''Woman have it made, the war is over''. Oh, is it?!

From:    Jim Mork
Subject: "Conservative Feminism"

The Minneapolis paper had an interesting column today about a
debate between "conservative feminist" Katherine Kersten and
liberal feminist Arvonne Fraser.  I put Kersten's label in
quotes because it is a self-designation and because it is very
hard to see *anything* that looks feminist in Kersten's
philosophy.  To me, it looks like an attempt to appropriate a
word and combine it into an oxymoron that makes a joke out of

Kersten's philosophy says "woman have it made, the war is over".
Like Clarence Thomas, she benefitted from such changes made
during the women's movement as the opening of two all-male
universities, Notre Dame and Yale, to women.  And now that she
*has* it made, she wants all the cries for equality quashed.
She says that organizations like NOW are just a bunch of
manhaters who would ruin the country if they got any real
power. To quote a paragraph from the article:

  She also said that if these contemporary feminists
  from such organizations as the National Organization
  for Women ran the country, it would be a mess. "It
  would be long on sensitivity but short on common
  courtesy," she said.  She said that men would be in
  constant danger of wearing "the red letter S (for sexist)"
  and that they "would have to walk on eggshells." She
  said it would be a world filled with "women blaming their
  disappointments on patriarchy."

There's quite a bit more, but you get the drift.  The
columnist then went on to describe, much more briefly, Arvonne
Fraser's response:  That "conservative feminism" is great if
you are in a committed marriage with a man in excellent health,
that it depends upon that, that such a condition is becoming
increasingly irrelevant [especially inasmuch as one-income
families today would be poorer than when the women's movement
began, due to the fading position of the US economy]. She
pointed out that every wave of political activists for women's
rights had been branded extremist. And finally, about choices:
"Some are sort of like Clarence Thomas," she said. "They chose
to rest on the work and accomplishments of those in the
past....I like the feminists who she calls excessive. They
make me look respectable, and they'll make life better for my

When I was reading the 75 percent of the column describing
Katherine Kersten, I couldnt help wondering: Who *is* her
chosen audience?  Seems very unlikely that it is all the women
who are making 70 percent or less of what men make.  Or the
women who are losing abortion rights.  Or women with kids who
see all programs in government that address their problems cut
while there seems to be lots of money for weapons, for bailing
out one business after another trashed in the 80's for
personal profit by men.  Who could it be?  The shrinking group
of white women with the luxury of staying home? Perhaps. The
Phyllis Schlafly contingent.  But more than anything else, her
comments seemed to echo what she has heard resentful men say.

It seems clear to me that she is pandering to those sentiments
with her "red S" remarks.  "Walk on eggshells", indeed! I
don't feel like I walk on eggshells.  I speak my mind, but I
*don't* create fantasies like women walking around hoping to
get raped.  Rather, I talk about dysfunctional behavior of
abuse victims, which I feel is a lot closer to the truth
because it acknowledges the heavy layers of denial built into
our system.  We ignore 23,000 homicides a year; a tendency to
go into debt on *every* level (personal, business, government)
with seemingly no thought of tomorrow; mushrooming homelessness;
a narcissistic tendency to see all trouble in the world as
part of a worldwide conspiracy against our system of
government; and much, much more.  There's always some
rationalization or other, which is a symptom of most neuroses.
So, it seems to me that those who walk on eggshells are
*creating* the eggshells.  They are struggling to protect a
tissue of lies while pretending to favor progress. And that is
indeed a hard act to play.  Give up protecting the lies and it
gets a whole lot easier, a lot less complicated.  But once the
lies go, then it becomes a necessity to go for wholesale
reaction or take the risks of progressing. And many men base
some of their self-esteem on being "democrats", that is,
believing in freedom for everyone.  What happens to that
self-esteem when they have to admit what they want is their
*own* freedom, to live well and control and abuse others when
it is  convenient?  Hence, the walking on eggshells.

Projecting one's own responsibility on others is not exactly
unusual.  But hearing a woman encourage men in that projection
is intriguing.  But maybe not *that* unusual. Many a woman
with an alcoholic husband has enabled his sickness in a
similar manner.  Maybe Kersten's platform is just plain old
enabling/codependent behavior, with a little self-interest
thrown in since she is traveling to promote a book she has