It takes a really weak, insecure, and spineless man to attack a woman on television. It takes an even weaker “feminist” movement to play down such attacks.
In a recent episode of “Somebody, Please Notice Me,” also known as “Real Time with Bill Maher” on HBO, the show’s host may have hit rock bottom with his latest rhetorical bomb by referring to Sarah Palin with a vulgarity exceedingly offensive to women. Far more noticeable, and certainly more noteworthy, was the backhanded “defense”of Palin from radical feminists and their clearly misnamed organizations.
National Organization for Women communications director Lisa Bennett, after days of silence, sounded more as if she didn’t want to be bothered: “Sorry, but we can’t defend Palin or even Hillary Clinton from every sexist insult hurled at them in the media.”
Several weeks ago, MSNBC’s Chris Matthews attacked Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) with another derogatory slur in reference to a harmless geographical gaffe she made about American history. Only crickets from the radical feminists. (A few weeks later Matthews found himself geographically-challenged when he said the Panama Canal was in Egypt.)
Lest this be confined only to conservative women, comedian George Lopez had no problem attacking actress Kirstie Alley and likening her to a squealing pig. At least Lopez apologized.
So what gives with these attacks and the 800-pound double standard in the room?
Suppose Rush Limbaugh or Sean Hannity did drop a vulgarity on Hillary Clinton or Nancy Pelosi? Despite her protestations a rapid, robust response from Ms. Bennett, NOW and the feminist Left would’ve taken all of 30 seconds, give or take a few. Broadcast news shows would be leading with the story and the reaction, repeated calls for apologies, and firings would ensue. Left-wing groups would harass advertisers in an attempt to get them to pull their sponsorships.
All women, regardless of their political persuasions need to speak out against these kinds of attacks because they harm everyone who is female from age 2 – 92, but the prevailing view among radical feminists seems to be that conservative women either don’t exist or are merely female impersonators. They don’t deserve to be defended when attacked because, after all, real women don’t hold conservative views.
So if you’re a woman leader with conservative positions on the issues, and you’re active in your church and speak out about matters of faith, and you get demeaned, demonized, slurred, or smeared, the radical feminist attitude toward you is, “You get what you deserve, because we, frankly, have the same opinion of you.”
Already teetering on the precipice of irrelevance, radical feminists only further undercut their credibility and authority to speak out on behalf of women when they stay silent in the face of such unacceptable behavior. They have become as clueless and delusional as the men they challenged and mocked 40 years ago.
The collapse of radical feminism was first revealed in the movement’s turning a blind eye toward Bill Clinton’s philandering and clear objectification of women. A conservative president who behaved like Clinton would have been publicly filleted, but instead, the leaders of the “women’s movement” gave him a wink and a nod.
In one of radical feminism’s lowest moments (and there are many), former Time magazine White House correspondent Nina Burleigh appointed herself the official Clinton apologist when she infamously told Mirabella magazine: “I’d be happy to give him [oral sex] just to thank him for keeping abortion legal.”
From embracing Bill Clinton to ignoring Bill Maher, radical feminists have reduced themselves to pitiful insignificance. New women have emerged as leaders, and many more will follow, and they reject the radical feminist orthodoxy with its hypocrisies and double-standards.
The movement’s leaders will have only themselves to blame. Women achieved substantial, needed gains several generations ago. Unfortunately, too many radical feminists are stuck in 1971, where they are destined to remain.
Penny Young Nance is CEO of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest public policy women’s organization.
Penny Young Nance is president and CEO of Concerned Women for America, the nation’s largest women’s public policy organization. She is the author of the book "Feisty and Feminine: A Rallying Cry for Conservative Women" (Zondervan 2016).