(In this three-part series, Paula Adamick explores the impact and legacy of the lives and lies of some of feminism’s most influential – some might say infernal – icons. The reader is free first to peruse part I and part II, and here, in part three, the results …)
Earlier in this series, we saw how, over the past century, several now-famous women impacted and shaped today’s culture as avatars of revolutionary feminism by marching through every institution, including the churches, and making once unacceptable customs acceptable, even desirable – from sexual ‘liberation’ and the ‘right’ to abortion to the assumption that women are fit for any career option known to mankind.
But one must ask: As the media extols the latest triumph over tradition by the latest break through the imaginery ‘glass ceiling’, is this really a good thing?
Take the case of Stanford University’s new Dean of Religious Life, the Very Reverend Jane Shaw, an ordained priest in the Church of England and a lesbian. Declaring herself as “not very churchy as a person,” Shaw advocates the church to welcome people more, without converting them, and “not even necessarily do religion all the time.”
“I’m really interested in how you welcome many different kinds of constituencies, certainly not convert them, not even necessarily to do religion all the time,“ Shaw, 51, told Palo Alto Online.
Hailed as a champion within the LGBT community at Grace Cathedral in San Francisco where she was the first openly lesbian dean, Shaw became Stanford’s dean of Religious Life and professor of religious studies. She was also a founding member of the Chicago Consultation, a think tank made up of Anglican and Episcopal bishops, clergy, and lay people who support the full inclusion of LGBT people into the worldwide Anglican Communion.
Shaw says the greatest current crisis is “climate change and the environment” which, to her, means that Christian core beliefs should be supplanted by the religion of environmentalism and earth worship … rather than the salvation of souls through the gospel of Our Lord, Jesus Christ.
Gender confusion increases
Meanwhile, across the Atlantic, the same religious revolution continues in the U.K. where the Reverend Libby Lane, an Oxford-educated mother of two, has been consecrated as the first female bishop in the Church of England, overthrowing five hundred years of all-male leadership and ending years of furious debate on the issue.
The ordination of Lane, 48, (and married to another vicar) as the Bishop of Stockport at York Minster was a historic event briefly interrupted by the protest of a lone priest objecting to Lane`s consecration as ‘non-Biblical’. But Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, smiled in response: “He’s got the right to protest but the contrast was between a lone voice protesting and a sea of voices affirming.”
These are just two examples of what constitutes the new ‘normalcy’ in the brave new feminist world where the goalposts keep shifting.
What, for example, is today’s university student to make of the recent cancellation by an all-woman’s college of their annual production of The Vagina Monologues, Eve Ensler’s so-called celebration of female sexuality? The announcement followed Mount Holyoke College’s decision to admit men who identify as women. The reason given for the cancellation was the play’s ‘transphobia’ for failing to give voice to transgendered women who, by definition, do not have vaginas.
Although the play has long been regarded as a feminist tour de force, Mount Holyoke`s decision was explained in a campus-wide email: “At its core, the show offers an extremely narrow perspective on what it means to be a woman” because it “fails the trans community in a lot of ways.”
Spokesperson Erin Murphy elaborated further: “Gender is a wide and varied experience, one that cannot simply be reduced to biological or anatomical distinctions. And many of us who have participated in the show have grown increasingly uncomfortable presenting material that is inherently reductionist and exclusive.”
Irrational, Incoherent Dogma
Lest one suppose that such feminist incoherence is rare, other kindred movements are pushing the envelope too as they bury the traditional values and religious beliefs that were once the bedrock, backbone and framework of western civilization.
How’s this for timing?
On the very day in late January when more than half a million pro-life demonstrators took to the streets of Washington D.C. to mark 42 years of legalized abortion in the U.S., the president of Planned Parenthood was boasting about the 327,635 babies her organization killed in the past year alone – while at the same time taking in $305.4 million in taxpayer funds.
Not to be outdone, as the New York Times gleefully assured readers that the U.S. Supreme Court will definitely rule same-sex marriage as constitutional, requiring every state to legalize it, the luxury jeweller Tiffany & Co. was simultaneously announcing that a real-life gay couple will be featured in its latest advertising campaign for a new collection of engagement rings.
Speaking for the luxury jewellery brand, Linda Buckley described the company’s goal: “Nowadays, the road to marriage is no longer linear, and true love can happen more than once with love stories coming in a variety of forms. The Tiffany engagement ring is the first sentence of the story that a couple will write together as they create a life that is deeply intimate and exceptional, which is the message we hope to convey through this campaign.”
Isn’t that special?
Who, a century, or even fifty years ago, would have imagined a world where sex has become the measure of all things? And where tradition and nature have been so thoroughly subverted and upended?
No one, not even the feminist avatars who began to appear a century ago and have appeared in steady progression ever since, and whose influence has proved far greater than anyone would ever have predicted. What’s more, their gradual and relentless influence has been highly sucessful.
So much so that countless acolytes have been persuaded to reject the Judeo-Christian God of Christendom and embrace the god of Self as the paramount authority in their lives; to believe that indulging their sexual fantasies would be freeing; to believe that contraception would improve the quality of love and marriage; to believe the fruit of conception is not a human person with a right to life but a mass of cells without rights, subject to its mother’s whims; to believe that marriage was merely a human construct, even a tyranny, which could and should be abandoned; to believe there is no fundamental difference between men and women except for their traditional roles that were man-made and therefore arbitrarily and artificially assigned.
And unhappy women everywhere bought it! They bought the books, the magazines and the message being disseminated by the next wave of feminist avatars. The mop-up squad, so to speak, which began to appear in the 1960s.
The Problem with No Name
The first was Betty Friedan, the unhappily married writer, thinker and activist regarded as the voice of feminism’s ‘Second Wave’ with her humanistic book The Feminine Mystique which soon became a cornerstone of modern feminism.
In it, Friedan’s personal unhappiness – and that of her highly-educated, secular-minded, psychiatrist-dependent and tranquillized peers – was labelled as ‘the problem with no name’, a catalogue of the daily frustrations of the stay-at-home woman of the 1950s.
Published in 1963, the book came as a shock to a society that expected women to be happy with marriage and children. And it was an instant bestseller which further fermented the discontent roiling just beneath the surface of the peaceful and prosperous post-war western world.
Armed with newfound fame, Friedan then pushed for equal pay, maternity leave, child-care centers for working parents and legal abortion, campaigns that transformed her into one of the most recognized women of the late 20th century.
She also founded the abortion rights organization now known as NARAL-Pro Choice America and, in 1966, helped to found the National Organization for Women (NOW).
“She was a giant for women and most significantly was a catalyst for change in the American culture,” enthused Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation. “She defined the problem, and then she had the courage to do something about it.”
It didn’t take long, however, for Friedan, the humanist, to witness the monster she’d awakened turn in directions she had neither anticipated nor intended and which she later decried.
As an outspoken objector to the ‘bra-burning, anti-man, politics-of-orgasm school’, Friedan split with NOW in the 1970s, as younger feminists, such as Susan Brownmiller and Susan Faludi, took over and accused her of trying to reverse the revolution. They also denounced Friedan as a reactionary following the publication of her 1981 book The Second Stage.
By the time of Friedan’s death at 85 in 2006, Pandora was long out of the box and far beyond recall. The ethos of sex-as-the-measure-of-all-things had become fatally entrenched and traditional authority figures – parents, community leaders and even God – had been discarded. And societal standards and traditional values had slipped into virtual non-existence as the crassest elements of sexual deviancy and pornography took over the public square.
Enter Helen Gurley-Brown whose fame rose exponentially with her assistance in exploding all the existing mores of proper sexual behaviour via a siren publication every bit as powerful and influential as Hugh Hefner’s Playboy.
Regarding herself as a ‘devout’ feminist, Gurley-Brown burst onto the scene in the 1960s with her bestselling books Sex and the Single Girl and Sex and the Office.
But it wasn’t until she became editor of Cosmopolitan magazine that she became well known for pioneering and promoting in its pages a libertine version of female sexual behaviour.
It was also ‘Cosmo’ – distributed in over 100 countries – that sparked, in part, the rise of such hit TV series as Sex and the City and inspired the lewdness and coarseness so routine on television today.
“It was Gurley-Brown who invented today`s notion of a modern woman – one who could have both a successful career and an exciting, satisfying sex life,” said Bonnie Fuller, the editor who took over Cosmopolitan when Gurley-Brown retired in 1997. “Young women today don’t realize the legacy that they owe her.”
Often lauded as a woman who articulated ideas once considered risqué, Gurley-Brown ‘created’ Cosmopolitan to liberate today’s woman from the idea that she didn’t have to become June Cleaver, and that she could grow up to have a career that was just as fulfilling and exciting as any man’s career, Fuller added.
“She was a role model for the millions of women whose private thoughts, wonders and dreams she addressed so brilliantly in print,” gushed New York’s former mayor Michael Bloomberg. “She pushed boundaries and often broke them, clearing the way for younger women to follow in her path.”
Sexuality as Gound Zero
It’s no accident that feminists chose sexuality as ground zero for their crusade against traditional morality.
So here’s a question: how is it that in 2015 the answer to any and all ‘female’ problems is never virtue? Not purity, not fortitude, not chastity, not selflessness.
Answer: Because once you’ve obliterated any idea of godly morality, it’s a short step to moral relativism, corruption and worldly power.
Which brings me to the questions no one asks any of these feminist hucksters still pretending that abnormal sexual practices are ‘normal’.
How, for example, does one explain sadomasochism to a child?
“Mom, who’s Mr. Grey?” referring to the gargantuan bestseller, Fifty Shades of Grey. “Dad, what do those handcuffs mean?”
Too awkward a question?
Consider too the wreckage that ensues when any woman tries to emulate the kind of sexuality glorified in popular culture everywhere, from your house to the White House.
Speaking of which, one avatar exemplifying both the ‘cause’ and ‘effect’ of incoherent feminism is Hillary Clinton, former first lady, former U.S. senator, former Secretary of State and popularly thought to be the next Democratic candidate for the U.S. presidency in 2016, although 48% of Americans say they would not vote for her. And for lots of reasons, beginning with her pro-abortion politics.
Yet 50% would vote for her, according to the same Wall Street Journal poll, following eight years of the pro-abortion Obama administration.
Last year, Clinton, a fan of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger, told Iowa voters that to be pro-woman is to be pro-abortion, an issue she supported internationally as well in her role as Secretary of State.
However, other voters disapprove of her political manipulations surrounding the Terry Schiavo case by voting first to save Shiavo, then later refusing her assent to a Senate bill that might have saved her.
Still others are wary of the character and morals of the woman New York Times columnist William Safire once called ‘a congenital liar’, and whose apparent ruthlessness in covering up for her wayward husband Bill Clinton by personally managing his endless ‘bimbo eruptions’, has raised many eyebrows. Along with her husband’s baggage, Hillary Clinton has carried much of Barack Obama’s baggage too, while allegedly lying to protect him.
It`s also apparent to many that – apart from her obvious ambition and recent boasting about her ‘grandmotherly glow’ – she has always lacked any real political talent or vision or even purpose. except to achieve power.
All of which qualifies her as yet another example of how separating women from their natural and perfect purpose renders them unfit for purpose.
Would Hillary Clinton, who bragged she was ‘no cookie-baking mom’, be a good president? Her political and personal behaviour say no. From Monicagate to Benghazi and the countless scandals in between, Clinton has not only agreed to lie for others, she has invariably made a bad job of whatever post she’s held.
Unfit for Purpose
But that’s been the legacy of feminism in general, hasn’t it? Masking as ‘enlightenment’ and using affirmative action to meet its goals, feminism has been based largely on the assumption that women are identical to men, with whom they are assumed to share every aptitude and ability. And that happiness is attainable by ‘liberating’ women from the natural law – contrary to both Scripture and the day-to-day evidence of real life. And that feminine `equality` can be achieved by permitting women licence to all manner of false freedoms, including promiscuity and abortion – which have never been the solution to anything at any time or in any place.
Today, as more mothers than ever are choosing to leave the home and go to work, including 61 percent of mothers with children under 3, and 75 percent with children ages 6 to 17, they are actualizing the feminist view that caring for children, even their own, is demeaning to educated women. And that men, who provide and protect, are no longer necessary or even wanted. And that it’s now androgynous men only who are wanted, men who will share their touchy-feely emotions, men who know what detergent to buy, men who are preoccupied with ‘social justice’ and reducing their carbon-footprint. In other words, men who are sensitive, unaggressive and more like women.
Ditto for their sons.
Small wonder the jobless rate among men is steadily rising. In 2014, the number of jobless men rose to 16 out of every 100 in the U.S., while the number of men who identify as homemakers is twice as high as 15 years ago.
And so it goes. On and on and on … as the postwar culture war, that saw the downgrading of wives and mothers and the upgrading of empty careers, continues its daily destructive trajectory.
None of it truly helpful or hopeful.
Why? Because most of this has been the result of a godless groupthink that has pressured women to abandon their natural role which, for the most part and with the occasional exception, is – (and this is so politically incorrect) – motherhood and its responsibilities. Beyond which, her other talents and ambitions can have plenty of scope and outlets in the natural course of her life.
Also abandoned has been the traditional understanding of virtue which is the key to a happy life in a sinning and fallen world where virtue – particularly chastity and purity – are regarded as odious, repressive, tyrannical and backward.
When Betty Friedan described the problem with no name, she was accurately describing a common form of female unhappiness. Which is not new. In fact, Friedan was merely describing the ‘human condition’ and all the unhappiness that results from false expectations and from failing to pursue the only path to true human happiness – the love and devotion to the God Who created every one of us and Who give each of us a plan for our lives, if only we would seek it.
Which means that all ‘happiness’ outside of this is at best fleeting and usually false.
Nevertheless, the vain search persists, led and fed by an army of avatars – unhappy women searching for happiness in all the wrong places – creating, in turn, a more aberrant world than ever, a world in which the ‘solutions’ are worse than the original problem.
This is why the Catholic Church cannot change her teaching on contraception and abortion because allowing false solutions to the underlying human condition – for which God is the only answer – is always harmful. Thus, the Catholic Church cannot bless any fundamental disobedience to God’s natural law – which much of feminist philosophy wrongly and destructively promotes throughout all western nations on which God and His Ten Commandments have been the foundation.
Observing the Trends
Lastly, as a journalist monitoring the unravelling cultural scene for more than three decades, I’ve noticed several trends, though my experience is strictly anecdotal:
1) The level of a woman’s education has little to do with her happiness;
2) many working women who complain about feeling real guilt for being away from their children fail to notice how the guilt vanishes when they’re at home;
3) household disorder disturbs and destabilizes children;
4) as divorce, promiscuity and a general evasiveness towards long-term commitments become universally accepted, the family is increasingly denounced as a form of oppression dedicated to the submission of women;
5) despite the commitment of large sections of today’s society to strong family values, the media, the academy and the opinion-forming elite are almost uniformly feminist, and anti-traditional, providing the majority pro-family sections of society with little-to-no voice whatsoever in shaping public views;
6) too many women in politics appear to be incompetently meddling in affairs they know nothing about (the very occasional exception merely confirms this pattern);
7) as women’s real gifts and abilities are negated, the home is simultaneously neglected and the society falls apart in direct proportion to the level of female distraction away from her God-created purpose; and
8) that those ‘leaders’ instrumental in subverting and then tearing apart this once Christian society – in the name of a host of bogus causes and rights – are lavishly rewarded by this material world.
And by its prince. Who needs no name.