Back in 1974 when I was 20 years old, feeling confident and comfortable in my own skin, I found myself at odds with most of my female friends and most especially with my older sister and mother, who were all becoming strident feminists. As an overtly independent person from the day I was born (or free spirit as I’ve often been characterized), the women around me saw my anti-feminist attitude as antithetical to the way I lived my life up to then. Rather than having a rational conversation about the basis for our difference in opinion about the NOW (National Organization of Women) movement, these women jumped to the conclusion that I had sold out or been brainwashed by the guy I was so gaga about at that time. Nothing could have been farther from the truth but the attitude that I was a traitor to my own sex was so incredibly absurd to me (particularly in light of my chosen career) I never took their anger seriously. My friends and my mother eventually “got it” when they finally realized that while they were busy going to conventions, participating in protest marches, and getting riled up about the inequities of life and neanderthal men, I was busy pursuing and succeeding in careers that had traditionally been for men only. But to this day, I know that one of those women still holds a grudge against me for the perceived disloyalty. I just don’t get it.
More than anything else, I value freedom. I firmly believe that that ALL people have the God-given right to be free, in their thoughts and in their choices, limited only by one rule: that the exercise of their freedom does not infringe on the freedom of anyone else.
Now, because of our right to think as we choose, it is inevitable that we won’t agree with everyone else and as far as I’m concerned, that’s not only okay, it’s how we learn and grow and it’s what makes life interesting. The problem I saw (and still see) with NOW (and with any other radical organizations) is that their agenda is not to ensure the freedom of women to think for themselves and choose how they want to live their lives, but they want to force (by legislation or intimidation) everyone to think as the leaders of the organization(s) think. Besides the fact that you cannot legislate thought or morality, the very concept of there being only one “right way” to think or live, is abhorrent to me.
When I decided to be an Audio Engineer and Producer back in 1972, I knew of only one other woman in all of Northeast Ohio who was active in that field. Yet, I never felt artificially barred, limited or discriminated against in any way due to being a woman, and in fact was well on the road in a promising career in radio and advertising until I got stopped in my tracks as a result of a stroke that left me almost completely deaf at age 27. Twenty years later, when I decided to accept a job as a construction field superintendent, only a handful of women held that position in the Greater Cleveland area, and while it took 2 or 3 days at the beginning for the guys to feel comfortable having a female “boss”, soon we were able to develop respect for each others’ skills and knowledge and became a very effective team. The key to the success I found in traditionally male-dominated careers was that I never asked for, nor allowed, anyone to give me any special consideration simply because of my gender and because I harbored no anger or resentment towards my fellow workers simply because of their gender, we were able to have a relaxed atmosphere to work in, joking with each other without fear of it being taken the wrong way, allowing each of us to simply be ourselves and rise or fall based upon our own individual talents and efforts.
While there are certainly greater opportunities for women and for minorities than existed 40 years ago, this advancement has been hard earned by millions of citizens, one individual at a time, in spite of organization’s like NOW and not because of them. The only visible legacy of these kamikaze “What About Me?” armies is an overly sensitive nation obsessed with appearing to be politically correct while seething with an under-current of anger, fear and distrust permeating the public lives of its’ citizens; a President and congressional majority which advocate that the US should turn a blind eye to terrorism and fascism (as long as it is “over there”) and which is feverishly ramping up to control nearly every aspect of our lives; and a country that looks down on gay couples wanting to marry and wanting to adopt children while the majority of heterosexual adults are either divorced or never married yet continue to have children that they have no time or interest in raising. In my humble opinion, the NOW revolution was ill-conceived from day one but false pride has blinded those who rallied behind it, looking to lay blame and to get something for nothing rather than standing on their own two feet, marching to their own drum, and win or lose, facing their own music.
What a waste.
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