Linda Turley-Hansen: Women must sidestep peer pressure and follow values and goals each individually set for themselves.
It's not often I'm motivated to duplicate a column subject back to back. But the women's movement is a topic so far reaching I justify the opportunity, especially after reading an Oct. 20 article in Arizona State University's campus newspaper, the State Press.
Titled "Beyond the Glass Ceiling," reporter Jessica Testa discusses a lecture series on gender inequality hosted by the ASI Women and Gender Studies Department. Testa's report recounts the tired mantra of the old movement launched 40 years ago, repeating the philosophy that has recently proven itself to be, at the least, equally harmful as good. Sadly, old and young feminists are lost in the churning of energy past. They cling to the story that American women, as a whole, remain victims of society.
This latest effort seeks to inject youthful spirit into their agenda. Promoters ignore current data that exposes the downside of that movement. As I earlier reported, the National Bureau of Economic Research found, across all industrialized nations, women are more unhappy than they were prior to the 1960s and '70s. And, oh yes, men are now happier than women.
What we have are exhausted wives, mothers and singles, swamped in the pressure of "having it all." Now, they're being called on by feminists to re-embrace the movement and "finish the job." It was noted in the State Press article that the momentum of Barack Obama's candidacy grew when youth joined his crusade. They now seek to give feminism new life in the same way.
I say to women, don't take the bait. Examine more carefully your priorities. Women are blessed with amazing choices. Yes, some of those choices came from that movement. But women and families have paid a huge price as we juggle all that goes with those choices. The good news is wiser women are emerging on campuses, and they see the view from another position. One group is The Network of Enlightened Women. Senior and finance major Blayne Bennett, ASU's NeW president, issued this statement to the State Press: "The most pressing issue facing college women today is pressure resulting from a culture of discontentment. The theme of the women's movement has shifted from 'You can be anything,' to 'You must be everything.'
"As college women, we need to develop a sense of confidence and identity so that we may overcome small issues and reject the temptation to embrace victimhood that is promoted by our peers, the media and society as a whole."
Refreshing! Youth who think on their feet, who won't be led into a swamp of self-pity.
In need of just one example of how the old message gets lost in itself? Take the quote from the same article concerning the recent law passed by the state Legislature in regard to protecting women seeking abortions: "The biggest blow to securing reproductive rights was state legislation passed last year that introduced new policies into the abortion process, including a 24-hour waiting period between the consultation and procedure, the reading of patients' rights and ensuring that doctors - as opposed to Planned Parenthood's nurse practitioners - perform abortion procedures." That quote was from Sarah Norman, co-director of ASU Womyn's Coalition.
Excuse me. That law protects women. Clearly, these radical feminists come from another planet. By the way, opponents' efforts to stop the law from taking effect Sept. 30 effectively acquired a stay until the matter can go to court.
Take note: The NeW gals have it right. Women must sidestep peer pressure and follow values and goals each individually set for themselves. The cattle mentality followed by their mothers took many right off the cliff. But today, their daughters have a chance to do it differently. It turns out research shows young women, by the time they reach 12th grade, are struggling with the same level of unhappiness as their mothers, who sought solutions outside of themselves. It seems to me the tired drumbeat about feminine victimhood has seen its day. In its place, I recommend gratitude and individual focus on what really matters.
Linda Turley-Hansen is a syndicated columnist and former veteran Phoenix television news anchor who lives in the East Valley. She can be reached by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.