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Feminist Flops

Those zany girls of NOW: Betty Friedan, Patricia Ireland, Eleanor Smeal, Schlamzao, Pots and Bets Incorporated. They are always good for a belly-holding, tear-wiping guffaw.

  • Susan Burns,
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Those zany girls of NOW: Betty Friedan, Patricia Ireland, Eleanor Smeal, Schlamzao, Pots and Bets Incorporated. They are always good for a belly-holding, tear-wiping guffaw. When I zoom over a piece about them in the newspapers, I roll with laughter. The most recent piece I saw was the one where the five cronies stood up pointing bony fingers warning us of the deep dangers we would get into if men started praying, being better husbands and taking responsibility for their families. Gasp! Horror of horrors! Terrors of terror! I am shaking in my pumps!

Feminist Hysteria
Unfortunately the feminists' agenda always becomes more palatable when they entrance us with their harpy songs of sound bites. And agenda they do have, as always, waging a fear campaign against the godly while trying to get more and more Big Brother into our homes. It is no surprise that their current goal is a national campaign to "expose" Promise Keepers. Eleanor Smeal, President of the Feminist Majority Foundation, recently warned, "Speaking about spiritual warfare and using a military model of organizing, the Promise Keepers are establishing thousands of small, all-male groups and task forces in Congressional districts around the nation."1 Smeal, with the help of NOW, various other women's organizations (including anti-domestic violence organizations) and gay/lesbian groups, is going to expose PK's "hidden agenda": men's taking control of the civil government, the churches and their families, plunging women back into their "traditional" roles as wives and stay-at-home moms. Wait and see: soon the PKs will be vilified as gun-toting, wife-beating, child-abusing, homophobic, anal-retentive Nazis! The feminists will soon try to replace in our minds the pictures of those tear-stained, hugging teddy bears bonding in the Beltway with something frightening, horrible and wicked.

What the feminists must think of the wives encouraging their husbands to attend PK meetings and the women who converged on D.C. to hand out Bibles, encourage and pray for those attending the rally! What they must think of the Women of Faith movement which hopes to keep flames of the PK movement burning! What they must think of the millions of stay-at-home, home schooling moms! I guess that makes godly women traitors to the feminist cause, doesn't it? Oh well! Get used to it. It is the same old story: you have on the one hand the daughters of Hagar, and on the other hand the daughters of Sarah. The feminist movement is obviously the spawn of the slave. The daughters of the free woman will have nothing to do with it.

Early Feminism
One of the early bibles of this generation's feminist movement was Betty Friedan's The Feminine Mystique. It has been called the most important book of the twentieth century and is touted with starting the women's movement of my generation. Because this book "birthed" a movement and is one of its foundational documents, it is valuable to briefly review some of its major tenets. The premise of the book is simple: Friedan believed women were unhappy; she wanted to find out why and offer a solution. After much research, she concluded that many women were living unhappy, unfufilled lives because they were stay-at-home wives and mothers. (Now, girlfriends, that sounds like a spiritual problem to me, for which there is only one cure, and shame on the church for not applying sound, Biblical teaching to the hearts of those women.)

Friedan's solution was to get women out of the house and into the workplace, so they could duke it out with the guys. Her cry took on ear-piercing intensity as she degraded women who are housewives, in one instance likening them to schizophrenics and patients with part of their brain shot away,2 and claiming that such women are pathological sub-humans who are a threat to their children.3 For Betty, the only cure was for women to achieve full human potential ". . . by participating in the mainstream of society, by exercising their own votes in all the decisions shaping that society." The first step in the battle was for women to prove to their male-dominated culture that they were indeed human.4 The second step (where the battle is being waged today) is achieving equality which will "involve a sex-role revolution for men and women which will restructure all our institutions: child rearing, education, marriage, the family, the architecture of the home, the practice of medicine, work, politics, the economy, religion, psychological theory, human sexuality, morality, and the very evolution of the race."5

The most telling aspects of Friedan's book are the philosophies and sciences which undergird her work. As recons know, "Nothing is neutral"; and it is embarrassingly obvious that as Friedan gathered research, interviewed women, studied history and culture, she analyzed it according to the false "ologies" and "isms" of her day (created by wicked unregenerate men, by the way).6 For someone who has made a career out of teaching others to buck the system, be independent, be your own woman, she was (and is today) in step with the foolishness of our culture! Politically, she embraces big government socialist liberalism. For all of her talk of women's independence, she continually looks to the civil government, scientists and "experts" for the solutions to the problems she defines.7 Historically, she embraces the Hegelian paradigm of "thesis, antithesis, synthesis" that forces conflict within a society, making it necessary to be a "revolutionary" to have an impact on culture. She, of course, believes in evolution and sees the women's movement (revolution) as the next stage in the development of the species.8 In fact, whereas men are "human," women are less-thans until they fling themselves into the male-dominated culture. For years, Friedan studied psychology, so you can be sure her work abounds with psychobabble—although she doesn't think much of Freud. She saw her sisters suffering under the weight of their culture and rushed to apply that culture as a balm to their woes. Burning bras for that was clearly a waste of money!

"Traditional" Religion
Of course, for Friedan, as for most feminists, "traditional" religion is one of the weapons used by the male-dominated, patristic society to keep women in their place.9 So she substitutes for it her own brand of mystical, Jungian, primal woman consciousness that is becoming very common in feminist circles.10 (Those feminists who want to remain within the veil of traditional religion insist on rewriting sacred texts and reinterpreting the faith so that at best it is watered down and at its worse a better-dressed, uptown paganism. These writers are as bold in their efforts as the Pharisees and Sadducees of old, and their efforts are equally worthless and damnable.) As a matter of fact, it is amazing (but not surprising) that so many women who bought the myth of the feminist mystique are turning to the occult, psychics, witchcraft and pagan goddess worship to find their spiritual selves.

Feminist Paganism
There are many examples of this paganism, but I will point out two that are new on the market: Layne Redmond's When the Drummers Were Women and Clarissa Pinkola Estes' Women Who Run With the Wolves. Redmond is an authority on handheld frame drums which for centuries have been used in pagan religions to assist in the worship of pagan goddesses. Redmond says, "By banning her drum, the patriarchal religions that suppressed the goddess cut off our access to significant parts of our own psyches. They destroyed psychological and spiritual techniques that had been used for many thousands of years."11 Thus, she is doing her part by teaching and encouraging the use of these drums.

Estes' paganism runs the same course, but with a different technique, that of storytelling. She says, "My life and work as a Jungian psychoanalyst, poet and cantadora, keeper of the old stories, have taught me that women's flagging vitality can be restored by extensive 'psychic-archeological' digs into the ruins of the female underworld. By these methods we are able to recover the ways of the natural instinctive psyche, and through its personification in the Wild Woman archetype we are able to discern the ways and means of woman's deepest nature."12

The recurring language with these and others is "archetype," "psyche," "psychic," "cycles," "rhythm," and so on. The problem commonly expressed is that women have been denied access to a crucial part of their humanity because of male "domination" in its various forms. The only way to recover what has been lost is to go back—if possible, to the very beginning—and experience anew what has been lost. In pursuit of this, women are encouraged to dance naked down the path of pagan goddess worship, get back to natural primitive instincts, go down dark, mysterious pathways where wise ancient sister crones and old hags await to speak the secret language to them. This is the faith of the slave woman.

The Godly Woman
The true ancient path stretches from the Garden of Eden, goes through the cross of Jesus Christ and his empty tomb and stretches all the way to his throne in heaven. All other paths—ancient or not—begin and end in hell. The daughters of the free woman take the first path. With it comes the clear knowledge not only that we are equally human with our brothers, but that we are created in the image of God. We do not have to dance and writhe and beat drums for hours to hear the ancient voice. The Ancient of Days, he who walked with us in the Garden, now speaks to us clearly in his word into which he has breathed the words of life. He fills us with his Holy Spirit so that we can know and understand what he says. His Son has saved our souls from hell and promised us an eternity in his presence. He teaches us how to work for true, lasting, eternal peace in our hearts, families and world. Where wrongs are committed, he teaches us how to repent, forgive and restore our sisters and our brothers.

Leave this for feminism? I don't think so. As the Psalmist sings, "I run in the paths of your commands, for you have set my heart free." True freedom, true life and a true future! This is the faith of the free woman. And the next generation of the slave woman will have to face the warrior children the free woman has raised.


1. Feminist Majority Newsletter, Summer 1997.

2. "But one could apply to millions of women, adjusted to the housewife's role, the insights of neurologists and psychiatrists who have studied male patients with portions of their brain shot away and schizophrenics who have for other reasons forfeited their ability to relate to the real world. Such patients are seen now to have lost the unique mark of the human being: the capacity to transcend the present and to act in the light of the possible, the mysterious capacity to shape the future," Feminine Mystique, 312.

3. See the chapter "Progressive Dehumanization," ibid., 282-309.

4. ibid., 81.

5. ibid., 384.

6. The following are listed in the acknowledgments of the book: Institute of Motivational Research, behavioral scientists, theoreticians and therapists such as William Menaker and John Dollard of Yale, William J. Goodwin of Columbia, Margaret Mede, psychoanalysts such as Dr. Andras Angyal, mental health workers, the Guidance Center of New Rochelle, Fred Jaffe of Planned Parenthood Association and the Commonwealth Fund, among many others, ibid., 13.

7. For more on this, see Friedan's book Beyond Gender: The New Politics of Work and Family (Washington, DC, 1997).

8. "I got a curious insight into all this during my year as a fellow at Harvard. I immersed myself in the study of evolution, for I became increasingly convinced that the whole process—breaking through the feminine mystique; and the women's movement for equality; and the transition to this second stage, as female values begin to be shared by the male—is not really a revolution at all, but simply a stage in human evolution, necessary for survival," Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (New York, 1984), xxiv.

9. "Even the traditional resistance of religious orthodoxy is masked today with the manipulative techniques of psychotherapy. Women of orthodox Catholic or Jewish origin do not easily break through the housewife image; it is enshrined in the canons of their religion, in the assumptions of their own and their husbands' childhoods, and in their church's dogmatic definitions of marriage and motherhood," ibid., 351.

10. "I have never experienced anything as powerful, truly mystical, as the forces that seemed to take me over when I was writing The Feminine Mystique. The book came from some where within me and all my experiences came together in it: my mother's discontent, my own training in Gestalt and Freudian psychology. . . ," ibid., 8.

11. Redmond, Layne, When The Drummers Were Women (New York, 1997), 169.

12. Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Women Who Run With the Wolves (New York, 1997), 1.

  • Susan Burns

Susan  is the managing editor of the the Faith for All of Life magazine and the Chalcedon Report (bi-monthly newsletter). Susan has worked for Chalcedon since 1997. She lives in Virginia and is rather fond of animals, especially her many cats.

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