- The Washington Times - Monday, July 14, 2008

Liberated religion

“Feminist history has insufficiently acknowledged the degree to which the founders of the woman suffrage movement … were formed or influenced by religion. It is no coincidence that so many early American feminists were Quakers: Susan B. Anthony, for example, was the daughter of a Quaker farmer, and Lucretia Mott was a Quaker minister. It was in Quaker meetings, where men and women were treated as equals, that women first learned the art of public speaking.

“The quest for suffrage, motivated by religious idealism and paradigms, cannot therefore automatically be defined as a movement of the left. Indeed, the social conservatism of most of the suffrage leaders was shown in their attraction to the Temperance movement. …

“Temperance, flaring into public view in the 1870s, was called the ‘Women’s Crusade’ or ‘Women’s Holy War.’ Temperance women gathered in groups outside saloons, where they prayed, sang hymns. … Many saloons had to move or close. It was one of the first examples in history of women mobilizing for social action.”

-Camille Paglia, writing on “Feminism: Past and Present,” in the Spring/Summer issue of Arion

Liberated cartoons

“As a young viewer, I had no doubts about the superiority of this gang to the characters of Disney. Disney cartoons were tame, conventional, Apollonian. Warner Bros.‘ were manic, unnerving, iconoclastic, spastic, Dionysian.

“The most telling difference was that the Disney characters had romantic partners, spouses, even families of a kind. There was something treacly about the scenes where Mickey and Minnie’s smooches were accompanied by all those little red hearts floating in the air. …

“The Disney characters were socialized, domesticated, bourgeois. Warner Bros. characters, with the exception of hen-pecked Porky and his Petunia, were mavericks - unregenerate, anti-social. There is no Mrs. Fudd. And a Mrs. Daffy Duck? Inconceivable.

“Sex in the Warner toons was more likely to be transgressive and connected to deception, especially cross-dressing. Bugs is quick to put on a frock and kiss Elmer on the mouth but only for the purpose of fooling his perennial victim. Disney-romance led to marriage. Warner Brothers-romance was linked to guile and aimed at redress.”

-Billy Collins, writing on “Inspired by a Bunny Wabbit,” on the Wall Street Journal Web site June 28

Liberated men

“It was once held that the female - in her dual tasks as mother and wife - played a vital role in tempering the testosterone-fueled excesses of the young male. ‘Women have always been the carriers of morality and the shapers of the next generation, which seems to me to be far more important than working 60 hours a week in a law firm,’ says Robert Bork. … And George Gilder likewise notes that ‘Men need durable ties to women to discipline them for civilized life, or they become a menace to society and themselves … and tend to live short and destructive lives.’

“Well, that depends on the women, I should think. I doubt the ambiguous state of civilization attained by the average coed featured in a typical Girls Gone Wild video has much influence on today’s young man, save to make him hot and bothered. Indeed it would not be difficult to make the case that contemporary women are more in need of the good old civilizing influence than are men.”

-Christopher Orlet, writing on “Bachelorhood And Its Discontents,” in the July issue of the New English Review

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