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Dissecting the female traditionalist and anti-feminist

By Tatiana von Tauber and J. DeVoy

When Furman University recently hosted 85-year-old conservative activist and anti-feminist woman Phyllis Schlafly, controversy was sure to follow.  Schlafly, calling feminists “bitter, unhappy and not successful women,” argued that there was no glass ceiling for women, and that women who embrace feminism die alone and bitter.

In light of our divergent views on the subject, we, Tatiana and Jay, will consider Schlafly’s speech in classic debate style.


Schlafly’s anti-feminist comments eliminate support of the primary factor feminism seeks: Choice.  Unfortunately, the fine print of choice is consequence yet when determining the “right” choice one rarely understands the full load of backlashes or complications of its execution.  The future rarely turns out as planned, and one never knows if she’s signed a contract for a lemon or not.

As a young feminist in the 1980s I didn’t question feminism’s promise of having it all, but no one informed me – or I just missed the speech – that the excitement of having career and family was sold with pep rally hype.  At that time women didn’t realize just how difficult the combo might become.  We rode the wave of promise just like with the Obama campaign.  Now women are disappointed the promised results didn’t happen and the blame finger comes up.

Judith Warner in her book, “Motherhood Madness: the age of anxiety” discusses how women are opting for new solutions now that they’ve realized the combo method didn’t provide the kinds of rewards women sought in the idealized form on which they were sold.  For me feminism isn’t about giving women a “better” lifestyle so much as giving women choice. The “better” is subjective. Those who cry that their choices led them to unhappy endings must find alternatives and because of the feminist movement alternatives exist.  While both sides argue which is the better way, both fail to support that feminism’s new wave requires synthesis of old and new.

Conservative views such as Schlafly’s praise the commitment of traditional family, which I support; however, they fail in many cases to provide the comprehensive information necessary for women to understand the realties of motherhood versus career in its realism rather than theory and in the glorification to make the entire movement work, feminism is propaganda just like everything else. 

I don’t even care for the term feminist anymore because it’s just another form of segregation.  The problem with any “ism” is that it’s mostly all bullshitism.  If the goal is to create equality between the sexes, propagate a healthy vision and experience of family, provide rightful choice and freedom to all and to create solid and non-dysfunctional communities which thrive not only on a small scale but a large one, then both sets of feminists can kiss my ass because both venture out to emphasize the victimization factors both sides create for the other.  If even in feminism there cannot be an equal or neutral “sisterhood” – if there must exist subcategories within the umbrella term (feminist waves) then the intent isn’t true equality of sexes but power over the other one in an effort to find the balance and happiness sought. 

Life is a constant battle of victimization and what others do with it either makes them winners or continual victims. Some feminists, such as anti-porn advocates do perpetuate the feeling that women are victims of their sex but that for me is a personal problem.  I find my sex, my gender and human qualities to be anything but a stumbling block and each time one side presents a problem, I just look for other choices – because I can.  That’s what feminism stands for and those choices are different for every woman on the plant.  Feminism’s effort for equality will continue to be a gender struggle for power until all sides find a neutral point. 


I’m unconvinced.  If feminism has made so many strides forward, why are women more unhappy today than at any previously measured point?  Some form of glass ceiling persists in society, but it’s far higher and more easily broken than before, as women graduate college at rates higher than men and have been less likely to be affected by the current recession.

Second, yes, motherhood is overhyped – and so is everything else.  Careerism is hollow as is motherhood when either is heralded as an ultimate value and fulfillment in and of itself.  These two modes of existence are identical to any other in that regard.  Simply put, throwing yourself wholly into any one thing is unhealthy, whether it’s a job, a drug addiction, or alleged virtues (self-appointed evangelists are the worst).

Finally, it’s no surprise that Schlafly’s views are conservative.  If anything, she’s one of the few conservatives who still believe in traditional gender roles: Both parties have abandoned their core principles to put women above men through legislation such as the Violence Against Women Act and the International Marriage Brokers Regulation Act.  Recently, women from both sides of the aisle agreed that the legislative process would move faster if men refrained from participating.

When it comes to these issues, there are no Republicans or Democrats – only misandrists.  Feminism as its defined now is a grab for power.  That’s fine, and even rational, but call it that instead of masquerading it in the cheap tarp of equality.  This dichotomy is often referred to as “lifeboats or votes.”  If women want true egalitarianism in gender relations, they should cede their entitlement to protection above everything else and release the women-and-children-first mentality that still permeates society.  Otherwise, it’s admitting that women have special status, something that would be unnecessary if there was true equality.

But the real problem is fantasy fulfillment, not feminism.  Everyone is better off because of women’s equality, but now that banner is being waved to justify the living out of undesirable and even impossible fantasies.  Women, inspired by Sex and the City and self-ruining books like The Rules, have lost touch with reality.  Reality is that more than 85% – almost 90% – of their reproductive capacity is exhausted by age 30.  Reality is that men care about a girl’s past and don’t want to devote resources to getting a woman to give him what she’s already given so many men for free.  And reality is that the perfect person is waiting around the corner.  No, that’s the sound of a half dozen cats, the next season of Dancing With The Stars, and the deafening static of time buzzing by until death finally comes.

Feminism isn’t what’s ruining women, but rather the actions being taken in its name, corrupting the legacy of women like Susan B. Anthony.  Original feminists wanted women to be more involved with society, and nobody seriously thinks rescinding such rights is desirable.  Simultaneously, Anthony and her peers still believed in traditional gender roles, to some extent, something that the second wave feminists rightly disavowed.  It is the third wave who corrupt feminism by telling women they can have it all – motherhood, a great career, personal fulfillment, and every one of their hearts’ desires – and in so doing, tell the cruelest lie of all.


All of this shows me that society is evolving its concepts of love, marriage, family and, of course, feminism itself.  The acceptance that there is always a shadow to the fairy tale will provide many positives wherein one is prepared to deal with the consequences of choice and be happy that further solutions exist at all,  many of which wouldn’t even be possible without feminism.  

Some women are bitter as Schlafly suggests, but are they bitter because of feminism or because they failed themselves and got caught up in the hype of attaining their goals? Did these women stop to consider what constitutes balance or blindly follow “the word” of the feminist bible?

The secret to minimizing self-victimization, finding balance and obtaining a steady level of happiness doesn’t sit inside the feminist or anti-feminist view. It sits inside the passion and desire one has to experience all that feminism and more rightly, humanism, offers with the quality of the cards they’ve been dealt.  It takes maturity find strength from unexpected challenge. Suck it up, deal with it, grow up and move on.  As long as one has choice and freedom to choose, one has all the tools for happiness. 

Fantasy fulfillment, as Jay mentions, is created precisely though that patriarchal world Schlafly paints as better suited for women.  It’s as much bullshit as “women can have it all.”  Having it all means the entire enchilada, the good, the bad and the ugly, yet when the latter two are thrown into the mix, women cry foul.  Individuals who aren’t lying to themselves are those who continue to seek a well rounded education on choices available to them and consciously realize that unhappiness, bitterness and victimization merely are reactions that need not be a state. 

Perhaps America and feminism promised a fulfilling dream but when you get to be my age, you realize that the dream itself tweaks over time.  What I wanted and believed in my early 20s is so far removed from who I am now that I can only say if a woman chooses family over career (or other personal development outside the home) exclusively, she misses finding herself and when a woman doesn’t know who she is from the inside out she’s not nearly as valuable as she could be to herself, children or community.  In that sense she fails herself and the feminist movement as a whole.

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