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
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
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
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 ^Ö 1980s ^Ö 1990s^Ö 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
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 ^Ö1999 - 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
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
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
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.