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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

More of the same

It was positively surreal to hear Phyllis Schlafly on NPR today (on Tell Me More, in honor of Women's History Month), saying the same things she was saying 30+ years ago, about how feminism has ruined America.  She's 86 years old, and she has a new book out (The Flip-Side of Feminism)!  She's added some new evidence, saying that feminism doesn't care about women's "success" - look at the criticism of people like Sarah Palin.  I have to say that her logic is pretty consistent, even if I totally disagree with the underlying premise.  It mostly just made me sad that, after all these years, we still have to confront the same arguments.

Here's the host, Michel Martin, describing PS's background:

"I wanted to just mention that in a 2006 New York Times article, you were quoted as saying, "I grew up believing that I should support myself." And, in fact, you were quite accomplished, even as a young woman. You put yourself through school at Washington University. You later got a master's in political science from Harvard. You earned a law degree.  Many people with your background have embraced the feminist movement."

Here's some comments from PS:

"I think the main goal of the feminist movement was the status degradation of the full-time homemaker. They really wanted to get all women out of the homes and into the workforce. And again and again, they taught that the only fulfilling lifestyle was to be in the workforce reporting to a boss instead of being in the home reporting to a husband. That is an attitude toward marriage and homemaking that I think is intolerable and false."

A lot of women found themselves bored and frustrated when they were forced to limit themselves to this single role, and the feminist movement arose from that very real frustration - it seems like PS is ignoring this. And I think she's overstating her argument - many feminists, including myself, are trying to find a balance between these roles, not suggesting that the homemaker role be completely abandoned.

" . . . well, I'm not trying to run anybody else's lives. But in general, the feminists don't want to suppress their own desires and ambitions for the welfare of their children. And the feminists look upon society's expectation that mothers look after their own children as part of the oppression of women. I do not believe women are oppressed in this society."

I can't really argue with this, because I think that is exactly that feminists are saying, and I think they're right - I don't cease to be a person when I have children, any more than a man does.  Why must my desires and ambitions be supressed?  Does that make me a better wife and mother - all evidence suggests the opposite!

Here's her parting salvo:

". . . don't be taken in by feminism. Just remember American women are so fortunate. When I got married, all I wanted in the world was a dryer so I didn't have to hang up my diapers. And now women have paper diapers and all sorts of conveniences in the home. And it is the men and the technology that has made the home such a pleasant place for women to be. So I hope they will use that pleasant place to raise their children."

What can I say to that?  Gag!



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