Reader K.S. e-mails in response to my post about the Prince of Wales and his mistress’s agreeing, just in time for Valentine’s Day, to make it legal after these 30-odd years. (See Two Cheers for Charles and Camilla, Feb. 10.) K.S. critiques this sentence of mine:
“‘What I do mind is that Camilla is, ahem, divorced.’
“If I’m not mistaken, Charles is divorced too. Why is it a problem that Camilla is divorced, but not a problem that Charles is? Also, I think William F. Buckley Jr. used to attribute the quotation about hypocrisy to La Rochefoucauld.”
I stand corrected on my misattribution to Oscar Wilde of the epigram “Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.” ‘Twas indeed the Duc de la Rouchefoucauld” who said it–and thanks, K.S., for pointing this out.
As for Charles’s divorce: Since Diana died in 1997, Charles is now a widower. But Mr. Parker-Bowles is still very much alive. That’s why I’m of two minds about the upcoming nuptials. On the one hand, Charles did his duty for his country by marrying the noblewoman his mother picked out for him and fathering two sons by her to keep the royal line going. He may have decided that it was time at last to have some fun. Furthermore, given the Victoria-like longevity of his mother, there’s no guarantee that Charles will ever sit on the throne of England–a factor that makes his case a little different from that of his great-uncle Edward VIII. Add to that the fact that Camilla’s a wee bit old to bear Charles any offspring to muddy the royal waters.
Still, Charles’s decision marks one more step in the decline of the British empire. Royalty are supposed to keep stiff upper lips. I’m not a republican like Julie Burchill of the London Times (and I kind of like horse-faced old Camilla), but I’ve got to agree with these sentiments of Julie’s:
“No one is saying that the Prince of Wails shouldn’t be allowed to go off and marry a woman who has a face like Iggy Pop’s arse, if that’s what turns him on. But some of us refuse to understand why said Bum-Face will then be allowed to glory in the title of Princess Consort Queen in all but name. If he knew the meaning of the word honour, Prince Charles would choose once and for all between private life and public duty. But he doesn’ t, and he never has, so he won’t — he will simply continue, in the typical soft, decadent style that marks every aspect of his life, to demand the best of both worlds.”
Yes, that’s the problem. At least Edward VIII had the guts to abdicate when he chose to marry the woman he loved.
Now for J.K., disgruntled with the IWF in general:
“I became somewhat discouraged when I began exploring your [web]site, in particular because it presents the IWF as a ‘nonpartisan,’ ‘mainstream’ organization, when in fact it seems to be a Republican/conservative forum in all but name. Also, I took notice of your intent to defend against ‘radical left-wing ideology,’ but noticed an absence of concern for the dangers of radical right-wing ideology.
“Is it the case that you don’t view conservative positions as potentially ideological, or rather that right-wing ideology is permissible, and even desirable? My concern is that your organization may well be unaware of its own ideological assumptions, which makes for a potentially dangerous situation. The nature and uniformity of the viewpoints presented on your website could reasonably be characterized as strongly ideological, with very little evidence of ‘independent’ voices. I encourage you to respond to my queries.”
So I’m responding: We at the IWF believe very strongly in equal opportunity for women–in education, in political life, in the job market (pay and promotions), and in the financial marketplace. We don’t believe that a woman’s place is in the home–unless she wants to be a full-time homemaker and mother, and then we support that decision, too. That’s centrist feminism. Some 30 or 40 years ago, before the passage of the Equal Pay Act of 1963 and the Civil Rights Act of 1964, our positions would have been strongly opposed by the “right wing,” and there are many conservatives today who would look askance at our views.
What has happened over the past few decades is that centrist feminism has been hijacked by the radical left, which preaches an ideology of victimization to women and demands government intervention to bring about not simply equality of opportunity for women but equality of outcome via quotas, rejiggering of job standards, mandatory paid leave, bizarre sexual-harassment rules, and similar measures. The radical feminist ideologues have made our centrist, mainstream, “independent” feminism look right-wing. But we know that the majority of American women hold views that are more like ours than like those of the ideologues, which is why some 70 percent of American women refuse to call themselves “feminists” because the word has become so politicized.