Monday, October 2, 2006

Just Like a Woman

Feminists for Life is currently promoting its online course "Pro-Woman Answers to Pro-Choice Questions. The press release for the course begins:

Since 1973, it's been the same thing. One side of the hotly contested abortion wars yells, "What about the woman?" The other side yells back, "What about the baby?"

People have been pushed into their respective corners. It's hard to talk when there is all that distance between us.

But Feminists for Life has been bridging the gap, answering the most critical questions in the most contentious places—from Capitol Hill to college campuses—with woman-centered solutions.
Feminists for Life deserves plaudits for its accomplishments, particularly its efforts to "walk the talk" by pushing for a wide range of help for college students and poor women who choose life for their babies.

Even so, all that "pro-woman" — as though it were opposed to "pro-family" — and "feminist" talk gets awfully tiresome. One could say it's merely a euphemism for "pro-women's-rights," a concept that would be admirable if there remained any basic human right that American women (those out of the womb, that is) were denied.

But there's something vulgar about reducing one's area of advocacy to a group of people who share a particular biological makeup. Martin Luther King didn't confine his movement to the reductionist tag "pro-black"; the terms "civil rights" and "equality," while they have gained various connotations over time, nonetheless embrace all humanity. By contrast, shortsighted, biology-based labeling is what racial supremacists do — and the language of feminism does bespeak supremacy. Feminists for Life's own mission statement begins, "If you believe in the strength of women" — calling up the image of warrior females locked in an adversarial struggle against males who insist upon treating them delicately.

Think of it the other way: Would you want to be locked in a room with a "masculist"? Someone who saw every issue through a "pro-man" lens?

Manly men are manly precisely because they are pro-God, pro-family, pro-community — not "pro-man." I believe the same is true of women, who may attain their fullest potential only within the context of their relationships with the Lord, with those in their home, and with people at large — not by putting themselves in a box marked "Double-X Chromosomes." (I picture that box as an ancient, 1930s-style suitcase, bearing peeling stickers marked "Steinem," "de Beauvoir," "Friedan," etc. — literally old, obsolete baggage.)

Better to be not a "feminist," not "pro-woman," but simply a member of the human race. Because women deserve better than feminism — even when it's used as a guise for attracting aged liberals and their teenage daughters.

FURTHER READING: The Sneetches and Other Stories