Don't Call It a Comeback

Mary Katharine Ham
|
Posted: Nov 20, 2006 3:32 PM

Hey, guys. Sorry I've been so long gone. Busy weekend, filming HamNation this morning, and some techie problems for a bit there kept me away.

In the meantime, I'll run an e-mail I wrote today answering the question of whether or not I consider myself a feminist. It's not as thorough and clear as it would be if I made a column out of it or something, but it's the basic idea. Just since I've been so low on product today. Hope you enjoy:

On feminism...I do consider myself a feminist in that I want an equal playing field and equal rights with men. I have been discouraged by the modern feminist movement's tendency to campaign for "special" rights and extra help for women through government programs. It seems to me the opposite of empowering to tell women they need a particular political party or government program to succeed instead of encouraging them to create wealth and opportunity on their own, when they're perfectly capable of doing so. Every time I tell a modern feminist--and I know many of them-- that I'm a conservative or a Republican, I get the same response-- "But, but, you're a woman. How can you be a woman and a conservative?"

This is usually just a proxy for asking me how I can side with the generally recognized pro-life party. Well, thank you very much, but my entire political philosophy is not defined by the issue of abortion, and I think it's rather sad that many of my fellow women assume it should be. How myopic is that? Which is another thing that bothers me about the modern feminist movement-- it's all abortion all the time, George Bush is women's enemy No. 1, and conservative women are often demonized for not agreeing unabashedly with both of those positions. An example of the myopia: A couple of weeks ago, an Australian Islamic cleric-- the top cleric in a Western country-- proclaimed in a public speech:

"If you take out uncovered meat and place it outside on the street, or in the garden or in the park, or in the backyard without a cover, and the cats come and eat it … whose fault is it, the cats or the uncovered meat?

"The uncovered meat is the problem."

There was not a peep about this statement on the major women's web sites-- NOW, Ms. Magazine, feminist blogs--despite the fact that Middle Eastern/Islamic culture's routine and disturbing subjugation of women seems a much more dire women's issue to me than whether the morning-after pill is available over-the-counter. The same thing happened when Pakistan moved toward reforming its antiquated rape laws last week so that women wouldn't need four men to witness their rape and testify in order to avoid a charge of adultery. Once again, not a peep.

Last month, CNN had two spokeswomen for feminist organizations on defending the ludicrous Rosie O'Donnell statement that "radical Christianity is just as dangerous as radical Islam."

That serious lack of perspective is why I'm not a member of any of those groups. I care about women's issues, but clearly not the same ones they do, and I would argue that their narrow focus and reflexive dependence on government to meet women's needs is much less empowering than encouraging women to make it without those programs.

Am I saying there are no problems for women in the U.S.? Of course not. But we're lucky enough to live in an amazing country where women are largely not oppressed, and can become and do amazing things. I recognize that fact and refuse to act as if I'm being victimized at every turn by George W. Bush when I'm clearly not.