There Once Was a Time …

… when I used to be a feminist, and proud to think of myself as such. This was back at the time that I was a teenager, and being a feminist meant you earnestly believed that women ought to have the same opportunities for education, professional advancement, credit for personal and business purposes, and perhaps to be seen by a female ob-gyn, and generally have a wider range of choices when it came to what you wanted to do with your life. Even then the bra-burning drama and other minor theatrics seemed kind of pointless. Back in the day, as now, bras were expensive … and unless one had prepubescent-sized breasts, it was uncomfortable to go without!

Seriously – when I was a teenager and looking at my prospective life, – the feminism of that day appeared to be about having interesting and fulfilling alternatives in life. Believe me, Granny Dodie was shoving me energetically in the traditional direction of inevitable marriage to some nice guy I met in college or *shudder* high school, since she and her contemporaries had bragging rights over the quantity and accomplishments of their respective great-grandchildren and she and Grandpa Alf weren’t getting any younger, and the little girl across the street whom I used to play with when I came to visit them, why she got married at 18 and had a baby already! It was the lockstep nature of it all, that put me off, more than anything. Because I wanted some adventure, first.

There were only a couple of respectably acceptable professional options, unless one was totally driven and unusually talented, and single-minded. There was being a nurse: Guh! I hated scrubbing the bathroom, the sight and smell of vomit made me heave … seriously, I think I learned what I did  about nursing was from reading Cherry Ames, Student Nurse, and I most definitely didn’t want any part of that. Then there was being an elementary school teacher; nope, I knew that I definitely did not have the patience – or the toleration for idiocy that was required even then, in those college programs dedicated to turning out education majors. Secretary … no, no, a thousand times no. (Although I did eventually put in a few years as an ‘admin assistant, which is what they now call what used to be an executive secretary.) I could type fairly well, but learning Gregg shorthand? Might as well learn Morse code and be done with it. There was also the glamorous occupation of being a stewardess … but I had as much affinity for glamor as I did for vomit.

So – the feminism of the 1960s and 1970s opened up a whole new and gloriously adventurous choice of professional occupations to us, and ones in which a woman would not just be the only one, or the only one of two or three in any particular profession, or class, or office. (When I first went to military journalism/broadcaster school, there were three women in my class of about forty. By the time I departed the military, I had been told that the journalism/broadcaster courses were running about fifty-fifty. ) Quite a good few of the women I knew in my first hitch were the first, or maybe the second women in their various military specialties, since all but a handful of the most direct combat related fields had been opened up to anyone – male or female – who could meet the physical requirements and score high enough on the ASVAB to qualify. It was a great time to be a feminist; the big battles for acceptance, for educational and economic quality had been fought and won, and women of my age could enjoy the fruits of victory.

And then feminism … or those females wholly identifying themselves as professional feminist activists developed a serious case of boredom, or maybe shriveled, bitter little man-hating and resentful souls, perhaps on realizing that all the big fights had been won already – and in some cases, won quite a while ago. The so-called feminist intellectuals also discovered that busy women, reveling in those new opportunities, those new-to-them professions, or perhaps even just reveling in being able to choose freely to be wives and mothers … didn’t always toe the line of acceptable feminist thought. I began to note – yes, I did subscribe to MS Magazine – that the editorial voice, and that of the contributing writers was increasingly snotty, exclusive and doctrinaire … it was as if you weren’t really a feminist in good standing unless you were a vegetarian, single-mother, a liberal, employed in the academic world, and for extra points, a lesbian of some color or other. For me, this reached an absolute nadir with the rubbishing of Sarah Palin by the establishment feminists; a woman who combined a successful marriage, active in her husband’s business, and launched a political career starting locally and moving up to the level of state governor without being the spouse or spawn of an establishment politician … this is just not sufficient to be considered  a good feminist for the professional activists – whose class snobbery was nearly as vicious as their calculated scorn? That was about the final straw for me.

And now, we have the current crop of toxic professional feminists; whining about guys looking at them, clumsily trying to flirt with them, making mildly risqué jokes between themselves, or wearing shirts with pictures of classic science fiction babes with blasters on it, complaining about near-to-invisible micro-aggressions, re-defining bad and later-regretted sex as rape, and about how a Catholic University not funding birth control is just the most unjust thing evah! Put a fork into current feminism, it’s done already. It’s poisonous … to men and women both … and dangerously counter-productive.

Seriously, sometimes reading the latest blatherings of what the special feminist snowflakes complain about is to wonder if they don’t really want to go straight back to some neo-Victorian sheltered bubble, where their sensibilities are as delicate as blown-glass Christmas ornaments, and there is never a harsh word spoken. Those 19th and early 20th century women who campaigned for women’s rights are probably revolving in their graves so rapidly that you could generate electricity from them at the antics of these whining, passive-aggressive and vindictive spoiled children.



(Crossposted at

11 thoughts on “There Once Was a Time …”

  1. I’ve often marveled at how people glibly pass off that line, without thinking it through and how illiberal it really is. The left understands how “un-freedomlike” it really is. Some are starting to realize it now, but are unsure how to phrase their objection. It’s the easy road to outlawing our “freedom to chose”.

  2. Which line, Norman — the one about “The so-called feminist intellectuals also discovered that busy women, reveling in those new opportunities, those new-to-them professions, or perhaps even just reveling in being able to choose freely to be wives and mothers … didn’t always toe the line of acceptable feminist thought.” ?

  3. My grandmother was raised by her parents, both small business owners, to help in their shops. Although her formal schooling was not extensive, she was a professional quality baker, managed several businesses at various times during her life, including a turkey farm, a hotel and restaurant, two corner grocery stores, and several rental properties.

    When she died from cancer, my mother and grandfather found several bank accounts and safety deposit boxes in which she had put significant amounts of money toward their old age. My grandfather never had to worry about money for the last few decades of his life, and always said it was her business acumen and experience that provided him a comfortable old age.

    My mother went to work in the defense industry after her fiancé was killed in WW2 in North Africa. She always regretted quitting college, but said she had to do something to feel she was avenging his death. She worked installing parts in B-24 bombers on their way to Europe to bomb the nazis.

    She then worked all her life as a bookkeeper and accounting manager, and sometimes complained about unfair pay scales between men and women. Equal pay was her feminism, although she also demanded respectful treatment from co-workers and superiors, and once told an upset boss that she did not allow anyone to yell at her about anything, and she would discuss the problem he was having when he settled down.

    My wife recently received her master’s degree, has had her own small business, rebuilt our kids’ hockey program when she was president of that group several years ago, and is now a human resource manager specializing in medical and pension systems.

    I am not exaggerating when I say that I live a resort life style that is the envy of all my friends, wintering in Southern California, while we have a condo in the Midwest that our whole scattered family uses whenever they are visiting or during the summer fishing season. I have a nice pension, but my wife handles the money, pays the bills, and oversees our modest investments. She actually reads all that stuff from insurance companies, stock brokers, and medical plans, takes notes, and picks the ones she believes are best. We discuss options, but I’ve learned to respect her opinions. She’s very smart, and she does her homework before she presents our options for consideration.

    My daughter, btw, is finishing her college degree in business, after some time off for family raising, and recently qualified as a financial advisor for a major firm. She definitely takes after the other women in our family, her mother’s side is equally accomplished, and please don’t try to tell her women can’t do math. She might either punch you or just laugh in your face—it’s a toss-up.

    I’ve found that intelligent, confident women don’t have this bizarre hatred for the other half of their species that some of the current radical feminists seem to display. My guess is that the radicalism is more an expression of their own personal problems, filtered through the Marxist/sex/gender/race idiocy that appears to be dominant in academia these last few decades.

    I feel nothing but pity and disdain for them and their hysterical hatreds and fears. I can’t imagine them ever having a calm and happy life, enjoying family and friends, while they are immersed in this never-ending sea of outrage and resentment.

    It’s sad, really, and so unnecessary.

  4. My guess is that the radicalism is more an expression of their own personal problems, filtered through the Marxist/sex/gender/race idiocy that appears to be dominant in academia these last few decades.

    Amen to that.

    For me, this reached an absolute nadir with the rubbishing of Sarah Palin by the establishment feminists; a woman who combined a successful marriage, active in her husband’s business, and launched a political career starting locally and moving up to the level of state governor without being the spouse or spawn of an establishment politician …

    Compare to Hillary, whose sole qualification seems to be she was once married to a president. She accomplished nothing in the Senate (which seat she won on her husband’s name) and was a full fledged national disaster as Secretary of State. Add on she’s a serial liar and felon. Yet “feminists” can’t wait to vote for her. They are now a bizzaro-world mockery of everything they claim to be and believe.

  5. It is, VR – I know so many able, and skilled women, who did some kind of business, or acquired some professional qualification against some odds — that now to see “feminism” used as an excuse to be a hateful, man-loathing harpy — it’s quite distressing. If I were a modern feminist, I suppose the preferred course of action would be for me to start weeping in a corner and calling for some higher administrative or government power to rescue me, kiss my boo-boos and make it all better.
    But I am not a modern feminist – I will call those poor pathetic wimps out for what they are; gutless, sniveling, man-hating babies, who couldn’t even last a week in … oh, I don’t know — military basic training? A week in some sort of reenactment-of-the-past TV show?
    Agree on the personal pathologies … Emma The Mattress Girl, for instance, did seem to be a seething bundle of them, viewed from a safe distance.

  6. My mother was born in 1898, right at the end of the Victorian era. Her father died when she was 18 months old and had no life insurance that I know of. Her mother struggled and had come from a wealthy Canadian family where her ambitions were not so much acknowledged as required after her younger brother bankrupted their father by racing horses instead of the family business of raising carriage horses. Long story. Only son spoiled by his sisters.

    She ended up working as a corset factory foreman in Aurora Illinois where she met her husband (My grandfather) while living in a boarding house owned by his sister. He was a railroad engineer which was a bit like an airline pilot today. They married and he died after about ten years of marriage. She raised the kids and eventually moved to live with her older daughter and her husband, my uncle who was a wonderful man.

    My mother graduated from a “business college” where she learn to type at a phenomenal rate. She worked for a while as a “legal secretary” whatever that mean in the 1920s to 1930s.

    After she and my father were married, she had us but, when I was in 8th grade she went back to work. She did not want to ask my father for money and earned her own. Finally, after my sister was married in 1975, the company where my mother had worked before she and my father were married and where she went back to work in 1952 told her “Ruth, You have to retire. Everyone who worked here when you began in the 1930s has retired or died. Nobody knows how old you are but you must be over 65.” She was furious and we had a hell of a time proving she was over 65 because she had always lied about her age. She finally admitted to 75 and her sister, who was still alive, swore out an affidavit to this. Actually she was 77 and had walked a mile from the Randolph Street Illinois Central Station to the company on North Water Street in all weather. for 25 years.

    She lived to 103 and that experience probably contributed. Those late Victorian women were not the precious hothouse flowers that Yale feminists are today.

  7. Concerning some of today’s more extreme feminists of the SJW flavor….I suspect many of these are the kind of women who, had they been born 40 or 50 years earlier, would have been first to denounce any woman who pursued a professional career as “unfeminine,” and have happily participated in driving an unmarried pregnant girl to suicide.

    It’s all about the *circle dancing*, to use Milan Kundera’s phrase:

    Circle dancing is magic. It speaks to us through the millennia from the depths of human memory. Madame Raphael had cut the picture out of the magazine and would stare at it and dream. She too longed to dance in a ring. All her life she had looked for a group of people she could hold hands with and dance with in a ring. First she looked for them in the Methodist Church (her father was a religious fanatic), then in the Communist Party, then among the Trotskyites, then in the anti-abortion movement (A child has a right to life!), then in the pro-abortion movement (A woman has a right to her body!); she looked for them among the Marxists, the psychoanalysts, and the structuralists; she looked for them in Lenin, Zen Buddhism, Mao Tse-tung, yogis, the nouveau roman, Brechtian theater, the theater of panic; and finally she hoped she could at least become one with her students, which meant she always forced them to think and say exactly what she thought and said, and together they formed a single body and a single soul, a single ring and a single dance.

    …and about punishing anyone who dares to dance outside the circle.

  8. As I discussed on another thread, I truly believe the major problem that so many of these fragile, unhappy people have is a form of loneliness so deep and profound that they will embrace the most bizarre and contradictory ideologies in order to feel that they are actually part of some organic whole, sharing something important with the other “true believers”.

    I literally can’t imagine what it must be like in this age to be an ordinary young man trying to find a woman to share life and family, or a traditionally oriented woman, who wants a life that involves a loving relationship with a dependable man who will share the disciplines of raising children.

    The poisonous atmosphere that radicalism has created surrounding so many fundamental areas of life is one of the most depressing facets of modern society.

  9. VR, both of my sons are married with children growing up. Not my daughters.

    Feminism may be destroying the lives of girls.

    It is significant, I think, that the elite colleges have been turning out graduates of both sexes who marry each other and produce what Charles Murray has expressed concern about, a education elite. They don’t have out of wedlock children. They don’t get divorced. They lead lives very different from what the Democratic Party (Which most of them support) advocates. There kids go to private schools.

    I think what we see at Yale and Columbia are the losers acting out a fantasy that they have not been able to make work for themselves.

    My contact with young people involves two groups; medical students and military recruits. Both seem to be doing pretty well.

  10. “don’t try to tell her women can’t do math”: on average women are poorer at maths, as far as I know. I’ve never heard anyone claim that no woman can do maths. (It would be as daft as saying that because men are, on average, poorer at the fine motor skills no man could ever be a surgeon.) Anyway the spreadsheet makes that far less important than once it was – everyone has a little arithmetic slave if they want one.

  11. Feminism always had its extreme radical wing, even in the 1960s.

    I think this is a feature of every great reforming current.

    To begin with, there are serious problems with Things As They Are. So a lot of people want Change. Nearly all of them want Change that will just fix the problems that bother them.

    But some people want Big Change. Sometimes, those people want Change that goes far beyond just fixing the immediate problems. They may have a vision that says the problems result from fundamental elements of society, so those have to Change. These people may be the most dedicated to Changing things, so they get to be in charge of the movement for Change.

    And so equity feminism gets usurped by gender feminism.

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