- The Washington Times - Monday, August 20, 2001

Fish and bicycles
"Every revolution gets a little boring without rebellion and dissension in the ranks. For 'feminists' in quotation marks because no one seems to agree who exactly gets to call herself a feminist marriage has become so taboo that getting hitched has come to seem like rebellion. …
"Consider how Gloria Steinem … defended her decision to marry David Bale … last year: 'I had no desire to get married and neither did he. He often in his life did what men were not supposed to do and I spent mine doing what women aren't supposed to do. And I guess a little bit of it too was that what seemed conformist at 26 getting married seems rebellious at 66.'
"So there. Feminist marriage for Steinem is rebellion no-fault nuptials as the no-fault divorce of the new millennium. …
"Her best-known statements on matrimony include … perhaps the most famous anti-hetero-coupling maxim of the 20th century: 'A woman needs a man like a fish needs a bicycle' (a phrase that Esquire chose to throw back in her face in its 'Dubious Achievements 2000' issue, writing, 'Turns out a fish does need a bicycle')."
Amy Benfer, writing on "I do kind of," Wednesday in Salon at www.salon.com

Top dog America
"In 1987, the historian Paul Kennedy published a controversial book called 'The Rise and Fall of the Great Powers: Economic Change and Military Conflict from 1500 to 2000.' Its message was that the United States was suffering from imperial 'overstretch.' Its economy was no longer large or dynamic enough to support its strategic commitments. It had to accept a lesser role in a 'multipolar' world. …
"Kennedy was exceptionally unlucky in his timing. Four years after his book's publication, the bipolar world had vanished, as he predicted. But this was because the Soviet Union, not the United States, had crashed. In the post-Communist world, the United States remains undisputed 'top dog.' It has a power and authority unique in history to shape the political and economic organization of the planet. How it approaches this task will largely determine what our new century will be like."
Robert Skidelsky, writing on "What Makes the World Go Round?" in the Aug. 9 issue of the New York Review of Books

Something missing
"All people involved in radical movements seem to hate the idea that what they are saying may have implications that differ significantly from their declaratory meaning. In the case of the women's movement, one of its chief and most influential philosophers, Betty Friedan, seems to think that the bill of indictment brought by her movement against society's cruel and unjust treatment of women down through the ages has not the slightest bearing on its attitude to men. 'Hostile to men?' she has said, as if she had just invented an arithmetic in which two plus two equals three. 'Why, we have never been hostile to men!' And lo and behold! there came the birth of sexual harassment law, under which hundreds of millions of dollars have been paid by employers to women who claimed they were too weak and delicate to ensure that some man would bother them no more, by, for example, slamming their knees against the gentleman's groin a tried-and-true method that any female factory worker could have taught them. …
"With or without open intent, by its view of what a woman's life should properly look like, the [feminist] movement is implicitly antimotherhood. Why else would it have taken so many years for women intent on storming the citadel of career to discover in themselves an unfulfilled longing to have a child? … Something had clearly been missing from the women's-movement assumptions about what such a woman's life ought ideally to be."
Midge Decter, from her new book, "An Old Wife's Tale"


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