F-Word, Failing
A pioneer is back at the scene of the crime she’s been opposing for four decades — and counting.


Kathryn Jean Lopez

: What’s so wrong about Eat, Pray, Love? And who’s going to tell Julia Roberts?

VENKEREat, Pray, Love is a great example of what we mean by Hollywood and the media being a barometer of cultural trends. Eat, Pray, Love — which I would add is a great read — celebrates the notion of a woman who chooses not to embrace marriage and motherhood. That makes for great escapism, but this book isn’t fiction — it’s a memoir. Because of this, the women in the media — whom we call the feminist elite — jumped all over it and made Ms. Gilbert a big success. Then Ms. Gilbert wrote a sequel — entitled Committed — where she slams conservatives for being the root of the problems associated with marriage. That’s how the feminist elite operate.

I sincerely doubt Julia Roberts would ever voice an opinion on these matters, whatever they may be. The women in the media stick together.


: Why do you insist feminists love divorce?

VENKER: Because ultimately their message is, “Women first, men and children last.” When the going gets tough and they’re not happy (because happiness is the ultimate goal), they get out. Many want the benefits of marriage (a husband’s paycheck and custody of the kids) without the duties and compromises that marriage requires. That’s what feminists meant in the 1970s when they called themselves the Women’s Liberation Movement.

: How is Katherine Heigl living proof of the lie of feminism?

VENKER: Katherine Heigl was courageous enough to quit (no doubt temporarily) a lucrative and powerful career in television to mother her children — note that we use the word “mother” as a verb. Ms. Heigl said she could no longer “sacrifice [her] relationship with [her] child” and does not want to “disappoint” him. “I had to make a choice. You wish you could have it all exactly the way you want it, but that’s not life.”

LOPEZ: Phyllis, what’s the most important advice you can ever give to young men and women today? How can they learn from your battles?

SCHLAFLY: You can make your own life in the greatest country in the world, where American women are the most fortunate class of people who ever lived. Life is about the choices we make. Ignore the current culture. There’s a great quote by a man named Charles Swindoll, who says, “Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.” Take this attitude with you throughout your lives and you’ll never be a victim.

: What about those a little older than that, who are just realizing that everything they were sold about feminism and we-girls-can-do-anything-and-everything was a lie?

VENKER: It will be a tall order, no doubt — but it can be done. People make life changes all the time. If you find that you have made choices based on feminist myths and assumptions, do something about it. Change your life. The transition will be hard, but the rewards will be well worth it.

: What has been the most surprising reaction to your book?

VENKER: No surprises, really. It’s getting the attention we expected: vitriol from those who’ve absorbed feminist ideology and gratitude from those who haven’t.

: What will the history books ultimately say about feminism — in any and all of its waves?

SCHLAFLY: If feminists write them, they will lie and say feminism created opportunities for women. If history books are truthful, they will say it was a passing fad created by the media.

VENKER: I hope they’ll say that Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, and the other feminist spokeswomen were unhappy people who tried to make their personal problems a societal cause and fundamentally transform America — because that’s the truth. But since that’s not likely, I suppose I agree with Phyllis: I hope they say feminism was a social movement that ultimately died because the American people eventually saw the light.

— Kathryn Jean Lopez is editor-at-large of National Review Online.