(Editor’s note: The following are Chelsen Vicari’s remarks on October 27, 2015 at the World Congress of Families IX in Salt Lake City.)
I’ve heard it said feminism is dead and Millennial women like me have escaped radical feminism’s ideological clutches. But that certainly hasn’t been my experience nor the experience of the sampling of young women in my life and in Washington, D.C., where I work.
You see, I’ve always craved strong female role models. I looked up to women who “had it all.” As a teenager and throughout my college years, I thought that women “having it all” looked like a corner office in a high rise building, eating out at restaurants every suppertime, sleeping late on Saturdays and brunch on Sunday. “Having it all” did not look like a husband (marriage, I thought, was the last legal form of slavery), children, and most definitely not housework.
In college I might not have been burning my bra, but I deeply believed my feminist teachers, television and glossy magazine pages when they subtly taught me that freedom and female empowerment could never equal family. They didn’t use such blatant language, but the message that freedom looked much like a high-powered career and nothing like a household came in loud and clear.
The enslavement and objectification of women, I was taught by feminist ideology, looked like pregnancy, marriage, chastity, modesty and homemaking responsibility.
It took me some time to recognize the truth, which was that these two images were flip-flopped.
It is always challenging to host a discussion on feminism, because the term itself has become so muddled few can agree on the word’s definition. Some pro-family women are even making efforts to reclaim the term, a movement about which I hold some concerns. But that is a discussion for another time. Still, I must acknowledge groups like Feminists for Life and Big Ocean, a group of self-proclaimed feminist working to dismantle the stigma around family. So let me be very clear, that for purposes of my discussion, when I mention feminism I am specifically referring to either second-wave radical feminism birthed out of the 1960s or its protégé third-wave feminism.
According to Phyllis Schlafly, longtime pro-life activist, lawyer and mother of six, author of 20 books, and a woman obviously not limited by marriage or motherhood – noted in her book, The Flipside of Feminism, quote, “While people associate feminism within the 1960s revolution, since that is when feminism began, feminism and feminists didn’t disappear just because they’re no longer marching in the streets.” Schlafly explained, “They simply chucked the loud protests and morphed into the fabric of society.”
During my time with you, I will briefly discuss three ways radical feminism continues to fool, objectify and ensnare women and, in the end, harm the future of families.
Feminism Continues to Strip Women of the Freedom to Choose Family
In 1949, second-wave feminist foremother Simone DeBeauvoir wrote a feminist manifesto in which she bluntly denied women should have the freedom to determine their own ambitions. She said quote, “No woman should be allowed to stay at home to raise her children… Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one.”
DeBeauvoir’s legacy indeed lives on among with prominent third-wave feminists, many of whom are Millennial women. But their new hot topic is not homemaking per se, it is sexuality.
Like homemaking in the 1960s and on, the idea of choice in terms of sexuality is a one way street. Because there is only one choice tolerated: sexual experimentation.
Prominent third-wave feminist Jessica Valenti quickly comes to mind. Her mission is to dismantle arguments advocating chastity as the most beneficial choice for single women and young girls. But instead of considering women’s personal motivations for chastity, Valenti merely chalks this decision up to men’s efforts to oppress. In her book, Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters, she writes, “Whether it’s repro[ductive] rights, violence against women, or just plain old vanilla sexism, most issues affecting women…exist to keep women ‘in their place.’”
For feminists like Valenti, valuing virginity equates to the sexual oppression of women by men. What’s ironic to me, is that rarely during their discussions of modesty and chastity do they recognize the woman who makes the choice for herself to forgo the deep emotional intimacy of sex until she can experience it with her husband. She is not brought into the discussion, but conveniently ignored or demeaned as brainwashed, mocked and marginalized. Chastity is not a choice.
Feminism Continues to Diminish Women’s Dignity
Women are taught by the influences of radical feminist ideology that to be equal means the deconstruction of our gender differences, sameness, and therefore women must be sexual prowess and experience sex with multiple partners, because remember chastity and monogamy equal “plain old vanilla sexism.”
But consider the impact feminism’s advocating of sexual experimentation continues to undermine the nuclear family. For one the 1960’s quote, “It feels good. Do it” and “free love” movement advanced by feminists helps strengthen today’s hook-up culture not marriage commitments.
So now men scroll women’s profile pictures on Tinder, Mingle this and that, and the more unheard of hook-up apps like Bleep, the forthcoming Thrinder which is the “tinder for threesomes” and “Pure” which is described as the “Uber of dating apps.”
Courtship no longer valued, now men are encouraged size us up based on our posted pictures and a couple of well-crafted soundbites to determining if our profiles make us worthy of a hook-up, not a marriage mind you.
Moving on, women are taught by the covers of women’s magazines, operated by self-professed feminists, that our worth and beauty are measured by how well we achieve make-up trends and sexualize our bodies for men’s pleasure. Just glance at the glossy pop-feminist magazines and you read instructions including quote “How To Be Sexy for Your Man,” “25 Ways to Kiss a Naked Man,” “Four Scents No Man Can Resist,” “Sneaky Sex Quizzes: Get Weird Info He’d Never Tell You” and “10 Beauty Tips that Will Make you Look Like a Celebrity.”
If, according to the feminist magazines, how well I can contour my face with bronzer equates to beauty and self-worth, then I’m doomed.
But here’s the kicker: prominent feminist have not always followed their own advice when it came to their clarion calls for numerous sexual partners and open marriages. Why? Because it was bad advice and deep down many feminist leaders knew it.
Dr. Janice Shaw Crouse, Executive Director of World Congress of Families IX, was the first to point this hypocrisy out to me and I’m so thankful she did. Helen Gurly-Brown was Cosmopolitan’s editor-in-chief, sixties feminist icon and author of Sex and the Single Girl, which encouraged women to experience multiple sexual partners outside of marriage. Gurly-Brown did not take her own advice! She opted instead for a stable monogamous marriage and was married to her husband, David Brown, for fifty one years until he died in 2010.
Feminism Objectifies Women of the Future as Disposable Tissue
Abortion is perhaps radical feminism’s greatest accomplishment wrought in its ensnarement of women. Under the guise of compassion and care for women’s health and so-called reproductive justice, feminism has snatched away the most fundamental of all of a woman’s rights, the right to live.
And here in the United States, we have recently discovered that this movement launched and led by feminism goes beyond just the murderous mutilation of unborn baby girls – and of course baby boys – to trafficking their dismembered parts for profit.
Several weeks ago I came across a disturbing article written by a young woman, about my age. She was a blonde, attractive Millennial woman. The article tagline read, “I love providing abortion care to women, and I am proud to do so. I am also far from alone.” Wow, I thought. How brazen to discuss the destruction of a human being’s chance to live. This is sure to be a train-wreck. I must read it.
The article was published on a woman’s website, XOJane, and in it, the young author, Caroline Payne, pushes the same tired old feminist narrative that tells women: “Without abortion, you are inadequate.”
She writes: “I provide abortions, and actively take every opportunity to advance my abortion skills, because without abortion and family planning, women will never live in an equal world, let alone rule the world.”
Payne continues on. “Women should have every opportunity to explore their potential in the public sphere,” Payne wrote. “[A]nd they will never be able to do that if they cannot exert agency and autonomy over their bodies. Republicans know this. Misogynists know this too.”
My response was that indeed, abortion is about women, but not in the way Payne said. It is about the murder of innocent, vulnerable baby girls who are never given an opportunity to go to school, play sports, nurture a family, and as Payne put it, “compete along the career trajectory with men.” Abortion allows for sex-selection and this, tragically, works to the detriment of the world’s tiniest women,
Misogynists know this too, and so do abortion advocates. According to the Population Research Institute, because of sex-selection abortion 71 million more boys than girls have been born since 2000 across the globe. This is what gender inequality looks like my friends. A reality feminists continue to ignore.
Imagine instead, empowering women by simply allowing them the chance to live.
Liberation in Jesus Christ
Despite how “progressive” our popular culture tells us we are, millions of women remain in bondage to radical feminist ideology and seek to find freedom and identity in careers, sexual experimentation, constant uncommitted relationship turn-arounds, and a culture of death thanks to the lies impregnated in our minds by feminism.
Young women are taught that feminist ideology is their freedom and dignity. Let us never forget that God is the ultimate pro-woman advocate who offers value far beyond equality. He offers dignity, purpose, hope and everlasting life in Jesus Christ. If that isn’t freedom, then what is?
Biblical values affirm women as beloved, unique and deserving of special treatment just because they are children of God, and find their identity and priceless value in Jesus Christ. Christian women do not have to deconstruct their gender, dreams, dignities and families to “have it all.”
When women seek God first, and do not strive to find fulfillment in harmful ideologies, they find His peace, wisdom, and providence and truly “have it all.”
That is ultimately why I am not a Feminist. I’m just a Jesus follower.
 Phyllis Schlafly and Suzanne Venker, The Flipside of Feminism (New York: WND Books, 2011), 16.
Dale O’Leary, “The Oppressed Lives of Stay-at-Homes Moms,” Crisis Magazine, http://www.crisismagazine.com/2012/the-oppressed-lives-of-stay-at-home-moms.