N.O.W on the Fringe

The National Organization for Women has done it now. For years, NOW painted itself as a mainstream organization. It claimed to speak for the typical American woman. The media followed along slavishly. When a newspaper reported on abortion, who did they quote? NOW. When a television show talked about sexual harassment, who did they interview? NOW. For the media, the National Organization for Women defined the issues for all women. And recently Patricia Ireland, the organization's new president, has revealed that she, too, is just a typical American woman. She has announced that she lives with a lesbian lover. She also has a husband off in the wings somewhere, who has apparently acquiesced to his wife's lesbian affair. Yes indeed, just a mainstream American woman. Of course, no one can believe that anymore. With Mrs. Ireland at the helm, it's become all too clear that NOW is way out on the fringe. And the farther it moves to the left, the more it leaves the rest of America behind. The media may still recognize NOW as the voice of American women, but for several years women themselves have been shying away from doctrinaire feminist groups. They're shunning the label "feminist," says Time magazine--even when they agree with a lot of the feminist agenda. Women today generally want many of the things feminists once fought for: a higher education, a chance to use their skills in the work place, a husband who shares family responsibilities. But when it comes to feminism as a philosophy, there they draw the line. Many women see feminism as a hostile, unfeminine, man-hating philosophy of life. Sure, it's dressed up in the language of individual choice. But only certain choices are really supported--the radical choices: like abortion and lesbianism. Which brings us back to Mrs. Ireland, the new lesbian president of NOW. Sharon Schuster, president of the American Association of University Women, told a reporter that Mrs. Ireland was just living by the feminist philosophy. "The women's movement is about women having choices ...," Miss Schuster said; "choices in their careers, their personal lives and their reproductive lives." What Miss Schuster ignores is that our choices may have a negative impact on other people. How does Mrs. Ireland's husband feel when his wife goes off to live with another woman? How can he come through this with his dignity and self-respect intact? Well, Mrs. Ireland can go ahead and make her "choices"--but her extremist lifestyle is helping other women to see that there's something wrong with a philosophy that applauds lesbianism and extramarital affairs. My hunch is that Mrs. Ireland will go the way of Mikhail Gorbachev. Gorbachev was once recognized as the legitimate voice of the Soviet Union. The Western media loved him. But the people in the Soviet Union simply stopped believing in what he stood for. They moved toward democracy and left Gorbachev behind in the dust. One morning Mrs. Ireland may wake up and find, just as Gorbachev did, that her empire is gone. American women will have left NOW on the fringes and moved back to the real mainstream. To the values of family and marriage, faithfulness and commitment.


Chuck Colson



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