“There isn’t enough space in this newspaper, much less this column, to dive into every issue American women face on a daily basis,” wrote Alex McDaniel about women distancing themselves from feminists who “talk about the ‘F-word.'”
From her hysterical tone, one might have thought McDaniel, a columnist for my local town paper in Mississippi, was writing about being a woman in the 18th century. Or a woman in the Middle East living under the reign of Islamic radicalism. But no. She was writing about being a woman here in America. Today. Which is so why many of us don’t like the F-word: It’s been hijacked by leftist women whose dim view of American life bears little relation to ours.
Before I address the modern feminist’s narrative, let’s talk about why first- and second-wave feminism were positive forces for women — and America. First-wave feminism led to the right to vote. Nothing was more important. The second wave advanced women’s freedom to choose careers, family or both. Equality of opportunity was their credo.
The work of Andrea Dworkin and Catharine MacKinnon dominated third-wave feminism, as women’s studies programs turned radically, and angrily, leftward.
Fourth-wave feminism threw in with the social justice crowd, which is hellbent on turning campuses into indoctrination camps where students are taught how to think “correctly” about race, class and gender. They argue women are victims in every phase of American life. That society — aka the heteropatriarchy — is stacked against us. Many of us think that’s utter bunk.
That’s why we dislike the F-word: It turned from something big and beautiful to something small and bitter.
An example: When President Donald Trump won 53 percent of the white female vote, fourth-wave feminists took to social media and attacked those of us who voted for him for betraying our sex. But we voted the way we voted because we didn’t like Hillary Clinton’s policies. Period. It sickens many of us that Clinton is still blaming sexism for her loss.
Another example is the mythical gender pay-gap narrative. Though women earn 77 percent of the median earnings of males, feminists omit details from the narrative that change everything. Compare men and women who work 40-hour weeks — and the gap closes to 87 percent. Factor in the careers women choose and adjust for pay differentials, and women earn 91 cents to every man’s dollar. Still not perfect, but impressive.
One last example: In a recent study cited in Psychology Today, discrimination and sexism were not the reasons women tended to be represented in smaller numbers in what are known as the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering and math. From a study of over 500,000 men and women, this is the conclusion: There is “a gigantic gender difference in interests. Women preferred working with people, whereas men preferred working with things, a preference that is detectable within the first two days of birth and among our close species relatives, rhesus monkeys.”
You won’t hear modern feminists touting that study. Why? They don’t like the results! They want outcomes to be the same. Damn our choices — or our differences.
I’m grateful for the work of first- and second-wave feminists. Thanks to them, “women’s issues” don’t rank high on my list of priorities.
I am a Christian. A mother. A wife. I love my country, the Constitution, and the freedoms they confer — and protect. I love the Founders. They had flaws, but they changed the world.
I love the blues, shooting pool, HGTV and “Shark Tank,” a show that celebrates capitalism.
I love the New Orleans Saints, the sound of my child laughing, and the taste of a well-grilled filet mignon. And in my home, I’m the grill master.
I love men, and I’m rooting for them, because without them women are in trouble.
There are dangerous men out there, which is why I have a handgun and carry a permit. A woman with a gun is scarier than an NFL linebacker without one.
And I’m grateful for all of God’s gifts. Love and mercy are the greatest.
My gender is not a priority on the public policy front, either.
I believe our national debt is a disgrace. It’s immoral to spend money we don’t have and pass our debt off to our children — our boys and girls.
Taxes are too high on the people who create jobs and grow our economy — our small business owners, many of whom are women.
I believe as taxes go up, our ability to do for ourselves and our communities diminishes. As the state gets bigger, our churches grow smaller, and other cultural institutions that make a community hum. As cultural capital shrinks, citizenship shrinks.
President John F. Kennedy asked, “Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.” Modern feminists ask the opposite: “Ask not what you can do for your country, but what your country can do for you.”
Our policymakers are promoting free college and health care. But someone has to pay. Nothing’s free.
I worry we’re taking the risk out of life and creating a generation too protected from life’s exigencies.
I worry about men in our country. They’re far more likely to commit suicide, and are nine times more likely to be incarcerated than women.
I worry about young men with no fathers. And young women, too. They’re far more likely to be the victims of violent crime and sexual abuse, and to live in poverty than their peers in two-parent families. And more likely to have children out of wedlock.
Only 6 percent of Americans live in poverty when they complete high school, get married, and have kids — in that order. Choices we make matter. We’re not victims, but we are moral and spiritual agents capable of rising above our circumstances.
This isn’t a slam on single mothers. My mom was one. She struggled to raise me and my three sisters. It was hard, and we got no help from our father. But she was tough and taught us the world didn’t owe us anything. We worked from an early age and contributed to the family. She taught us to value our bodies and minds. We all graduated from college.
My mom never talked to us about the odds being stacked against us. She didn’t treat us like victims, even when our lights were about to be turned off. We always found a way.
I believe that poor parents deserve to choose their schools just like their suburban counterparts. No child should be forced to go to a bad school.
I believe government assistance should promote mobility and self-sufficiency. Too many Americans in our inner cities and rural areas are trapped in zip codes with no opportunity to escape. That’s bad for the people receiving the assistance. And the people paying for it.
Those are the issues I care about. And they affect all Americans, men and women of every class, race and ethnicity. Which drives modern feminists crazy — the idea that so-called “women’s issues” don’t matter to women like me.
As for my values, I’m teaching my daughter to be responsible for her actions, to respect the value of a dollar, to be kind, to work hard, play hard, and rest hard. And to be a good friend.
I tell her there’s nothing she can’t do if she applies herself. And that our biggest enemy is ourselves. Our doubts. Our fears.
I tell her that if she focuses on grievances in her life, she’ll lose her gratitude. And if she focuses on slights in her life, she’ll empower the people who slight her. That there are people who will help her if she asks. And with God’s help, and love in her heart, everything is possible.
The biggest reason so many of us don’t call ourselves feminists is this: They’re so damned dour.
I tell her that if a man takes advantage of her, there are remedies. But not every slight amounts to harassment. Women, I add, can be especially cruel to women. Neither sex has a monopoly on bad behavior.
I’m praying she meets a good man. Marries and has kids. And lives a life filled with love.
That’s one fact feminists don’t like to promote: Married women are wealthier and happier, and live longer, than their single counterparts.
Here’s another: Women represent 55 percent of college students in this country. Fifty-five percent. We’re doing great!
But the biggest reason so many of us don’t call ourselves feminists is this: They’re so damned dour. That McDaniel, an attractive young woman with her life ahead of her, says she could fill her newspaper with her grievances about being a woman in America says it all.
One thing’s for certain: I’m tired of angry leftist women lecturing me about what it means to be a female. If you want to call yourselves feminists, be my guest. But count me out. I’m too busy enjoying life. And helping others — males and females alike — enjoy theirs.
Valerie Habeeb is married, has a beautiful 12-year-old-daughter named Reagan, and helps run a family business. She was born in Biloxi and lives in Oxford, Mississippi.
(photo credit, homepage image: mmrogne/ Flickr)