By BRIAN CLOWES
(Editor’s Note: Brian Clowes has been director of research and training at Human Life International since 1995. For an electronic copy of this two-part article with footnotes, e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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“I still believe in feminism, perhaps more than ever before. But there was a rosy day of innocence when I believed in feminists” — Dr. Phoebe Spinrad.
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What exactly is “feminism”?
The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines it as “organized activity on behalf of women’s rights and interests.” So our question becomes: Do pro-lifers really have the best interests of women in mind?
Pro-abortionists, who seem to think that they have a monopoly on the word “feminist,” certainly don’t think so. As one writer for the pro-abortion feminist website Jezebel fumed:
“There is actually no such thing as a ‘pro-life feminist.’ Sure, you can be a feminist and make a personal decision to never get an abortion. But who the [very bad word] are you to actively work at taking away other women’s right to make their own personal decisions about their uteruses? You are not a feminist, that’s for sure.”
The new breed of radical feminists, or “neofeminists” as NARAL co-founder Larry Lader called them, have reduced the definition of “feminist” to one narrow sliver of social activism: Whether or not you are “pro-choice.” Pamela Erens recounts that, since before Roe v. Wade, “Anti-abortion feminist groups have been banned from ERA rallies, rebuffed in their attempts to join consortiums of women’s groups, and forbidden to meet in campus women’s centers.” Pat Goltz, a member of the Ohio chapter of the National Organization for Women, was forced to give up her NOW membership in 1972 because of her anti-abortion activities, and responded by founding Feminists for Life soon after.
It does not matter if you are a woman who is a leading supporter of the Equal Rights Amendment, pay equity, aid for poor and elderly women, and who supports every other “plank” in the modern feminist agenda — if you are pro-life, you’re out.
During her entire career, seven-term congresswoman Mary Rose Oakar of Ohio was consistently refused endorsement by women’s organizations because she opposed abortion, even though she supported all of the other goals of the feminist movement.
Talented and accomplished women like Phyllis Schlafly, an attorney, prolific author, and founder of the Eagle Forum (who is still going full steam ahead at 89, an age when highly paid pro-abortion leaders have long been enjoying their lavish retirement benefits), have suffered abuse at the hands of “feminists” for decades.
And any current Feminists for Life member can tell you about the verbal and physical abuse they suffer when they publicly reveal that they are pro-life women. Erens observes: “Most feminists, predictably, can’t stand them.”
Not only do pro-abortionists call pro-lifers (including women) “anti-woman,” but they claim that we are all foot soldiers in the mythical “war against women”!
We can easily put the lie to this nonsense with a simple thought experiment I have used a number of times in discussions with pro-abortionists. Imagine you are a pregnant 16-year-old whose parents have kicked you out of their house. You have nothing and are in desperate need. Now imagine calling an abortion mill and telling them that you do not want an abortion, but you need prenatal care, housing, and baby clothes and formula in a few months. They will simply refer you to social service agencies because they are a business.
As former abortion mill owner Carol Everett and many others have revealed, their job is to take your money, abort you, and push you out the door.
Now imagine calling a pro-life crisis pregnancy center (CPC) and asking for help. The CPC will bend over backward to help you with everything you need, as 3,000 of them do every day in every state and in many other nations.
The Pro-Life History
Of Early Feminism
Pro-abortionists attempt to dismiss the early history of feminism in the United States as “irrelevant” because the original American feminists were almost uniformly pro-life. These early feminists were against abortion because they knew that they would never be rid of their oppressors if they themselves oppressed others.
The most famous early feminist, Susan B. Anthony, called abortion “the horrible crime of child-murder.” Elizabeth Cady Stanton called it “infanticide,” “degrading,” and “evil.” Victoria Woodhull, the first woman to run for president, said: “The rights of children as individuals begin while yet they remain the fetus.”
Some things never change. Many men forced or intimidated women into having abortions a century and a half ago, just as they do today. In 1868, Matilda Gage said that “I hesitate not to assert that most of this crime of child murder, abortion, infanticide lies at the door of the male sex.” And pro-lifers had no more regard for abortionists and abortion mills now than they did then; Sarah Norton called them “child murderers” and “infant butcheries.”
These and other quotes show that today’s self-proclaimed “feminists” have betrayed their heritage and have corrupted the honorable word “feminist” almost beyond redemption. In fact, they are doing exactly what they claim to detest the most: Putting themselves at the slavish service of selfish and exploitative men in the name of “sexual freedom.”
The corruption of original “first wave” feminism began more than a century ago. James Cardinal Gibbons of Baltimore clearly recognized the beginnings of the radical feminist movement as a “moral sham,” a “pious fraud,” and one of the “Socialist schemes which are so often undertaken ostensibly in the name of religion and morality, but which are subversive of morality and order, which are the offspring of fanaticism, and serve as a mask to hide the most debasing passions.”
Pope Paul VI prophesied in his encyclical Humanae Vitae:
“It is also to be feared that the man, growing used to the employment of anti-conceptive practices, may finally lose respect for the woman and, no longer caring for her physical and psychological equilibrium, may come to the point of considering her as a mere instrument of selfish enjoyment, and no longer his respected and beloved companion.”
The vast differences between the philosophies of the true feminists and the neofeminists were best described by Margaret Sanger. Her credo of women’s rights, as stated in her book Woman and the New Race, was “to live . . . to love . . . to be lazy . . . to be an unmarried mother . . . to create . . . to destroy.”
What Do Women Want?
This brings us to the age old question: “What do women want?” Well, ultimately they want the same thing that men want — to be happy. So who tends to be happier — pro-life or “pro-choice” women?
A few years ago, some of the more insightful neofeminists finally began to realize that they have been sold a mess of pottage.
Maureen Dowd asked: “The more women have achieved, the more they seem aggrieved. Did the feminist revolution end up benefiting men more than women?”
Arianna Huffington wrote that “women around the world are in a funk.”
And Nancy Gibbs said that although women have “gained more freedom, more education and more economic power, they have become less happy.” She observed, among other fundamental changes in the lives of women, “the detachment of marriage and motherhood,” and said that “women no longer view matrimony as a necessary station on the road to financial security or parenthood.”
A lot of this is just plain common sense. These problems have arisen largely because of the people who push the nonsense that men and women are not just equal, but equivalent. Mark Regnerus and Jeremy Uecker, in their landmark 2011 study Premarital Sex in America, found: “A young woman’s likelihood of depression rose steadily as her number of [sexual] partners climbed and the present stability of her sex life diminished.” On the contrary, men who had more sexual partners were often happier.
The results are obvious to any crisis pregnancy center counselor, all of whom have heard the heartrending stories of women who have been promised love but instead wind up raising children all by themselves in poverty and struggle.
It stings the soul to read what Kay Ebeling wrote in Newsweek back in 1990:
“Today I see feminism as the Great Experiment That Failed, and women in my generation, its perpetrators, are the casualties. Many of us, myself included, are saddled with raising children alone. The resulting poverty makes us experts at cornmeal recipes and ways to find free recreation on weekends.
“At the same time, single men from our generation amass fortunes in CDs and real-estate ventures so they can breeze off on ski weekends. Feminism freed men, not women. Now men are spared the nuisance of a wife and family to support. After childbirth, if his wife’s waist doesn’t return to 20 inches, the husband can go out and get a more petite woman. . . .
“Feminism made women disposable . . . in general, feminism gave men all the financial and personal advantages over women. What’s worse, we asked for it. How wrong we were. . . . The truth is, a woman can’t live the true feminist life unless she denies her childbearing biology. She has to live on the pill, or have her tubes tied at an early age. Then she can keep up with the guys with an uninterrupted career and then, when she’s 30, she’ll be paying her own way on ski weekends too.”
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(To be concluded next week.)