Ms. Magazine Rides and Rants Again

By Eileen M. Ciesla

Featured Rightgrrl May 1999
April 19, 1999

In April 1999, 27 years after its first appearance, Ms. Magazine made its new debut as a "women-owned and independent" publication. Claiming to be re-liberated from the male-dominated conspiracy by a 'new breed of women activists/investors', the new issue wasted no time in springing its claws and chanting its throwback mantras.

At the center of the magazine, was the alarming discovery in an article written by Mary Thom, that women have become more religious and as a result more conservative.

The tone of the article is one of hushed gravity, serious disappointment and incredulous confusion. Apparently, a large segment of American women have been zombified by a propaganda whose distributors include God, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, a new breed of 'conservative rabbis and clergy', and politicians who are guided by religious or moral values. Thom quotes Faye Wattleton, head of the Feminist think tank, the Center for Gender Equality, (CGE) who observes "Something is happening. We have to find out what's going on in women's heads."

Women hypnotized by morality and drunk on Scripture have shifted their opinions on a wide variety of issues including abortion, affirmative action, and divorce. The article cites a study conducted by Princeton Survey Research Associates, which found among other things, that:

- In the past six years, the percentage of women who believe politicians should be guided by religious values has increased by more than 40%

- 70% of women now favor more restrictions on abortion, including 40% who think it should be outlawed except in cases of rape, incest or to save the woman's life.

Further, the study discovered:

- 86% of women identify with a religious denomination

- 75% say religion is very important in their lives, up from 69% two years ago

- 74% pray on a daily basis, up from 63% two years ago

And interestingly enough, of the women surveyed, 43% have held leadership positions within their religious communities.

Terrible statistics if one is an anarchist, an atheist, or a Communist. These women, at least 43% of them, aren't poor, embattled housewives, being enslaved by a male dominated contingency of preachers. They are preaching and praying under their own free will. Or, as any good feminist would point out, under what they think is their own free will. After all, the argument goes, women have been taught to worship God and to pray. They have to unlearn this behavior before their right to partial birth abortion is compromised.

Ms. Thom and Ms. Wattleton are particularly concerned about the weakening of support for abortion rights. Seeking answers, Ms. Wattleton and the CGE have gone so far as to construct a national database on women's attitudes, since the present statistics shed little light on this elusive force that is making women turn against themselves, or more importantly, against NOW's agenda. Ms. Wattleton cites, "significant evidence of complacency among women on issues that are under attack and are vital to women's advancement."

What Ms. Wattleton truly fears, is significant evidence of indifference and even disapproval among women towards an organization that is strident enough to claim to represent the majority, a propagandist organization that in reality, speaks all too loudly for a minority of amoral social anarchists.

Perhaps what the study demonstrates is that men and women have returned to religion and spirituality in an attempt to find meaning and comfort in an otherwise cruel and nihilistic culture which advocates irresponsibility, anger, and alienation as the path to enlightenment.

Though Ms. Wattleton points out that this data is neutral in its implications, and that religion in women's lives doesn't necessarily obstruct 'the struggle for equality', Ms. Thom and Ms. Wattleton cannot hide their panic in interpreting this development. Is it evidence of NOW and radical feminism under a renewed attack? Or something even worse: the first symptom of a terminal disease within the movement?

The article offers some solution to this serious setback to the woman's crusade. It advocates a return " to the core values that were argued when abortion was made legal." The article stresses that it is an appeal to these 'core values' that is essential in stopping the "erosion in women's understanding of why it's important to be for abortion rights."

Insultingly, the rhetoric focuses on the malleability of the female brain, which is all too susceptible to the insidious forces of the faceless system, an entity now including the law, politics, business, culture, history, the family, society and religion. The conspiracy now has cosmic dimensions. The feminists have a new adversary and their knees are quaking. They are calling for a 'transgenerational' alliance: a renewed feminist crusade, that is prepared to do battle with the most invisible 'oppressor' of all.

Eileen Ciesla is the editor of her own on-line magazine, Femme Soul. She is also a weekly columnist for The American Partisan.

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