Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Women Who Never Had Children

Helen Gurley Brown was the only person I ever knew who batted her eyes at me over the phone.

For the first meal we ever shared, Julia Child burned my breakfast toast.

The only time I was ever threatened with rejection for laughing out loud during a serious movie was while watching Ayn Rand’s “The Fountainhead.”

A confluence of events—-the death of the 90-year-old Cosmo girl, a hundredth anniversary celebration of the French Chef’s birth and the VP nomination of a Rand devotee—-conspires to recall those iconic women of the past century who made their mark in the world without leaving behind children of their own despite contentions at the time that they “could have it all.”

Add to the list the most famous feminist of all, Gloria Steinem, unless you count getting Christian Bale as a stepson late in life as motherhood.

Even now, in an era of pregnant CEOs, I am still haunted by such unfairness, which began to trouble me half a century ago when I was editing magazines for women and that, late in life, strikes home even more forcibly as I am literally sustained by children and grandchildren.

Life may be unfair, as JFK contended, but this kind of choice for an entire gender of human beings still seems unspeakable.

There is no social remedy on the horizon, but it is irresistible not to see meaning arising from this in women’s persistent political tendency to support liberal Democrats rather than conservative Republicans.  

Like any other disadvantaged group, no matter what their material circumstances, they are sensitive to others whom society has not treated well.

As a man, I am both pained and grateful. 


Fuzzy Slippers said...

Powerful post, Mr. Stein. Unfortunately, you lose your thread towards the end. The facts are that the second wave of feminism (political feminism) was designed and implemented not to expand women's choices, but to contract them.

Early American suffragettes wanted the vote, they wanted women to be allowed to own property, to work if they wanted, to be free to stay home with their kids if they wanted. They wanted women, in other words, to be free, to be seen as equal not just in the eyes of God but in their own eyes and those of the law.

The faux feminists of whom you speak sought only to exchange one set of oppressive rules for another, for their own narrow interpretation of what being a woman means. They mock, belittle, and berate women who want to be stay-at-home moms, they sneer at women who wish to marry and have children, they steal choice and replace it with service to a new vision of womanhood that is nothing more than a political and ideological trap reminiscent of that they claim to oppose. It's vile and it's totally antithetical to "sensitivity to others."

Destroying the American family, thus destabilizing American socio-cultural framework, was the goal. Not "women's rights." Women's rights have become, as so-well defined by the Obama administration's "Julia" composite, trading one tyrant (patriarchy) for another (big government). Women who want to be wives, mothers are misfits, reviled by American "feminists." This is just another face of misogyny, made all the more ugly by the mask of "feminism." Conservatives call it, quite rightly, "femisogyny."

Anonymous said...

In the last 50 years, women have always been able to chose whether to stay home or not, have children or not, be married or not, run away to join the circus or not. It's a diminishment of women across the nation to say that a handful of women called feminists influenced them to do or not do according to their beliefs and their callings. Sometimes some mistake that the biggest mouths have the biggest influence on others. They dont. Each woman is born free. It's up to her to stay that way. It would dishonor women to say that all MUST marry, MUST have children, MUST stay home. That kind of disrespect works both ways. Millions of us are proof that we made our choices just as the small group of feminists made theirs. Good and bad came from all sides.