Some women protest, "I'm a feminist, just not a radical feminist." Kate O'Beirne is impatient with such qualifications. She is not any kind of feminist, and when you finish her sparkling new book "Women Who Make the World Worse," you won't be one either.
Feminism, far from promoting the happiness and well-being of women and society, has instead left great swaths of melancholy in its wake. O'Beirne cites "One large study of well-being data on one hundred thousand Americans and Britons from the early 1970s to the late 1990s found that while American men had grown happier, women's well-being had dramatically fallen during the period . . . women were 20 percent less happy."
The so-called "women's movement" was and is a misnomer. Most women reject the anti-male, anti-family bias of the professional feminists. But a dedicated cohort of humorless, bitter, crusading women -- mostly from miserable families -- was able to dictate policy in some of the most important realms of life.
Feminists now claim that they were never against marriage and family. But O'Beirne has kept the quotes in her files. In 1971, Ms. Magazine founder Robin Morgan called marriage "a slavery-like practice," adding that "We cannot destroy the inequities between men and women until we destroy marriage." Australian feminist guru Germaine Greer recommended that all women leave their husbands in search of more satisfying "rambling organic structures" (sounds vaguely unhygienic). And Jessie Bernard, a Pennsylvania State University sociologist, asserted that the "destructive nature" of marriage was both figuratively and literally making women sick.
Strangely, while feminists were burning with indignation toward men, they also enthusiastically endorsed promiscuity. O'Beirne quotes Harvard Law professor Mary Ann Glendon, who notes that early feminists who sought the vote and other rights "saw that the ready availability of abortion would facilitate the sexual exploitation of women . . . they regarded free love, abortion and easy divorce as disastrous for women and children." Modern feminists, by contrast, were characterized by a "puzzling combination of two things that do not ordinarily go together: anger against men and promiscuity; man-hating and man-chasing."