Charlotte Hays-IWF’s senior editor and my travel companion at NOW’s 40th anniversary conference-has a great article today in Opinion Journal about her conference experience:

“ALBANY, N.Y.–Perhaps the nicest thing about attending the National Organization for Women’s 40th birthday event last weekend was that I didn’t have to pack a lot of fancy party clothes–the dress code was strictly old feminist. The mindset was of the same vintage. Though there was a ‘summit’ for young feminists on Friday before the conference got under way in earnest (and I do mean earnest), most of the 700 women in attendance were no spring chickens. They were joined at the Crowne Plaza by a handful of hen-pecked, middle-age men, always touchingly eager to demonstrate their ardent sympathy.”

How energetic is the organized feminist movement?  Not very.  Charlotte explains:

“Still, NOW felt just a bit . . . tired. Whatever you think of the feminist movement–and I happen to deplore most of it–the women who got it started were forces of nature, interesting people with strong personalities. They seemed to be riding the wave of history (or ‘herstory,’ as they called it). But now that the wave has crested, the current crop of NOW leaders seem less colorful than their foremothers. The issues are not new. I heard no interesting discussions, not one word of disagreement. In place of argument, there was only dogmatic insistence on inclusivity.”

Their influence and power as an organization is also slipping:

“Once upon a time, NOW wielded a great deal of influence too. A member of the Veteran Feminists of America, a NOW offshoot, spoke of the days in the 1960s when NOW could call the New York Times and, instead of requesting a meeting with top brass, simply dictate the time and place–and know that reporters would show up. Those days are gone. The reason may be that there are now many other organizations with similar agendas. But some of the decline is simply that there is no new blood there. One of the founders, a former holy terror, who was instrumental in the creation of Catholics for a Free Choice, currently devotes herself to animal rights. ‘Help the animals,’ she stood up to say, apropos of nothing, after one of the sessions.”