- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 19, 2004

Feminists have fostered an attitude of victimhood among American women, says Carrie L. Lukas, director of policy for the Independent Women’s Forum. In a report, “Dependency Divas: How the Feminist Big Government Agenda Betrays Women,” Ms. Lukas argues that rather than helping women achieve independence, the feminist movement promotes dependence on government as a substitute for dependence on men.

The following are excerpts of a telephone interview with Ms. Lukas:

Question: What was the original impetus behind this policy report?

Answer: As the presidential campaign was gearing up, I was reading comments from traditional feminist groups like the National Organization for Women [NOW] and analyzing their political agenda. In every case, they were pursuing policies that would make women more dependent on government. For example, they want government to provide all health care and support more business regulation so that women receive paid family-medical leave and employer-provided child care.

Yet at the same time, these groups fight against reforms that will give women more power and more control of their lives. We see this with [feminist opposition to] Social Security reform, which would allow women to invest a portion of their payroll taxes, and with education reforms like vouchers that would put control back in the hands of parents. … [Feminist leaders demand] greater government involvement in women’s lives, and it struck me how much they deviated from what I consider true independence for women.

Q: What do you consider true independence for women to be?

A: True independence for women requires proposals that would allow women to keep their own money, make decisions about their own lives and give them the freedom to participate in an economy that gives them maximum flexibility. For example, many feminists believe that women are paid less than men in the work force and push proposals for setting how employers are to compensate their employees. But I think that is the exact opposite of what women should be fighting for.

Q: What should women be fighting for?

A: If we want to have a marketplace where employees and employers are free to negotiate mutually beneficial arrangements, for many women, that means they are willing to trade compensation for additional flexibility. Women often want to work part time or have the freedom to leave at 4 p.m. so they can pick up their children from day care. What is really important is that women in the work force have the freedom to negotiate these kinds of contracts.

Q: What is the purpose of your report?

A: The purpose of this report is to raise awareness that the traditional feminist agenda is inconsistent with independence for women. The feminist agenda is replacing dependence on men with dependence on government. And often, these big government proposals have serious unintended consequences that make women worse off. For example, NOW fought against tax reductions, when, in fact, high taxes make it more difficult for women to find jobs. It also pushes some women who would rather stay at home with their children into the work force so they can pay their bills. At the same time, high taxes discourage some married women from entering the work force because they will keep so little of what they earn.

Q: In your report, you say that feminist groups are not the key to women’s votes. Can you explain that?

A: The dependency divas do not speak for most women. Therefore, candidates must embrace their policies at their peril. I think most women want a government that will give them greater control of their lives and let them keep more of their money, decide where their children go to school and how to invest their retirement savings.

Q: What is a “dependency diva”?

A: What I am referring to is that the leaders of the modern feminist movement are really dependency divas in that they are selling women a tired mix of victimization and dependency on big government. The feminist leaders work to make women think they are victims of oppression in the workplace and want them to support big government. The government becomes these women’s nanny, their caretaker.

Q: Do you think dependency divas will be convinced of your argument?

A: I don’t think we will convince a group like NOW to support limited government, but our hope is that we can reach out to women on college campuses and throughout the country. We would like to raise awareness of the benefits of limited government and individual responsibility.

Q: How did the feminist movement, which began in radical individualism, become just another big government lobby?

A: It is a sad development because early feminists did do a lot of good in making it possible for women to participate in all aspects of civil society. But they seem unwilling to recognize their own success, and now, instead of pushing for equality, they are pushing for special favors.

Ms. Magazine’s response to my report is telling. They wrote on their [Internet] site that women need government, but painted a bleak picture of the situation women face. Basically, they believe that the system is so bad and unjust for women, that it justifies government to serve as a caretaker for women. But they do not acknowledge that government must take from some in order to give to another special group. Therefore, this is the definition of being dependent, which is antithetical to true independence for women.

Q: Why has the feminist movement gone awry?

A: Unfortunately, they were a victim of their own success in that women are entering the work force and are succeeding on their own. A great deal of this fight has been won. However, many interest groups are now seeking more than equality. They are seeking special treatment. This is the problem.

Q: What is the future of the feminist movement?

A: The movement for true independence for women has never looked brighter. As women are increasingly participating in the economy and technology keeps advancing, it is becoming easier for women to achieve a balance of working while still spending time with their children. Individual women are prospering. The dependency divas are an anachronism and don’t make sense in the modern world. They do not speak for most women who are more independent and successful than ever before. My hope is that there will be a new truly independent women’s movement that supports policies of limiting government and returning power to individuals.

LOAD COMMENTS ()

 

Click to Read More

Click to Hide