Remote Observations of the “Women’s” March
Where was this enthusiasm 3 months ago?
The Women’s March on Washington looks like a success by the numbers. This promped a wise friend on Facebook to ask: where was this enthusiasm during the election?
It is by all accounts an impressive protest/rally turnout today, as several hundred thousand Americans gather to demonstrate their fealty to the losing argument in the 2016 election. The pity, for them, is that a tenth of today’s effort spent prior to Election Day in, say, Wisconsin-Michigan-Pennsylvania, would have put them on the winning side. It didn’t happen for many reasons. It would have communicated uncertainty in a near-religious movement. It would have meant associating with, meeting, respecting, and persuading the very sorts of fellow citizens who are not at the rallies today. It would have meant exercising societal toleration by virtue of that association. So they didn’t do it. This is the big lesson of the remarkable crowds of 21 January 2017: they represent a movement that has significant difficulties in extending itself outward, but finds it quite easy to mobilize within its own ranks.
I agree with my friend’s assessment that this failure has many reasons, and I even agree with his descriptions of some of those reasons.
But, he didn’t mention the simple one: Hillary Clinton.
With Hillary Clinton at the top of the ticket, the Party could not blur many of the exclusionary distinctions leftists often make with women’s issues. Because the truth is they actually did extend themselves outward with this march. It is not mobilization within its own ranks.
Saturday’s march is a liberal protest march disguised as a women’s march.
This bait and switch has been going on for decades, but Hillary Clinton was too much of a known factor, with too much embarrassing historical baggage, to allow them to make the switch in the general election.
A Brief History of the Feminist Bait and Switch
About 10 years after the Second Wave of feminism swept women out of the home and into to the office, leaders knew there were problems.
Betty Friedan, who generally gets the credit for launching the Second Wave, saw “conflicts, doubts, and fears” among the “young and not so young women, and men, trying to live in terms of first-stage feminism.” She made those statements in her 1981 book that fell down the memory hole, The Second Stage. She wrote it to address the ways feminism had begun to lead women astray.
From these daughters [of the early 80s] — getting older now, working so hard, determined not to be trapped as their mothers were, and expecting so much, taking for granted the opportunities we had to struggle for — I've begun to hear undertones of pain and puzzlement, of queasiness, an uneasiness, almost a biterness that they hardly dare admit.
Friedan goes on to discuss work-life imbalance and foresees the chase for advanced reproductive technology. For her efforts in noticing the tired pain and puzzlement, with which today’s women are quite familiar, Gloria Steinem had ousted her out of NOW’s leadership and set the movement’s trajectory on the career mystique and man vs. woman competition we’re familiar with today.
Put your career first and be completely independent of men. Never trust a man. A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle. You can do career and motherhood alone because fathers are superfluous. Etc. Yes, yes, so our mothers told us.
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During the 60s and 70s, a few women had bad premonitions about this advice and had baulked. “Feminism” became a word to avoid and “I’m not a feminist but…” started its run to become a cliche. By the 80s we, the young women of Gen X, were feminists — Western culture had certainly absorbed the ideals of the Second Wave and we have the degrees, careers, and women-led households to show for it — but we didn’t care for the term.
But time helps us forget. Even as women’s lives became more hectic, lonely, and frazzled, we largely forgot the origins of the bad advice we were following. Surely, our woe was due to the fact that men are pigs. Everyone knows that bad things come from patriarchy.
“Feminism,” the word, became useful again, a banner to rally under. It only needed a friendly definition. Thus, some women sold feminism to younger women as “just about equality” and “choosing your choice.”
As long as few looked closely, the definition transplant worked. Leftists could leverage the popularity of “just about equality” for any of number of less popular issues.
But Hillary Clinton was the quintessential old guard feminist, the type who encourages career first and complete independence and scoffs at “whiny women,” professional and otherwise. She was too known for the definition trick to work during the election. Now, when Clinton is no longer the banner carrier — and was shrewdly not included in the list of women honorees — the blured definition trick works again.
This march is a numerical success because it can reach outside the left, just not transparently. Many women marching are “just about equality” feminists concerned about President Trump’s views of women, but the oranizers are something else, something very exclusive.
Consider the example of the New Wave Feminists, a pro-life feminist organization. They are just as concerned as pro-choice women about the new Trump Administration, yet the organizers disinvited them from being a march parnter for not holding to the organizers’ views on abortion. They attended anyway and have been welcomed by other participants.
The participants and organizers have a different idea about what this march is about, yet the famous folks at the podium, Ashely Judd with her “period blood poetry slam” (an vivid description from another friend on Facebook) and Gloria Steinem with her toxic masculinity hyperbole, will claim the march as an edorsement for their ideas, about women or otherwise.
The Most Inspiring Moments From the Speeches at the Women's March on Washington
Hundreds of thousands united at the Women's March on Washington today, and at sister marches in states and cities…
One final irony, the bit about the Constitution does not start with “I, the President” but “We the People” — that is quite true. In fact, constitutional conservatives objected to former-President Obama’s rule by Executive Order on those grounds. We — I am one such conservative — share the protesters’ concern that the White House has too much power, but we note that this is true regardless of who lives there.
An earlier version of this article appeared in The Conservative Woman UK in March, 2016.