It’s an election year, which means women’s issues are at the forefront of many candidates campaigns. Whether it’s equal pay, reproductive rights, rising education costs or paid family leave, these topics come up again and again during the election cycle. Recently, I read two titles by a couple rising stars in their respective circles and while both had very different takes on the issues, there were some interesting similarities worth noting.
Assault and Flattery: The Truth about the Left and their War on Women by Katie Pavlich, begins with a brief history on the role the Republican Party played in the women’s suffrage movement. From there, she tackles every major current issue including: abortion, self-defense, the myth of the women’s vote, Hollywood, and academia.
Several chapters explore the character of famous political families like the Kennedys and the Clintons, most notably Hillary who Pavlich says “allowed a young girl to be lied about, manipulated, persecuted so that she and her loathsome husband could hold on to power”.
She concludes that their treatment of women throughout the years is fraudulent and contradictory to the pro-women rhetoric their administrations touted and feminists generally overlook these misgivings because the Clinton’s have legislated laws that benefit women, further proving that many “talk the talk but don’t walk the walk” in order to keep females in the liberal voting pocket.
A Townhall.com journalist/news editor and a regular contributor on Fox News, Pavlich has done extensive research to back her claims and is not shy to call out some major gaffes from her own party. For those on the right – most of what’s found in Assault and Flattery will seem like common sense to you. For those on the left – worth a read to see how the other side thinks.
All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation by Rebecca Traister, tackles women’s history from a different angle than Pavlich’s. Instead, Traister focuses on the growing rate at which women are pursing education and careers and delaying marriage or choosing to remain single altogether. Traister takes us through feminist history beginning with the changing role of women in the home and in the workplace and delves deep into the major waves of independence covering monumental moments such as the right to vote, equal pay, the Fair Housing Act and Roe v. Wade.
Traister includes many personal stories from women of all walks of life and faiths who for one reason or the other decided to remain single or delay marriage. She also spends quite a bit of time discussing how marrying young and starting a family can delay personal aspirations – the most notable example she includes is a story former President Bill Clinton told about Hillary while campaigning for his wife in 2015. “I want you to marry me, but you shouldn’t do it – instead you should go to Chicago or New York and begin your own political career.” Hillary’s response was “I’ll never run for office. I’m too aggressive, and nobody will ever vote for me.” Traister notes that because Hillary got married, she moved to Arkansas, worked as a lawyer and didn’t jumpstart her own political career until after Chelsea had gone off to college and her husband was out of the White House.
Rebecca Traister is a journalist for New York Magazine and Elle. She writes from a feminist perspective about women in politics, the media and entertainment and strangely enough got married shortly after finishing All the Single Ladies.
One major subject both authors touch on is the single woman and economic status. Generally, single women in American are more likely to live in poverty, limiting their freedom and economic opportunities. In the appendix of Single Ladies, Traister argues for more government intervention for women who remain single or delay motherhood. Among other things, she calls for a higher federally mandated minimum wage, mandates from the government that all insurance companies cover IVF procedures, more government housing subsidies for single people and fully funded day cares or day care programs that are subsidized through the government.
Pavlich’s book also makes note of the increase in poverty among single women but she’s firmly against more government intervention because “the already established welfare state has been set up to keep women poor while raising children, in the hopes they’ll vote for Democratic policies promoting more welfare.” To support her claim, she includes a study from the Pennsylvania secretary of welfare which shows “the single mother with two kids is better off making just twenty-nine thousand dollars and taking advantage of government programs rather than climbing the ladder to make sixty-nine thousand dollars in income.”
Traister spends the majority of her book proclaiming the benefits of staying single vs getting married. She often refers to matrimony as a road to unhappiness for women who will end up asking “is this all?” to life. She relies heavily on material taken from 1960s feminist activist Betty Friedan to combat the image of the “embittered shrew who ended up unmarried with a cat” yet is critical of her book The Feminine Mystique in that did not go far enough and show that “marriage itself was the problematic element or that it might even be optional for women.”
Pavlich also mentions Betty Friedan but paints a very different picture of her in Assault and Flattery. In the chapter on how the left hijacked the women’s rights movement, she quotes a biographer who uncovered Friedan’s Marxist leanings. Today, socialist propaganda is handed out and sold at NOW (National Organization for Women) conferences – an organization that Freidan herself started. She believes it was the intent of the organization to help introduce Marxism to America by destroying the traditional family unit and to do that, they had to destroy marriage. The material Pavlich quotes in her book states this: “Because the family system is indispensable to the structuring of social inequality, the economic dependence of women and their oppression within the family system is likewise indispensable to class rule.”
Although both ladies reach very different conclusions about marriage, they both agree that women want and deserve a system that allows them to make their own choices, whether that be remaining single or getting married and becoming a stay at home mom.
These two books could not be more different but both are extremely well thought out, researched and written. Traister and Pavlich come from different political spectrums but they each give women something to think about.
It was disappointing to see Traister completely over-look the importance the Republican Party played in the fight for women’s suffrage. Even though she believes conservative viewpoints are currently hurting women’s rights, this should have been included as historical background in the book and would have given it just a tiny bit more balance.
Pavlich could have focused less on the Kennedys, Clintons and Obamas and instead included more on the history of Planned Parenthood and Sanger’s controversial views on eugenics. A chapter on Sanger could have been an interesting and fitting addition to a book about the war on women. (Traister only briefly mentions Sanger in her book)
As a women who decided to get a Masters degree and pursue a career before tying the knot, I could definitely identify with some of the stories the women told in All the Single Ladies. When you don’t get married until your early 30s and have been living on your own and supporting yourself for years, it can be odd (and a bit scary!) to think about sharing a space, money and decisions with another person.
I’m now approaching my one year anniversary and I can honestly say that I do not feel unequal or suppressed to my other half. I am still independent and have my own interests but I also share experiences with another person and I think that makes my life better. Which is why I personally felt like All the Single Ladies sometimes got the wrong impression of marriage. A lot of times in the book, it felt like the author was painting the picture that by getting married/having a family, you were ending your life as a strong, independent female. Maybe that’s the case for some marriages, but I firmly believe that when you meet the right person, it’s not an ending but a beginning together.
So whether you are a single lady, married, a career woman or a stay at home mom – that’s OK and something that should be celebrated. If you are happy with your life, it doesn’t really matter if you married young, late or decided on five kids or no kids and no one, especially other women, should look down on you if you decided you’d rather be in the kitchen instead of earning six figures as a CEO 🙂
If you decide to read either of these books, I’d love to know what you think! Leave me a comment and let me know what you liked, didn’t like or what you think the authors left out.
Additional readings by the authors:
Katie Pavlich – Fast and Furious: Barack Obama’s Bloodiest Scandal and Its Shameless Cover-Up
Rebecca Traister – Big Girls Don’t Cry: The Election that Changed Everything for American Women