Wednesday, September 13, 2006

A Tale of Anti-Feminism

Resa LaRu Kirkland has written an exceedingly odd anti-feminist article. Even its title is a little odd:" WE'VE GONE THE WRONG WAY, BABY: Feminism's Proud Destruction of Mankind". Here a confession seems called for: When I first read it a few days ago I was sure that the whole thing was a parody, from the title (proudly destroying "mankind", indeed) to the very end of the article. It reads quite well as a parody, but appears not to be intended as one. Still, this is how the article begins:

I'm ashamed to be a woman. I feel less for it... like I don't quite measure up. Now understand, men have never made me feel less. No, this inferiority complex began about 35 years ago with a little thing called Feminism. Feminism has made me ashamed of my sex-as a group and individually.

There was a time when women deserved respect-because we are mothers, because of our natural softness and tender feelings, because we have been the ones who raised up righteous leaders of good nations for centuries now. We dropped the ball on that most vital role, not men. Consequently, we don't deserve the respect that men-yes men!--have bestowed upon us any longer. It is the day care facility-institutions-that raises our children now, and the result has been the most horrific social experiment history has ever seen.

Gentle, soft and tender feelings we women have aplenty, I thought. Except that my eye slipped to the right column of the screen which boasted a short biography of Ms. Kirkland:

Resa LaRu Kirkland is an avid military historian, with her main focus being on the Korean War and its forgotten warriors. She was born in Arizona in 1966, and has lived in northern Idaho, El Paso Texas, Pocatello, IDand the Evergreen State, where she currently resides. She is married with two sons whom she is teaching the evils of political correctness. She was given the nickname AMERICA'S WAR CHICK by her beloved Korean War Vets, and uses it proudly to this day! Her other favorites from her "men" are The Pitbull, Hellraiser, Tiger, D-Day. Her favorite names given to her by those who oppose her views are Capitalist Pig, Brass-Bottomed Bitch, and H-Bomb. Her husband and boys just call her Turbo. Resa loves power-lifting, snowmobiling, swimming, boating, four-wheeling, and most activities of any nature. She has a degree in education and is anxious start work on her graduate degree in military history.

The bells of cognitive dissonance were ringing alarms in my head at this point. Here women are soft, gentle and tender, but not Resa. She likes war and power-lifting and snowsledding. But it was the other women, the gentle, soft-spoken and tender-hearted, who were in fact the criminals. Because Ms. Kirkland believes that daycare creates monsters and that the burden of childrearing belongs to mothers and mothers alone. So women should return home, and you bet that it's affordable:

Here's what you're gonna do. Women, go home. Get rid of the huge mortgage and move into a trailer. It's not the neighborhood-or village, idiot!-that raises a good child. Have two cars? Get rid of one and deal with the annoyance of having to drive more. It's not the car that makes the family. Fancy clothes and vacations? Trivial and silly... those won't be what your child remembers. Be the one who drops him off and picks him up from school. Those precious moments laughing and talking will always be remembered, I guarantee it. Be in the kitchen, filling a warm home with delicious smells, sounds, and memories, and bring the whole family in to make dinner again, cleaning up together afterwards and bonding over pot roast. It is simple, it is time tested, it is true. The hand that rocks the cradle did-at one time-rule the world. The cradle is silent because the hand is at work and the baby at an institution. Sisters, go home-too much is at stake. Your babies are dying and killing, and the only one who can stop this infanticide is you. The power is-and always has been-yours. Take it back now... it's almost too late.

Mmm. But Resa looks forward to starting graduate work in war studies and writes articles for publication.

I'm not going to waste time on the absence of any real evidence in the piece or its extremely exaggerated tone, except to note that it really does read like a parody. Women have worked outside the home for generations all over the world and children in many countries where the tradition is for women to have jobs do very well on all the significant measures of development and well-being. Think of Scandinavia, for example. And at least one study found that the children of stay-at-home fathers exceeded other children in achievement. That would suggest an opposite policy conclusion from Resa's urgings...

But at this point in my reading I had grown very uncomfortable with the apparent self-loathing the author expressed. Just read this bit to see what I mean:

My all time favorite saying about the power women possess was revealed by author Samuel Johnson in the 18th century: Nature has given women so much power that the law has very wisely given them little. Now before feminists start ripping tendons and ligaments with their typical knee-jerk reaction to this example, look again. This is a statement and recognition of the power and strength men recognize within women-power they envy, strength they admire, and tenderness they crave. This is a statement of respect and recognition for women, not belittlement

Heh. What was the other thing Samuel Johnson said about women? Oh yes, this:

I told him I had been that morning at a meeting of the people called Quakers, where I had heard a woman preach. Johnson: "Sir, a woman's preaching is like a dog's walking on his hind legs. It is not done well; but you are surprised to find it done at all."

Another show of respect and recognition for women? I suspect Resa would call it healthy scorn for women who try to do something outside their proper sphere. Like studying war? Perhaps.

I finally gathered up my courage and sent off a fairly angry e-mail to Ms. Kirkman, with many criticisms of her article and the contrast of its message to the one in her bio. I pointed out that she seemed to condemn other women to a life that she herself didn't desire. I'm not sure if I implied that others would see her as one of the herd of ordinary women, not the honorary man she seemed to think she was. But in any case I expressed sadness about all this.

She responded, and kindly gave me permission to publish part of our correspondence. So here is Resa LaRu Kirkman on the topic of women:

"No pain around follow logic and reason. I've rarely been
hurt by men. Women are another story. Now when women put aside their
natural emotional hysteria in favor of logic and reason, they can
accomplish miracles. But such women are the exception rather than the
rule, and we live in a society where our laws are meant for the larger
majority of the rule, not the smaller groups of the exception."

I still find this sad, because according to her own standards she'd be a member of that smaller exceptional group which doesn't deserve the protection of laws.