Feminist Ms.Take


September 24, 1993|By CAL THOMAS

Washington. -- For 30 years, feminists have asserted that women cannot achieve complete liberation without a career, an abortion, a divorce and an attitude.

The dominant media have worked tirelessly to affirm this message, barely noticing an alternative view and often stereotyping and dismissing that view as the ''Ozzie and Harriet syndrome.'' This implies that the fictional situations on the old television series were not only unrepresentative of most families but did not represent what most families wanted to be.

Now comes a new poll from USA Today-CNN-Gallup that shows the propaganda and sales strategy of the feminist movement has influenced far fewer women than originally thought. Just as important, the survey shows that not only have traditional attitudes about men and women, home and work been difficult (( to change, but also many have remained precisely the same as in those horrid Ozzie and Harriet days.

According to the poll of 1,065 adults nationwide, more women than men think wives should stay home and husbands should work. Fifty-three percent of the men feel this way, but 59 percent of the women think they should be home while their husbands provide for the family. Women who feel this way agreed it is better if ''the man is the achiever outside the home, and the woman takes care of family.''

Even more shocking to career-first feminists are the polling data which indicate that more women (44 percent) than men (33 percent) would prefer a male boss. That's an interesting take on patriarchal and hierarchical power.

The poll also revealed that 48 percent of women think the women's movement has made women's lives harder than 20 years ago; 41 percent of men agree. These figures parallel the upsurge in the divorce rate over the same period, which has caused many women to experience a significant drop in income and loss of lifestyle, not to mention the rise in juvenile crime linked primarily to broken homes.

At least one feminist group is trying to put a curious spin on the poll numbers. Katherine Spillar of the Feminist Majority told USA Today that the poll simply shows that women are upset and frustrated because their roles inside the home have not changed as rapidly as their roles outside the home.

Sorry, Ms. Spillar. It is precisely because those roles seem out of joint with the reality of the human condition that some women are frustrated. Isn't this what Marilyn Quayle meant at last year's Republican National Convention when she warned of the danger that occurs when some women try to deny women's essential nature as women?

Georgetown University government Professor James V. Schall is correct when he writes about the changing family over the past two centuries, and especially in this century: ''This effort to understand what is going on with regard to the centrality of the family in civilized life requires a reconsideration of feminism, non-traditional family units, delinquency, health, divorce and the many other problems that have arisen in a society that has not understood either the meaning of the family or what is required to support its uniqueness.''

The bad news is that much of feminism (though not all) has wrought havoc on a family structure and order that served the best interests of children and the nation well. The good news is that about half the country -- and more women than men -- have not bought into the feminist ms.stake.

Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist.

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