The fading of feminism

By Timothy Rollins
web posted September 11, 2000

With the emergence of Ally McBeal on the FOX Television Network a few years ago, I found a character that I could love quite easily. Quirky, eccentric and something of a traditionalist, Ally wanted it all – to include a man and children. This got the feminists in something of an uproar. There was quite a commotion on the part of the feminists over Calista Flockhart's character wearing short skirts. They thought it was demeaning to women. My philosophy is that if you've got it, flaunt it – within reason, of course.

While I do not condone some of the situations that Ally allows herself to be drawn into, she is the first major 'hip' female character who breaks the feminist mold, and has sent a message to old-world feminists that their credo was fatally flawed.

I believe it was Betty Friedan who later admitted that the reason the women's movement lost much of its steam was because of their blind spot regarding the family. Feminism was sought to create a level playing field for men and women in the world. As it was taking hold and establishing itself as a force in American society, some of its most ardent and radical supporters were not held in check, and as a result, disaster occurred.

Repudiation of marriage and the family took hold, and in the end, it created for a terrible backlash. What's more, feminism was never meant to create implacable sexual war with men, which invariably was a result of the teachings of seemingly well intentioned but misguided souls. They thought they were doing the right thing, while others were just self-indulgent. You know what they say about good intentions – the road to hell is paved with them.

Gloria Steinem: You've come a long way baby...
You've come a long way baby...

One of the pioneers of the Equal Rights and feminist movements was Gloria Steinem, who got her first fifteen minutes of fame in life as a Playboy bunny in Chicago. She went on to be a leading force for women's rights, to include being a big backer of the 'pro-choice' forces in the Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision, which legalized abortion in the United States in 1973. The abortion issue, perhaps the feminist trademark issue, still has severe repercussions to this day and is one of the most divisive issues of our time.

Steinem later went on to become the editor of Ms. Magazine, a leading feminist journal. She had always stated that marriage ruined relationships, and that may have been one of the reasons why she and US News and World Report Editor Mortimer Zuckerman never got married. She just seemed like one who was wholly devoted to her cause.

In the past and even now, I have cautioned friends who spend too much time at work to have a life outside the office. Some of them say they are 'married to the job.' I remind them of what I once heard and that was, "If you marry the job, someday you'll wake up and discover you have an unfaithful companion."

And now we have the news that at age 66, Gloria Steinem became a first-time bride in a private ceremony last weekend. She married a South African entrepreneur who is the father of a Hollywood actor. And as I contemplate this, I cannot help but think a couple of things: first, she has to be feeling that she has wasted a large portion of her life; and second, you have to know that Patricia Ireland and Naomi Wolf are quaking over this event. After all, Gloria was one of their leaders – their champion for women and more than likely, they feel that they have been sold out by the queen bee herself.

Which goes to show that when you get right down to it, the search for happiness can often take you in the most unlikely of directions.

I wish her well.

© 2000 Timothy Rollins.

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