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Feminine mystique, or feminine mistake?

By Carey Roberts
web posted February 20, 2006

Noticed how Hillary’s been looking so, well, angry?

During his recent State of the Union address, president Bush made a light-hearted remark about Bill Clinton. The camera turned to Hillary for a cameo shot, and all she had to do was smile politely. But no, she shot back her trademark “isn’t-this-guy-an-idiot” expression.

Hillary, I’m afraid you were set up -- right in front of a national television audience.

Somehow, Hillary’s ire is emblematic of everything that has gone wrong with the feminist movement since Betty Friedan released her celebrated book, The Feminine Mystique, in 1963.

I’m admittedly mystified that so many persons are unaware of Friedan’s Communist past. And positively stupefied that even fewer understand what the “feminine mystique” really means.

Here it is, in Friedan’s own words, “The feminine mystique says that the highest value and the only commitment for women is the fulfillment of their own femininity . . . this femininity is so mysterious and intuitive and close to the creation and origin of life that man-made science may never be able to understand it. But however special and different, it is in no way inferior to the nature of man; it may even in certain respects be superior.”

Can you imagine some sweaty working stiff taking a smoke break, and suddenly becoming inspired to enlighten his buddies with that kind of narcissistic drivel? Someone would have thrown a tool belt at him and ordered him to get back to work.

But coming from a woman ensconced in a well-appointed New York City suburb, Friedan was hailed as the latest feminist savant.

Mrs. Friedan had considerable first-hand experience with the feminine mystique. Her husband Carl, a successful advertising executive, employed a full-time housekeeper, which allowed Betty to pursue her writing career. Apparently Friedan didn’t like the hired help, because she would later denigrate housework as “particularly suited to the capabilities of feeble-minded girls.”

So 40-odd years later, is it time to pop open the champagne bottle and exclaim, “You’ve come a long way, baby”? To find out, let’s do a quick tour around the country. First stop, your local college campus.

This month, The Vagina Monologues is being performed at 600 colleges around the country. There smart, ambitious co-eds will look on as a lesbian actress seduces a 16-year-old girl, only to be reassured, “If it was a rape, it was a good rape.” These women are then instructed to reclaim their sexuality by chanting, “My vagina is huggable.”

Wouldn’t Betty be proud?

Now go visit the offices of your local Heart Association. There you will learn about the AHA’s high fashion campaign, “Go Red for Women.” [www.goredforwomen.org]

Of course it’s men who are at far greater risk of dying from heart disease, but the AHA only cares that women wear red dresses.

Somehow that chauvinistic phrase, “may even in certain respects be superior,” is ringing through my head.

Next stop: The Oxygen Network (women can’t breathe in patriarchal society, so they need oxygen – get it?).

There, we see the Network is airing six animated spots based on the book, Chicks Dig Fries: A Guide for Clueless Men. [www.chicksdigfries.com/video.htm] By any standard, the spots are tasteless and misandrous. But in feminist la-la land, women are always right and men just don’t get it. No wonder men are dropping out of the dating scene.

Once men stop dating, they also stop marrying. This is creating a panic of sorts.

One of the more sorry movies I’ve seen, Bridget Jones’ Diary, recounts the escapades of a slightly neurotic thirty-something who, no matter how hard she tries, can’t seem to find Mister Right. The movie, based on the international best-selling book, taps into the angst of millions of single women who are chasing after a shrinking pool of willing bachelors.

The last stop on today’s tour is that part of America that never took a fancy to the emancipation agenda of The Feminine Mystique. It’s that place in America where gentlemen still hold doors open for ladies, and young women look forward to balancing careers with marriage and motherhood.

It turns out this segment of America has a much larger following than the mainstream media is willing to admit. According to a 1999 Gallup poll, 74% of American women do not consider themselves to be feminist. And one CBS poll reported that 22% of women said that being called a feminist would be considered an “insult.” [http://ms.cc.sunysb.edu/~lhuddy/neelyhuddy.pdf]

Like Britney, Madonna, and Oprah, The Feminine Mystique has left an indelible stamp on our society. Thank goodness the majority of American women have had the common sense to reject its Trojan horse prescription for gender liberation.

Carey Roberts is a Staff Writer for The New Media Alliance. Columns by this author can be read regularly on TheRealityCheck.org.


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