Republican Griffin Critiques Feminism
Chair of the Republican party of Virginia Kate Obenshain Griffin delivered a lecture titled “The Failures of Feminism” Thursday to a large audience. The lecture was the final event of this semester’s controversial and well-attended Ronald Reagan Lectureship Series, sponsored by the OC Republicans.
After a brief introduction in which Griffin praised Oberlin College for its willingness to engage in open dialogue on tough issues, she announced that in order for the audience to properly understand her positions, it was best that they understand a bit about her own personal life. Griffin said she grew up in a strong nuclear family until her father was killed in a plane crash when she was only nine years old. She spent the remainder of her childhood living in a one-parent household, which she believes has given her a unique perspective on childrearing and family.
After high school she continued on to the University of Virginia, where she described herself as budding into an active advocate for conservative values. The liberal atmosphere of her college education led her to question the academic status quo, especially with regard to feminism; a literature class claiming Jane Austen was a precursor to Gloria Steinem led Griffin to question her course of study.
Griffin’s distaste for feminism grew as she entered a professional life in politics. She worked for then-governor and now departing U.S. Senator George Allen, first as a campaigner and later as an educational advisor. It is here that she first encountered “hypocritical liberal Democrats,” who she criticized as attacking her integrity and expertise based on her being female. Furthermore, as she rose to the seat of Republican Party Chairman (she prefers the title “chairman”) in Virginia she was accused by Democratic opponents of “shrill and hysterical rantings,” adjectives Griffin claims are targeted at women alone.
Apart from the hypocrisy she sees in feminism, Griffin argues that successful feminism is damaging and even dangerous to American society. While she is grateful for the political and civil liberties she has gained through the early feminist movement, Griffin believes that American women achieved equality with their male counterparts over 30 years ago. Since then, the feminist movement has “succumbed to excess.”
A mother of four herself, one of Griffin’s primary focuses in her lecture was the way in which feminism has damaged the family and, as a result, damaged children.
“We have forgotten the victims [of feminism],” she said, “and these are the children.” Pressure on women to work and stigma about mothers has led, in Griffin’s opinion, to a myriad of social problems.
Under the umbrella of the harm inflicted upon children by feminism, Griffin included abortion, under-nurtured “latchkey kids” and babysitting arrangements that take children away from their own homes.
In particular Griffin feels that young boys find themselves in a damaging situation: made to feel ashamed of “natural boyishness” and forced to “get in touch with their feelings” in a way unsuited to their natures.
Continuing in this vein, Griffin discussed her belief that the cultural paradigm shifts resulting from feminist-generated statistics have resulted in a majority of Americans believing falsehoods about both girls and boys. In what Griffin calls “The War on Boys,” boys in America are depicted as inherently dangerous, in need of taming and inappropriately out of touch with their feelings. They are also depicted as having an advantage over girls in schools and general society. All of these depictions, Griffin says, are false.
Griffin believes that feminism has been primarily targeted at dismantling the family, as it is seen as an institution of male oppression. As a result, men are undervalued and children are left un-parented. Griffin declared, “Feminism has really triumphed in making mothering a low-rate job.”
Despite popular feminist notions, Griffin believes that children need their parents, and need them to be present. The failure to do so, she said, has led to skyrocketing drug use, teen pregnancy and teen violence. She suggested that popular feminists such as Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem ignored this for biographical reasons. These women, she said, had only been exposed to poor examples of men and the family unit which tainted their ability to rationally interpret all men and all family units.
“It’s become a trend in the feminist movement to create a crisis where there is none in order to further a political agenda,” Griffin said. While women continue to succeed in America, they are depicted as victims. All the while, boys fall behind. Griffin asserts that feminist beliefs blind us to these realities.
“The failures of this movement can only be ignored if you’re ignoring fact and reality,” she said, adding that feminism has fostered an environment that stigmatizes mothers and families, hurts children, and generates false crises. “We don’t have to tear down the family to build women up.”