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Ink Slingers

God’s Fabulously Fashioned Feminine Form

 

photo credit: hernanpba

It was a clear, sunny afternoon. Immersed in some mundane daily chore, my routine was abruptly interrupted by the ring of my cell phone. It was my doctor. After the usual greetings, she seemed to pause before continuing. “Lynette, I want to commend you for following up on this.” Darn. Any doctor starting a conversation that way couldn’t possibly have good news. “You’ve caught this early and the good news is, it’s not cancer.” Ok…. “but the biopsies did not come back with clean edges and the report states stage 2 and 3 precancerous cells. You will need to have an excision of the area to remove any remaining abnormal cells.” Darn, again. With a family history of melanoma and other related skin cancers, I knew the excision was unavoidable. What paralyzed me in that moment was the realization of what she was implying. This wasn’t my dermatologist. She was my gynecologist and the skin cancer was in an area that had never seen the light of day. Back, arm, leg, even face…. but there?

I met with a highly respected gynecological oncologist a few weeks later and he only confirmed the inevitable. Family and personal history, combined with the biopsy results, screamed negligence if I ignored or chose not to have the excision done. But it wasn’t just a simple matter of choosing to do it or not. Once I accepted the necessity of the procedure, it then came down to my level of pain tolerance. Financially, excision in the office would save a significant amount of money. Torn with the guilt of spending more than perhaps I needed to, I asked for my doctor’s opinion. His words cut through the stillness in the room. Economically, the office was the best choice, “but if it was my wife, I might tell her something different.” Double darn – enough said. Surgery and related appointments were scheduled.

My husband, in an effort to become educated about the subject at hand, spent an evening looking up my “condition”. As he read, he reported interesting information, hoping the knowledge would make me feel better. A few articles into the research, what he was discovering, however, was nothing short of horrifying. What is performed medically in our country as a response to female genital pre/cancer is routinely carried out in other countries as a form of female mutilation. The statistics for FGM (female genital mutilation) are staggering. According to the World Health Organization’s (WHO) Fact Sheet dated February of 2017, “More than 200 million girls and women alive today have been cut in 30 countries in Africa, the Middle East and Asia where FGM is concentrated.”[i] While some of the reasoning behind FGM is sociocultural factors, the conditions in which it is carried out (unmedicated with poor hygiene), along with the long-term psychological and physical effects, have prompted a world-wide effort to eradicate it.

Lest we fall into proudly boasting our country is above such atrocities, “the Centers for Disease Control estimate that there are around 513,000 girls and women in the United States who have either undergone FGM or who (are) at risk of doing so—mostly in immigrant communities from regions of the world where it is still practiced.”[ii] Although FGM was prohibited in the U.S. with the passing of the Federal Prohibition of Female Genital Mutilation Act of 1995[iii], our country has not escaped unscathed.[iv] On April 24th of this year, CNN reported, “In the first federal case involving female genital mutilation filed in the United States, two Michigan doctors and the wife of one of the doctors have been charged with performing the banned procedure on two 7-year-old girls.”[v] Just two months later on July 14th, CNN published perhaps the most alarming report I have read yet, “The alarming rise of female genital mutilation in America.”[vi] I will warn you. It is not for the faint-hearted.

Years ago, I would have received my husband’s informational reporting with a half-hearted “that’s horrible” response and I would have moved on to my own self interests. But this time, I was almost instantly seized with a deep sadness and pain. Why the difference? My faith.

photo credit: Pascal Rey Photographies

Having recently studied the writings of Pope St. John Paul II on human sexuality contained in his teachings on the Theology of the Body, I couldn’t escape the reality of the attack at the very core of the dignity and the femininity of these young girls and women. We are sexual beings. This fact is undeniable and unavoidable. We are conceived into being within the context of a sexual act. We are formed within our mother’s wombs with DNA that marks us indelibly as either male or female. Not just biological beings, we are made in the image and likeness of God, which means our bodies are “even more so, theological. Our bodies offer us, if we have the eyes to see it, a profound ‘study of God.’ Just as a work of art points to the heart of the artist, so too does the human body point to the heart of the God who made us.”[vii] Every cell, every inch of our body was intricately designed for a definite purpose. To rob a woman of her femininity as God physically designed is to alter what was divinely inspired. And then, as a result of the intervention of man’s disordered misconception of God’s plans, all havoc breaks loose. The pain is felt not just by the woman herself, but it trickles down to every aspect her life touches – her future relationships, her ability to mother, her role within society, her impact on her peers, etc.

We have all heard the cry to protest the “Culture of Death.”[viii] We think of such issues as abortion, euthanasia, capital punishment, etc. With FGM, I propose we are facing a culture of death to the dignity of femininity, a death of the sacredness of God’s design, a death of the beauty God created in the creature He called “woman.” There is hope – a surgeon, speechless by what she saw, hoping to establish a clinic for reversal surgery[ix]; organizations like Kakenya’s Dream[x] that educate and keep young girls safe from FGM and child marriage; and a documentary, Jaha’s Promise[xi], that chronicles the story of Jaha Dukureh, an activist named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.

It would have been much easier for me to have brushed aside the inner voice prodding me to write about this. I could have come home from my surgery (which ended up being more extensive than originally planned), pampered myself with pain meds all the while confident in the knowledge that I had an excellent surgeon and medical team who treated me with dignity and respect, and let the topic slide by. But I know God doesn’t work that way. He won’t let me forget those women whose faces I see when I close my eyes to offer my discomfort for them. He won’t let me be silent about the pain they surely endure that I have only experienced a mere fraction of. It is for them I share my story. It is for them I share their story.

________________________________
Sources:

[i] http://www.who.int/mediacentre/factsheets/fs241/en/

[ii] http://time.com/4707899/victims-of-fgm-see-new-hope-in-life-changing-surgery/

[iii] http://www.fgmnetwork.org/legisl/US/federal.html

[iv] https://www.pri.org/stories/2017-04-21/female-genital-mutilation-illegal-us-so-why-it-still-happening

[v] http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/22/health/detroit-genital-mutilation-charges/index.html

[vi] http://www.cnn.com/2017/05/11/health/female-genital-mutilation-fgm-explainer-trnd/index.html

[vii] Christopher West, Foreword, Theology of Her Body, p 2.

[viii] http://www.therealpresence.org/archives/Evangelization/Evangelization_008.htm

[ix] http://time.com/4707899/victims-of-fgm-see-new-hope-in-life-changing-surgery/

[x] https://www.kakenyasdream.org/about/

[xi] https://www.theguardian.com/society/2017/mar/17/jahas-promise-fgm-film-premieres-at-copenhagen-film-festival; https://www.theguardian.com/society/video/2017/mar/17/jaha-dukureh-promise-fgm-video

 

Categories
Discipleship Marriage Matrimony Mindy Ten Commandments

A Chaste Woman’s Hero: Jane Eyre

jane-eyre

** spoiler alert ** If you haven’t read it and think you might, don’t read this review! This truly great book is filled with suspense and surprises.

I rarely read a book more than once, but Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte has captured my attention repeatedly since I first encountered it years ago.

The book jacket claims that “Charlotte Bronte poured her contempt for the stifling conventions society imposed upon a woman’s right to emotional and sexual fulfillment.”

On one hand, I can see how this “frank revelation of female character” may have been shocking or particularly well-developed for the time. The romantic male characters in Bronte novels are far from ideal or societally acceptable in the classic sense.

In actuality, this novel is far from a feminist treatise, unless one defines feminism as upholding Christian chastity in the spirit of Proverbs 31 and Matthew 5:30.

In this novel, Edward Rochester is the desire of Jane Eyre. He is an ugly, older man with a bombastic character and a whole lot of baggage. In fact, he has a psychotic wife locked up in his house, a secret he has kept from almost everyone, even Jane. Yet, they fall deeply in love; a love which is well-developed in the story and quite pleasant to read.

Finally, he asks her to marry him and, with their vows imminent, someone speaks up during the ceremony to oppose the match. The truth comes out about the wife and, in spite of her intense feelings of affection for him, Jane makes the decision to leave Edward completely. He is exceedingly repentant, and by the time you hear his story, you don’t feel nearly as bad for him as you want to. But she runs away and does not look back. The reader sees her deep love and her compassion for him and his situation but also sees that there is a finality about her actions; a refreshing sense of totality in her willingness to abandon her desires for the sake of her conscience and her knowledge of the Ten Commandments.

All seems lost, and I assumed Jane was going to end up with an austere, brilliant, and handsome missionary and minister who proposes to her and invites her to go to India with him.

She can’t leave, however, until she resolves once and for all to learn what has happened to her true love. Is this regret or remorse for turning away? The reader senses it is purely love. It turns out Edward’s house has been burned down by the disturbed wife who died in the fire. He has been blinded and left even uglier than before, and now that she is free to marry him, they marry and live a contented life together.

How this book can be touted as a feminist masterpiece in the modern-day, cultural sense of the word is beyond me. I found it to be an incredible spiritual treatise, and Jane and Edward’s spiritual journeys are palpable and poignant.

When Jane leaves Edward, refusing to give in to the temptation of living with a married man, she trusts God entirely to care for her. Where she ends up is ultimately prosperous, both materially and emotionally. She gets reconnected with family she didn’t know she had, and part of the very communication that led to her initial tragedy of the called-off wedding turns into the very thing that prospers her. When she does meet Edward again, she gives herself wholly to his service. She feels free to love him completely and serve him in his infirmities, which ultimately lessen as he regains some of his vision.

Edward, on the other hand, travels through the fire, getting terribly humbled. Only when he completely gives himself to God does he have a second chance to find happiness, and this time, on the terms of the Christian faith which is the foundation of the story. These characters face extreme trials while staying true to Christian ideals.

The underlying message of this book is that God’s rules are liberating and lead to a very unexpected joy. Not very feminist in the modern-day sense of the word!

If you haven’t read Jane Eyre yet, you should. You may find her, as I have, a strong and fitting companion for the Christian journey.

jane-eyre-9

Categories
Misty Uncategorized

Catholic and Feminist: Can You Be Both? (Part 3)

One of the hardest things for me to shed as an adult convert was the secular feminism I’d adopted since my late teens. Feminism that insisted “bodily autonomy”–the ability to control what I do with my own body–is the foundation of authentic freedom as a woman. If I want to have sex with a man (or woman), use birth control, or even have an abortion, so what? It’s my body, after all.

Part of the reason I “needed” the right to do whatever I wanted with my body is that I’d been taught this would ultimately lead to happiness. Casual sex and cohabitation (I thought) enabled me to “test drive” men, with each ex-boyfriend being one step closer to the man of my dreams. And since I’d clearly need to weed out the frogs on the way to my prince, contraception was not only necessary, but essential. Should contraception fail, I needed abortion to ensure I wasn’t accidentally tied to one of those frogs for life. Or have my plans for a career derailed.

There was only one problem: none of those things made me happy. Instead of empowering me, every new casual sex partner left me feeling used and worthless. The long-term relationships were even more damaging, because I had to repeatedly reconcile the “I love yous” with their refusal to sacrifice for me…the “I’ll never leave yous” with their exit from the relationship. With each new wound, my ability to trust grew weaker. I realized the only way to survive emotionally was to wall up the deepest part of myself so the pain wasn’t as devastating when it came again. By the time I met my husband, there was a fortress around my heart–a fortress that he is still, 15 years later, taking down, brick by brick.

Why didn’t living as an enlightened modern woman make me happy? In essence, because modern feminism is based on freeing women from their biology. Or more specifically, from their ability to conceive and nurture new life. But our femininity is not incidental to who we are, the way hair color or body shape is. Instead, it is inextricably linked to who we are as persons made in the image and likeness of God. The body God gave us–those inconvenient breasts and wombs– reflect the unique feminine dignity God bestowed on us. I believe, too, that our bodies are a reflection of our souls, whose very nature is to receive love, conceive new life, and bring that life forth to the world. And any feminism that pits women against their own natures is bound to fail.

***

In his 1988 Apostolic letter, On the Dignity and Vocation of Women, John Paul II wrote that Genesis clearly shows that man and woman are of equal dignity. God made Eve for Adam, who looked at his wife and declared that she was literally a part of him: “Flesh of my flesh, bone of my body.” God made Adam and Even and then called them to “be fruitful and multiply,” which tells us that “to be human means to be called to interpersonal communion,” according to the Pope.

The Pope goes on to cite Paul VI, who wrote in Joy and Hope (1965):

The Lord Jesus, when he prayed to the Father ‘that all may be one … as we are one’ in John 17 opened up vistas closed to human reason. For he implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons and the union of God’s children…This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for its own sake, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of self.

This is the Catholic vision of the human person, but especially what it means to be a woman. Every woman’s deepest desire is to make a gift of herself. We know this deep in our souls, don’t we? We want to shelter the vulnerable. We want to nurture souls, and not so much because we enjoy feeling needed. A woman wants to nurture souls because her real goal is to see that soul reach its potential. Women take supreme pleasure in helping others reach their potential. It is our unique genius.

We see this desire born out most obviously in the family, through motherhood. A mother’s greatest desire is to see her children grow up and become all they can be. But the desire to nurture and lift others up manifests in all our relationships. When we hear of a struggling new mother, we trip over ourselves to help her. We know she has the potential to be an amazing mother if we can just get her through this rough spot. That’s really why we nag men to death…because we know that within them are perfect husbands who volunteer to do the laundry and cook. Women see people not as they are, but as they can be. Women are visionaries! The deepest desire of a woman’s heart is to give herself away so that others may flourish.

But surely this is just a stereotype of womanhood that religion has perpetrated upon women, right? Surely if women get away from those oppressive influences they can be their real selves, which as the modern feminist tell us, is really rooted in self-interest. Far from giving herself away, women really desire to take from others to fulfill themselves, we’re told.

Believe it or not, one of the best arenas to look for when it comes to evidence about the true nature of women is among lesbians. After all, lesbians have arguably cast off the shackles of Judeo-Christian stereotypes about women more completely than many heterosexual women. They no longer have a man around telling them that they have to be “feminine” or “nurturing.” There’s no fear of pregnancy anymore.

Two phenomena about lesbians point to the fact that women’s desire to conceive new life and nurture others to reach their potential is an innate quality in women and not a social construct. First is lesbian fusion. Psychologists studying lesbian relationships in the 1980s found that lesbians often became unhealthily emotionally attached to one another. According to a 2001 article titled, “Not tonight, dear, I’m deconstructing a headache–confessions of a lesbian sex therapist,” counselor M. Hall claims that:

[A]relentless focus on nurturing would increase exponentially when two women coupled. This forfeiture of individuality created a relational greenhouse effect which suffocated passion.

Researchers have found that lesbians can nurture each other so much that the sexual attraction fizzles. With two mommies, is it any wonder? (Ironically, as soon as studies showed lesbians were actually have less sex than heterosexual couples, lesbian feminists began to question the very notion that sex is a necessary component of a healthy relationship!)

And that’s just the nurturing part…surely these liberated women don’t want to actually use their fertility, do they? A quick Google search tells you lesbians are instead flocking to fertility clinics to have babies and have even sued to force fertility clinics to allow gays and lesbians (but mostly lesbians) to obtain treatment. Women–whether they are lesbians or bisexual or straight–want babies. The desire to conceive new life and nurture it is not a social construct–it is in our very nature as female persons.

What the Church teaches, and what modern feminists cannot accept, is that while men and women have equal dignity, we have different roles to play in the world. The Church says that a woman’s unique contribution to the world comes through her femininity and that a woman’s nature is to be in service to life. And that doesn’t just mean biological life, but all life. Consequently, when you suppress or destroy what is inherent to a woman—her ability to conceive and nurture new life—you do not serve her but visit great violence upon her as a person.

Cosmo: the Secular Feminist Bible. Anyone else wonder why female empowerment means pleasuring men constantly?

And yet, so many of us are willing and even anxious to suppress or destroy our own femininity through contraception and sterilization. We are so desperate for union that we will sacrifice the very part of ourselves that makes our gift of self so precious and unique: our fertility. We carve out the most unique part of ourselves (usually for a man) and then tell ourselves it’s empowering. Cosmo covers like the one here witness to this truth month after month.

Feminists insist that women’s equality with men requires us to be liberated from our biology–we will never really be free until we can free ourselves from our ability to bear children. We’ve become reluctant to admit that there are any  real differences between men and women, much less profound ones, as if acknowledging those differences might somehow keep us from success. But then again, acknowledging sexual differences might lead us to believe we have different roles and responsibilities, and feminists refuse to accept any responsibilities they don’t freely assume. Even ones stamped into their very bodies.

Edith Stein, a Jewish convert to Catholicism, reflected upon the role and vocation of women in the modern world during World War II. While firmly defending women’s opportunity to enter any profession they choose, Stein nonetheless insisted there were essential differences between men and women, perhaps the most important one being that the essence of woman is receptivity and motherhood. Stein argued that women are feminine to the core and that our bodies are in fact a reflection of our souls. Women are made to receive love, conceive and nurture new life, and then bring that new life to the world. Both on a spiritual and biological level.

This did not mean Stein believed in a “barefoot and pregnant” reductionist view of womanhood, the kind which sees woman as a passive prisoner of her biology, and slave to her tyrant fertility. Rather, she saw receptivity and motherliness as woman’s unique power, a power capable of transforming a home, workplace, professional environment, country, or society in ways that men cannot.

I recently discussed this with my daughter, who wanted to know what kind of boss I was pre-kids, when I headed a magazine. As a supervisor, I motivated my staff through lavish praise and encouragement–not competition. I encouraged them to work toward personal goals and I wasn’t threatened by their ambition; I even told my assistant I was training her for my job! I found that nurturing the individuals I supervised–not in a touchy-feely way, but professionally–was highly effective and made for a more cooperative and positive work environment.

Women, I told my daughter, bring unique gifts to the workplace because they know how to bring out the best in others. Which is why we will always need female doctors, professors, and executives. But the world won’t benefit from women’s unique gifts as long as they view masculinity as something more attractive to be emulated.

Men and women have equal dignity, but we were also designed by God to complement one another biologically, emotionally, and spiritually. And this complementarity in no way diminishes our importance. Nor should that complementarity be used as an excuse to deny women opportunities in work and education, as it was in the past (e.g, Women don’t “need’ to vote, don’t “need” to work because men take care of them). Sixty years ago, women saw men serving themselves and not the family. Their solution, sadly, was to demand the right to destroy their fertility and with it, their unique feminine gifts. In short, to be a man.

The Church is criticized because it refuses to embrace a feminism that sets women against themselves, and against the new life they’re privileged to shelter. It says to its sons, “Loving a woman requires you to accept all of her–body and soul–including her fertility.” And to its daughters, “Your femininity reflects a most profound dignity bestowed on you by your Creator and you deserve a man who will love and accept all of you–including your fertility.” The Church is called anti-woman because it insists women deserve to be respected just as we are and that we ought never surrender our feminine dignity for anyone. Ourselves included.

I was deeply unhappy as a secular feminist because I’d been taught the contradictory maxim that I could only be empowered by suppressing (usually for a man’s convenience) that very part of me most essential to who I am. My only consolation is that my three daughters will grow up knowing they can succeed, not despite being a woman, but because they’re one.

I am woman, hear me roar: true feminism is truly Catholic. 

 

Categories
Abortion Current Events Ink Slingers Misty

Catholic and Feminist: Can You Be Both? (Part 1)

It’s all over the news: “Vatican Launches Cleanup of American Nuns.”

When the Vatican issued a scathing assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious–which claims to represent nearly 80 of the female religious orders in this country–it stirred up much debate about women’s roles within the Church. People are asking (again) when the Church is going to ordain women as priests and (again) when it is going to condone contraception, abortion, divorce, lesbianism. And while the secular media is siding with the disobedient nuns (did I mention they take a vow of obedience?), plenty of lay Catholic women are asking the question, too: “Is it possible to be both Catholic and feminist?”

This is a question I know something about. I spent most of my single life solidly on the other side of the divide: pro-choice, pro-contraception, pro-miscuous. Then I became Catholic. And I wanted to understand the teachings of the Church that most impacted me as a woman, such as the ones about family planning, pregnancy, motherhood, and marriage. To that end, I offer a three-part series on feminism and hopefully by the end, you’ll be convinced, as I am, that true feminism is truly Catholic.

Our Feminist Mothers

Early feminists were against contraception and abortion because they reduced respect for women.

Not everyone knows that the original feminists stood for something very different than modern secular feminists do. In the late 1800s, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Susan B. Anthony, and others fought tirelessly for more than thirty years on behalf of women’s rights to own property, earn equal pay, and have access to education.

But what these women did not stand for was sexual license. As early as 1792, Mary Wollstonecraft wrote “A Vindication of the Rights of Women.” After decrying, in scathing 18th century terms, the sexual exploitation of women, she upbraided women who sought abortions to escape motherhood. Susan B. Anthony admired this work by Wollstonecraft enough to serialize it in The Revolution 70 years later in 1868. Elizabeth Cady Stanton was especially blunt, classifying abortion as a form of “infanticide.” And even the author of the original Equal Rights Amendment (1923), Alice Paul, opposed the later trend of linking the ERA with abortion. A colleague recalls that she called abortion the “ultimate exploitation of women.”

The early feminists also were against contraception…and not because the Pill wasn’t available. Contraceptive herbs and potions have been around for thousands of years, but back then the most widely used contraceptive was the condom. Christian married women, as a rule, did not use contraception–but prostitutes did. Condoms were certainly seen as “protection,” but not so much from pregnancy (for how could a 19th century prostitute ever prove paternity?), but from diseases a man might pick up at a brothel.

The feminists recognized that contraception would actually decrease their husband’s respect for them by allowing them to use them for personal pleasure, much the way men used prostitutes. Contraception would also make it easier for their husbands to commit adultery. Instead of contraception, the feminists advocated abstinence through discipline and self-control. By the 1870s, a flourishing feminist movement transformed this tradition of thought into a new political demand, with the slogan “voluntary motherhood.”

So What Changed?

Makes you just feel all warm and fuzzy, doesn't it?

So feminists oppose contraception and abortion as late as 1923, but just four decades later they’re insisting abortion and contraception are critical to women’s rights. What happened?

I have a theory about this. When early feminists like Cady and Stanton were marching, the vocations of men and of women were very different but they had one important similarity: their work was primarily to serve the family. The late 1800s was the height of the Industrial Revolution, and most men still worked long hours doing some sort of manual labor to provide for their families. A woman might not enjoy doing laundry, cooking, or changing cloth nappies, but working in a factory, at the docks, or in a warehouse for 12 to 16 hours a day the way their husbands did probably wasn’t something most women pined to do.

Then things began to change. As America grew, so did opportunities for men to do work that was more interesting and fulfilling. By the 1940s and 1950s, a man who was raised by a carpenter or butcher or fisherman no longer had to continue in his family’s line of work. A good many men even had the option to forgo the dirty factories; they could work in a nice, clean office and even take a vacation or sick day. For the first time, men were able to choose their work based on their interests and natural talents.

But what about women? How did their work change? True, there were more modern conveniences, but most women’s vocations still revolved around homemaking and childcare. A woman who had a particular talent for business or art could expect little opportunity to develop those talents in her day-to-day work. If a woman was sent to college, it was probably so she could get her “MRS.” A woman could pursue a career, but it would have been unthinkable for her to continue that career—even on a part-time basis—once she got married and started a family.

Question: Why get married at all now that we can open our own bottles of ketchup?

So women are at home, raising children and keeping house. They’re making incredible personal sacrifices, while their their husbands are coming home excitedly talking about winning a client, starting a project, or getting a promotion. They’re in med school or law school (or actually doctors and lawyers) and they’re thriving on the work, getting professional accolades and being recognized by their peers. Even blue-collar men had more chances to advance through the ranks into management. And even if he didn’t, he could still count on being able to come home and be “off duty” until the next day. Men began starting businesses in unprecedented numbers and seeking education not just for a job, but a career.

This meant that the focus of work for many men shifted from service to the family to personal fulfillment. Whereas for women, work remained primarily about service to the family. I believe this set up a great conflict between men and women that ultimately planted the seeds for the modern feminist movement. (And which, to this day, cause enormous conflicts in even Catholic households. But I digress.)

To give the feminists some credit, I believe there was a lot to be angry about. The severe limitations on the kinds of work that women were permitted to pursue, as well as the expectation that they would shelve their work for good once they got married, was just plain sexist and wrong. Many men also pursued their careers to excess, and became workaholics who could barely carve out time for their families, leaving women to essentially raise children on their own. Couples’ newfound prosperity also enabled many men to pursue interests and hobbies that took even more time away from the family. My theories about this were confirmed when I discovered that from 1888 to 1900, just a 12-year period, more than 1,000 new golf clubs opened in North America.

Sure, there were other issues that compounded women’s dissatisfaction that had nothing to do with men, such as the evolution from multi-generational homes to the nuclear family. Whereas women in previous generations had raised a family with mother, sisters, aunts, and cousins around, modern mothers had to raise the kids and keep the house going on their own. We weren’t washing clothes by beating them on a rock by the river anymore, and yes, we had more privacy. But we also had a new cross: isolation. And when the kids went off to school: ennui.

I believe the modern version of this is our ability to "make sammiches."

Adding fuel to the fire was the fact that the work women did in the home was rarely valued. A family friend in her 60s marvels that my husband is so involved with our children and helps around the house. In her day, fathers simply didn’t change diapers because that was the domain of women. The difference between her generation and mine was epitomized one day when we told them we wanted a large family.

Her husband immediately went into a tirade designed to discourage us from this course, citing all the diapers that would have to be changed, the sleepless nights, the cocktail hours we’d have to forfeit, and so on. This prompted his wife to say, “Oh, Mike, leave them alone. Unlike you, Tom actually helps his wife with the kids.”

What I found interesting is that all this man remembered about their early years as parents is how unpleasant it was. He had absolutely nothing positive to say about the sacrifices his wife had made to make a comfortable, welcoming haven for him to come home to after work or raise their two children. He clearly didn’t recognize the value of his wife’s work as a homemaker or mother.

So the feminists did call attention to some very legitimate problems. But they got the solutions all wrong, mostly because they initially got the problems wrong, too. In Part 2, I’ll discuss the three crucial errors modern feminists made in their attempts to raise the status of women. I’ll also show how their failure to recognize the real problems fueling our inequality is what led them to embrace contraception, “free love,” and even abortion as women’s rights.