Last weekend, I attended the Smart Girl Summit in St Louis, MO. It was a bit of a last-minute decision to participate, but something I felt really strongly I wanted to do. One of the speakers was Phyllis Schlafly, founder of the Eagle Forum and author of too many books for me to count on my two hands (and my feet!). I picked up a copy of her latest book, The Flipside of Feminism, and if the speech she gave is any indicator of how good the book is, let’s just say that I am really looking forward to reading it. What’s most amazing to me is that she has been at the forefront of the pro-family movement since before I was born, yet for some reason remained unknown to me. She was a prominent figure in helping to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s and has just an amazing life story to tell. What I connected to the most is that her message (and life) exemplifies something that I have felt my entire adult life, but was unable to express, either because I couldn’t find the right words or because I felt almost every other woman I had met in my life disagreed with me, that my life experiences were, in some way, unique. Her message is simply this: that women are capable of succeeding entirely on their own, without the help of men (or even, imagine this…the government) to pave the way forward. That’s right. You heard me. Men did not give women the rights and power and freedom that they have today. It was there all the time, waiting for them to seize it.
See, I was born in 1977 and, while growing up, I repeatedly heard the message that the feminist movement had opened all these doorways that are available for me today and without them, I would simply be stuck raising children and cooking and cleaning. I considered myself fortunate to be born at such a great time, and still do, though not because of women’s rights, but because of all the modern conveniences that make our lives so leisurely. I was doubly fortunate to have parents who encouraged me in whatever interests I chose to pursue and taught me that the whole world was open to me. I had only to choose my dreams and work hard to pursue them.
If you would have asked me growing up if I was a “feminist,” I would have agreed quite heartily, “Of course, I believe in equal rights for women.”
As I got older, I marveled at all the stories I heard of discrimination and oppression and thought I must surely have gotten lucky to have not had to take on that challenge in my life. When I was in college, however, my outlook began to slowly shift. I started to wonder about and question the validity of what society had taught me growing up. I remember one day very clearly, while studying undergraduate psychology, sitting in my Psychology of Women class and the professor asking us to share stories of personal experiences with sexual discrimination. Nothing came to mind immediately, but I figured one of the other girls’ stories would probably remind me of something eventually. After all, it’s college. So, you’re expected to participate in class discussion. I needed to have a story to share. As I sat there and listened, almost every story brought to mind a similar circumstance I had experienced in life…except, for some reason, not a single one of those scenarios had included any sort of discrimination for me.
One story in particular stuck in my mind, because it had mirrored a very recent experience of my own. A classmate of mine had gone car shopping with her parents and was distraught over the fact that every salesman at the car dealerships had walked immediately up to her father and devoted most of their time talking to him and answering his questions. She felt frustrated that she was a grown woman, purchasing her first car, yet was being treated as if she were incompetent or incapable of completing such a transaction on her own, without the help of a man. The whole class nodded in agreement about how shameful it was in today’s era to be dealing with such archaic, caveman-like behavior.
This was it. It was almost time for class to end, and rather than coming up with an experience of my own that mirrored everyone else’s, I was stuck with only positive good memories. So, I figured this was my opportunity to share my experiences. I slowly raised my hand and waited to be called on. Then, with the whole class looking on, I explained how I could not relate to any of the experiences they had shared or think of a single incident in which I had been discriminated against. I told of my own recent car shopping experiences (with my father) and how I had dealt with the car salesmen directly and asked all the questions, looked at the engines (they were used cars), bartered for price, the whole works. The only time the salesmen dealt with my father was when there was something I wasn’t sure about (due to my lack of experience, not personal incompetence) and I asked for his assistance. So what was the difference?
I wondered aloud whether it was possible that the way these women were treated had anything to do with their own self-confidence and the way they approached the situations…a sort of self-fulfilling prophecy. While I wasn’t attacked for expressing my point of view, there certainly weren’t any other women ready to jump onto my bandwagon. I got mostly blank stares and “That’s interesting” from my professor. I can only hope, in retrospect, that my experiences may have helped some of the other women gain some insight and introspection into their own lives. I couldn’t help but be bothered, however, by the way that we were being taught victimization in a university course, and a psychology course, at that. How can women ever be expected to be treated as competent equals when we’re virtually expected to find discrimination and oppression at every turn? What I came to know at that moment in time is that it wasn’t society that was holding women back. It was women’s perception of society that was leading them to hold themselves back. They were, in essence, their own worst enemy.
If you would have asked me, on the day I graduated from college, if I was a “feminist,” I would have replied, “That depends on what kind of feminist you mean.”
Now, I’m sure that modern-day feminists (or Feminazis, as I think of them) would be horrified that I had asked a man (my father) for assistance in anything, especially purchasing a car. But I didn’t ask him because he was man. I asked him because he had more experience than I did. Nowadays, you can’t join the Feminazi club if you’re not hell-bent on transforming our society from a self-perceived male dominant one into one in which women rule and men are suppressed in every way imaginable. Basically, the Feminazis revel in the thought, not just of EQUAL rights for women, but of turning a patriarchy to matriarchy…and it infuriates me. It infuriates me that they cry “sexism” at every opportunity in the same way that I am infuriated when black people cry “racism.” Yes, there are both sexism and racism present in our society (I’m sure there always will be), but they’re not lurking around every corner. It’s actually a double-edged sword that’s been set up by the Feminazis, because they want everything to be given to them based on the fact that they’re women, but turn around and cry “sexism” whenever anything is given to them for that very reason. Sadly, it is a game that can’t be won, except by those creating the rules.
Today, I will proudly tell you that I do not consider myself to be a “feminist.” I haven’t for quite some time. The feminism of the past that fought for true equal rights no longer exists today and women, for the most part, are on equal footing with men. I don’t need abortions, or free birth control, or government assistance to have equal rights. These things do not raise women up, but continue to hold them down. Don’t get me wrong. Women and men are not always treated exactly the same in today’s society, but that’s because they’re not the same. Not just in their external appearance and reproductive functions, but it many other ways, biologically, including their brain structure and function. And guess what? There’s nothing wrong with that.