Woman Enough to March?

On November 2, 2016 I joined Pantsuit Nation, an online community of Hillary supporters.  The group, now almost four million strong, comprised people of many different backgrounds and beliefs, united by our support of Hillary and fear of a Trump presidency.

I posted an introduction after joining, which you can read here.  And I was overwhelmed and overjoyed by the welcome I received.  Over 3,600 people liked my post, and there were 412 comments.  Many people asked for permission to share what I had said elsewhere.  I was showered with love and affirmation, not only from fellow pro-life Catholics but from people of every imaginable ideological stripe, including many, many pro-choice women.  After a year of feeling adrift and alone, it was a heady sensation.

Too bad it didn’t last.

It turned out that without Hillary to hold us together this great movement of women is breaking down along tired and predictable lines, and those of us who are both pro-life and progressive are left out in the cold once more.  The New Wave Feminists, erstwhile official partners of the upcoming Women’s March on Washington, are now officially NOT.  Pantsuit Nation now overflows with post after post of women sharing their positive experience with abortion.

I felt this backlash coming and it’s one reason I’ve mostly only lurked on the pages of the state and local offshoots of Pantsuit Nation.  I’m so tired of being marginalized for one reason or another.  I am sick at heart over the notion that there is only one kind of feminist–our pro-life feminist foremothers be damned!–that the right to unlimited abortion apparently trumps all and that some of us are not woman enough to participate in a Women’s March!  As I posted on Facebook, “It’s like you are not an actual woman if you are not pro-choice.”

Rebecca Bratton Weiss makes an excellent case for why the feminist movement needs to embrace pro-life feminists.  This resonated with me especially:  “We have risked personal and professional relationships in our staunch opposition to Donald Trump, our refusal to accept him as representative of anything remotely pro-life. I personally lost a business associate when I spoke out against his boasts of sexual assault, and the latent misogyny in those who dismissed this as ‘locker room talk.’ I’ve been spied on and screen-shotted by right-wingers who seem more interested in controlling women than in saving lives.

I, too, was attacked for my constant opposition to Donald Trump.  As I wrote days before the election:  “Already today I’ve received tweets hashtagged hypocrite, babykiller, and cafeteriaCatholic.  It’s just another day in an election season during which I’ve been unfriended by an actual family member, deemed excommunicated by the friend of a friend, and attacked in a public Facebook post by someone I thought was a friend, all because I shared political articles that they didn’t agree with.

Alice Paul, author of the original Equal Rights Amendment, said that abortion is “the ultimate exploitation of women.”  For pro-life feminists who risked a lot to vote for and publicly support Hillary, it’s adding insult to injury to not only end up with Trump as President but also to be sidelined by those who should accept us as allies.

Note:  I am happy to report that the Knoxville Women’s March has chosen not to officially adopt the national march’s platform and is aiming for an event that is unifying and non-partisan.

Feminism's Rotten Fruits

UPDATE:  I was inspired to repost this by discussion surrounding the Women’s March on Washington and by what many referred to as vulgar signs and speeches they saw on the media.  While I understand that many women find such things empowering, I too question whether it’s necessary to sink to the worst levels of vulgar men in order to assert our claim to equal rights.
I’m not jumping on the let’s-make-fun-of-Miley-Cyrus bandwagon to get page views, y’all.  I’ve got three kids around her age.  I know her brain isn’t fully formed yet.  It’s hard when all your stupid adolescent tricks become tabloid fodder.  I wouldn’t be writing this if I didn’t think I had something to contribute to the discussion.
Here’s the thing.  What Miley did is NOTHING NEW.  She’s selling her body–her sexuality–for money.  That’s the world’s oldest profession.  What’s more interesting than what she did is the world’s reaction to it.
Everyone, EVERYONE, from religious conservatives to liberal feminists, had something to say about Miley.  I didn’t read them all–who could?–but I read a fair sampling.  And I won’t post links here, because Google.
Feminists had a hard time.  They knew there was something wrong about the display, but it was hard for some to articulate because slut-shaming is the latest verboten activity.  The best many could do was try to spread the blame and ask why there was no indignation about the cooperation of the object of her twerkiness, or to attempt to focus on the racial implications of Miley’s routine instead of the sexual ones.
The fact is that Miley’s performance showcased one of the biggest failures of feminism.
No one is outraged by Mr. Thicke’s performance because men have been objectifying women since the dawn of time, and they are going to go right on doing it.  Feminism has in fact made this easier for them by making women willing and enthusiastic conspirators in their own objectification.
Miley appears to have fallen hook, line, and sinker for the idea that a great way for women to be equal to men is to compete with them sexually.   There has always been a double standard, but instead of trying to raise the consciousness and the moral behavior of men, feminists apparently embraced the “if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” philosophy.  If men can have consequence-free loveless hook-ups, than women can too, and biology be damned.    And if women “are in control of their own bodies,” it follows that feminists have had to embrace the right of women to engage in the sex trade, to appear in pornographic movies and magazines, to sell their eggs, and to rent out their wombs.  It is hard for me to see how any of this represents an actual improvement for women.
So Miley has grown up watching entertainers like Madonna very consciously using sex to sell music.  Madonna and others like her call this embracing their sexuality but in reality they are partners in their own objectification, willingly reducing themselves to even less than the sum of their parts.   Y’all, it’s really no different than the old-fashioned “sleeping your way to the top” routine.  The only gain women have made in this area–if you can call it a gain–is that we can do it publicly and proudly now.
Madonna and Lady Gaga are not only older than Miley, but much better at this than she is.   Moreover, even though they were all sweet and innocent little girls once too, we did not know them then.  We did not have to watch them discard their innocence for money in a public way.  That ship had sailed by the time we became fans.  We did not have to acknowledge our part in it all.

little miley

miley now
And that was the difficulty for many pundits yesterday.  Miley’s awkward, hypersexual routine stirred feelings of suppressed discomfort at the unexpected rotten fruits of the feminist sexual revolution.
Linking up with Reconciled to You and Theology Is a Verb for their weekly re-run feature.  Click below to read more!