Carrie Lukas, who serves as vice president of policy at the Independent Women’s Forum and is a National Review Online contributor, is author of the new book, The Politically Incorrect Guide to Women, Sex and Feminism, released today. Lukas, a young mother, talked to NRO editor Kathryn Lopez this weekend about the truth about having it/doing it all.
Kathryn Jean Lopez: So wait, you’re not Carrie Bradshaw?
Carrie Lukas: It’s a mistake often made… but no. People can tell when they look at the shoes. Oddly enough, though, I am working on a new screenplay called “Sexual Forbearance in the City”. I think it could be hot, but HBO hasn’t been returning my calls for some reason.
Lopez: Well, surprise, I’m not from Vogue either.
Carrie, why are you bashing feminists? Would either of us be having this conversation outside of the baby park if it weren’t for them?
Lukas: It’s beautiful out–would it be so bad if we were in the baby park?
Seriously, the modern women’s movement is a victim of the success of its predecessors. The early women’s movement helped society realize that women are capable of fulfilling many roles in society. Today, it’s universally accepted–in this country at least–that women can get an education, pursue a career, run for office, do anything that we want.
The problem with the modern feminist movement is that instead of celebrating women’s progress, it continues trying to convince us that we’re all held back by discrimination. They’re hooked on women as victims. They lobby for ever-larger government, for special treatment for women in academia, and pretend that there are no differences between men and women.
Lopez: Is your book self-help? Who is it for?
Lukas: This book is for young women and anyone who is concerned about the role of women and our society. I wouldn’t call it a self-help book, although I do hope that young women reading it will be more aware of the important decisions that they’re making and that the politically incorrect facts will help them better chart their futures.
Lopez: Are there postcards in the doorways of bars advertising your book yet? Maybe some pointers from the dating chapter? Have any high-school senior health classes ordered it yet?
Lukas: Hey, those aren’t bad ideas. Do you mind if I steal them?
Lopez: My lawyer will draw up papers.
Isn’t a lot of your book common sense? Yes, we may have grown up set on a career path and then life throws its curve balls, but we’re not stupid. Do you worry all this myth debunking and holding up unhappy, unmarried forty-somethings casts women as victims?
Lukas: So we’re victims of feminism’s victim mentality? It’s getting confusing! I don’t think most women are victims–not even victims of feminism. After all, we all make our own choices. But I do think that today’s organized feminists disserve a lot of women by giving them bad information about the choices that they face. The common sense path can be tough to see when popular culture and professors say your natural impulses are the result of male oppression.
Lopez: How is Roe v. Wade a health issue? Isn’t childbirth more dangerous than abortion?
Lukas: My book avoids getting involved in the pro-life vs. pro-choice debate–I recommend Ramesh Ponnuru’s excellent new book on that score–but I did lay out a few issues surrounding abortion that young women seldom hear. It’s true that more women die during childbirth than from abortions, but that doesn’t mean that abortion isn’t a serious medical procedure. Feminist tactics like “I had an abortion” t-shirts really do women a disservice in making it seem like abortion is no big deal, or oddly even something to be proud of. If there’s one thing the pro-life and pro-choice communities should agree, it’s this: Abortion is a procedure that we should seek to minimize.
Lopez: Ramesh has a new book? I had no idea.
Would you really have gals go back to The Rules? I mean, he’s busy. I’m busy. What if he can’t make the call till Thursday for Saturday?
Lukas: Go ahead and take that date! If he’s calling ahead at all, he’s better than most. I definitely don’t think that gals have to go back to The Rules, but it’s helpful to remember why there were rules in the first place. Women’s studies texts make it seem as though traditional courtship was a plot by the all-powerful patriarchy to keep women down. Yet there were actually important reasons these traditions developed, and in many ways they served women better than the modern free for all.
Lopez: You cite a Seventeen poll where “more than six in ten sexually active teenage girls wished they had waited to have sex. Nearly four in ten of the sexually active girls specifically wished they had waited until they were older.” Can we have them write a sex-ed curriculum?
Lukas: Wouldn’t that be great? I do think that this information–the testimony from kids themselves–is important for parents to know about. Parents and educators seem so reluctant to encourage kids to wait for sex, but kids are hungry for this kind of instructions and standards. Another important finding from the surveys I cite is that kids say parents have the greatest impact on their attitudes about sex. Parents underestimate their own influence, erroneously believing that their kids’ friends have the greatest impact.
Lopez: Don’t you kinda have it all? You work and you’re married with a daughter. So where’s the myth?
Lukas: I’m fortunate that things worked out as they have–that I have an employer that allows me to work from home and have job responsibilities that make that possible. But there still are only twenty-four hours in a day and I’m constantly facing trade offs. If I was willing to put my daughter in daycare, I’m sure I could make more money and go farther in my career. Frankly, if I was willing to quit working entirely, I might be able to give my daughter the additional attention she deserves.
I’m doing the best I can and feel like I’ve reached a pretty good balance. But the feminist movement often makes it sound as if it’s society’s fault that women are torn between work and home and children–that if men were just willing to pass some new law then all women’s problems would be solved. The issue for women isn’t a public policy problem, however, it’s a human problem–we can’t be two places at once. That means we’re going to have to allocate our time. We’re always going to wish we had more to give to one area or another.
Lopez: More women in America are secretaries than any other profession? A glass ceiling is to blame, right?
Lukas: Hardly. Truck drivers and sales workers are the leading occupations for men. The point is just that most people’s work isn’t nearly as glamorous at it is on television. Surveys regularly show that women get more satisfaction from other areas of their life–from family and friends and relationship–than they do from work.
About the glass ceiling… the feminist activist types regularly complain about how women make less than men and face rampant discrimination. And we’ve all heard the statistic that the average full-time working woman makes less than a full-time working man. But it’s important for people to realize how women’s choices affect the earnings data. Women take time off to care for children and gravitate toward careers that are more personally fulfilling, safer, require less travel, and have more flexible hours. Many people want jobs like that, so those jobs tend to pay less. Men are compensated for taking on dirty, riskier, more uncomfortable jobs. Women who want to make more can choose to do it–it’s all about tradeoffs.
Lopez: How has Uncle Sam been feminized? Can someone get him to Harvey Mansfield? Is someone working to reverse that?
Lukas: The federal government has become way too involved in our lives. Too many people–and too many women in particular–seem to think that government should practically be our parent, providing for our every need and shielding us from life’s difficulties.
We do need to focus on getting government back to its intended purpose–providing for our defense, protecting our homeland, and enforcing laws and contracts. I think the whole freedom movement is working on this, each part filling its own little niche, but unfortunately, it’s a never-ending battle.
Lopez: What PIG facts do you want every college gal in America to know?
Lukas: Men aren’t the enemy and government can’t solve your problems! Some might call those “conclusions,” but they’re facts. I’d say more, but I don’t want to give away too much of the plot.
Lopez: What PIG fact do you want every policymaker to know?
Lukas: The feminist movement pushes for government to subsidize daycare. Policymakers need to know that for most parents, institutional daycare is their least preferred option–most would rather keep a parent home. Instead of getting government into the business of providing daycare, or expanding already underperforming public schools so that they take in kids as young as three, policymakers should focus on letting families keep more of their own money.
Lopez: What would be an equivalent kinda book for guys?
Lukas: There are lots of supposedly politically incorrect books for men–they mostly give advice on how to exploit the societal changes the more radical feminists have wrought to score chicks with greater efficiency. A true PIG book for men would tell them why behaving like a pig isn’t especially fulfilling. I think that it would involve a lot of debunking feminist myths too–like that most women prefer metro-sexual guys and are offended when doors are opened for us.
Lopez: Don’t you hate the “PIG” setup?
Lukas: What? I love the format of the Politically Incorrect Guide™! It gets a lot of information out there, but it’s easy to follow and appealing to a general reader. And, I’d like to add, the folks at Regnery are all very attractive, smart, and impeccably dressed. (Hey guys, did I mention I may have some new ideas you’ll want to look at…?)
Lopez: You’re right, Carrie. What was I thinking. I’ve noticed that about Regnery too. Actually…all book publishers are just superior beings.
You’ve worked at IWF for a bit. A lot of what’s in your book was old hat for you. While putting it together though, anything truly surprise you?
Lukas: The thing that surprised me most–what really motivated me to write the book in fact–was when I began reading about fertility issues and the feminists’ efforts to keep women from knowing the facts. In 2001, the American Society of Reproductive Medicine (ASRM) launched an advertising campaign intended to make women aware of factors that affect their fertility–including age. Kim Gandy and NOW were outraged. They thought it was too upsetting for women to be reminded of these facts in the public square. How is that for treating women like adults?
The feminist movement is supposed to be all about so-called “reproductive rights,” but what about women who really want to have children? Women tend to overestimate how long their fertility lasts and discount the potential for problems. I have friends who thought they were doing the responsible thing by putting off having children while focusing on their careers. Now they’re having trouble getting pregnant and they’re angry that they put it off. They feel like the feminist movement, and feminist-dominated popular culture, deliberately misled them.
Finding out about NOW’s campaign against ASRM made me think about all of the other misinform that the feminists put out there and lead me to write this book.