According to the most recent issue of that newsletter, feminist author Naomi Wolf will be appearing in the Cindy Pritzker Auditorium here at the library on September 23 (at 6:00 p.m.) in order to discuss her latest book, which deals with personal and political issues in relation to the meaning of liberty.
During the course of abortion-related research which I've done in the past, Naomi Wolf's name has come up on a number of occasions. She considers herself to be a feminist (and many people concur). She considers herself to be "pro-choice" regarding abortion. But Ms. Wolf has occasionally irritated her fellow feminists by admitting that legal abortion has not necessarily been a great thing for America or for American women and families. She has even admitted that the deceptive rhetoric historically used to defend "abortion rights" has been simplistically oblivious to the realities pertaining to the humanity of unborn children.
(Here's a link, by the way, to a very insightful article which discusses Naomi Wolf's position on the subject of abortion. As for the statements made in the article about Norma McCorvey, the former "Roe" of Roe v. Wade, I'm not in a position to assess the legitimacy of those statements, but I would strongly suggest that people check out Norma's website, and the book promoted on that site. Regardless of where Norma stands on issues pertaining to legislation, it's clear that she is not proud of the role she played in making abortion legal. More significantly, she has repeatedly allied herself in recent years with prominent pro-life activists whose clearly stated goal is to reverse that tragic judicial decision and to make abortion illegal once again.)
How does Naomi Wolf define what it means to be a feminist? Here's one illuminating quote which I found online:
What is a feminist? You are a feminist if you believe:
- Women matter as much as men do.
- Women have the right to determine their lives.
- Women's experiences matter.
- Women have the right to tell the truth about their experiences.
- Women deserve more of whatever it is they are not getting enough of because they are women: respect, self-respect, education, safety, health, representation, money.
-- Naomi Wolf, Fire With Fire
Notice that there's nothing in Wolf's list which would suggest that one cannot be a feminist unless one approves of legal abortion. In light of her own ambivalence about abortion in relation to morality, that is easy to understand.
But most of the feminists who dominate the Democratic party, and who are responsible for that party's platform pertaining to the abortion issue, would vehemently disagree with the idea that one can defend the unborn child's right to life without compromising one's belief in the equality of women. For years, liberal feminists have argued that legal abortion was an essential aspect of women's liberation. They have made it clear that they think that it would be impossible for women to be liberated in any other way.
Now Sarah Palin comes along in 2008 and demonstrates that it's possible to believe in certain aspects of the feminist agenda, and to have a very active political career characterized by high aspirations and the freedom to speak openly and aggressively about one's personal convictions, without buying into the idea that the freedom to murder one's progeny in utero is a prerequisite for "liberation".
Democrats have already gone to great lengths to try to discredit Ms. Palin, especially after seeing her electrifying performance at the Republican convention. During the next couple of months, it's likely that those attacks will only grow more intense. They will look for any and every excuse to imply that Palin is beneath contempt, and that she is certainly unqualified to serve the nation as the Vice President.
But don't be misled into thinking that those attacks will ever address the real reason for the Democrats' intense dislike for Sarah Palin. The real reason Sarah Palin drives liberals crazy is that she has achieved more in a short period of time --- in spite of her opposition to something which they consider to be essential to feminism --- than most abortion-promoting feminists (including Hillary Clinton) have managed to achieve.
In short, she is living proof that one of their cherished arguments in favor of legal abortion is based on false beliefs.
Sarah Palin is the second woman in history to receive the nomination of a major American political party for the second highest political office in the nation. Yet, she is staunchly opposed to legal abortion, even in the cases of rape and incest.
Regardless of whether or not you agree with pro-lifers such as Sarah Palin or myself, it should be obvious from her example that being pro-life does not preclude the possibility that a woman can achieve great professional success. Like most of the other arguments associated with the so-called "pro-choice" movement over the years, that argument simply cannot withstand careful scrutiny or analysis.
Of course, that comes as no surprise to people familiar with the work of the members of an organization known as Feminists For Life. For decades, that group has argued that legalization of abortion actually represents capitulation to the values of a patriarchal society, instead of representing a renegotiation of the social contract in a manner which would insure that women would be treated as full equals without the need to negate or deny an essential aspect of what it means to be a woman. The members of Feminists For Life have gone to great lengths to document the fact that feminism was not always associated with legal abortion. Most of the earliest feminists, such as Elizabeth Cady Stanton, strongly opposed abortion. (Quote from the preceding Wikipedia article: "In a view different from many modern feminists, Stanton, who supported birth control and likely used it herself, believed that abortion was infanticide, a position she discussed in Revolution.")
More than a few of the members of Feminists For Life could be described as liberals when it comes to issues other than the abortion issue. But that has not prevented them from being shut out of the Democratic party on account of their views. In spite of its ceaseless rhetoric about so-called "tolerance," most Democrats have been extremely intolerant of those who dared to challenge the party's predominant views regarding the alleged necessity of legal abortion.
What a shame. I firmly believe that women should be treated as equals. I also believe that unborn children have human rights which are in no way inferior to the rights enjoyed by men or by women. Promoting women's rights and promoting the right to life for unborn children are complementary goals. Those goals are by no means mutually exclusive.