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I Read It So You Don't Have To: The Flipside of Feminism-What Conservative Women Know and Men Won’t Say by Phyllis Schlafly and Suzanne Venker


GolightlyGrrl

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blog-Flipside.jpgFlipside

Oh those irksome feminists with their abortion parties, man hating conventions and false accusations of rape. Feminists focus so much on frivolous things like equal pay for equal work, voting rights, domestic violence, and sexual harassment. Feminists, who are so hell-bent on power, they control the media, the workplace, families, government, education, Hollywood, sports, and religion. Feminists want to destroy! Destroy, I say!

Well, I don’t think feminists want to destroy much of anything other than strict patriarchy. But Phyllis Schlafly and her niece Suzanne Venker are quite certain feminists are a destructive bunch. And both of them try to convince us with their book “Bitches Ain’t Shit,†Oops, I mean, “The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know and Men Can’t Say.â€

Many of you know Phyllis Schlafly. During feminism’s second wave, Phyllis spoke out publicly against the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment) and pesky women libbers. Phyllis claimed to be simple housewife who treated politics as a hobby. But Phyllis wasn’t content to work the election polls in between loads of laundry. Married to a wealthy man, Phyllis had domestic help, is a Harvard educated lawyer, and a prolific writer and lecturer. She ran for Congress when her eldest child was a toddler and campaigned against feminism and the ERA when her youngest was in junior high and high school. Does that sound like a simple housewife to you? Nope, that sounds like a woman who benefited from feminism.

And who is Suzanne Venker? Not quite as well-known as her aunt, Suzanne has also authored several books and is a contributor to Fox News. She's also just as smug as Phyllis. In the opening of “The Flipside of Feminism,†Suzanne assumes the reason why she’s a conservative, and therefore superior to liberal feminazis, is because she was raised by members of the Greatest Generation, not the Baby Boom generation. Yes, the reason why you feminists smoked the pot, had premarital sex, and now vote for Democrats is because you were raised by Steve and Elise Keaton, not Archie and Edith Bunker.

Suzanne wastes no time mentioning that her mother, Auntie Phyllis, and other assorted anti-feminists didn’t need feminism to obtain an education or a career. Well, that may be true—for them—but plenty of women were denied education and careers simply because they were women. My own maternal grandmother was denied a high school education because she had to go to work at 14 to help support her family and an education was considered a waste on a girl. However, Suzanne would disregard my grandmother’s experience and others just like her. In fact, Suzanne and Phyllis arrogantly ignore their own privilege throughout this entire book and assume other women are simply not as smart, hard-working, or talented as them.

Suzanne and Phyllis also assume women turned to feminism because a handful of them, notably Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, experienced dysfunctional childhoods or rocky marriages, and society should not pay the price for their maladjustment. Gee, nice show of compassion ladies. As if conservatives never experienced crappy childhoods or bad marriages.

Speaking of marriage, feminists love divorce according to Suzanne and Phyllis. We love divorce so much we want to marry it! However, there are is no examination why some feminists concerned themselves with divorce. Nor is does this book mention conservatives who are divorced like Newt Gingrich, Rush Limbaugh and Dr. Laura.

Feminists may love divorce but we hate marriage and motherhood. We want to replace being supported by our husbands with being supported by taxpayers. And as for feminists demeaning motherhood, I just think feminism was brave enough admit motherhood wasn’t all sunshine and daisies for some women. You know who I think demeans motherhood? Michelle Duggar, who seems to see her children as accessories, not full human beings. And we all know Michelle would never wear “This is What Feminist Looks Like†T-shirt.

What else? Well, feminists demand Title IX, which opened up athletic opportunities for girls, because guys who play sports are usually conservative (yea, right). We hate men but somehow are responsible for irresponsible sexual hook-ups. We lie about rape and sexual harassment. And companies are struggling because we want to earn the same pay as men for doing the same exact job. The nerve!

And who are these horrible feminists? Well, according the authors, feminists fit into two camps—radical feminists (Andrea Dworkin) and media feminists (Katie Couric, Oprah). Feminists are can be found in large urban areas like Manhattan, Los Angeles, and Washington DC. Feminist want nothing more than to rip off a Montana housewife’s apron and replace it with a hard hat. Phyllis and Suzanne can’t imagine feminists who live in fly over country, bake cookies, work regular jobs, cherish their families, and include women, men, and children.

At the end of “The Flipside of Feminism†Phyllis and Suzanne offer tips on how to combat the evil effects of feminism. One of my favorites? Educate your son how feminism has harmed society and encourage them to seek out conservative women. So if that cool chick your son meets in his French Literature class has an iPod filled with Ani DiFranco downloads he should run far away and date that simpering lass who owns a tattered copy of “Fascinating Womanhood.â€

I must give Phyllis and Suzanne some credit. They write with total conviction; they don’t hem and haw. And I can imagine some people reading this book thinking feminism is the other “F-word.†However, people with critical thinking skills will be able to read between the lines and realize Suzanne and Phyllis are just a couple of snotty and selfish Queen Bees. They are all three Heathers, and the rest of just a bunch of Martha Dumptrucks.

Cleansing the Palate

There are countless books that counter “The Flipside to Feminism.†Susan Faludi’s classic “Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women†is as relevant today as when it was published in 1991. By the early 1990s women had made extraordinary strides in the boardroom, politics, media, science, education, and sports. But there were reactionary forces working fervently to strip women of their hard-won rights. Hence, a backlash. After the extreme right-wing days of the Reagan years it felt like we had gone from “You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby†to “Get Back in the Kitchen, Bitch.†Susan’s brilliant “Backlash†examines these forces in very thorough detail.

“When Everything Changed: The Amazing Journey of American Women from 1960 to the Present†by Gail Collins is also a fine read on how the second wave feminist movement, inspired by the civil rights movement, fought to improve the lives of women everywhere. Interspersed throughout the book are personal stories of those who fought for everything from reproductive rights to access to non-traditional jobs. Though “When Everything Changed†marks the accomplishments of feminism it is also very honest about the obstacles that stood in its way, and still do.

But how should young women view feminism? Today’s Millennials can’t imagine a world without feminism’s gains. Perhaps, these young women don’t embrace feminism because they think it’s no longer needed. But third wave feminist Jessica Valenti, author of “Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman's Guide to Why Feminism Matters,†says feminism is still very relevant and young women should not fear it; they should celebrate it. Written in down-to-earth and sometimes salty language, Jessica explains how feminism favorably affects young women both professionally and personally. Jessica is also the founder of the kick-ass blog Feministing.

Go to Free Jinger to discuss this post. GolightlyGrrl's mother would be grateful if you did.

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