Tradition is important. But why is it only with feminism that the anti’s demand we stick to outmoded and totally outdated viewpoints held by a handful of our foremothers?
Amanda does a nice job fisking this one, so go over to Pandagon and read her post. The premise of the article, written by Kate O’Beirne, is that because the suffragists opposed abortion, good modern feminists should too — and therefore, pro-choice feminists aren’t feminists at all. Anti-choice women who believe that a woman’s only role should be as a wife and mother are the real feminists here.
The modern-day successors to Anthony and Stanton are Feminists for Life, an organization determined to reclaim the legacy of America’s earliest women’s-rights activists, but “Debunking the myth that 19th century women’s rights supported abortion is a constant challenge, especially for historians faced with prejudice and political correctness.”
These pro-life women celebrate the early feminists’ delight in motherhood.
“Against society’s norms, [Stanton] went out visibly pregnant and raised a flag to commemorate the birth of each of her [seven] children. She saw the beauty in women’s awesome life-giving abilities and celebrated each new life publicly. . . . Stanton’s views on the individuality of every human life . . . underscore for me the need to help women appreciate their unique abilities and fight against being molded into the wombless model of success society has foisted upon us,” writes one feminist for life.
Ok. So, because feminists 100 years ago opposed what was then a dangerous procedure often forced upon them by men, feminists today should also oppose a procedure that is now safer than childbirth and freely chosen (again, see Amanda on this point). Well, fine, O’Beirne has a point, and I’ll swallow her argument. So let’s look at the grand old traditions pushed by other movements and political parties in this country, and evalaute where, using O’Beirne’s model of selecting an arbitrary “ideal point” in that movement and suggesting that such a point encompasses the movement’s very soul, they should be today:
-The Democratic party should still support the right to expand slavery into the Western territories. Since they don’t, they have clearly abandoned their roots, and modern-day white supremacists who are under the impression that there are still Western territories are the only real Democrats left.
-But then Johnson enforced the Voting Rights Act and the Civil Rights Act, Strom Thurmond swtiched parties, Barry Goldwater was openly against the Voting Rights Act, and Reagan’s support of “state’s rights” was thinly-veiled code to racist Southerners. So clearly, racism is at the heart of the Republican party, and modern-day white supremacists who support segregated schools and don’t believe in the enforcement of voting and civil rights are the only real Republicans left.
-Let’s not forget the Federalists. By today’s standards, Federalists are people who believe in state’s rights and a minimalist central government. But at their conception, Federalists believed the opposite — they were the party in favor of a strong national authority, while the anti-Federalists supported state’s rights. Today’s Federalists, then, need to shift their views, because they are obviously wrong and have gone too far away from their founding ideals.
-Republican president Teddy Roosevelt launched major national conservation programs. Therefore, today’s Republican party is totally offending its roots by not being more eco-friendly.
-Democrat Woodrow Wilson was in power when the 18th Amendment was ratified and Prohibition began. So, Democrats who drink are party-defectors.
-You know, it was also Christian women who were the major actors in the prohibition movement, through the Christian Women’s Temperance League. A lot of Protestant churches jumped on board, too. And what do we see today? Christian women who drink. They are traitors.
-Many conservatives and Christian groups also opposed interracial marriage, the conservatives because it was against tradition and Christians because it was against what was written in the Bible. Therefore, any modern-day conservatives or Christians who marry interracially, or who support those who do, blaspheme their roots and their religion.
-Then there are the Americans. Just look at our Constitution — blacks and women are given virtually no rights, the whole thing applies only to land-owning white men, and blacks are basically considered 3/5 of a whole person. We’ve obviously gone deeply, deeply astray. The only real Americans left are those who subscribe to the exact beliefs of our Founding Fathers, as memorialized in the original text of the Constitution.
It’s a dumb game, right? Because movements evolve. They change to better suit modern views, and the new needs of the people they serve. The idea that it’s a valid argument to say, “But 100 years ago this group thought…” and use it as evidence for what the group’s current set of beliefs should look like is just ridiculous. And given that Ms. O’Beirne is a conservative woman, I’m not sure how she’d feel about having that same model imposed upon her.
- Shorter Dawn Eden: Chill out, ladies, you’ve got all the silly rights you need! by Jill October 4, 2006
- Estrogen Week, Continued by Lauren February 24, 2005
- Can You Be a Feminist for Life? by Jill August 15, 2005
- Nerve Reproductive Rights Issue by Jill November 16, 2005
- Say Sayonara to Abortion by Lauren July 27, 2005