The Goddess that Failed
Feminism reaches the end of the road.
Feb 3, 2003, Vol. 8, No. 20 • By SUSIE POWELL CURRIE
When did we get the idea that for men and women to be equal, they had to be interchangeable? I, too, was a magazine writer in my past life, the one before I could recite "Goodnight Moon." But my new career always seemed to me at least as important as my husband's. Paying the bills is a necessary evil, but molding the next generation of ballerinas and firemen is an awesome responsibility--and privilege.
Ellen Gilchrist's piece recalls introducing her three young sons to one of her Millsaps College professors, Eudora Welty, during a chance meeting on campus. "Why would you need anything else?" asked the single, childless, renowned Welty. "Why would you need to be a writer?"
Of course, it's hard to embrace motherhood when you resent your gender. One essayist remembers realizing at a tender age that the fairer sex was actually considered "inferior to boys and men in nearly every way that counted." Another credits feminism with "deepening [her] understanding of [herself] as a person born into the wrong sex."
Huh? This sounds like masculinism. True feminism, to my mind, is one that celebrates what Pope John Paul II calls the "feminine genius," and this extends (but is not limited) to biology.
Someone once said that the husband is the head of the household, but the wife is the neck. Or at least she used to be. Now, she wants to be another head, and in so assimilating the masculine virtues, she discards the feminine ones that are necessary for family and society.
Aristotle's definition of love is to will the good of another. That, of course, is what the Angel is all about. Was it really that she never had a mind or wish of her own, or that she had the self-mastery to realize that what she wanted to do was not necessarily what she ought to do? It's being a bitch that's easy.
Hanauer and her sisters are part of the younger generation Woolf was addressing, and they've followed her advice, weeding charm, selflessness, and sacrifice out of their lives at every turn. But happier? No.
Susie Currie is a writer living in Hyattsville, Maryland.