In a Salon article on “the soft war against women,” Caryl Rivers raises a question: What planet are you on, Caryl?
Here is the lead:
Call it “Mama Grizzly Feminism,” as Sarah Palin does, and start worrying about the real thing.
In the run-up to the midterm elections, a bevy of conservative female candidates invoked feminism in one way or another, but all backed policies harmful to women. In the process, they became media darlings. Palin, who wasn’t running herself but helped get a number of candidates on the ballot across the country, opposes abortion and sex education. Delaware Senate candidate Christine O’Donnell called masturbation adultery and promoted abstinence. …
Where to begin? If Rivers thinks that 2010’s “bevy” of female Republicans became media darlings, I’d hate to see what she regards as bad coverage. Palin has been savaged more than anyone in recent memory, and, though O’Donnell was a woefully inadequate candidate, I began to feel bad for her during the campaign only because she was attacked so mercilessly, and frequently on matters that would never come before the U.S. Senate.
The larger theme of Rivers’s argument is summed up in the subhead: “It may seem like a wonderful time to be female, but there is a darker current beneath the surface of society.” The anti-women messages are now more subtle than it was in what Ms. Rivers calls the “backlash” era, and she runs through a few of these: that women have come too far too fast and now appear to be taking over, that men are now faltering because of the success of women (expressed in Hanna Rosin’s noted “End of Men” article in the Atlantic), and so on.
Some of these are well worth a seminar: How will society change now that more than half the degrees granted by U.S. colleges go to women? Despite these changes, Rivers sees the position of women as worse than ever:
We stand today at a crossroads. In a time of economic crisis, with men fearful for their jobs, with an aging population that will need the care that women have traditionally given, with a popular culture and its new technology sexualizing women to a degree perhaps never seen before, and with female political candidates who oppose many of the rights women have fought for gaining political acceptance, it is a dangerous time. Beneath the shiny veneer of the “You Go Girl!” message is a more sinister reality. The culture is becoming extremely hostile to feminism’s goal of equality between the sexes.
The new “soft” war against women is less a frontal assault than an ongoing, and very effective, guerrilla movement. Under a veneer of success, women are losing ground in a myriad of ways. While some high-profile women in politics or in corporate America are touted as “proof” of women’s power, across the board women are slipping backward. Women’s progress has not just stalled, in many ways it is being jammed into reverse. Once we thought that when women achieved a “critical mass” in the job market, when there were enough of them to make a difference, the whole work environment would improve. But progress has been slow. Some social scientists now believe that, in fact, “critical mass” is working the other way. Too ma
This is the cri de Coeur of a movement that is lost. Women are doing well, and it’s not a mirage. Yes, as Rivers says, women can make a gaffe and fall off the corporate ladder-but so can men. If you think that only women’s appearances ever get mentioned in the media, ask the Taft-like Chris Christie about that.
The message, Ms. Rivers, from the last election is that the gender gap closed, that women now are beginning to see that a thriving society is better than big government and special privileges. In the waning days of the election cycle, the Obama administration tried to appeal to women with a report on what it had done and planned to do for women. It boasted of such boons as regional entrepreneurship forums. This special treatment of women approach went over like a lead balloon.