Tuesday, May 8, 2012

National Offend a Feminist Week! Tuesday: Someone Got to Me Before the Feminists

As mentioned before, National Offend a Feminist Week is the brainchild of Robert Stacy McCain, who not only is wickedly smart, but funny. Smart, funny writing isn't as easy to find as you might think, so make sure to check out his blog. And if you hang around long enough, you'll most likely be asked to "hit the freakin' tip jar!" I mean, this is the type of guy who actually believes a journalist ought to go out and interview people instead of Googling them.

What's not to love?


Yesterday I gave you a little background about my history with feminism. But guess who got to me before the feminists?

Phyllis Schlafly.

Yep. You got it. The woman who single-handedly kept the ERA from being amended to the Constitution also happened to be the author of a book that was featured on the top ledge of a bookcase in my high school library. What is ironic is that my all-girls Catholic high school had a strong contingent of "progressive" teachers. The fact that a Schlafly book existed in the library (let alone being so prominently displayed), was in itself a minor miracle.

But the title grabbed me, The Power of the Positive Woman, and I grabbed the book. I was sixteen years old and immediately developed a girl-crush on Schlafly. Here was a woman I could relate to: strong, smart, talented, and not afraid of her own femininity. I was impressed to learn that Schlafly attended the Washington University School of Law and earned her J.D. in 1978. This in itself was quite an accomplishment. Schlafly claimed that no special amendment was needed to open any doors for her. She created her own opportunities and sailed ahead on her own steam, thank you very much.

For that, I instantly fell in love with her.

And I was about to find out something extraordinary. As a young woman developing my own ideas about my capabilities, strengths, and talents — I found it rather astonishing that many feminists were so quick to lean on the government to create their destinies. I mean, wasn't the whole point of feminism to say that a woman was strong and able to do pretty much whatever she put her mind to do? If that was the case, then why the need to fuss around with the Constitution?

It didn't make sense to me. And even though I was thoroughly wet behind the ears, something inside told me to listen well to Schlafly.

I can't remember everything about that book, but what I do remember is the strong sense of personal responsibility it instilled in me. Schlafly's words were actually further proof of what my parents were already teaching me: Don't expect the world to give you anything. There is no such thing as a free lunch. Lazy people don't eat.

You get the point.

I learned a wonderful thing as I heard those admonitions from my parents and then read supporting opinions in books like Schlafly's. The wonderful thing was that, indeed, I was the captain of my own destiny. Not the government. Not a bunch of activists who claimed they were "fighting" for my rights.


This is something that intimidates feminists. They cannot believe that all of the desires of the early feminists have been achieved. Women today can literally do anything. In fact, they often can do more than men. For example, watch a young girl insist that she be allowed to try out for an all-male sports team. Of course everyone will make sure she has that opportunity.

But if a boy tries out for an all-girls sports team? Well, that's a different story. He's not allowed because after all, he might be better than most of the girls.

Silly attempts to equalize sports is pretty much all the feminists have left.

Women can get whatever job they want, and at times, they don't even have to be the most qualified candidate. Men no longer sexually harass them at work. After watching a few episodes of Mad Men, it was evident that women had to fight off their own co-workers to be able to get work done. Even then, many times the men would steal their ideas and call them their own.

But that doesn't happen as often anymore, and most men who act like that are mocked if not reprimanded by H.R. No one wants to be That Guy who was slapped on the wrist for being a little too cozy with his hands.

Yes, women in the sixties worked hard to be taken seriously. I'd still say there are some situations where a woman still has to do this. But more than anything, I look at the opportunities that we have as women (especially women in the United States) and am deeply grateful for such bounty.

When I consider the woman I've become (highly opinionated, feisty, and no one's doormat), I realize that my development came from a variety of sources. First, God gets most of the credit. If I hadn't spent an important phase of my life begging Him for wisdom, I wouldn't be even a fraction of the woman I am today.

Secondly, I credit God for answering my prayers when I made a simple request of Him on an ongoing basis: "Please, God. Make me the woman You want me to be. Help me understand what You had in mind when You created a woman." And answer me, He did. I am by no means perfect, but I know who I was when I was twenty and who I am now. Any improvements belong to Him.

It was God who gave me the firm understanding that women are His way of civilizing the world. It is women who bring the "soft touch" to this challenging life. Women create a nurturing home, which brings life to the world in more ways than one. Women shape the lives of their children, encouraging them to believe in themselves. Women help build self-esteem in their children, present when her offspring fall down but urging them to rise and start again.

Women rock this world.

And I say this with all the love and pride in my heart toward being a woman and without stealing one bolt of thunder from men — for without men, we'd be hosed. So thank God for men, too! But women have a very special role and I feel that too often, they forget about that when they focus on trying to be a man. Let the men be men, I say. (And catch the mice, lift the heavy furniture, and provide all the stability we women so crave..)

I learned at an early age that I simply had to believe in myself in order to get something done. A fierce sense of independence was lit in me when I read Phyllis Schlafly. And that light has never gone out.

So by the time I stepped into that feminist bookstore back in 1981, I already had a full artillery of my own sense of power.

Those feminists never had a chance with me.


Anonymous said...

"After watching a few episodes of Mad Men, it was evident that women had to fight off their own co-workers to be able to get work done."

Are the entertainment media a trustworthy source of that kind of historical information? I'm not saying that I assume sexual harassment wasn't a problem, or even that it wasn't exactly as the television show depicts. But I shouldn't assume it was just because a TV show says so, should I?

Mary Rose said...

Hi enjoymentandcontemplation (love that name!). I agree with you that entertainment media often doesn't provide an honest representation of what they portray.

However, in this case, it's close. I attended a luncheon that featured an author who started as a copywriter at Ogilvy & Mather, one of the top ad agencies in New York. She said the amount of sex that went on in the offices was amazing and that in this regard, the show Mad Men got it right.

The book is Mad Women: The Other Side of Life on Madison Avenue in the 60's and Beyond, by Jane Maas. A very interesting book if you're into ad agencies. :-)