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Fifty years ago this month, on September 19, 1970, The Mary Tyler Moore Show premiered on CBS. The show featured Mary Richards, a 30-something single, independent, career woman living in Minneapolis. It was – and still is – seen as groundbreaking television, set in the era of second-wave feminism. But Fate seems to have subtle ways of forcing a second look when coincidence seems to be an inadequate explanation.
So it was when Ruth Bader Ginsburg died on September 18. America has changed immeasurable from the day Mary Richards tossed her hat on Nicollet Mall in downtown Minneapolis to the hyper-political environment in defense of abortion and the myth of women’s inequality. We now have a clear-eyed view of just how radicalized the feminist movement has become as we see the response to Justice Ginsburg’s death.
When political movements become a quasi-religion, the most ardent supporters are consumed with its tenets. So it is with modern-day feminism. What once started as the pursuit of equal voting and civil rights devolved into a zero-sum game of abortion-rights and rage at the patriarchy versus the championing of women’s independence beyond the political and cultural one-sided narrative. No matter how many times another layer of the glass ceiling is broken, the only women who gain credit are those who hold views in line with the perpetually leftward pitch of the loudest voices.
If President Trump nominates a woman to the Supreme Court vacancy, as expected, it will be a popcorn-worthy moment. To see those who hailed Justice Ginsburg as a trailblazer and feminist icon ferociously attack any woman nominee will be political theater at its apex. America had a front-row seat to the Senate circus of the Kavanaugh hearings and witnessed the blatant anti-Catholic grandstanding of Diane Feinstein in Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation hearing to the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. Knowing the incomparably high stakes of the balance of judicial power, and that oftentimes the most non-physical violence comes during the character assassination at the hand of one woman against another, we’re in for a real blood bath.
The landmark case Roe v. Wade, decided in 1973, became the house of cards that would serve as the base for the radical feminist movement for decades to come. Not only was it the established doctrine for feminist leaders such as Gloria Steinem and bell hooks, it was the new litmus test for leftist politicians and a new type of commercial branding that indicated a Modern Woman. For this, Justice Ginsburg was the perfect golden calf. She was a mascot of the #Resistance. For her unfailing support of the leftist cause, proven by staying seated on the Court through a Republican Presidential term even to the detriment of her own personal health, lifted the Notorious RBG to near Joan of Arc-martyrdom.
For a time, her death-defying rebounds after bouts of serious illness made her a legend. But in doing so she allowed herself to be objectified by the feminist left. She was more an iconoclast from the She-Ra Man-Haters Club than the custodian of justice and protector of individual rights granted in the Constitution. In an effort to cling to some leader of a movement predicated on a house of cards so unstable, it seemed her frail hands were the only thing keeping it upright.
The abortion rights “discovered” in the Constitution became the unconditional issue of the feminist left and is the driving force behind the emotional hysteria tied to Justice Ginsburg’s death. When Robert Bork was interrogated in front of the Senate in 1987, it was the first indication of the depths of savage political warfare the Democrats and leftists were willing to engage in to defend the decision. In every conservative nomination since, it was been the leading issue for nominees.
It is defended so ferociously because it is the only tether keeping leftist feminists afloat. For them, motherhood is tantamount to enslavement. It is an obstacle to the path of fulfillment through a woman’s vocation. Choosing family before personal or professional achievement required a concession that women are at the mercy of men’s power. A woman’s needs are secondary to a man’s. It is a surrender to the patriarchy. Feminist leaders promised abortion would free women from the chains of oppression. With sexual freedom would come intellectual freedom, political power, unprecedented independence, and happiness.
But after decades of following the same radical feminist narrative – even if a woman chose to have a family of her own – she must prove her devotion to the sisterhood by supporting abortion ‘rights’. But decades after women’s liberation, women aren’t happier. And two recent studies have shown that even as women gain political, economic, and social freedoms, they are less happy than their 1970s counterparts.
The optimism and hopeful naiveté of Mary Richards has given way to a humorless coven of gray-haired professors and political activists. They are somewhere between the bitterness of Great Expectations’ Miss Havisham and Bette Davis’ demented Baby Jane, tortuously imprisoned by her nostalgia in the film Whatever Happened to Baby Jane? Even in a television show lauded for its innovation and feminist-centric central character, the show was never overtly political. In fact, Mary was comfortable showing a demure femininity. The newsroom of WJN was a reflection of a more typical office space in which comradery and compassion mixed well with humor and humility. The audience connected with the situations presented, and had the freedom to laugh with the characters as they navigated life.
If were made today, I doubt if The Mary Tyler Moore Show would make it. Shows like HBO’s Girls are considered masterworks of young feminist prodigies like Lena Dunham. There’s nothing groundbreaking about the show but for the indulgence of Lena Dunham to parade around her apartment in the nude. The chronically unfunny Michelle Wolf and Samantha Bee are held up like some Late Night Feminist, Dashboard Messiahs, whose only talent seems to be mocking conservatives and using their platforms to celebrate abortion. Michelle Wolf, who headlined the 2018 White House Correspondents’ Dinner went so far as hold an abortion “Independence Day.” So much for safe, legal, and rare.
As the nation lays to rest a Supreme Court Justice and feminist hero, it’s worth reflecting on how much the power of the Court and the ramifications of Roe v. Wade influenced the radicalization of feminism. When Mary confesses in an episode, “I get concerned about being a career woman. I get to thinking that my job is too important to me. And I tell myself that the people I work with are just the people I work with.”
No feminist icon today could dare think those words, let alone say them out loud. But don’t tell the Pink Hat brigade; Mary’s statue on Nicollet Mall might be the next one to be toppled.Published in