Superwoman made a curious appearance this weekend, gracing the program cover of the National Organization for Women (NOW) National Conference, which was themed, “No Capes, No Masks, No Boundaries: Feminist Super-Women Unite!”
“The concept of feminist superheroes is not much of a stretch,” Kim Gandy, President of NOW, said. “Both feminists and superheroes are dedicated to fighting injustice, while facing off against corrupt, malicious villains out to dominate the world (Bush and Cheney, anyone?). What makes feminists special is that they do this without superhuman powers-just a lot of pride, passion and patience.”
Besides revealing an inflated view of their own organization, the superhero analogy demonstrates the destructive attitude dominating feminism today. It is the attitude that everyone is against women, out to get them. To feminists, women must take on the entire world. They must save everyone, even sometimes from themselves. Like Superwoman, these feminists are constantly fearful that they will find an enemy, like sexism, around every corner. The media: Sexist. Fewer women in math and sciences: Sexism. Fewer female elected officials: Sexism.
Rather than fighting for one cause for women, NOW is focused on fighting for the sake of fighting. They see anyone and everyone as enemies out to oppress women, and this attitude was prevalent throughout the Conference. While attending the Conference, participants were pressured to sign a multitude of petitions. The Alliance of Faith & Feminism encouraged women to sign a petition to, “fight the patriarchy in the Church.” The American Anti-Vivisection Society sought signatures on a petition to fight animal testing. The Women’s Environmental and Development Organization sought signatures to petition NOW to take a position on climate change because of the way it negatively impacts women. One woman sought signatures on a letter written to Condoleezza Rice to remove the National Council of Resistance of Iran (NCRI) from the American terrorist organization list. Carol Jenkins, President of the Women’s Media Center and a panelist, proudly encouraged women to “pitch a fit” when they are upset.
NOW has lost its direction and is grasping for an enemy. Women have achieved so much, yet NOW focuses on the negative and they find negative almost anywhere. NOW’s biggest achievement, it seems, is that it has taught a generation of women how to find sexism, oppression and misogyny almost anywhere.
So who are these villains in SuperNOWoman’s ring? Misogynist media men were the top contender. At the Conference, it was taken as a given that rampant media sexism against Hillary Clinton was present and left unchecked by the Democratic National Committee during the Democratic primary, eventually causing her defeat. Speakers also highlighted the disparity in the number of female writers on the op-ed pages of newspapers. Jenkins argued that, “…the woman’s mind is not being recognized or valued.” Rather than highlighting her success as a syndicated columnist for the Washington Post Writer’s Group, Marie Cocco described how sexist the world is because she has had a difficult time getting her column syndicated since she is not “another white male.”
The next major villain? The dark lord of negative body image. Leading the charge against him was Nancy Redd, a former Miss Virginia, a Harvard graduate (of course, with a Women’s Studies degree) and author of Body Drama, a straight talk book for teens about women’s bodies. While initially discussing this topic appears like a worthy endeavor, Redd took this adventure way too far to the extreme and opted for the outrageous. Of all the sections of her book she could have talked about, she focused on the “vulva spread,” showcasing multiple candid shots in her powerpoint presentation. In her book, she even included a naked picture of her own backside. She began her talk by proclaiming, “feminism saved my life” and ended by revealing her true agenda behind her book, “…if I can get conservatives in the room, I can brainwash them. It’s like a time share presentation.” The room exploded in laughter.
Attending the NOW Conference was in some ways like jumping into a fantasy comic book—the world is what you make it. These women have chosen to see the world as their enemy. Unfortunately, it is going to take more than superheroes to get these NOW women to drop their unhealthy obsession with the idea that everyone is out to get them. The real villain is their own victim mentality.