“This is no time to go wobbly,” the strong-minded Margaret Thatcher once famously cautioned an American wartime president. That decade-old advice is still good — and it is exactly what American women need to hear now.
These are serious times. Having come face to face with a dangerous world, women, too, must become serious. It is time to abandon the weakness of victimization and return to the strength that females have marshaled throughout this country’s history. Being aggrieved has, over 30 years of gender feminism, become an all too accepted female attitude in America.
At endless meetings, in dishonest literature, in pointless “women’s studies” courses, the aggrieved have cultivated among many women a false indignation and a groundless sense of oppression at the hands of an imaginary enemy: the male patriarchy.
In her book Who Stole Feminism?, author Christina Hoff Sommers has documented this gender grievance crowd at the National Women’s Studies Association conference where “being aggrieved was a conference motif” replete with “narratives of pain,” “sense of invisibility,” “litanies of outrage,” “ouch experiences,” and “healing circles.”
Sad to say, such foolish indulgences have characterized feminism in the public mind since the 1960s. The times now require that we turn our attention from sexual harassment, date rape, the impractical notion of placing women in combat, and from the endless feminist myths that have invaded the public consciousness.
We must stop pretending that women are being shortchanged. Gender quotas must be put aside, for there is more important work to do. Women of America, our country needs us. Our families, our friends and neighbors, our children, our colleagues, and our communities need us. Military women are serving. We civilian women must stand ready to take our role in homeland defense, and to do whatever we are asked, with the courage and strength that have always characterized American womanhood.
It was not the weak and fainthearted who built this country out of the wilderness. From the early Pilgrims, colonial women worked alongside men to produce what was needed and to care for others. Women played a vital role in achieving American independence. During the Revolutionary War, women raised funds, sewed troop clothing, gave their homes as meeting places, tended crops and livestock, and looked after front line troops.
The frontierswomen faced every hardship imaginable — primitive conditions, privation, disease, wild animals, climate, Indian wars — while they took on endless domestic chores, helped with the men’s work, and brought schools, churches, and civil society to a primitive land.
At the same time, women in the New England states were bringing on the Industrial Revolution through their work in textile mills. When the Civil War came in 1861, women rushed to fill the need for medical and relief work, serving as nurses, as spies, as vivandires, or provisioners, to the troops, and even as physicians. Once again, they were keepers of plantations, farms, and businesses as men went to war.
It was the American women’s performance during World War I that prompted President Woodrow Wilson to lend his support to passage of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution extending the vote to women. In war, women had demonstrated their abilities serving both on the front and replacing men in offices and factories. He said, “We have made partners of the women in war; shall we admit them only to partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnership of privilege and right?”
The indispensable omen of World War II are legendary: the nurses, the WACs and WAVEs, Rosie the Riveter, civilian defense volunteers. They were single women, wives, and mothers who willingly took on the jobs and volunteer efforts to run the homefront. This history and these women remind us what there is to love about America. American women are, writes author Midge Decter, “among the luckiest, healthiest, freest people on earth.” Some of us have taken a harmful detour into an irascible victimhood. It’s time to turn that around, to recognize our blessings and our legacy, to gather our strength, and pitch in.
Remember, “This is no time to go wobbly.”