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Number 579, July 18, 2010

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The Hypocrisy and Cruelty of the Leftist Feminist
by Bob Wallace

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Exclusive to The Libertarian Enterprise

"Feminists of the Sixties and Seventies," wrote Nicci Gerrard in The Guardian, "have had to pay a terrible price for their dedication—most of them are forgotten, reviled, poor, and alone."

How did they end up like this? Didn't the late Betty Friedan but still-blathering Gloria Steinem promise them otherwise? Paradise on Earth? Of course, there is oftentimes a difference between what one promises and what does in one's personal life—that is the definition of hypocrisy. And what Friedan and Steinem promised to others, and what they did in their personal lives, made them the vilest of hypocrites.

Both of these women insisted women follow their teachings, when they, in their personal lives, didn't follow them at all. In actuality, they lived their lives in exact opposition to what they told women to do.

Friedan's most famous book is The Feminine Mystique. A Marxist tract written by a Stalinist, it was about "patriarchy" and "capitalism" and "female oppression," A best-seller and a very influential book, it was, in many ways, the start of '60s feminism.

Yet, when Friedan wrote it, she was married to a very wealthy man and living in a mansion on the Hudson River in New York. She was not employed, and in fact never had a job in her life—unless pontificating counts as one. The housework in the mansion, not surprisingly, was done by a maid.

All of this is of course rank hypocrisy. A woman speaking of downtrodden and oppressed women while living a life of luxury so opulent that the housework was something done by domestic servants? How could she possibly know anything about the average woman's life?

I can somewhat understand Friedan's hatred. She was an extremely ugly woman and most probably permanently corroded by envy, which she, like many envious people, covered up with a spurious desire for "social justice." Yet somehow she ended up in the top 1% of the nation economically. Still, she wanted to destroy—to engage in that envious attempt to bring others down. That's what envy invariably does to people.

Gloria Steinem, in her own way, was worse than Friedan: she was very attractive, oftentimes appearing in boots and mini-skirts, but misused her appeal. She was the glamorous poster-girl of feminism, making it seem a wonderfully easy thing to do.

In her books, her articles and her many well-paid public appearances, she insisted that marriage and romance were a trap and a delusion for women, and that they could never fulfill themselves unless they learned to be economically and financially self-sufficient.

So how did Steinem lead her life?

Starting in college, she saw the same wealthy man—television writer, producer and musician Blair Chotzinoff—for close to 30 years. They were going to get married, but she called it off in college. Still, she saw him for three decades.

She called her relationship with him "a romance." People told of seeing both of them walking arm and arm in the park, and dining and drinking wine in cozy restaurants. She said this romance was about "passion and curiosity."

For three years she was involved with Mort Zuckerman, a wealthy faux-conservative who bought her expensive presents. Now why would a flaming liberal feminist be involved with a "capitalist" and a "conservative"? Does love and money trump ideology? It does appear so in Steinem's case.

Her friends remember her visiting fertility clinics in order to determine if she could have children with Zuckerman.

Steinem never said a good thing about marriage in her life. She called it "an ownership contract" and that married women were "part-time prostitutes." She also said repeatedly she would never get married, and that women needed men the way "a fish needs a bicycle."

Then one day she met a wealthy South African, David Bale. Not long after she dressed in white, he held her hand, and they got married in a park. She claimed things had changed and now marriage was acceptable. She never explained how things had changed so rapidly, when in fact she had still viciously attacked marriage less than two years before she tied the knot.

Peter Schweizer in his Do As I Say (Not As I Do) referred to Steinem as a "hopeless romantic, dependent female, [and] serial monogamist." In her mind these things were good for her but bad for other women—if they acted like her they were traitors to Steinem's leftist cause. Again, rank hypocrisy on her part.

Other feminists have shown the same hypocrisy. Susan Brownmiller wrote a famous book, Against our Will, in which she claimed men were rapists who use rape to dominate women. Yet she admitted she always wanted men and marriage and romance. Like Germaine Greer (author of The Female Eunuch), another lost leftist-feminist soul, she never got them. I wonder if their hostility and repeated false accusations against men had anything to with it?

People, unfortunately, are flawed creatures, and can be very deluded. While Friedan and Steinem were cavorting in the limelight and living lives of serial monogamy with very wealthy men, many of the women who believed their lies ended up as Nicci Gerrard described them.

Friedan and Steinem got what all of us want—importance and meaning and community in their lives. Yet they were engaging in one of the worst things people can do—they were lying to themselves. And before you can lie to others (even if you don't know you are lying to them) you first have to lie to yourself.

I do not understand the blindness and cruelty of people like Friedan and Steinem, except to blame it on their self-deception (which also leads to them rationalizing their behavior). This self-deception appears to be some kind of mental illness, some sort of cognitive dissonance that allowed them to do one thing and say the exact opposite with no sense of anything being wrong. To use an old saying, the right hand did not know what the left hand was doing.

How could Steinem so brutally put down men and romance and marriage for other women when they were what she wanted in life more than anything else? Did it ever occur to her some women would look up to her, believe her, and years later find that by following Steinem's pronouncements their lives had become self-defeating, self-destructive and unworkable? Yet I'm sure in her mind, with her self-deception and rationalization, there is no guilt and no responsibility for what she did to her loyal followers.

No one can make it on their own. There cannot be employees without employers, or employers without employees. There cannot be children without parents, or parents without children. There cannot be husbands without wives or wives without husbands. Everyone and everything is connected to everyone else, and everything else. Nobody is "independent." It doesn't exist.

So when Friedan and Steinem lectured about "independence" and "autonomy" as being desirable feminist goals, they were speaking of things that don't exist. This, of course, is something neither would ever believe.

Both Friedan and Steinem would have been typical leftist cranks except that they and others like them were able to get laws passed damaging the relationships between men and women. We have for many years been reaping what they sowed—the behemoth known as the State doing its damndest to destroy marriage and the family.

In the long run, none of this damaging leftist feminism will last, because it goes against human nature—and human nature, contrary to leftist delusions, is neither a blank slate nor infinitely malleable.

Unfortunately, there will be a lot of heartbreak and wrecked lives until better days arrive.

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