A 30-year old unmarried law student named Sandra Fluke testified before Congress that she needed the government to provide her with hundreds and hundreds of dollars of contraceptives a year (or to force her university to do it). Fluke was lying, not to put to fine a point on it; contraceptives are cheap unless you pay a Big Pharma premium. But Rush Limbaugh grossly joked that Miss Fluke must be a slut.
Limbaugh has caught deserving flack for his comment. But as de Talleyrand-Perigord observed to me yesterday, Rush’s comment was worse than a crime, it was a mistake. Instead of criticizing Fluke’s assumed appetite for rogering, he should have criticized her
Adults do not need the government to take care of the marginalia of their sex lives, anymore than they need government oil changes or state-sponsored laundresses.
Childlike, Fluke wants choices without consequences. Like the worst stereotype of the vaporous Victorian dame, she wants somebody else to meet her needs. She is swooning for a big strong government to take care of her. She is militant to be meekly at some bureacrat’s mercy. Her feminism is liberalism’s bodice-ripper.
There is more than one feminism, to be sure. Not every feminist is a Fluke. But Fluke isn’t a fluke, unfortunately. Certain strands of that movement–I might even say, predominant strands–want to be proud, independent, and assertive, but without real achievement, real independence, or real opposition. Their ideal is the naked Empress whom everybody agrees is clothed. They make the “liberating” proclamation that they’re sluts, but get angry when someone agrees with them. They feel faint when a woman’s public comments aren’t handled gently. They cry up women’s achievement but try to avoid the hard victory of childbirth and the endurance crown of childrearing. They seek independence . . . through federal laws and federal subsidies. They are Sugar Daddy Suffragettes.
The Church gives men a real chance for achievement in a way that society does not. Missions make men of boys, because they are hard, because they are worthwhile, and because they aren’t all about you. Priesthood service does the same. So does the strong encouragement to marriage and fatherhood. Mormon men make and keep oaths, which is the oldest and most basic definition of male honor. And because all that hard Church stuff makes a man of us, we men are blessed by it.
In thinking over this Fluke affair, I realized in a way I hadn’t before that the same is true for women. When we teach our young women to be chaste, we are teaching them self-discipline and self-possession, which is the true independence. When we teach childbirth and motherhood, we showing the route to real achievement, which can only come through difficult and even dangerous accomplishment of most worthy ends. When we organize women into a society that is designed not to assert their own prerogatives but to minister to others, we are treating our sisters as full adults, not objects, but subjects, not acted upon, but actors.
This is not an apologetic or a defensive response to feminist critique. This is a reality. True feminism can be found in the embrace of the gospel. I thank God my daughters are LDS.