On Sept. 25, 2009, I will be speaking at the How to Take Back America Conference in St. Louis, Mo. The subject of my workshop, which I'll be conducting alongside Phyllis Schlafly, is "How to cope with feminist attacks on marriage and motherhood." It's a subject I've been dealing with for years since the release of my first book, and I can assure you it's a topic that's not going away. In many respects the fight has just begun.
The perception many Americans have of feminism is that it's dead – though nothing could be further from the truth. It's true we don't often hear or read about feminists, but that's not because they've gone away. On the contrary, labeling women "feminist" is no longer necessary because feminism is as natural as breathing.
As an example, in May Larry King aired a segment called "Women and Self-Worth." His featured guest was Cheryl Saban, whose book "What Is Your Self Worth? A Woman's Guide to Validation" had just been released. King gave Saban and three other feminists – Lisa Ling, Della Reese and Lisa Nichols – an hour's worth of airtime to discuss feminist issues, but the women were never referred to as feminists. Why would they be? CNN's producers are all feminists themselves (indeed, Carol Lin, the anchor of CNN's "Sunday Evening News," once told me my book – which supports and encourages at-home motherhood – "stirred up all the women at CNN"); and they truly, honestly believe their views are normal. Right. Good. They're not views some women have; they're views any normal person would have – so there's no reason to refer to the women as feminists. It's superfluous.
No, feminism is not dead. It's worse. It has become fully inculcated into modern society, to the degree that any woman who takes an alternative view is routinely marginalized and downright vilified. When I wrote a blog about the Larry King segment, mocking some of the ridiculous things the women said – "It's not until we fall in love with ourselves that the world will begin to honor and support us"; "I suggest women get financially independent because that gives you freedom and empowerment to love yourself first"; "Once you are complete you look for others in your life to complement your completeness" – I got this response from a reader:
Your words make me ill. really, really ill. gross. how could you dismiss women's desire to not be dependent on men? you are an embarrassment to women. i can't believe that someone would say such things. what on earth is wrong with you? so women SHOULD be dependent on men? and NOT love themselves? based on my life experience, and all my amassed world knowledge, that is a recipe for depression and abusive relationships. i am still in shock about your words. your words are extremely dangerous to women!
The reason so few women speak out about the damage of modern feminism is because not many people can withstand this kind of heat. Even I do a double take when I first read these comments, and I have very thick skin. The one woman in America who knows how brutal the fight is is Phyllis Schlafly; no one has withstood the kind of feminist vitriol she has. Betty Friedan once told Schlafly she'd like to "burn her at the stake." She has also had a pie thrown in her face when she ran for Congress in 1952.
I have a theory about Schlafly's experiences: I think she was ahead of her time. Schlafly knew, without having to see the results first, the toll feminism would take on society. No one else did. Unfortunately, Schlafly was born at the wrong time in that she tried to fight feminism (not to say she wasn't successful; she was) right when it was getting off the ground. During the 1950s, America was ripe for the idea of female empowerment; they weren't ready to hear Schlafly's contrarian view. But 40 years have passed now, and the damage of modern feminism is clear to those who are willing to face it.