Jewish World Review Nov 3, 2005/ 1 Mar-Cheshvan,
What do women really want?
If Samuel Alito is confirmed, there will be one less woman on
the court, but no one can say (although Laura Bush implied it) that Harriet
Miers got a hard time because she's female. She was, in part, chosen to
replace a woman, but that obviously wasn't a good enough reason.
No one suggested that she got where she got as a lawyer on
anything but by her merits as a professional, and it speaks well for her
that she was back at work after the humiliation of withdrawal, as well as
for the president who continued to take her advice about who should succeed
her as the nominee. He got good advice. Sam Alito appears to be the goods
the president's friends were waiting for. Now the phony war is over, and the
real one begins.
There's a larger lesson here for the feminists. What women
fought for was to be treated equally no better than men, no worse. Women
just didn't know what "for worse" could be. Many women taken in by the
feminist rhetoric didn't find the Promised Land. Instead they confronted a
harsh landscape of uneven possibilities. We've taken unexpected turns on the
way to the 21st century.
More moms are now staying home with their children than working outside the home; it's the sharpest decline in the numbers of working mothers since 1976. In their book "What Women Really Want," pollsters Celinda Lake (a Democrat) and Kellyanne Conway (a Republican) found that seven in 10 women say they would stay home with their kids if they could afford it. Sleep deprivation may be part of it. When the pollsters asked both men and women if they would prefer more sex or more sleep, women overwhelmingly asked for more sleep. Men were dreaming of more sex: "So one difference between men and women is what they prefer between the sheets."
But the pendulum that swings to also swings fro, and women are
weary of the feminized man who, in reaction to their demands, tries to make
himself over into the sensitive female image. (Think Arlen Specter, who try
as he might will never make enough amends for his tough questioning of Anita
Hill.) Even Ken, who was dumped by Barbie years ago, is getting a masculine
makeover by Mattel, the toy manufacturer, to make him more appealing. Yet,
despite burnt bras and androgynous clothes, young women lose when they make
over their bodies. A majority of women say they would rather look thinner
than younger as they increasingly employ cosmetic surgery to aim for thin
and young. More alarming, in one survey, elementary school girls say they
would prefer to live through a nuclear holocaust, lose both of their parents
or get sick with cancer rather than be fat.
Although abortion is often presented as a "woman's issue," the
moral concerns over "the ethics of life" criss-cross both sexes. Women
remain deeply (and almost evenly) split over pro-life/pro-choice concerns;
large majorities continue to oppose partial-birth abortion. The vast
majority of women are most interested in issues of health care, war,
financial security and national security.
Whenever abortion comes up in the public debate over Supreme
Court nominees, there's an assumption that how a judge "feels" about
abortion will determine how he will find in a given case. But Judge Alito
has already disproved that. While he wrote, in a dissent, that a woman
should tell her husband before she has an abortion, he held against a ban on
partial-birth abortion. The senators will question him again on these cases,
but it's his judicial philosophy that requires attention. That's what women
(and men) really should want to know.
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