Dear (anti-Equal Rights Amendment crusader and Eagle Forum founder) Phyllis Schlafly and (“No Bull Mom”) Suzanne Venker, co-authors of “The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know–and Men Can’t Say”,
When you write “If there’s one thing feminists love, it’s divorce,” it makes me wonder.
When you say that “Their own writings reveal that feminists sought liberation from home, husband, family, childbirth, children, and the role of full-time homemaker” do you think, perhaps, that what “they” were seeking liberation from was not these things per se, but the expectation that those things would comprise the complete script of their lives? And the freedom to pursue experiences and roles beyond those outlines?
You write that “They wanted to be independent of men and liberated from the duties of marriage and motherhood. So their first legislative goal was the adoption of easy-to-get divorce.” Um, no. “No fault” divorce in the US originated in California in 1970. The ERA was introduced to Congress for the first time in… 1923. Also, you’re conflating the practical with the philosophical. I’d argue that the most urgent, practical goal regarding unilateral divorce was empowering battered or otherwise abused women to leave without permission from their abusers; while, philosophically, the goal was to redefine marriage to make it more equal, more fulfilling.
In fact, I wonder: did you perhaps not know that Betty Friedan, pied piper of those dirty, man-hating feminists, once said that her tombstone should read: “She helped make women feel better about being women and therefore better able to freely and fully love men”?
And for all the pontificating you do about the egregiousness of the weakening of the marital bonds is, I wonder what you’d say to a feminist woman who desperately wants to get married, but can’t. Because her partner, who also desperately wants to get married, is also a woman. (Maybe a feminist, too!)
And when you answer the question “Where were conservatives when the divorce rate got out of hand?” with the flip “They were quietly raising their own families,” I suppose you’re forgetting about Newt Gingrich, Mark Sanford, Rush Limbaugh, um, Ronald Reagan?
When you say “Marriage and motherhood are not something to which young women have been taught to aspire. Instead the women in their lives tell them to focus solely on their career” I have to disagree. Witness: Disney movies; Tabloid “bump” patrols; “The Bachelor”.
When you go on to say “It’s silly to think there’s something wrong with being in the kitchen–everybody has to eat!” I have to wonder if it eludes you that, these days, pretty much everybody has to work.
Venker, you say, “In my twenties, I had what we now call a ‘starter marriage': one that lasts less than five years and does not produce children. My ex-husband and I both had considerable doubts, and I distinctly recall our conversation, before we got married, about the fact that we could always get divorced. How pitiful is that?”
Extremely. You allowed yourself the freedom to make a mistake–and, I’m guessing you’d testify–learn from it, yet you don’t think others should be afforded the same freedom. Pitiful indeed.
You say that “feminism also taught women that men are idiots.” I think it taught women that there’s no reason to put up with a man who is an idiot.
You say that American women have never had it better. That “American women can structure their lives to accomplish anything they want.”
Is that not thanks to the work of feminism? (And, um, Schlafly, your career as a lawyer and a writer? Is that not thanks to the work of feminism??)
You say that “It is self evident that American women are the most fortunate women who ever lived and enjoy more freedoms and opportunities than are available in any other country. Armed with the right attitude, they have every opportunity for happiness and achievement. Women should stop feeling they are victims of the patriarchy, reject feminist myths, and follow the roadmap to success and happiness spelled out in Flipside.”
First: no. American women are not the most fortunate. See: the Nordic world.
And: In other words, we should ignore the fact that we are underpaid and underrepresented? That the structures of society do not reflect the reality of modern women’s lives? That, rather than strive to change the world to fit women, we should change ourselves to fit into the world that wasn’t built for us? That when we find ourselves up against a glass ceiling, a bad marriage, a lecherous boss or a weak paycheck, we should strive not to change our circumstances, but our attitudes?
Feminists do not love divorce. Or your outdated stereotypes. Or your condescending judgments. And feminists do not love you.
But you know, the careers you enjoy, the choices you have, the freedoms you have? You’re welcome.
Thanks for listening,