As a child of the '70s, I have memories of the second wave of feminism when women were concerned with obtaining rights equal to those of men. I remember my mom talking about the Equal Rights Amendment and both my parents making sure I knew I could do anything and be anything I wanted. There were no “boy jobs” or “girl jobs.” My brother learned to vacuum and dust and I learned how to change a tire on the car. Equality of the sexes was a matter of course. My parents taught us that we really are, as our forefathers said, created equal. It wasn’t until graduate school that the word feminism entered my personal vernacular and as I entered adulthood, I realized I was not a feminist (and that I should keep that thought to myself). It wasn’t that I don’t think men and women are equal -- I certainly do -- but there are subtleties in the messaging of feminism that I don’t agree with. The biggest is that to be feminist I must also be pro-choice, because it seems that those two ideas cannot be separated, and pro-choice is not an option for me. When the opportunity to review The Abolition of Women: How Radical Feminism is Betraying Women by Fiorella Nash arrived in my inbox, I jumped. This sounded like a book I could relate to. I couldn’t believe someone else felt the same way. It seemed to speak to the same distaste that I struggle with because feminism right now in America has a big problem. Those who represent it wrongly assume that they are speaking for all women when they most assuredly are not. If feminism were really and truly about celebrating the strengths and uniqueness of women I’d be on board, but what feminism seems to be really and truly about is making sure women agree with the feminist party line which means denying what makes us, as women, special and, dare I say it, not equal to men. Nor are they equal to us. That doesn’t mean we are less important. We excel at different things and here’s where feminism gets it wrong -- women and men are complementary. This is not a competition. It’s cooperation. I don’t like a message that suggests that in order to be a proud woman I need to oppose men, because I really like guys.  They are fun and they often give me a perspective that is new. Fiorella Nash, in her well-researched, easy-to-read book, looks at the truth of today’s feminist movement, the movement that women such as myself, women who are stay at home mothers who value serving their families and God, are eschewing. Nash discusses the victim mentality that feminism has created: the idea that we need to be saved from our bodies via birth control and abortion. The first wave of feminism came about as women struggled to be released from the tyranny of a patriarchal society. Now feminism has its own hierarchy of oppression.
The bullying and vilification of women who refuse to accept this ideology of abortion is one of the scandals of contemporary feminism which goes against the very notion that women have a right to freedom of conscience, freedom of speech and freedom of expression. (p.27)   Those who do have the courage to oppose or at least question the validity of the right-to-choose dogma have faced the unhappy choice of keeping a low profile or abandoning feminism altogether. (p. 25)
Nash seeks to reclaim feminism as inclusive of all women, including pro-life women. She delves into concepts of bodily integrity and argues against the notion that women are so delicate they need to be rescued from a state of pregnancy. She also reminds the reader that sexual intercourse is a procreative act whether or not that is the couple’s intention (p. 191). Nash argues for the rights of women around the world: Chinese women forced into abortions, surrogates who are treated inhumanely, and babies who are aborted because they are girls.   Though difficult to read at times because of the horrors still being propagated against women around the world, this book is smart and refreshing. If you, like me, cringe at the idea of being call a feminist, yet believe in the strength and beauty of womanhood, this book is worth spending time with.

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Copyright 2018 Merridith Frediani