Stirring the caldron of radical feminism

Posted: Aug 31, 2006 12:00 AM

It was parents’ orientation at my son’s new college when the young female co-ed introduced her academic pursuit as “Women’s Studies.” My son and I sat stone-faced, desperately trying to hold back the smirks we knew would reveal our thoughts about the absurdity of such an “intellectual, academic” pursuit.

“Where are the degrees in ‘Men’s Studies’?” I wanted to ask. Of course, there aren’t any. Only the pro-lesbian, ego-centric, sexually perverse “Women’s Studies” majors and minors are considered politically correct. The clear bigotry and plain ridiculousness of such classes, and the messages they send our college men and women, seemed lost on the poor young girl. The reality is that she and thousands of co-eds across the country are being steeped in nothing more than the bitter propaganda, indoctrination and hypocrisy that fill the caldron of radical feminism.

Classes required in the pseudo-discipline include “Race, Gender and Politics,” “Human Sexual Behavior,” “Sex and Gender in Contemporary Society” and “The Politics of Poverty.” Not one class offering even comes close to, say, “The Power of Mothering,” or “The Beauty and Benefits of Marriage” or “Why We Love Men.”

Among the biggest feminist lies infecting the minds of our young people is that feminism is about “choices.” Of course, the lie has been spread since the disease of modern radical feminism first reared its ugly head back in the 1960s. The tale is as follows: In the old days, women were largely excluded from the workplace and expected to marry and stay home to raise their children. Now, thanks to feminism, they are encouraged to freely choose whatever profession suits them.

Not exactly. As a new, growing campus group, the “Network of enlightened Women” (NeW), will tell you, reality offers an ironic twist: One profession -- homemaker -- is off limits. Feminist professors take it for granted that the young women in their charge will work full-time outside the home -- and woe betide the female student who expresses a retrograde interest in putting her family first (if, that is, she’s foolish enough to have children at all).

Matters are no better when it comes to political philosophy. Radical feminists have yoked themselves to a brand of extreme liberalism that most people, men and women, find repugnant. They believe in big government, socialized medicine, pacifism and abortion on demand. On campuses nationwide, they exert heavy pressure on young female co-eds to get on board -- or get lost.

Just about anyone can see this view is a serious betrayal of true feminism. The pendulum has swung too far in the other direction. There’s no question that women should be free to pursue the profession of their choice -- and their menu of options should include the role of homemaker. And who’s to tell them they can’t be conservative? Modern feminists have become the very thing they profess to hate -- leaders who limit women’s choices and dare to tell them they aren’t free to follow where their interests and talents take them.

That’s where NeW comes in. NeW bills itself as “the nation’s premier club for conservative university women.” It was started two years ago by Karin Agness of the University of Virginia as a book club. Today, NeW has 15 chapters at universities in states throughout the country, and, as its Web site notes, members meet regularly to discuss issues relating to politics, gender and conservative principles.

NeW held its first national conference on Capitol Hill last month and recognized four new chapters -- from as far west as California and as far south as Texas. The goal is to “cultivate a community of conservative women and expand intellectual diversity on university campuses.”

And NeW is attracting some serious attention -- from both sides of the political spectrum. Speakers at their July conference included conservative firebrand Ann Coulter and Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao. But Professor Ann Lane, a former director of UVA’s women and gender studies program, is no fan. “I’m not opposed to the group’s existence -- I just don’t like it,” she told TIME magazine. “I particularly don’t accept their premise that men and women occupy such culturally different spaces.” As TIME’s reporter notes:

“As female college activist groups go, the Network of enlightened Women, or NeW, is a very different breed. They don’t distribute condoms on the Quad or march for a woman’s right to choose. Instead, they bake chocolate-chip cookies and protest campus productions of Eve Ensler’s The Vagina Monologues, a controversial play about female sexuality that conservatives say degrades women and glorifies rape.”

The idea for NeW came after Agness spent a summer in Washington interning for Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana. “I loved being around other conservative women and wanted to find more women like that at UVA,” she says. “Unfortunately, all the women’s groups on campus were really liberal and biased. And when I asked a [women’s studies professor] if anybody would be interested in sponsoring a conservative women’s group, she just laughed at me.”

A UVA student magazine also found the idea humorous. Soon after the group started, it published an article about NeW with a cover illustration, Agness said, “of a woman dressed in a perfectly ironed pristine shirt with a checkered apron, connected to a machine with 12 babies popping out while stirring her batter and reading her recipe with the headline ‘Manifest Domesticity.’

“We were really portrayed as baby-making machines, and at that point I knew we were onto something. We were a threat.”

A threat to radical feminists, all right. But to conservative young women, NeW is a tonic -- one that offers far more intellectual stimulation than modern liberalism. Here’s hoping it has another highly successful school year.