Opinion

SHAPIRO: 8 Leftist Myths About ‘The War On Women’

   DailyWire.com
People rally at the Third Annual Women's March LA in downtown Los Angeles, California on January 19, 2019.
David McNew/AFP via Getty Images

In the race to establish victimhood so craved by the Left, the feminist movement has declared that today’s American women are victims of the patriarchy. They are supposedly victims of a “war on women” designed to deprive them of their fair earnings, force them into pregnancy and childbearing, and urge them to unhappy marriage.

This is all absolute rot. American women are the freest, most prosperous women in the history of humanity.

Myth 1: Feminism is just about female equality.

Fact: Second-wave and third-wave feminism are about rejecting marriage and children.

Feminism began with the utterly inarguable position that women should be able to do jobs for which they were qualified. But unfortunately, feminism didn’t end there. Second wave feminists, like the harridan Betty Friedan, impacted heavily by the philosophy of communist Frederick Engels, compared the institution of marriage — which protected women from abandonment, as we’ve now come to see in large swaths of the black community — to concentration camps.

“If we continue to produce millions of young mothers who stop their growth and education short of identity, we are committing quite simply genocide, starting with mass burial of American women and ending with the progressive dehumanization of their sons and daughters,” declared Friedan.[1]

Gloria Steinem infamously said that a woman needed a man like a fish needed a bicycle.

But all this would have remained nasty theorizing by a particularly misguided set of women were it not for technological developments with regard to birth control. After all, theory was wonderful — but when women wanted to have sex, they still believed, rightly, that it would be safer for them to do so within the confines of a marriage to a man committed to their support and well-being.

But the second wave feminists had set the ideological groundwork for women’s “liberation.” And the development of the pill granted the practical basis to destroy the necessity of childbearing, and therefore marriage. As Jonathan Last writes in his eminently readable book, What To Expect When No One’s Expecting, “It turns out that the Pill is used primarily by well-educated, middle-class, white women who are in their prime reproductive years.”[2]

Instead of reproducing, these women are postponing marriage and reproduction. Before the pill, the assumption was that sex would lead to pregnancy, and pregnancy outside marriage was both socially and personally undesirable. After the pill, women could wait indefinitely to marry and almost-indefinitely (in many cases, until too late) to have children. Virginity before marriage disappeared into the background; it was no longer necessary. The average age of marriage for women jumped from 20 in 1960 to 27 in 2013. The average age of first childbearing jumped — but only for upper income, college-educated women. The average age for first birth is now 30 among those women, and just 12 percent are births to unmarried women.

The same is not true for non-college educated women. For those who dropped out of high school, feminism hasn’t been much fun: the average age of first birth is 20, while average marriage age is 25. All told, 83 percent of first births in this group, as The Atlantic reports, are to unwed mothers. Even for those who went to college for a few years, “average age for first birth is 24 and average marriage age is 27; 58 percent of first births are to unwed mothers.”[3]

Myth 2: Men and women are the same.

Fact: Men and women are different on average, both in brain and body.

One of the great myths propagated by feminists and leftists pushing the transgender movement is that men and women are the same in both brain and body. That’s absolute hogwash. Men and women are radically different physically, obviously, but they are also different in terms of brain structure and psychology. Here’s Diane Halpern, president of the American Psychological Association:

At the time I started writing this book it seemed clear to me that any between sex differences in thinking abilities were due to socialization practices, artifacts, and mistakes in the research. After reviewing a pile of journal articles that stood several feet high, and numerous books and book chapters that dwarfed the stack of journal articles, I changed my mind. … There are real and in some cases sizable sex differences with respect to some cognitive abilities.[4]

Here’s Harvard psychology professor Steven Pinker: “differences between the sexes are part of the human condition.” Pretending those differences away is anti-scientific.[5]

The way that the Left attempts to maintain the lie that men and women are indistinguishable is by distinguishing between “gender” and “sex.” They suggest that while there are sex differences, “gender” is merely a social construct. Here’s a typical summation from Monash University: “Sex refers to biological differences; chromosomes, hormonal profiles, internal and external sex organs. Gender describes the characteristics that a society or culture delineates as masculine and feminine.”

But gender and sex are connected, obviously — behavior is connected with biology. By reducing gender down to your personal view of masculinity and femininity, we end up creating a subjective category that has no real hard lines. No wonder Facebook says there are dozens of genders. They’re wrong, by this standard: there are 7 billion, one for each person on the planet.

The Left then conflates gender with sex in a sort of reverse osmosis. They say that if gender is completely malleable, so too is sex. This is ridiculous. If gender is to mean anything, it means the combination of social standards and biology — which means it is related to biology, which means it is not completely malleable. As Richard Lippa writes in his book, Gender, Nature and Nurture: “Some researchers have argued that the word sex should be used to refer to the biological status of being male or female, whereas the word gender should be used to refer to all the socially defined, learned, constructed accouterments of sex, such as hairstyle, dress, nonverbal mannerisms, and interests. However, it is not at all clear to what degree differences between males and females are due to biological factors versus learned and cultural factors.”[6]

In other words, trying to separate sex from gender completely is an exercise in idiocy.

Myth 3: Women are paid less for the same work.

Fact: Women are paid more under the same circumstances.

Women are not paid less for the same work.[7] As Christina Hoff Sommers writes, “The bottom line: the 23-cent gender pay gap is simply the difference between the average earnings of all men and women working full-time. It does not account for differences in occupations, positions, education, job tenure or hours worked per week. When such relevant factors are considered, the wage gap narrows to the point of vanishing.”[8]

Actually, young childless women often earn more than men. Here’s Time.com reporting from 2010:

According to a new analysis of 2,000 communities by a market research company, in 147 out of 150 of the biggest cities in the U.S., the median full-time salaries of young women are 8% higher than those of the guys in their peer group. … The new study suggests that the gap is bigger than previously thought, with young women in New York City, Los Angeles and San Diego making 17%, 12% and 15% more than their male peers, respectively. And it also holds true even in reasonably small areas like the Raleigh-Durham region and Charlotte in North Carolina (both 14% more), and Jacksonville, Fla. (6%).[9]

The reason for the pay gap is simple: women make different career choices, choose to work different jobs and different hours, and ask for raises in different ways. It’s not sexism driving that pay gap. It’s life choices.

Myth 4: There is a college rape epidemic.

Fact: There is no college rape epidemic.

Talk of a campus “rape epidemic” is pure fantasy — as Christina Hoff Sommers has pointed out, the “one in five women is raped on campus” statistic is an out-and-out lie reliant on conflating “attempted forced kissing” with sexual assault. As Professor James Alan Fox of Northeastern University and Richard Moran of Mount Holyoke College point out, “The estimated 19% sexual assault rate among college women is based on a survey at two large four-year universities, which might not accurately reflect our nation’s colleges overall. In addition, the survey had a large non-response rate, with the clear possibility that those who had been victimized were more apt to have completed the questionnaire, resulting in an inflated prevalence figure.”[10]

In actuality, the Bureau of Justice Statistics “Violent Victimization of College Students” report shows that from 1995-2002, there were six rapes per thousand per year; the rape rate has been dropping rapidly, too.[11]

Myth 5: Abortion protects women.

Fact: Abortion is almost never medically necessary.

When it comes to the necessity for abortion, the Left usually attempts to shift the discussion from elective abortion to cases of medical necessity, or to cases of rape or incest. That’s because it’s unpleasant for the Left to discuss the vast majority of abortions, which are elective and prompted only by the comfort of the mother, or her unwillingness to raise a child under certain circumstances.

But only a tiny percentage of abortions spring from rape and incest. As early as 1987, the Alan Guttmacher Institute asked women about their reasons for abortion, and only one percent of the 1,900 women surveyed suggested rape or abortion, and 95 percent of those “who mentioned rape or incest named other reasons as well for deciding to abort.” As Tamar Lewin reported at the time, “In a separate 1979 analysis, when federally financed abortions were available in cases of rape or incest or where the pregnancy threatened the woman’s life or physical health, the institute said that a total of 3,675 women had abortions paid for by Federal money. But the institute said that it knew which category qualified only 2,444 of the women, and of these, 72 were eligible because of rape or incest.”[12]

The Guttmacher Institute statistic is still used as the baseline for future estimates, although the numbers are likely much lower now than one percent. PolitiFact, for instance, says that there may have been just 7,165 pregnancies from rape in 2010 in the United States — and that doesn’t say how many of those pregnancies resulted in abortion. Each year, there are one million abortions in the United States.[13]

How about abortion due to medical necessity? That is extraordinarily rare — even in cases of preeclampsia or toxemia in late-stage pregnancy, C-sections are often the best medical solution.[14] There is a difference, too, between taking actions to save the life of the mother that result in the death of the unborn child and aborting a child for medical necessity.[15]

Myth 6: Abortion doesn’t end a life.

Fact: Abortion ends a life.

The most honest abortion advocates will simply say that an unborn child is an unborn child, and that the unborn child’s interest in life does not outweigh the mother’s preference. But most abortion advocates aren’t so honest. Instead, they participate in the blatantly anti-scientific lie that a fetus is not a human life. They attempt to draw lines at feeling pain, or brain function, or viability, or any other variety of irrelevant points.

The process of human life begins at conception. A new creature is created with its own genetics, its own blood type, its own body. Human life changes over time. Brain development changes over time. But that does not mean a child is less human than an adult, or a person with Down’s Syndrome is less human than a person without that condition.

Professor Hymie Gordon of the Mayo Clinic affirmed this fact unequivocally, stating, “By all the criteria of modern molecular biology, life is present from the moment of conception.” Professor Micheline Matthews-Roth of Harvard Medical School agrees: “It is incorrect to say that biological data cannot be decisive …  It is scientifically correct to say that an individual life begins at conception.”[16]

  • How about life beginning at implantation? That would suggest that babies fertilized outside the womb are not life, and that even if we developed artificial wombs, they would not be lives.
  • How about at feeling pain? There are fully grown human beings with genetic conditions preventing them from feeling pain. Are they not human?
  • How about viability? We have many people who live thanks to dependence on machines — are they no longer human?
  • How about brain activity and sentience? We each go to sleep every night. Would it be acceptable to murder us in our sleep?

There is only one logical line to draw when it comes to human life: conception.

Now, you can still argue honestly that fetal life shouldn’t outweigh maternal life. But you cannot argue that a baby in the womb is not a baby in the womb, that life is not life, and that terminating a life isn’t killing.

Myth 7: Abortion is a choice equally utilized by all segments of the population.

Fact: Abortion largely occurs among poor people and minorities.

Since the Supreme Court ruled in 1973 that the Constitution of the United States invalidated virtually all serious state restrictions on abortion, nearly 60 million children have been aborted in the United States.[17] America easily averages over 1 million abortions per year — a far cry from the less than 200,000 per year reported prior to Roe v. Wade.[18] While the oft-cited figure that one in three American women will have an abortion is certainly an exaggeration, a significant portion of American women will indeed kill their unborn children.[19]

These abortions occur disproportionately among women of color. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, black women are five times more likely than white women to have abortions, and Latina women are twice as likely.[20] In New York City, a child conceived by a black mother has a better chance of being aborted than born.[21]

Myth 8: Margaret Sanger loved abortion.

Fact: Margaret Sanger despised abortion.

Margaret Sanger, the founder of Planned Parenthood, abhorred abortion. She called it a “horror” in 1920, adding, “I assert that the hundreds of thousands of abortions performed in America each year are a disgrace to civilization.”[22]

Sanger was, however, the strongest advocate for birth control in the early 20th century. She favored birth control largely because she didn’t like what she termed the “defective” and the poor — she hoped that the poor would stop breeding, and the only people left would be the “finest flowers of American civilization,” which were threatened by “those human weeds.”[23]

Ugh.

Obviously, Sanger’s desire for birth control didn’t have its intended effect — birth control usage favors the upper income earners, the highly educated. Those further down the economic ladder don’t use birth control nearly as often as those near the top.

So, how would society “care” for those lower down on the social ladder?

With the very evil Sanger opposed: abortion. And they’d do it in her name, with her organization, Planned Parenthood, leading the way.

***

Notes

[1] Betty Friedan, The Feminine Mystique (WW Norton & Company: New York, 2001), 495.

[2] Jonathan V. Last, What to Expect When No One’s Expecting (Encounter Books: New York, 2013), 55.

[3] Eleanor Barkhorn, “Getting Married Later Is Great for College-Educated Women,” TheAtlantic.com, March 15, 2013 <http://www.theatlantic.com/sexes/archive/2013/03/getting-married-later-is-great-for-college-educated-women/274040/>

[4] “The Science of Gender and Science: Pinker vs. Pelke A Debate,” Edge.org, May 16, 2005 <https://www.edge.org/event/the-science-of-gender-and-science-pinker-vs-spelke-a-debate>

[5] Ibid.

[6] Richard A. Lippa, Gender, Nature and Nurture (Psychology Press: New York, 2002), 32.

[7] Karen Agness, “Don’t Buy Into The Gender Pay Gap Myth,” Forbes.com, April 12, 2016 <http://www.forbes.com/sites/karinagness/2016/04/12/dont-buy-into-the-gender-pay-gap-myth/#15effd804766>

[8] Christina Hoff Sommers, “6 Feminist Myths That Will Not Die,” Time.com, June 17, 2016 <http://time.com/3222543/wage-pay-gap-myth-feminism/>

[9] Belinda Luscombe, “Workplace Salaries: At Last, Women on Top,” Time.com, September 1, 2010 <http://content.time.com/time/business/article/0,8599,2015274,00.html>

[10] Christina Hoff Sommers, “6 Feminist Myths That Will Not Die,” Time.com, June 17, 2016 <http://time.com/3222543/wage-pay-gap-myth-feminism/>

[11] Caroline Kitchens, “The Rape ‘Epidemic’ Doesn’t Actually Exist,” USNews.com, October 24, 2013 <http://www.usnews.com/opinion/blogs/economic-intelligence/2013/10/24/statistics-dont-back-up-claims-about-rape-culture>

[12] Tamar Lewin, “Rape and Incest: Just 1% of All Abortions,” The New York Times, October 13, 1989 <http://www.nytimes.com/1989/10/13/us/rape-and-incest-just-1-of-all-abortions.html>

[13] “Surveys show wide disagreement on number of rape-related pregnancies per year,” PolitiFact.com, August 15, 2013 <http://www.PolitiFact.com/texas/statements/2013/aug/15/wendy-davis/surveys-show-wide-disagreement-number-rape-related/>

[14] Sarah Terzo, “Former abortionist: Abortion is never medically necessary to save the life of the mother,” LiveActionnews.org, October 21, 2016 <http://liveactionnews.org/former-abortionist-abortion-is-never-medically-necessary-to-save-the-life-of-the-mother/>

[15] Lori Robertson, “The Life of the Mother,” FactCheck.org, October 23, 2012 <http://www.factcheck.org/2012/10/the-life-of-the-mother/>

[16] Randy Alcorn, “Scientists Attest to Life Beginning At Conception,” NAAPC.com <http://naapc.org/why-life-begins-at-conception/>

[17] Steven Ertelt, “58,586,256 Abortions in America Since Roe v. Wade,” LifeNews.com, January 14, 2016 <http://www.lifenews.com/2016/01/14/58586256-abortions-in-america-since-roe-v-wade-in-1973/>

[18] Jonathan V. Last, What to Expect When No One’s Expecting (Encounter Books: New York, 2013), 60.

[19] Michelle Ye Hee Lee, “The stale claim that ‘one in three’ women will have an abortion by age 45,” WashingtonPost.com, September 30, 2015 <https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/fact-checker/wp/2015/09/30/the-stale-claim-that-one-in-three-women-will-have-an-abortion-by-age-45/>

[20] Zoe Dutton, “Abortion’s Racial Gap,” TheAtlantic.com, September 22, 2014 <http://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2014/09/abortions-racial-gap/380251/>

[21] Lauren Caruba, “Cynthia Meyer says more black babies are aborted in New York City than born,” PolitiFact.com, November 25, 2015 <http://www.PolitiFact.com/texas/statements/2015/nov/25/cynthia-meyer/cynthia-meyer-says-more-black-babies-are-aborted-n/>

[22] “What Did Margaret Sanger Think About Abortion?” RedState.com, January 23, 2013 <http://www.redstate.com/ironchapman/2013/01/23/what-did-margaret-sanger-think-about-abortion/>

[23] Jonathan V. Last, What to Expect When No One’s Expecting (Encounter Books: New York, 2013), 53.