Politics & Policy

Ms.ing the Point

Feminists smacked down.

Most well-informed Americans probably have had little indication since bra-burning days that old feminism’s flagship magazine still existed. It does, unfortunately, and its most recent edition is quite a shameful display. The fall cover proclaims “We Had Abortions,” as if it were a badge of honor — as if anyone could believe such a thing.

If abortion really were so conducive to women’s happiness and success, seems strange that we have groups and websites dedicated to post-abortion healing. We even have the occasional abortion clinic that gives women a time and place to mourn their lost children.

The Ms. magazine cover wasn’t the first time the magazine has done such a thing. In its heyday, the gals ran a similar proclamation. In the latest issue, the sisters recall, “In its 1972 debut issue, Ms. magazine ran a bold petition in which 53 well-known U.S. women declared that they had undergone abortions — despite state laws rendering the procedure illegal.”

So why scream it again now? Serrin Foster, president of Feminists for Life of America, views the Ms. antics as a good sign for her (and the rest of us). “We used to react to them. Now they’re reacting to us,” she tells me. The cover, no doubt, was in part a response to Feminists for Life and pro-lifers like them who have been focusing on a “Women Deserve Better” (than abortion) message in recent years.

Feminism isn’t just jumping the shark on abortion, though. At the same time Ms. magazine was trying to reclaim relevance — in about the most perverse way they possibly could — students at James Madison University were pushing back against Title IX, an amendment added to an education bill in Congress in 1972. The law was patterned on the 1964 Civil Rights Act, intended to keep discrimination out of education. Good goals. In subsequent years, however, it devolved into federally mandated quotas in high school and college sports.

Politicians have largely curtsied in obedience to the feminist police. But maybe not anymore.

Earlier this fall, Virginia’s James Madison University announced it was cutting seven men’s teams, as well as three women’s teams. The cuts would mean no teams for more than 140 students and 11 coaches. It was a response to federal “proportionality” guidelines: If a school’s student population is 60 percent women and 40 percent men, the sports programs have to reflect that breakdown exactly — even if 60 percent of the female students don’t want to play sports.

In light of protests there, Title IX reformists have gotten unprecedented attention. Jessica Gavora of the College Sports Council calls the developments “amazing.” “A story line is forming in the media around James Madison University’s decision to cut 10 teams to comply with Title IX and for the first time it’s this: that a perverted interpretation of the law — not football, not sexist university administrators, but the law — has resulted in a great injustice.”

In short — on issues that have long been monopolized by liberal feminists, mainstream culture may finally be graduating to good sense and reason. No cover antics will save Ms. magazine and the sisterhood now.

— Kathryn Jean Lopez is the editor of National Review Online.

Copyright 2006, Newspaper Enterprise Assn

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