Foibles of Feminism

Article excerpt


Driving home from a high school mentoring luncheon held by the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, I contemplated my discussion with the girls at my table.

They were troubled by the information at the weekend conference. It seemed a few considered themselves feminists. Luce Policy Institute President Michelle Easton's speech - aptly titled "The Failures of Feminism" - worried them.

Now a junior at Drake University, I couldn't help but think of my own high school days. For all I knew, I was a feminist. Packing up my belongings for that all-important first year of college, I never bothered to categorize myself as a Democrat or a Republican or even a liberal or a conservative. I was 17 and in the middle of that angst/rebellion stage, meaning I no longer went to church with my parents and had purposefully chosen a college 500 miles from home.

Surprisingly, my otherwise mediocre public high school employed a teacher passionate about American history. Come to think of it, the man is the most objective instructor I ever had. My younger sister's revelation the teacher was a Kerry supporter came as quite a blow. Nevertheless, he taught my Advanced Placement U.S. History class and he did so fairly. We spent a good deal of time on the suffragettes at Seneca Falls, and I grew to respect the women who fought for equal rights.

Thus, my view of feminism was neutral, if anything. There was a general appreciation - "isn't it nice women have the right to work and vote." I didn't see modern feminism directly affecting me. Equal pay for equal work? Sounded logical. I was OK with claims that women should seek fulfillment outside the home.

Naively assuming Women's Studies would be a thorough analysis of the obstacles women had overcome and, perhaps, a comparison of the rights American women have versus the rights of women in other countries, I followed my orientation counselor's advice and enrolled in Women's Studies 101. Call me gullible, but alongside courses titled Marxist Principles of Economics, Intro to Women's Studies looked harmless.

"Harmless" is perhaps the perfect description of how feminist activity seems to those, like my high school lunch companions, who have yet to experience the hateful wrath of the actual movement. …