I Burned my Bra For This? REAL Women of Canada and the Men Behind Them
The new women's movement, operating within the neoconservative movement, is bizarre to say the least. They are vocal opponents of rights for women, and advocate for a patriarchal society.
And they do this through the broader Christian Right revolution that is influencing many governments, including ours; all done under the banner of "family values" and "Christian values".
So what's it all about?
Hypocrisy is a "Christian Value"?
The catalyst for REAL Women of Canada was Liberal cabinet minister, Judy Erola, who championed women's rights.
For Beverly LaHaye and her Concerned Women of America, it was
feminist leader Betty Friedan.
For Phyllis Schlafly and her Eagle Forum, it was power.
Schafly was one of the original anti-feminist voices, who launched a decades long campaign against the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment). However, she stepped up her campaign when Ronald Reagan was elected, who himself stated, that he wanted it gone.
Reagan had run for the Republican leadership three times, but was rejected because he was considered to be too extreme, especially with his anti-communist stance.
The third time was the charm, but only because he allowed the Religious Right to handle his campaign, led by the late Paul Weyrich.
Once elected, he was forced to make good on his promises, and allow the "evangelicals" to take a leading role in policy making.
One of those evangelicals was Gary Bauer, who became Reagan's domestic policy advisor. Bauer gave Schlafly and her followers an "in".
Bauer's first order of business, after silencing his staff who were making outrageous statements to the press, was to "usurp the feminists".
Women belonged in the home, popping out babies and propping up papas. Career women were threatening the family, and children in daycare were being "brainwashed".
We get the message. But do they?
Bauer's wife was a career woman, and her children were put in daycare at the earliest possible moment. Carol Bauer claimed that she went back to work the day she came home from the hospital.
Beverly LaHaye once stated that she only felt fulfilled when she was working outside the home.
Phyllis Schafly is a Harvard educated lawyer, the author of several books, and twice ran for Congress.
Gwen Landholt, President of REAL Women of Canada, is also a lawyer. I'm pretty sure that's considered to be a career.
In fact, the women involved in this anti-feminist movement, have made CAREERS out of their involvement in this anti-feminist movement. There is a circuit of conferences that they attend, enormous numbers of publications that have to be printed and distributed, websites that need to be maintained, and interviews on radio and television, where they must make an appearance.
And most receive a pay cheque, while preaching against the very thing that they are doing.
So we could then say that hypocrisy is now a "Christian value".
Self Loathing is a "Christian Value"?
Combing through the websites of these anti-feminist organizations, you really get the sense that these people hate women. They have become so focused on raising the males to the level of domestic gods, that they have forgotten the importance of protecting, not only women's rights, which they believe should not exist, but women themselves.
When Statistics Canada released its report on domestic violence, Gwen Landholt went ballistic, claiming that men were often the victims of domestic violence too.
Phyllis Schafly opposes any money going to protect women from domestic abuse, or even raise awareness to the problem.
Feminist ideology about the goal of gender-neutrality and the absence of innate differences between males and females goes out the window when it comes to the subject of domestic violence. Feminist dogma is that the law should assume men are batterers and women are victims.What nonsense.
Does passing laws against drunk drivers mean that we assume that every driver is intoxicated. It's about protection against those who are.
These right-wing women's movements fear that if we raise too much awareness, it will threaten their idea of the "family". It could lead to too many divorces, if battered women seek a way out.
They blame the woman for everything.
They believe that "single mothers" are a scourge, but what of the men who made them single mothers? The boyfriends who didn't want the responsibility of raising a child? Men who thought they'd found better or simply didn't want to be married anymore?
Their counterparts, like the Promise Keepers take care of that I guess, encouraging men to take responsibility, and not worry if they knock the little woman around now and then. The misogynist females will take care of that by attacking laws that could risk jail time.
They are the man. They are the god. Grunt, grunt!
What a horrible philosophy. You would think that if they really cared about "family values" they would not want to see children raised in an abusive home. But they don't care, just so long as that home includes both a mother and a father.
I shudder to think what some "conservative" women must endure, simply because they fear what would happen if they decided to opt out. Not only fear from the abusive husband, but fear of the wrath of people like Landholt and Schaffly.
So we could then say that "self loathing" in the form of female misogyny is now a "Christian value".
Love of money is a "Christian Value"?
In his new book, Faith in the Halls of Power: How Evangelicals Joined the American Elite, Michael Lindsay reminds us that evangelism is entrepreneurial.
It's big business, and every big business needs a steady cash flow, if the business is to survive.
Lindsay tells us that in order to keep funds flowing, many of these groups need "a devil". Something they can demonize. And the only way they can effectively stave off this "devil" is with your money.
Gwen Landholt, president of REAL Women, stated that Paul Martin did them a huge favour with his same-sex marriage bill, suggesting that they owed him a debt of gratitude. Their membership swelled and the donations soared "for the first time since the abortion debate". (Armegeddon Factor, p. 74)
The Religious Right/Christian Right/Moral Majority is run like a huge multinational corporation, and many people are becoming enormously wealthy because of it. And remember that as "religious" organizations, they pay NO TAXES. They contribute nothing to the public purse, but want to dictate how it is spent.
And the money flows.
Anti-feminism, abortion, the "homosexual agenda". All money in the bank. Doesn't matter what their own personal views may be, it's what they can sell.
I'm reminded of a story told by former evangelical crusader, Charles Templeton, about Billy Graham. Both men did the circuit together, but Templeton was becoming disillusioned with what they were selling, especially the story of creation.
So he went to Graham, and asked him how he could accept creationism as 'fact' when there was irrefutable evidence that the world had evolved over millions of years. Graham, an intelligent man, told him "I've discovered something in my ministry: when I take the Bible literally, when I proclaim it as the word of God, my preaching has power." (Farewell to God, p. 7-8)
He didn't have to believe it, he only had to market it.
I have no real problem with Billy Graham, and respect the fact that he was the first modern day "crusader" to remove the ropes that separated black followers at these events. But that does say a lot about the movement.
So we could then say that the quest for money is now a "Christian value".
Racism is a "Christian Value"?
The newest fundraising campaigns for many of these organizations, is the "devil" of Islam, and the fear that Muslims will out breed the white race. Not unlike Harper's National Citizens Coalition, that ran a lucrative campaign in the early 1980s, when they raised the alarm that the Asians would soon out breed white Canadians. They had it all worked out.
Link Byfield, now a member of the Wildrose Party in Alberta, spoke at a REAL Women's conference, where he sounded the alarm over a new set of "breeders".
Mr. Byfield's talk was originally to have been on "The Effect of Feminism on the Media", but he declared that the topic was simply too depressing. He spoke, instead, on his view of "Three Futures for Mankind," two of which are quite dark, while one is bright. Which will become our eventual fate?Link's father, Ted Byfield, was one of the founders of both the Reform Party and the Civitas Society, the policy arm of the Harper government. About as "fundamentalist" as you can get, he once stated that the only thing that government should legislate was morality.
Scene I. If Islam Prevails
An invasion by Islam will not be by force of arms, as they do not have the technology for that. The power of Islam is in its birth rate. Islam cannot be removed or replaced, and it grows by way of its large families. In Britain, there are entire Muslim communities, with mosques going up everywhere. Although Muslims share the Christian notion of family, Islam also demands submission. Democracy is a Christian philosophy and, therefore, does not exist or, at best, is only a peripheral force in most Muslim countries.
Link Byfield was also one of the founders of the Northern Foundation, which became an umbrella group for Canada's far right.
"... the Northern Foundation was the creation of a number of generally extreme right-wing conservatives, including Anne Hartmann (a director of REAL Women), Geoffrey Wasteneys (A long-standing member of the Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada), George Potter (also a member of the Alliance for the Preservation of English in Canada), author Peter Brimelow, Link Byfield (son of Ted Byfield and himself publisher/president of Alberta Report), and Stephen Harper." (Of Passionate Intensity, p. 121)Harper would later say that he was kicked out of the Northern Foundation because he wasn't right-wing enough. (Hard-Right Turn: The New Face of Neo-Conservatism in Canada, p.430)
However, I find that hard to believe, since their views are in line with his policies.
When it was learned that neo-Nazis had infiltrated the Reform Party, Harper and his boss Preston Manning claimed not to know. But one, Rob Overfield, insisted that he told the Reform Party leadership, and was assured that they had no problem with it. (Report to the Solicitor General of Canada Security Intelligence Review Committee December 9, 1994)
"The expulsion enraged the Heritage Front, which saw the Reform Party's policies as very similar to, if not indistinguishable from, its own. How could a party that went on record opposing immigration policies that "radically alter" Canada's ethnic make-up, turn around and shun a group like the Heritage Front, [Wolfgang] Droege asked, when the Heritage Front supports the very same approach? Privately, spokesmen for B'nai Brith and the Canadian Jewish Congress admitted that Droege had a good point." (Web of Hate p. 243-44))How is Byfield's claim that Muslims will out breed us any different from the Heritage Front or the English Defense league?
Hatred has just gone legit.
Isn't it ironic though, that throughout the 1990s, we could refer to Stephen Harper as being from the extreme right, and his party as neoconservatives. Yet today, just linking him to the Chicago School, will get you fired.
However, I guess we could say that racism is now a "Christian value".
Why Can't Feminists be Christians?
"The package included distinct society status for Quebec and some other changes, including some that would just horrify you, putting universal Medicare in our constitution, and feminist rights, and a whole bunch of other things." Stephen Harper speech to Council for National PolicyWhy do these Religious Right groups assume that feminists are Godless? According to John Baldock, who wrote a wonderful book, Women in the Bible:
Apart from a few women such as Eve, Mary (the mother of Jesus) and Mary Magdalene, the women in the Bible are generally eclipsed by their male counterparts.Religious scholar, Rita Gross, has also written extensively on feminism and religion.
This state of affairs not only mirrors the status assigned to women in Western society over the last 2,000 years, it also reflects the patriarchal nature of both the Jewish and Christian religions. And yet a closer study of the Bible reveals that women were once regarded as the equals of men rather than subject to them. We read of women who were priestesses in the ancient religions of the Near East, who served as judges and prophets to the early Israelites, and who saved the Jewish people on more than one occasion from extinction at the hands of their enemies. Even Wisdom, which is described in the Book of Proverbs as the 'fountain of life', was personified as a woman. (Introduction)
They can be at odds but don't have to be.
So why has feminism become such a catalyst for the right-wing evangelical movement?
It's because if women want equality and careers, they won't be home making babies. It's that simple. It's why they have convinced the Harper government to write tax laws favouring single wage earner, heterosexual, married couples.
Now that across Europe they are raising the alarm about the return of fascism, we should be able to have an adult conversation about it. When I was in my 20s, I became interested in the Nazi movement in Germany, not because I sympathized, but because I was curious how an uneducated gutter rat, was able to become one of the most powerful men in the world.
It did not happen overnight.
If you remove the shadow of the Holocaust, not by denying that it happened, because it very much did and was horrendous, but simply by studying the success of the movement; you can learn a lot.
At the time, people in Germany never thought of Hitler as a dictator. When his party came to power in 1933, most adopted a wait and see attitude, not sure that he could deliver on his many promises.
They grew to like his nationalist stand and his promotion of the military. And they liked the fact that he was trying to create a true German identity. Something they could be proud of.
In Hitler's Beneficiaries, Götz Aly writes that "From its earliest days the Hitler regime favoured families over single people and childless couples." They introduced "joint tax returns for couples" and graduated income tax.
None of these things are wrong, and the promotion of family is not a bad thing, so long as you include all families. Hitler supported a nuclear Aryan-German family. The Religious Right supports a nuclear Judeo-Christian family.
Aly also points out the Nazi love of polls and their use of think tanks to sell their message.
The Holocaust was the result of nationalism run amok.
In Europe, many are seeing a return of fascism, and anti-fascist protest groups are emerging. If Canadians can't see that this new right-wing movement, is a form of fascism, then I'll just call this my "European edition".
Sadly, most Christians in Canada don't share the beliefs of the movement, but the noisy Christian Right, are the only voices being heard.