April 8 2013
Have you noticed how many women seem to be mad all the time?
Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In, which contained some straight talk for women who want to make it to the top, triggered a blast of anger.
Women are free to accept or reject Sandberg's advice. Interestingly, many chose to be outraged.
Susan Patton, a Princeton alumna, created a firestorm when she suggested that Princeton women find a husband at Princeton. Rather than saying they’d prefer not, Ivy League women reacted as strongly as if Patton had advocated human sacrifice.
President Obama makes an innocent remark about a woman politician--he said she is pretty--the outrage!--and suddenly the man who never takes responsibility for anything can't apologize enough.
The 2012 Obama campaign was predicated on the notion that there is a “War on Women.” More recently, Hillary Clinton painted a picture of the precarious status of American women at Newsweek’s Women in the World Summit:
Clinton circled back to the home front, saying, “Yes, we have women in high levels of business and government and academia, but for many women, the American Dream remains elusive.”
“I am proud of my own daughter, and the young women I have met through Chelsea, and the young women I work with,” said Clinton. “It’s hard to imagine turning the clock back on them. And yet in places in America, the clock is turning back.
“We need to make equal pay and equal opportunity for women and girls a reality, so women’s rights are human rights once and for all.”
Present at the summit were such oppressed and underpaid women as Meryl Streep, Eva Longoria, and uber-editor Tina Brown, who put on the summit.
So what gives?
What I am talking about here is a boiling anger in the face of overwhelming success. I recently attended an event celebrating the suffragettes, and the women there talked as if they had just escaped bondage yesterday. There was a sense that, if they didn’t keep fighting, they would soon be in chains.
It’s fascinating: women have never been better off, had more freedom to do what we want to do. Women earn as much as men who’ve made similar choices, but activists insist that there is a gender wage gap. To understand why this is untrue, see IWF’s much-praised, three-minute video “Straight Talk about the Wage Gap.”
I am going to go out on a limb and say what I think is happening: many activists and politicians want to continue the phony “War on Women” because there is a constituency for them. We know what Mrs. Clinton wants: she wants to be president, and she knows that talking about the supposed plight of “women and girls” in a time when they outnumber men in institutions of higher learning is going to do her more good than telling us how she responded when she got the 3 a.m. call from Benghazi.
In her talk at the Women in the World Summit, Mrs. Clinton went out of her way to make nice with Vice President Joe Biden, her potential rival in four years. She hailed him for sponsoring the Violence Against Women Act in 1993, which was recently renewed. There has never been a study to determine if the act has helped women, but it does funnel loads of money into feminist coffers.
And this brings me back to the anger: professional feminists have every incentive to churn up anger. There’s nothing wrong in being cognizant if our rights are threatened. I’m not proposing that we shut our eyes. But I am suggesting that a lot of the current outrage is phony outrage aimed obtaining benefits and advantages.
We have a Pavlovian response when a woman is appointed to a high-profile job—and it is great when somebody who is industrious and qualified is rewarded. But women are no longer in a position that requires special treatment.
You rarely hear women activists saying that women are doing well. To acknowledge that women are doing well runs counter to a lucrative narrative. Where would Hillary be without “women’s issues” such as the drive for equal pay (achieved in reality but still a potent rallying cry)? The question here is cui bono--who benefits?
The Civil Rights movement was one of the great achievements in American history. But a lot of activists nurse a sense of grievance today because they are professional activists. It’s their job. It is how they earn a living or get elected or obtain support from a federal program. The same thing appears to be happening to the women’s movement.