As soon as Amy Coney Barrett was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court, the left predictably pounced. A little less predictable were the merciless and inaccurate accusations about her involvement in People of Praise, a charismatic Christian group in which she held the role of a “handmaid.” Progressives saw this as their “gotcha” moment, because of course it was evidence that she would chip away at reproductive and women’s rights if confirmed to the court.
In reality, the handmaid title was given to women who counseled others on significant life events, such as marriage and child rearing. Realizing the term’s connotations have significantly changed over time — having been linked inextricably to the dystopian society created by feminist author Margaret Atwood — People of Praise changed it to “leaders.”
Regardless, liberal activists across the country came out in droves this past weekend, many donned in handmaid outfits, to protest Judge Barrett’s nomination for fear of what they believe will lead to a loss of women’s equality and rights.
Ironically, many of the progressives who denounce Barrett are the same people who advocate for a system of governance that would impede the hard earned progress of women. They fight for a system that believes more government — not civil society or an individual’s own merits, productivity or perseverance — is the answer to every critical issue confronting the country.
This is a system that promises free education, health care and daycare but in return, assumes more control over one’s life.
A woman who’s been nominated to the highest court in the land because of her commanding intellect and impressive credentials is no more a handmaid than women in the purported future that protestors believe is in store should she be confirmed.
It is policies such as the Green New Deal and Medicare for All, that require greater subservience to the government and less reliance on individual initiative and industry.
Those who believe in such a system ignore the overwhelming body of evidence that the free market system has liberated more women than any social policy. Further, policies that support economic freedom lead to greater gender parity.
According to The Heritage Foundation’s 2018 Index of Economic Freedom, there is a strong correlation between economic freedom and gender equality. This makes sense. The more economically empowered that women are, the more likely they are to advance professionally and in other areas of life, closing the gap between their male peers.
The United Nations too, stresses the wide ranging benefits of economic empowerment to women and a country’s overall economic health, saying that it is “central to realizing women’s rights and gender equality.” In fact, they’ve made women’s economic empowerment as key to achieving their 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Female entrepreneurship thrives when there are fewer impediments to starting a business, something that would be much more difficult under the barriers of a socialist system. Currently there are 11.6 million women-owned firms in America, representing 39% of all private businesses, generating $1.7 trillion in sales. No other nation comes close to matching this level of female entrepreneurship. Women have started billion-dollar companies such as Spanx, Eventbrite and Cisco, something that is unheard of in socialist countries.
An abundance of statistics demonstrate the financial gains made among women under the free market system. In America’s 50 largest cities, single females own more homes than do single men. Today, women control more than $10 trillion in U.S. household financial assets, a number that is likely to triple within a decade.
At the start of this year, women outnumbered men in the U.S. paid workforce for just the second time. Unfortunately, the pandemic has eliminated many of the job gains women have made the past decade. The last thing women need are anti-growth policies.
Astonishingly, women — especially younger women — are increasingly inclined to support socialism. An Axios poll last year found that 55% of women in the 18-54 age group said they would prefer living in a socialist country. Yet at no other time in world history have women had as much freedom, wealth or success as they have in America today.
The economist John Attarian once wrote that it is not capitalism that is ruthless, but socialism, which makes a society ruthless by denying individuals the ability to make their own decisions and turning government into the master.
The attacks on Judge Barrett are wrong. A woman who has nearly made it to the highest court in the land is not subservient, nor would she rule in favor of policies that would have prevented her own success.
That aside, activists making accusations against her must consider which system is more likely to reward women for the fruits of their initiative and which one is more likely to treat us all as if we are handmaids?
• Christine Czernejewski is a Milwaukee-based public relations consultant who served in the George W. Bush administration and as an aide on Capitol Hill. The views expressed are her own.