Hurray for non-feminist women

January 16, 1995|By Mona Charen

THIS IS MY kind of women's magazine! Spare, at only 20 pages, the Women's Quarterly nevertheless manages to deal stunning blows to establishment pieties like day care, violence against women, the mommy track, sexual harassment and the "right to die."

With humor and sarcasm -- but also doses of warmth and passion -- these women offer an intelligent refutation of the leading feminist nonsense that is swallowed so uncritically by the mainstream press.

The lead story takes apart the Violence Against Women Act, a $1.5 billion goody buried in last year's crime bill. The law purports to respond to the nationwide epidemic of violence against women with training programs, new hot lines, funding for counseling services, sensitivity training for judges and court personnel in domestic violence, and even a pilot program to teach elementary school children about "domestic violence and violence among intimate partners."

Where did Congress get the idea that such interventions were necessary? The bill was the special project of Sen. Joseph Biden, who was educated on these issues by advocacy groups like the Battered Women's Justice Project and the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. The latter group was dissected very effectively by Christina Hoff Sommers in her book "Who Stole Feminism?" The NCADV circulates shocking, and utterly unsubstantiated, statistics. One of its fund-raising brochures claims that "more than 50 percent of all women will experience some form of violence from their spouses during marriage. More than one-third are battered repeatedly every year." Those statistics are false. They are based on a tortured interpretation of a survey that asked women whether they or their spouses had ever "stomped out of a room" or "insulted or swore." If that counts as "violence," then a plum is a pumpkin.

Betsy Hart, who titled her piece "Violence Against Taxpayers," turned to federal data and discovered that women are 40 percent less likely than men to be the victims of violent crime, and that domestic violence is quite low on the list of threats women face. Lovers, husbands and ex-husbands together commit about 18 percent of violent crimes against women. Husbands account for just 2 percent. Total strangers commit 44 percent of violent acts against women. A married woman who lives with her husband is actually about one-fifth as likely as a single, separated or divorced woman to be a victim of violent crime, and she is one-tenth as likely to be raped.

But the feminists who run advocacy groups are in the business of convincing the rest of us that normal relationships between men and women -- which we may think are mutually satisfying -- are actually the settings for abuse and misery. Gloria Steinem said, "The most dangerous situation for a woman is not an unknown man in the street, but a husband or lover in the isolation of their own home."

Interesting word, "isolation." It is not the married people of my acquaintance who feel isolated -- it is those who are still single.

From pseudo-violence, the Women's Quarterly ventures into even more politically incorrect territory -- an essay in favor of the wolf whistle. Anne Roche Muggeridge writes, "It's not the kind of thing one wants to admit to these days, but I liked being whistled at. I liked it very much. I wish I were still in the being-whistled-at age bracket."

Ms. Muggeridge recalls her first ocean voyage at the age of 19. She and a female friend were among a very few passengers on a merchant ship steaming to England. After days of harsh weather, the skies cleared, and to celebrate, she and her friend donned pretty dresses and went above. They were greeted by a chorus of whistles. "I blushed furiously and looked away," Ms. Muggeridge writes. "Did you expect this to happen?" she asked her slightly older friend. "Oh, yes," came the reply.

The whistles didn't seem to Ms. Muggeridge to be a form of humiliation or harassment. She saw them as lilting notes of appreciation. No threat was intended or assumed. Both sexes took pleasure in the ritual. Naturally, the practice had to be banned.

Mona Charen is a syndicated columnist.

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