Opinions and Rants #28: Hijacking the Message

Women's Lib

I like to read and listen to a variety of viewpoints. One day I’ll listen to Rush Limbaugh and the next progressives like Tom Hartman. I’ll also check out the Huffington Post from time to time, and the other day I happened upon an article by porn mogul Larry Flynt that struck a nerve. It struck a nerve because I found myself in complete agreement with, of all people, the king of pornography. Indeed, Hugh Hefner’s net worth is only around 40 million; whereas, Flynt’s is over 400 million. Interesting.

Basically, Flynt was stating that the feminist movement was a wonderful thing, but it was hijacked by Steinem and other radical feminists of her ilk. In the 1960s, Women needed to be liberated, and their liberation was a good thing. Women should have the choice of staying home or entering the workforce. They deserve equal pay for equal work.

Airline Protesters

Unfortunately, this message was hijacked and steered off course. Suddenly, women were denied the choice of motherhood or work – they had to work, or they would be labeled as backwards thinking baby makers. In other words, women needed liberation because they were not allowed the choice – they had to stay home. Steinem ensured that women still would not be allowed to make that choice, except now it was the reverse. Staying home would get you the Suzie Homemaker stigma.

The Women’s Libbers also hijacked the cause to push the anti-pornography agenda. Once again, we are being denied choices: women chose to enter the pornography business – it wasn’t as if they had guns to their heads – and now they are once again Steinem and her gang has made the choice for her. The Bible Belt Conservatives suddenly had an unexpected ally in the feminists.

Bunny Activism

The situation is not that different than the NAACP campaign against blaxsploitation films. These were films which employed a lot of African Americans – many were getting handsomely paid for their film work. The NAACP said they were not correctly representing the black populace, and shut them down. Now you had hundreds of black filmmakers and actors out of work… well done, NAACP.

Who was the NAACP to say they were being exploited? That’s demeaning. Who was Gloria Steinem to say these porn stars were being exploited? That’s demeaning too.

Vintage Movie Marquee

So, it turns out Larry Flynt and I share an opinion on something. I wonder what his views are on gun control.


  1. Usually I enjoy your rants but I really need to call BS on this one. The feminist movement is not over. It's still evolving and we have long way to go! Two of my closest girlfriends are stay at home moms and I don't see anyone judging them. One's an army wife and the other a bit of a hippie with a penchant for making metal artwork. Either of them can go back to the paid workforce if they choose to and I don't their cases are particularly unique.
    On a side note, you have a pic of those kooky feminists picketing Deep Throat. It's a well-known fact that Linda Lovelace was forced by her husband to make that movie. So, yes, there was a great deal of exploitation involved!

  2. violet - You don't see anyone judging them, because it's 2010. Believe me, they were judged harshly back in the day for making the choice to stay home.

    You said the feminist movement has a long way to go, and it's not over.... which is kind of the point of my whole post. It was hijacked and derailed. Now, maybe it can make up for the ground it lost.

    Linda Lovelace claimed that the scenes of her having sex were actually rapes. But everyone pretty much calls BS on that one. She regretted it, but it was by no means a sexual assault. Her husband was very controlling; but should we outlaw all films with actresses with controlling husbands?

    This is about freedom. Freedom for blacks to make blaxploitation films if they want to. And freedom for women to become porn stars if they want to... let them decide if they think they're victims or not. It's not my place to stand in judgment.

  3. Let me just disclaim this by saying that I'm trying to come of as hostile, but I do disagree with your blog entry. Ok? Okay.
    My mother stayed home with my sister and myself back in the 70's and she never mentioned any of our feminist friends or society as a whole breathing down her neck about it.
    The actual feminist movement has been much broader and more diverse that just a few well known activist such as Steinem. It's not like anyone elected her madame president of the feminist movement; she's just been very visible. I've read a few of Steinem's books and I really don't think that she's saying that women who choose to do traditionally feminine tasks. I do think that her message has been manipulated by the media to seem as if she was, though. After all, the status quo needs to protect their interests.

  4. I'm with Violet on this one. The women at the top of the movement did not hijack anything. That was the media. And men were constantly fighting it and trying to keep women locked in the boxes they were trying to break out of. I was there too. I was in my early twenties and I know exactly what it was like before and after. The media and men in general were grinding their teeth and seething about all of it. Violence against women in pornography was one of the ways they "fought" back. Being treated "less than" was common at work.

    So were some women made to feel bad about staying home and raising kids? Sure, but so were the women who wanted to break from that mold and lead their own lives without husbands or children. They were called selfish and lesbians by the Phyllis Schlafly's of the world.

    And I've never been able to figure out if your avatar is Chad Everett, but he was a prime example of the nonsense that was going on. Do you recall him referring to his wife, horse, and dog as his property on the Cavatt show? I do. The problem is that a whole segment of society, men and women, still buy into this.

    And if nobody speaks up about exploitation of others what sort of society are we? It's actually a shame there isn't more outrage today about exploitation, but these days people close their eyes to most of it and men can watch women being degraded by simply typing in a URL.

  5. Tattered - OK, you make a good point regarding the workplace - it's true there was friction on both sides, not just the stay at home moms.

    I still can't buy into the porn argument, thought. Who are you to judge if these women are being exploited? It's their choice, let them make it. We're not talking about underage girls who don't have the maturity to make judgment calls - these are adult women. Let them do what they want. What concern is it of yours or anyone else's what they do with their life?

    I appreciate the counter points violet and you are both making. It's an interesting discussion.

    And, no. That's not Chad Everett.

  6. What do all of the examples have in common? Women working + black exploitation films + Porn Films = Money, money, money for all those involved. Exploitation is derived from temptation. Money is said to be the root of all evil. So what does all of that add up to? I think the answer is what Gilligan said. Who are we to judge someone who makes a choice to do something that was to tempting to pass on? Regret is something that individuals feel and have to live with. If someone wants to exploit themself then have at it. I don't feel a thing.

  7. This is the first rant that I have a little disagreement with. It is true that there has been extremism in feminism but every intellectual movement and political cause has its extremist. That doesn't discredit a great movement. The truth is that Feminism should have nothing to apologize for. I consider myself a feminist and welcome all points of view within feminism, even and especially if I disagree with them because argument is good for the soul and creates growth. I do think the conservative media and certain male oriented elites actually worked to discredit feminism because of fear of new ideas. It was more their fault than the fault of any particular feminist intellectual. Indeed look at the failure to ratify the ERA! That failure was a result of far right wingers on the other side. I think there is a need for feminism today and in the future. Feminism is not just a "woman's thing" but is for everybody! I do appreciate the fact you bring up this issue and are at least discussing it though.

  8. Sorry Violet and Sorry Tattered, but I have to agree with Gilligan on this one.

    What started out as "choice" derailed into "Our choice or it does not count."

    Your friends, Violet, who are "stay at home moms" ARE judged by other moms who are not so lucky and by women who are not yet moms but are already looking for daycare for their kids. They are told by school and the media and "old guard" feminists that a working woman is the ONLY fulfilled woman.

    When the second and third generation of women came into their own, and questioned the party line, they were derided for "backward" thinking. Dr. laura is viciously hated for saying that a child needs its own mother for good early development. Shows like "Allie McBeal" were chastised because they had female leads who WANTED a man in their lives (Time Magazine). Shows with strong female leads (in the traditional male form) like "Murphy Brown," had to have "unconventional" family situations, then the kid was shuffled off screen and never seen again. The real trials of bring up children not part of the story.

    In college, if you did not follow the feminist party line your papers were graded on a different curve. Research that suggested there WAS a difference between men and women was stifled and de-funded. You only passed IF you had "The Right" opinion.

    In the 70s, divorce was the prime option for the "modern" woman. Ms. Magazine (edited by who?) pushed for women married in the 60s to shed male domination and become their own person. As long as that person was in the male mold (business NOT domestic). TV shows eliminated "traditional" families in favor of divorced mothers raising kids (One day at a time, Rhoda). Fathers were either not seen, or the butt of the joke of the week. Mothers who WERE seen as part of a traditional family were portrayed as secretly unhappy and envious of their single counterparts.

    Hollywood, oddly behind in the trend, nevertheless came on with a fury turning out films portraying only single women in the business world as truly happy (The Unmarried Woman) and men were all evil and only out keep women down (9 to 5) or destroy them (Looking for Mr. Goodbar).

    Gloria Steinem WAS made the spokesperson of the "women's movement." Because of her good looks, she was seen as the perfect face and figure the media would pay attention to. When she went on Donahue to "debate" Hugh Hefner, she first refused to be on the same stage with him. Then she got up, half way through the show, grabbed the mike, and started to deliver her manifesto. Donahue let this happen BECAUSE Steinem was "feisty, attractive, and it made for good ratings."

    Would he have done that for Bella Abzug?

    All revolutions have their tumultuous times. I always love to see the original guard comment on the current Standard Bearers. Ms. Steinem, whose magazine finally folded due to lack of advertisers, has written several editorials lamenting the current state of young women and had all but a blood feud with Larry Flynt and could not believe that Hollywood actually made a movie about him. And against HER wishes. How times have changed.

    Every revolution has blood and death and destruction. What comes after the dust settles is what the revolution was really about. It is change for sure. But seldom the change the original instigators wanted.

    Women are freer today than they were in 1960. There was a lot of wreckage in getting that freedom and the current generation of women must deal with that. How they deal with it is up to them.

    THAT is what makes the old guard so mad.

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  10. In the 1970s the traditional family left the TV airwaves to be replaced by divorced mothers raising kids alone. Fathers were seen only as weekend attenders and women in traditional families were portrayed as secretly unhappy and envious of their working mother counterparts.

    You may not choose to see it Violet, but your closest girlfriends are judged every day. They are seen NOT as doing an important job, but as just doing something until they can get back to work. Dr. Laura has been chastised for over a decade for saying that a child needs its mother. Imagine that.

    Hollywood in the 70s shifted to portraying a woman as strong only if she left her abusive husband and re-entered the swinging world (An Unmarried Woman), fought evil men trying to keep her down (9 to 5) or was killed because she did not conform to a man's wishes (Looking for Mr. Goodbar).

    On college campuses the "feminist party line" must be followed if you hope to graduate. If your paper questions that line, it is graded on a different curve. Research that even hints of any real difference between men and women is suppressed or de-funded.
    In the 1990, when the next generation of women came of age and went their own way, they were chastised by Ms. Steinem in Time magazine (MS. Magazine having folded due to lack of advertisers). Criticized because they were not making the "right choice" in their lives. The "feminist" choice.

    Ms. Steinem, now part of the old guard, even lamented Hollywood for making a movie about Larry Flynt. Imagine that. You cannot even talk about someone that Gloria does not agree with.
    All revolutions have a violent beginning and it is the next generation who must shift the wreckage and pick up the pieces they want. What they choose is seldom applauded by the Generals of the revolution.

    But that is how civilizations evolve.

  11. Sorry I had to make so many posts,
    but Blogger would not let me post in one comment. I had to break it up.

  12. EPIC comment, Lacey!! (It's a helluva lot better than my post, that's for damn sure).

  13. Gilligan, I'm not going to add to the debate, but I think you make some good points and I am impressed that you are a well rounded guy (although obviously heavily 70's focused.) I am impressed that you are open minded enough listen to information from both sides of the isle when it comes to getting your news.

  14. My comment is nowhere near as detailed as the others here. I just wanted to say that my mother (who was of this era) has actually said the same - that women are led to believe they have a choice but in reality if they don't work they are largely frowned upon.

  15. Not to be wishy-washy, but I can see truth in everyone's posts. The porn industry has had a horrible effect on my gender, whether those women participating do it of their own free will or not. There will always be sell-outs in every group who only care about what they can get and not what their actions will mean to others. It makes me sad that in 2010 we have so many young women and girls taking their cues from the stripper industry and believing their worth is wrapped up in how physically desirable and promiscuous they are.

    On the other hand, I also agree that stay-at-home moms are looked at by many as simply "unemployed." And it's not just old guard feminists doing this, but men as well. They grew up with working moms and expect to have working wives. Times have changed in that regard, but not for the better. My mother graduated in the 50's and still avoids contacting old classmates because she's embarrassed about being a homemaker. My father didn't help matters any in that regard.

    On a side note, I'd like to point out that Rhoda wasn't a single mother, and she was only divorced because her husband dumped her. Never did like that guy.

  16. Interesting, but men have no choice at all. We must go to work. I think it would be great if one income could support the home, and either the man or woman could go to work and the other stay home. Or they could each do half time jobs, so they both could do both!

  17. I love your site, but I disagree with some of your rant.

    1. Every political movement has factions/cliques/parties. Feminism is no different! Feminism has not been "derailed" because it's not a train with one track. It's a general push for equality. And that's not a clean, linear process. Infighting, disagreements, are all part of it, like anything else. Change is messy and slow. You might stop by some sites like Feministing.com, Feministe.us/blog, pandagon.net, tigerbeatdown.com (which is hilarious) because this stuff comes up all the time.

    2. I don't know if you do much reading of current feminists, but sex-positive, and pro-sex-worker feminists are out there and very vocal within feminism. Most of the hostility towards porn is not about "ew it's dirty" but about the fact that at least some porn uses trafficked women, that some porn seems much more about violence and hatred towards women than about sex, and that lots of what's presented as sex in porn would not be enjoyable to most women (at least not the way they do it) and so spreads misinformation. (Scarleteen.com is an awesome site that talks about this stuff a lot and has great feminist sex advice.)

    3. When it comes to stay at home v/ work, lots of feminists now (and many then, but they didn't get much air time) are rejecting that either/or setup and pushing for flextime, better parental leave, daycare subsidies, etc., to benefit both parents. Society needs people to raise kids and people to be workers; it's stupid to have a setup that makes it impossible for each person to raise kids if they want and still have a career if they want. But again, it's messy.

  18. I saw that article yesterday. Flynt was claiming that the Equal Rights Amendments didn't pass solely because of backlash against Gloria Steinem. Because she said things that made people angry and alienated some, and so the backlash led to the rejection of ERA.
    It's funny, considering that ERA was presented in 1923 and had the 1979 deadline for ratification extended to 1982, but sure, ERA didn't pass because Gloria Steinem caused butthurt. It had nothing to do with overwhelmingly male politicians refusing to first vote, then ratify it, for 59 years. Absolutely nothing to do with opposing campaigns led by anti-feminist organizations like Schlafly's, or the involvement of LDS church.
    It's all the feminist's fault that women were denied equal rights, cos Larry Flynt has "long believed" on that.

  19. Sorry colorlessblue,
    but while an ERA was written in 1923, it never reached the floor of either the House OR the Senate for a vote. It was not until 1972 that the ERA we know was passed and presented as an actual Amendment to be voted on by the states.

    It did not fail because of Gloria Steinem. It failed because liberals then, like today, tend to feel a little condescending and self important. If they believe it, then it must be right, and no one of importance will disagree with them.

    After initial success, with little effort from the radical feminist movement, Steinem and her crew went on with their next plans and let the ERA sail on its own.

    It was stalled and defeated by the likes of Phyllis Schlafly, a name spit out of the mouths of most "feminists" of the time. Most web pages today don't even mention her, or if the do it is as a " right-wing leader of the Eagle Forum/STOP ERA."

    While supporter's politics are seldom mentioned, hers MUST be or you don't get your papers published.

    Ms. Schlafly's arguments were weak and almost irrational. NOW simply laughed at them, and her, and went on their way.

    Why not? They were right and so had to win. Isn't that they way it ALWAYS worked?

    But Phyllis' arguments struck a cord and the initial wave of "entitlement orientated" baby boom politicians had not yet learned to work the system.

    As fear of the ERA grew, entrenched politicians turned a deaf ear to NOW and the Amendment stalled and died.

  20. We, as members of a society, have a responsibility to protect one another. It is true, unfortunately, that money is the single driving force behind capitalism. Consequently, concerns of morality and equality are not given an appropriate amount of attention. Sure, women and minorities as individuals technically choose to partake in their own exploitation, but they are still victims of a culture that shamelessly pushes a patriarchal and racist agenda. Just because someone is in a situation, financially or psychologically, in which they are willing to settle for less than they are entitled, does not mean that they should be dehumanized or exploited. Should we do away with a minimum wage if some people are willing to work for $2/hr?

  21. Uh, Lacey, were you actually alive during the 1970s? An Unmarried Woman had nothing to do with abuse, and she didn't leave him--he was having an affair and walked out on her. Rhoda didn't have a kid on her show. There were plenty of traditional families on the air in the seventies, and there were lots of single parents before the seventies--just widows and widowers instead of divorcees (I'd say it has less to do with feminism--which didn't actually dictate TV content during the seventies, dear--and more with the urge to have both relationship stories and parental stories).
    And you couldn't graduate if you didn't follow the party line? At which college was this? I was at a wildly liberal college in the actual seventies and I'd love to know where you're getting your facts.

  22. As a matter of fact frasersherman, I was.

    Read the posts again. (Dear??)

    "There were plenty of traditional families on the air in the seventies . . "

    Really? Name three after 1974.
    Name three BEFORE 1974 that were not holdovers from the 60s?

    Rhoda? Fay? Maude? All divorced.

    Three's Company? Soap? Alice? One Day at a time? Traditional?

    (I am not counting all the "single guy/gal sitcoms as they are all the same throughout the ages)

    What's Happening?
    I'll give you "Angie," and "To Close for Comfort."

    The Waltons? Little House on the Prairie? Happy Days? All hearkening back to "simpler, more primitive" times. They also paid the bills so the networks left them alone.

    There was a big difference between "widowed" families in the 60s and "divorced" families in 70s in the way fathers were portrayed. Also, NO sitcoms or dramas portraying a father who has the kids and deals with a shrewish ex-wife.

    Which, BTW, is the crux of the argument. Which portrayal suited the feminist agenda the best? Look at how the absent father was talked about in Lucy, Vs. the "absent" father in One Day at a Time.

    (I am beginning to wonder if YOU were alive in the 70s)

    As for college, I was referring (read the post again please) to the results of the feminist agenda propagated by the college of your time (I admit I was a bit young to attend college then). The instructors and agendas now (when I did go through college).

    So, present your facts if you find mine fallacious.

  23. All this is making me very happy that I never lived in the 1970s. Of course all these debates are pretty much centered on "career lady" v. "house-wife" which is about as accurate as "virgin v. whore" for describing the girls and women I know. It leaves out blue collar women almost entirely, as well as for instance, a friend of mine a second generation Mexican immigrant, raised by a single mother who worked as a housekeeper for white households. Somehow that girl still wound up in college, studying law. Also Ms. magazine is still around, and my Mom still reads it, although it's mostly "your mother's feminist magazine" these days among the feminist girls I know (I don't see many of them reading it, although Eve Ensler is still as popular as ever mostly because she combines stories of rape with racy comic monologues to make a sort of weird variety show). OK so I'm not a girl of the millenial generation, but I'm a guy of it, which means I spend a lot of my time studying the girls of it(if you know what I'm saying) including the feminist ones.

    I know this is a nostalgia blog and I read it as such but still, keep in mind there's several generations out there who see Vietnam as "that place where they make volleyballs." Some of us like retro-chic as much as anybody, but we know it's not the present.

  24. one interesting example of the paper-grading issue happened to me in college when i took (out of curiosity) a class called "Feminist Philosophy". we were told to write an essay based on personal experience about women we knew. i chose my mother and sister, stating that they were aggressive where my father was not, and this included bullying behavior. the teacher did not like that essay because it showed that these women were not necessarily stereotypical 'victims of the patriarchy' and tried to blame all their problems on that. that's why i'm not a feminist; i've noticed similar hypocritical attitudes and behavior that criticize any woman for not automatically following the party line of male bashing. in my opinion, such feminists can go on forever blaming men for their problems and claim it's because they are not women; of course men will never be women so they can always have an excuse to blame them and not take responsibility for their own behavior.