In October 2003, Dr. Crouse gave a lecture at Princeton University on the intersection of conservatism and feminism. It is the best analysis I’ve read on why feminism has lost its influence among American women.
Somewhere along the way, feminism lost its way. The movement forgot that “having it all” included the personal dimension. Life is not just profession and career. Success is not measured JUST in paycheck and status.
The 2003 young businesswoman of the year, Gabrielle Molnar, explained that she didn’t want to be called a feminist because feminism doesn’t support the cause of women.
I couldn’t have said it better myself. Feminism has lost sight of what it is that women REALLY want. Most women want to love and be loved. They want the freedom to be all they can be and they want to be treated with dignity and respect. They also want the opportunity to have meaningful careers and productive lives — but most aren’t willing for their ambition to harm their relationships or damage their children.
The issue is no longer about equality of opportunity for women. That was settled a long time ago — Dr. Crouse’s own career is ample evidence of that. The problem with modern feminism is that it has been so tightly linked to radical politics, hatred of all men, and deconstruction of the traditional family, positions that turn off most women.
Of course, this distinction is lost on the mainstream media, who run to NOW for a quote every time a “women’s issue” comes up.
UPDATE: To further buttress Dr. Crouse’s point, here is what an Australian feminist, Virginia Haussegger, wrote about what her commitment to the feminist ideal got her:
The end result: here we are, supposedly “having it all” as we edge 40; excellent education; good qualifications; great jobs; fast-moving careers; good incomes; and many of us own the trendy little inner-city pad we live in. It’s a nice caffe-latte kind of life, really.
But the truth is – for me at least – the career is no longer a challenge, the lifestyle trappings are joyless (the latest Collette Dinnigan frock looks pretty silly on a near-40-year-old), and the point of it all seems, well, pointless.
I am childless and I am angry. Angry that I was so foolish to take the word of my feminist mothers as gospel. Angry that I was daft enough to believe female fulfilment came with a leather briefcase.
It was wrong. It was crap.
In my own personal experience in the corporate world, I see more and more young women — smart, talented, capable of anything they want — make a deliberate choice to either quit work altogether, or at least scale back their careers, in order to devote their energies to something they value more highly: their marriages and kids. Radical feminism has lost these women for good.