Jon Kennedy
Jon Kennedy


Jon Kennedy's 'Postcards from
the Nanty Glo in My Mind'

Feminism and the sexualizing of American culture


During the series of the past two weeks discussing changes in American society and culture since 1960, the hottest topic turned out to be the feminist movement that got its great push with the introduction of "the pill" in 1960. The availability of a relatively reliable long-term means of contraception was seen not only as freeing women from unwanted pregnancies but, by extension, freeing them to indulge in and enjoy sex as much as men (reportedly) had been doing. And a spate of books (Our Bodies, Our Selves; The Joy of Sex, and innumerable others) and articles in not only the women's magazines but those specializing in sex and promoting it, like Playboy, encouraged women to "throw off their shackles." If women had been freed from the threat of unexpected pregnancy between the ages of (roughly) 15 and 45, they could not only enjoy sex as much as men, they could also pursue careers and personal ambitions as ardently as the less-fair gender.

As I said in correspondence to the list (but not as a part of the series), I see the feminism movement as both positive and negative. As a Christian dedicated to a biblically based way of life, I believe anything that "objectifies" sexual activity and separates it from marriage is an inherently sinful seduction, and that side of the feminist movement was no less than that. Feminism and the gay social movement share joint responsibility for "sexualizing" our culture much more during that period. Feminism, however, affected us all in a variety of ways. Not only did women's attitudes change, but many laws (specifically dealing with sexual harrassment and workplace equality) affected everyone regardless of their sex, their upbringing, and their personal morality or code of conduct. And because the new laws were being enforced by the courts, they caused the attitudes of all Americans and (because similar movements were afoot in Europe and the rest of the Americas at the same time) of all "Westerners." To the extent that most men were "forced" by this turn of events to start thinking more carefully about their treatment of women, feminism was good. To the extent that brutes and chauvinists were forced to rein in their brutalizing tendencies, it was good. To the extent that fewer women were being mistreated on a wide scale, it was good. To the extent that it freed women who previously let themselves be held back by real or imagined strictures, to pursue their talents and callings, it was good

To the extent that feminism promoted sexual perversity, it was bad. This includes its encouragement of lesbianism (which many inside the "movement" and many outside observers consider the most radical expression of "women's liberation") and the subsequent explosion of lesbianism. This in turn further "legitimized" (in the eyes of thousands—more likely millions—of people) the overall "gay rights" movement and the proposition that gays represent a "third sex," possibly the most pernicious fiction since the snake in Eden mumbled vanities in the ear of Mother Eve. To the extent that it contributed to a pandemic of sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, it is, of course, bad.

To the extent that feminist promises for a better life through materialism seduced women into the workforce who would have been better off being stay-at-home moms, it was bad. (I am not saying, though, that all women are intended to play that role, or to do so all their adult lives.) To the extent that feminist crusading raised expectations that could not be fulfilled in a godly way, it was bad. To the extent that it fostered animosity between the sexes, it was bad.

But though there seem to be more checkmarks in the "bad" column than the "good," the movement was necessary and we cannot, should not, undertake to undo it (and thankfully, social corrections have already taken away much of the "sting" of the feminism of the mid-'60s to mid-'80s; the younger generation of both women and men seem to have accepted the reality of women's political and social gains without feeling it's necessary to continue the crusade). I, for one, would welcome a 2008 Presidential campaign pitting Hillary Clinton against Condoleezza Rice.

But there's no comparable argument to make for the gay movement, despite the widespread acceptance of the opposite proposition in our society, equating gay goals with civil rights goals of blacks and ethnic minorities and women through women's liberation.

—Webmaster Jon Kennedy

 

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If I had my life to live over again... Instead of wishing away nine months of pregnancy, I'd have cherished every moment and realized that the wonderment growing inside me was the only chance in life to assist God in a miracle.

— Erma Bombeck


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