Sunday, February 05, 2006

The Feminist Mistake

Heard this morning that Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique and founder of the National Organization of Women (NOW), died yesterday at 85.

NPR interviewed Eleanor Smeal who worked with Friedan to start NOW. Smeal of course eulogized Friedan. She praised Friedan's legacy and lauded her as (I quote from memory) "a giant of the twentieth century."

Yes, like Joseph Stalin.

And the comparison is not histrionic. Since 1973, when the U.S. Supreme Court declared open season on the unborn by making abortion legal through all nine months of pregnancy, 42 million unborn American children have been stifled—with their mothers' consent. Friedan was one of the voices who helped enable this maternal self-immolation and mass murder.1 While there is more than likely some silver lining to Friedan's influence (as with almost anything), what can redeem the deaths of so many innocent lives—not to mention the social disintergration accompanying the dissolution of the family?2

I wasn't surprised when Ms Smeal mentioned Friedan's support for "gay rights" from 1978. If women are equivalent to men and if sexual differences are exploitative, then why not let men exploit other men sexually? As Marx's friend Engels said so many years ago: it's all about power anyway.3

As we all must, Ms Friedan has passed from this earth to her eternal reward. I'll resist the urge to lead a chorus of "Ding dong! The Witch Is Dead," but I can't help observing that her passing inspires hope that her baneful influence will similarly recede into the past, laid to rest among the antiquated ideologies that made the twentieth century such a nightmare.


1. Friedan wasn't initially pro-abortion (she had to be persuaded by the founders of NARAL of the consistency of abortion with her anti-feminine positions), but she did so early enough in the abortion "rights" movement to have made a substantial difference. The first feminists, who valued the truly feminine, were naturally pro-life.

2. More on Fredan and on the tremendous importance of motherhood: Mothers Know Best.

3. The natural question to ask Engels then is "what power do you hope to gain by this observation?" Logically, the ideology is self-defeating.


spwhite said...

This is a good column on Friedan, her legacy, and what it means for the rest of us.,5744,18084865%255E7583,00.html

Lawrence Gage said...

Thanks for the link; I'll check it out.

You made me realize that I'd misspelled Friedan as Fredan. I made the mistake of taking my spelling from NPR (which has since corrected their own). I should have known that the politically correct aren't necessarily lexicographically correct.


Anonymous said...

I'd be interested to know exactly what you mean by "the truly feminine," which is a vague idea to me, at best. I don't know if you respond to old comments, but this is the first time I've visited your blog, which I find very interesting, and so was just looking through older posts. It isn't meant as an attack, just a request for clarification.

Lawrence Gage said...

It's a perennial question. But I'll give a couple major points among the innumerable ones that would be needed for a truly adequate answer:

Whereas men define themselves by their work, women define themselves by their relationships. Women are interested in pleasing and helping others (see the recent post on "The Virtue of Vanity").

Analogically we call feminine what brings forth life in itself (e.g., mother earth) and we call masculine what brings forth life in another (e.g., the sun, God). There's a certain immanence in female psychology too.

I wish I had more time to answer.

Alice von Hildebrand has a book on the subject, which has a reputation for being very good. Edith Stein has also written on the genius of women.