“Just lie back and think of England.”
–Victorian mother’s only advice to her completely untutored daughter prior to her wedding night.
Should women get married at the first opportunity? Start having babies right now? Let the men earn the wages and advance, while 21st Century American women postpone or eschew a career altogether?
That is essentially the message of a GOP Heritage Foundation Panel convened to mark the end of Women’s History Month. From a conservative Republican perspective this will take away the Democrat’s advantage by giving them fewer single women to appeal to in elections.
As Dana Millbank writing in his Washington Post column that very day pointed out with such clarity, the message being sent is “essentially Republicans aren’t the ones who need to change—women are.”
The hottest new women’s book, a tome from “The Princeton Mom,” currently being sold in bookstores is something appropriately titled “Marry Smart.” The author’s advice: go to college but get married BEFORE you graduate presumably sans degree and marry an attractive man who will earn a top income. “You’ll never have a better opportunity to select from the best men,” she advised a TV interview panel.
So, let’s rewrite all of American History by having historically great women adopt these views. Women’s History Month Revisited we’ll call it. These are hot; really cutting edge Victorian ideas Republican conservatives are advancing seriously in 2014. Give them some credit for at least proposing some anti-feminist measures that leave us gasping at the audacity of it! Jane Austen novels are your lives now gals!
Betsy Ross is too busy nursing two kids to sew that flag.
Molly Pitcher does not help her husband crew an artillery piece in a key battle of the American Revolution.
Dolly Madison does not save the famed portrait of George Washington just before the British enter our nation’s capital and burn the place. Dolly thought it was not her place to think of it or to do such a thing.
A host of mid-19th Century American women never join anti-slavery societies and so there is no Civil War and slavery is first legislated out in America sometime around 1910, William Howard Taft finally signing legislation Teddy Roosevelt worked so hard to advance. Yet it is gradual emancipation to be fully effective in 1950.
Elizabeth Cady Stanton never consults with Susan B. Anthony simply because she follows her mother’s advice rather than consulting her own intellect and conscience. She dies in childbirth at age 22. Many other women not in the abolitionist movement also do not meet at Seneca Falls in 1848. There is no women’s suffrage movement until 1902. The twenty-third amendment to the U.S. Constitution, giving women the right to vote does come in but not until 1947.
World War II finds American women staying at home and having the baby boom while their soldier is away. Armaments factories simply do not have enough labor power to give the boys what they need. American casualties in World War II are more than double what they should have been. And Japan takes Pearl Harbor outright and bombs the West Coast of the United States with Japanese troops stopped outright on the beaches of Malibu in 1944.
In the European Theater of war the Nazis develop nuclear weapons before we do but thank God FDR had them drop four of them on Germany and Eastern Europe not bothering to test the devices, just two weeks before V2’s with nuclear warheads were to demolish New York. World War II is nearly lost and it does not end until 1951. The nation is so devastated that it does not lead with Marshall Plan aid.
That is out of the question and all of Europe and much of Latin America are immediately under communist control. Since women don’t enter the workforce before, during, or after World War II, and marriage is by 17-years-of-age on average for women in the United States, the first woman to enter Congress does not do so until 1979.
In Civil Rights, Rosa Parks does what both her parents told her she must do as a proper lady, giving up her seat to that white man; not once but always. There is no Montgomery Bus Boycott, or I Have a Dream Speech or Civil Rights Act or Voting Rights Act. Martin Luther King Jr. is a brilliant and fiery preacher in Atlanta with his father, but otherwise quite unremarkable and very unhappy with the career he chose. Coretta divorces him in 1957.
Jim Crow finally dies away finally in 1989, as the rest of the world gasps at the backward United States. Even South Africa is more progressive.
Betty Friedan has more and more babies and just writes recipes for Redbook. She fails to understand why the happiness promised by Republican conservatives on this 21st Century panel will be so off the mark. She does not write The Feminine Mystique. She tragically commits suicide after shooting her husband in a blind rage in 1963.
You get the idea. Yes, women and marriage go together and should be celebrated. As Mona Charen says “we must re-establish the marriage norm.”
But how people marry, and when, is up to them. And what makes them happy too ought to be firmly under their control. Women since the beginning of recorded history have had career, intellectual, and leadership aspirations well beyond their ability to achieve them, only in just the past fifty years they can. Look at Cleopatra to name one. Heck Mary the mother of Jesus didn’t do too bad either and she had a kid too! And right away!
We are still a patriarchal society. It ought to be bi-archical! Marriage is a very good thing. It is between two people — two people who love one another. Men and women have an equal stake in raising the next generation of Americans. Were women to follow this panel’s frankly counterproductive advice, they would not achieve full happiness as promised.
With women so behind we could look forward to America’s leadership position in the world crumbling even more rapidly–making us a third rate power. Worse yet, our economy and our government at all levels would be deprived of so many, talented, exciting and fulfilled women leaders who in the majority have children and raise them well during their lives too. Those that don’t have always been there. Spinsterhood anyone?
But having women vitally interested and a full part of their nation makes an enormous difference. They’re making that difference now; not just having babies as wonderful as motherhood can be. Let’s not mess with that. OK?
So Heritage Foundation’s Mona Charen and companions seated at the table of weak, ineffectual women espousing totally out of touch ideas that even most Republican conservative women around the nation reject, dream on. And don’t expect your party to win the White House or become relevant nationally anytime soon!
Heritage Foundation Failures of Feminism Panel: What the heck are you doing on some panel telling women what to do? Shouldn’t you be at home? You have a home to clean and a husband waiting for dinner! You’re just Stepford Wives.
Dr. Thomas Martin Sobottke
for Struggles for Justice
“Speaking for the Voiceless, Protecting the Vulnerable”