‘War on women’ could loom large in 2016

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Americans who grew weary of the “war on women” meme in the 2012 election may want to take a deep breath: The issue may loom even larger in 2016, an influential social critic told a Capitol Hill symposium.

The groundwork is already being laid for a resurgence of feminism in America, author and think-tank fellow Kay S. Hymowitz told the “War on Women: Myth or Reality” event, hosted by the Family in America, a quarterly publication of the Howard Center for Family, Religion and Society.

There’s not much hard data on this, Ms. Hymowitz acknowledged, but a recent Ms. magazine report said 55 percent of the women who voted in November said they were feminists up from 46 percent who said that after the 2008 election.

Another sign of resurging feminism is Facebook executive Sheryl Sandberg, the married, mother-of-two who has penned the best-selling book, “Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead.” Ms. Sandberg’s book tells women “they have to keep ‘leaning into’ their jobs, and they can’t back off just because there are children at home,” Ms. Hymowitz said.

This is a “hard-line feminist approach” and it’s been a huge success, said Ms. Hymowitz, senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a domestic-policy think tank in New York City, and author of “Manning Up: How the Rise of Women Has Turned Men into Boys.”

Throw in high rates of college-educated women on the hunt for careers; young women schooled in women’s studies; young women who think the lack of birth control and sex education are major problems; and young women going into media outlets, who talk with each other and read popular feminist blogs such as Jezebel, and you have the makings of a “resurgent feminism,” especially among middle- and upper-class women, Ms. Hymowitz said.

These young women “will have a lot to say about the upcoming 2016 election you can probably see already that the ground is being prepared for a real women’s election,” Ms. Hymowitz said. “So I think we have to take [this ‘war on women’] seriously, as a force to be reckoned with.”

Janice Shaw Crouse, senior fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, the think tank for Concerned Women for America, told the Friday symposium that there was an entirely different “war” being waged on women which was contributing to women feeling increasingly unhappy, despite strides made in education, career and family income.

This other “war on women” harms them in three ways, she said: By encouraging women to engage in years of casual sex, cohabit with one or more partners before marriage, and delay marriage and childbearing until late in their reproductive lives, women are at risk for heartache, disease, unwed childbearing, poverty and fertility problems.

Re-establishing morality, faith and marriage is a “vital necessity” for the nation’s young women, Mrs. Crouse said.

Other commentators included Ross Douthat, The New York Times’ conservative op-ed writer and author of “Bad Religion: How We Became a Nation of Heretics”; and Ryan C. MacPherson, chairman of the history department at Bethany Lutheran College in Mankato, Minn.

Mr. MacPherson, senior editor of The Family in America, is also the founding president of the Hausvater Project, a nonprofit that promotes a biblical vision for men and women, family, church, and society.

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