THE FEMINIST writer Shulamith Firestone, a feminist luminary of the 1970s who argued that pregnancy and childbearing were “barbaric” and entailed female oppression, died in Manhattan on Tuesday. In an obituary in The New York Times, Margalit Fox discreetly reports that Firestone was clinically insane.
In addition to her famous 1970 book The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution, which I read as a college student and in which she advocates artificial reproduction and state-supported childcare, Firestone wrote Airless Spaces, a quasi-fictitious memoir of her experience as a schizophrenic. Fox writes:
In “Airless Spaces,” Ms. Firestone writes of life after hospitalization, on psychiatric medication. The account is in the third person, but the story is her own:
“She had been reading Dante’s ‘Inferno’ when first she went into the hospital, she remembered, and at quite a good clip too, but when she came out she couldn’t even get down a fashion rag. … That left getting through the blank days as comfortably as possible, trying not to sink under the boredom and total loss of hope.”
The story continues: “She was lucid, yes, at what price. She sometimes recognized on the faces of others joy and ambition and other emotions she could recall having had once, long ago. But her life was ruined, and she had no salvage plan.”
If you can name a single prominent feminist intellectual who had a normal and seemingly happy personal life and produced a minimum of four reasonably well-adjusted children, I will give you a big fat cigar.
Like other prominent feminists, such as Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan, Firestone was a Jew. In her book, Domestic Tranquility, Carolyn Graglia explores this phenomenon. Jewish culture exalts masculine rationality, she says, and has produced many women incapable of valuing, or even perceiving, womanly intuition and power.
Some quotes from The Dialectic of Sex:
“[T]he end goal of feminist revolution must be, unlike that of the first feminist movement, not just the elimination of male privilege but of the sex distinction itself: genital differences between human beings would no longer matter culturally.”
“The reproduction of the species by one sex for the benefit of both would be replaced by … artificial reproduction: children would born to both sexes equally, or independently of either … the dependence of the child on the mother (and vice versa) would give way to a greatly shortened dependence on a small group of others in general…. The tyranny of the biological family would be broken.”
From the last line quoted by Eric: “The tyranny of biology”.
A call for the end of nature in one tiny phrase. Could be the bottom line to modern liberalism; the arbitrary, unrestrained exercise of power and the despotic abuse of authority by God.
Terry Morris writes:
Her epitaph should read: “Here lies Shulamith Firestone, who was given over to strong delusions and a reprobate mind. See to it to avoid her mistakes.”
I’d never heard of Ms. Firestone until I read your entry. But the Wiki article about her you link in the entry is really quite interesting.
That she envisioned in vitro fertilization and sex selection as becoming commonplace practices in our society is itself illuminating.
Respectfully to you, Laura, and to all the other God-fearing, thus sane, women still out there, I tend to see lives like Ms. Firestone’s et al, as simply another chapter in the age-old story of Satan’s rebellion against God, using the woman to get to the man, with the ultimate goal of destroying the nuclear family, the fundamental unit of society. That the Republicans seem to be at least ninety percent on board with this now, doesn’t bode well for our society. After all, they’ve sunk their teeth this far into the forbidden fruit, what’s another ten percent once you acquire a taste for it?
Katheryn G. writes:
You wrote: “If you can name a single prominent feminist intellectual who had a normal and seemingly happy personal life and produced a minimum of four reasonably well-adjusted children, I will give you a big fat cigar.” Do you think Elizabeth Cady Stanton would qualify? I don’t want a cigar if you think she does :-) Thank you for your wonderful & provocative writing!
You have earned your cigar, though I won’t force it on you.
There are exceptions to every rule.
Stanton had seven children and considered her marriage a success even though she and her husband often lived apart.
In The Loony Bin Trip, the famous manic depressive feminist writer Kate Millet describes her sexual experiences with a stallion (male horse).
That one takes some beating, I think (I hope).
I’m not sure, but I’m think I’m bothered by Laura’s cigar tease. Of late, a good chunk of my social life is challenged by the difficulty of finding lawful venues in which grown men can share the innocent pleasure of a cigar. Anyway, I think it’s a trick question, and that Laura has no cigar.
“Happy feminist” sure seems like a contradiction in terms.
Regarding Shulamith Firestone and other feminists whose obituaries we will likely read this year, I think the most appropriate stance is horrified pity. This woman clearly had terrible troubles in her interior life, and perhaps her espousal of such wicked and perverse ideas was the early indicator.
A few years ago I read a short article by the daughter of a very prominent black feminist. This woman revealed how destructive the feminist idealogy can be — she herself was sexually active in her early teens, but when she became pregnant her famous mother brought her to the abortion clinic; after that the daughter’s life was a textbook of multiple relationships, career advancement at the cost of personal peace, late marriage, and then finally, when she had had one little baby, the famous mother cut her right out of her life. The mother hated motherhood and could not abide her daughter’s decision.
The whole feminist project shows itself in its rotten fruit. As we see more obituaries of these poor women — who in many cases willingly chose the paths leading to depression, anger, and despair — we will see many similar stories. Those of us who are Christians should be praying for them. They sure need it.
I assume the famous black feminist you are referring to is Alice Walker.
Here is the testimonial by Rebecca Walker, Alice Walker’s daughter.