Post-Monica Feminism

By Kitty Testa
Featured Rightgrrl May 1999
April 9, 1999

The one job interview I'll never forget took place several years ago when I was looking to hire an assistant. A woman came in who was well-dressed, well-mannered, well-coifed and about 25 years older than I was. Having had a parochial education, older women were indisputable authority figures to me. It was as if I were interviewing Sr. Marie Barbara, or my mother, or the revered librarian who still remembers I never returned Hop on Pop and would I please pay my $10,542.15 library fine.

I deferentially asked the woman to tell me about some of her previous jobs. This launched an interesting history lesson for me. In the middle of relating her experiences at an advertising agency in the early 1960s, my would-be assistant casually mentioned that "in those days, you didn't let people know you had a child - you could get fired for that."

Lest we forget, there were stifling inequalities for women in the workplace and society in general 35 years ago, and the engenderers of change were feminists. We are certainly better off today because of some of the changes brought about by feminism. So why is its legacy so painful?

Feminism Phase I - 1960s and 1970s - Let's Make a Deal

Phase I feminism outwardly displayed the anger and frustration of rebellious women who could not abide narrowly defined domestic and social roles. After the heat of the tantrum, however, feminism promised spoils for men. Feminists preached freedom from traditional sex roles, the shackles of which were felt by men as well as women. Feminism, as a movement, was embraced eagerly and quickly by a great many young men in gray flannel suits who did not want to live the lives of corporate sycophants. When the feminists became gung-ho on abortion rights and divorce, irresponsible men jumped on the bandwagon; the fear of unwanted pregnancy, not to mention the occasional wife, had gotten in the way of a lot of men having a really great time - these were scourges that had to be stopped. Now that pregnancy and matrimony were no longer issues, the next logical step was sexual freedom and orgasmic responsibility, another boon for lechers at large.

Any man who voiced any doubt about any tenet of the feminist movement was immediately branded a Male Chauvinist Pig. Any woman who expressed concern over the course that feminism might take was said to be brainwashed by men. America was undergoing a tumultuous societal change, while the debate remained along the lines of Gloria Steinem's famous chant: "If men got pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament." (Hey, Gloria, wanna bet?)

In the social context feminism was an easy sale. Institutionally, feminism piggy-backed on the Civil Rights movement in much the same way that bill to extend helium reserves might be tacked on to a bill outlawing the use of red dye #5 in grease paint so as to protect the health and welfare of clowns everywhere. Absolute institutional equality between the races is inherently logical, but the biological and life experience differences between men and women are inescapable, and force us to substitute appropriate treatment with equal treatment - and who can stand that?

Feminism had really great spin, too: phrases like "the gender gap" and "battle of the sexes" and "you've come a long way, baby" (and isn't it just hysterical that a cigarette marketed to feminists was successful using the term "baby"?) and "A woman without a man is like a fish without a bicycle". These advertising slogans made feminism mediagenic before we even knew what that meant.

When reduced to its rawest components, feminism was just the gender gap repackaged; for all it really said was, "give us more money and power and you can have more sex. "

Duh. As if that hasn't been going on for 10,000 years.

So what is so surprising about feminists going down instead of coming down on Bill Clinton?

Feminism Phase II ^ 1980s ^ 1990s^ The Renegotiations

Now that the feminists had pretty much gotten everything they wanted, there was a leadership in search of a flock. Organizations such as NOW and NARL constantly whined the mantra: "The Christian Right is trying to force you into slavery to bear their children who will be raised in brainwashing camps hidden in Mississippi. You never know when you will be surreptitiously inseminated during the night. Keep abortion legal." That kept a lot of the gals on board, but it wasn't enough to ignite the fire of activism.

Enter the lesbians.

The morph from Women's Rights to Gay Rights was seamless. Lesbians, were, after all, women. And that homosexuals were already politically tied together regardless of sex, and since half of gay men were women trapped in men's bodies, they all shared a common enemy: the heterosexual man. If you were a heterosexual woman, he was your enemy because he was trying to force you to procreate. If you were a gay woman, his only interest in you was as a salacious sideshow. If you were a gay man, your existence was an anathema to him. If God were a woman, proclaimed the feminists, then the devil was surely a heterosexual man.

"Whoah!" said the heterosexual man. "We had a deal, here."

Now the Phase I feminists were out spending their money and exercising their power. Occasionally they would drop in on the Phase II feminists and say, "You go, girl!" just as our mothers might take a plate of cookies to the neighbors after borrowing a cup of sugar. (Women really value social graces.)

Still the Phase II types screamed just as loudly as their Phase I predecessors, but with new, attention getting mantras: "all sex is rape" (well, intersex sex, anyway), "all men are pigs" and "a woman without a man is like a fish without a hook in its mouth and a worm down its throat".

The heterosexual man did not jump ship, even though he was the targeted enemy of the new movement. He was accustomed to his freedom from responsibility, sex in quantity and variety, abortion on demand, and the abatement of a provider's pressures. He opted to become the feminized man. The feminized man acquiesced on every demand of Phase II, implementing the homosexual agenda and giving credence to the anti-male philosophies of the movement. The feminists were now in his debt.

Enter Bill Clinton, debt collector.

Feminism Phase III ^1999 - Post Monica - RIP

Bill Clinton did something to feminists that other men have not dared: he held them to the deal negotiated in Phase I, and demanded seconds for backing the Phase II agenda.

So now come the feminists to defend their president: He gave women more power on the national scene; he is, therefore, entitled to more sex. So what if he took advantage of a dopey-eyed 21-year-old in the throes of puppy love? Who are you, the sex police? He vetoed the ban on partial-birth abortion - give that man a cigar! He's given lip-service to the gays - somebody give him lip-service right back. The feminized man defends the president even more eloquently: He raped a woman? Who the hell does she think she is turning down a man who has done so much for women? She should have consented, and if she had half a brain, she would have. So drop it!

But the feminists who were there from the beginning are seeing what a rotten deal they made. The rape charge against Bill Clinton is too much for them. It is with mixed emotions of pain and gloating that I watch Patricia Ireland attempting to extricate herself from this rotten deal. When I watch feminist talking heads as they argue, "This alleged rape occurred over 20 years ago, and we can't prove it, so it doesn't matter," the expressions on the faces betray their inner voices. They might as well be saying, "Spaghetti is the remote control of choice for inhabitants of Sri Lanka," they make so little sense.

It is time for the feminists to rest on their laurels, and in their trenches.

A recent Planned Parenthood survey discovered that most American women are no longer in favor of abortion on demand. Most American men are. What a surprise.

Women in the workplace are demanding - and receiving - appropriate treatment to accommodate their societal roles as wives and mothers. (This by virtue of the fact that they have proven themselves to be valuable in the employment marketplace.)

There are not - and will never be - enough homosexuals to make up a serious voting bloc. Period.

No battle of the sexes can last long - we always make up. A woman can despise the man in her life, and vice versa, but she has a father, and brothers, and uncles and sons and friends, just as he has a mother, and sisters, and aunts, and daughters and friends. What effects the members of one sex inescapably effects the members of the other. There are no "women's issues" or "men's issues".

Feminism did bring us some good things: professional opportunity for women, the recognition of the immorality of sexual harassment, the improvement of attitudes toward rape victims and the recognition of the value of the homemaker within the family. It is so ironic that Mr. & Mrs. William J. Clinton have, by their actions, trashed every effect of feminism that was good for our society. Had these good things been advanced by virtue of the fact that they could improve all of our lives, instead of with the expedient power-for-sex deal struck by the Phase I feminists, much of the ill effects of feminism could have been avoided. The Phase I feminists used familiar devices to get what they wanted, and that is regrettable, but understandable. And it is not lost on me that had they not revolted against the 1950s status quo, it is unlikely that I would have found myself in the position of interviewing a woman of my mother's generation as my assistant. Still, seeing the damage of irresponsible sex, the destruction of the family via divorce, the millions of lives lost to abortion, the nagging voice inside my head asks, "Was it worth it?"

And the answer is, "No."

It is valiant, honorable and generous to pursue what is right for the right reasons and in the right manner. Under a cautious and responsible course of change, it might have taken us longer to achieve those positive changes in society that we now credit to feminism. Still, I would gladly have waited, and forgone that little bit more money and what meager power I've enjoyed, to someday approach my daughter and ask her for a job.

This article copyright © 1999 by Kitty Testa and may not be reproduced in any form without the express written consent of its author. All rights reserved.