Why pro-life criticizes feminists

Sabina McLuhan

Feminism, as currently interpreted, is the latest “sacred cow.” Those who comment critically on any aspect of the ideology run the risk of being labelled “anti-feminist,” “ultra-traditional,” “pro-natalist,” or just plain “anti-woman.”

At the risk of irritating former reader George Bartoszewicz even more (see Letter to the Editor page), I would suggest that the current feminist movement should be called anti-woman.

Over the past month alone, I have heard stories from three separate women who have attempted to persuade three different women’s organizations that they should withdraw from their pro-abortion stain and, at least, become neutral on the issue. These women were each told, in no uncertain terms, that their views were unwelcome and would not be discussed. These are not isolated incidents; they are the usual experience pro-life women (feminist or not) go through when they attempt to bring some sanity into an organizations’ position on this crucial issue.

Questioning the justice of goals

Is it any wonder that so many women, who otherwise support may of the ideals of the feminist movement, remain outside of the movement? They have discovered that the most basic right of all, the right of newly conceived life, is not recognized, and that women’s role in bearing and nurturing children is treated as the biggest obstacle to equality. While some pro-life women remain inside various women’s organizations, hoping that the day will come when their will be treated with respect, many others withdraw from active participation. For these women, such blatant discrimination in dismissing the rights of the unborn leads them to query the justice of other goals.

Pro-life women do not view children, or men, as enemies or as obstacles. They prefer to discuss equality for women in terms that recognize that other individual rights deserve respect and protection.

In an article called “Feminism 101,” American pro-life feminist Ann Rodgers-Melnick states the current feminist argument for abortion: “as long as a woman can be tied down with childbearing, responsibility for social decision making will remain entirely in the hands of men. Therefore, the pro-life movement is viewed as a male plot to keep women barefoot and pregnant.”

As Ms. Rodgers-Melnick goes on to show, this concept is truly sexist, and is flawed in its logic. After all, she says, “woman are by definition people who can get pregnant. This means that pro-abortionists are not advocating rights for women, but for men…”

Parting company

Pro-life feminists do not oppose “equal pay for equal work”— in fact, this is already legally protected. Many have enormous difficulty, however with the concept of “equal pay for work of equal value,” which is a very different thing. The latter has enormous pitfalls for both men and women which need to be studied long and carefully. There are many other areas in which pro-life feminists and their organized radical sisters part company. Too many, in fact, to document here. A couple of examples many, however, serve to show that basically the difference between the two is a concern of one group that all human beings deserve protection, and on the other hand, a group that believes only women’s rights are the ultimate goal.

I don’t hear pro-life feminists agreeing with their radical sisters that prostitution is a valid career for a woman who so chooses it. Instead, their prostitution is that women should not be forced into such degradation but that counselling and financial assistance should be available to help women choose a more dignified lifestyle.

I don’t hear pro-life feminists agreeing that pornography is merely material that shows women being physically abused. Pro-life feminists tend to be concerned about a wider range of pornographic material and its harmful effects on society as a whole.

A more just ideal

The current feminist leaders have fallen hook, line and sinker for the idea that the major obstacle to equality is a woman’s reproductive system and her psychological capacity for nurturing children. In their view, equality means women must compete in the male world on an equal footing with men.

A more just ideal would be for all feminists to work on goals which would enable both men and women to get a better deal. Mothers who would rather be at home with their children should not be forced into the workplace (either because of social expectations that mother’s work in the home is not valuable, or because the father’s pay cheque is not enough for the family.) Families led by single, separated or divorced women are the poorest in society. Instead of campaigning for easier divorce, feminists should be pushing for more community programs to help families stay together.

Mothers who would like out of the home employment should have more options available for part time work, more flexible work hours than the 9-5 norm and more scope for creative options such as job sharing. Society should recognize that a father’s role in raising his children is also of vital importance. The kind of pressure to “get ahead,” which forces many fathers to work overlong hours at the expense of family, should be removed or at least lessened.

Economic strategies that encourage strong families, increased awareness of the importance of families-both will go a long way to reduce the acceptance of abortion by and for those people who will attention to the morality of the matter. Feminists should be discussing ways to eliminate abortion not merely assuming that it is necessary and so campaigning for more abortion.

The feminist movement has done much good and in many respects, women today have greater freedom and equality than women of previous generations. But radical feminism’s philosophy cannot, and should not, be allowed to dominate social policy.

At present, its ideology still stems from a basic misconception that women’s equality depends on perverting women’s physiology. If a movement starts off with the wrong premise, it’s inevitable that its subsequent policies will be biased and will be viewed with deep scepticism. Such criticism is far from dishonest, though it may be unpopular.