorify our gender, yet feel ashamed and oppressed when we like wearing long skirts or want more than two children. We are supposed to desire to prove we can fight in combat alongside the boys, but then cry for lower physical standards when it turns out we’re not built like them.
We are supposed to be rallying in support of Planned Parenthood, the nation’s largest abortion provider, because it claims to be an organization that is vital to women’s health. However, according to the mission statement seen on PPFA’s recent tax filing, it is – in the words of liberal commentator Kirsten Powers – “a population-control organization”:
“THE PURPOSE OF THE FEDERATION IS:
(A) TO PROVIDE LEADERSHIP:
- IN MAKING EFFECTIVE MEANS OF VOLUNTARY FERTILITY REGULATION, INCLUDING CONTRACEPTION, ABORTION, STERILIZATION, AND INFERTILITY SERVICES, AVAILABLE AND FULLY ACCESSIBLE TO ALL AS A CENTRAL ELEMENT TO REPRODUCTIVE HEALTHCARE:
- IN ACHIEVING, THROUGH INFORMED INDIVIDUAL CHOICE, A U.S. POPULATION OF STABLE SIZE IN AN OPTIMUM ENVIRONMENT; - IN STIMULATING AND SPONSORING RELEVANT BIOMEDICAL, SOCIO-ECONOMIC AND DEMOGRAPHIC RESEARCH;
- IN DEVELOPING APPROPRIATE INFORMATION, EDUCATION AND TRAINING PROGRAMS.
(B) TO SUPPORT AND ASSIST EFFORTS TO ACHIEVE SIMILAR GOALS IN THE UNITED STATES AND THROUGHOUT THE WORLD.”
When I interviewed Kellyanne Conway about the midterm elections last year, I brought up the point that in the House of Representatives, the number of pro-life women increased by 60% while pro-choice women diminished by 16%. There are also more pro-life women governors than abortion rights women governors now.
“It turns on its head what has been the conventional - albeit false - wisdom that for a woman to prevail in politics, the cost of admission is that she be pro-choice and abortion,” said Conway. “That simply is not true. As America’s voting population has become more pro-life and more conservative generally…that’s being reflected now in the elected officials that they elevate.”
In response, the liberal feminist establishment shamelessly infers that conservative women like Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann aren’t even “real women”. Yeah, because everybody knows that real women want to do things like terminate the life of their offspring and wrestle with men.
Just as leftists try to take ownership of race (Jesse Jackson said that a black congressman from Alabama who voted against the health care bill isn’t a real black man), they try to take ownership of gender. Women who show themselves to be genuinely independent individuals are suddenly excommunicated (oh, the irony!).
Can anyone really blame women (particularly young women) for being disillusioned with leftist feminism?
Women are not oppressed or failing in the West, and we have more opportunity than we know what to do with. We are not victims. Most of us aren’t fretting over how many women CEOs or engineers exist when we know there are women in some countries who would be thankful just to be able to read.
Amanda Read is an unconventional scholar, a Southerner without an accent, a Christian who hasn’t been a churchgoer in 16 years and a college student who lives with eight younger siblings. A writer and artist, she blogs at www.amandaread.com and is the author of the historical drama screenplay The Crusading Chemist. Amanda is majoring in history and minoring in political science at Troy University.
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