Alice Paul and the Bad Romance of Modern Feminism

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Alice Paul Institute

Happy birthday to Alice Paul, the great American born on January 11, 1885, whose courageous and groundbreaking leadership turned the tide of public opinion in support of nationwide women’s suffrage, culminating in the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the Constitution.

Unlike the feminists coupled to the Democratic Party today, Alice Paul refused to be wooed by empty promises from politicians. Her exploits included setting out to defeat the Democrats en masse in the 1914 and 1916 elections. She was against abortion, referring to it as the “ultimate exploitation of women.” After her successful campaign for women’s suffrage, her life’s work was equality of the sexes. She lived to see a modified version of her Equal Rights Amendment passed by Congress in 1972, speedily ratified by 28 states, and then derailed in March 1973, partly because the Roe v. Wade decision opened the eyes of Americans to the dangerous weapon Alice Paul’s well intentioned words could become in the hands of an activist court.

Soomo Publishing has produced a spectacular American history lesson wrapped up in a music video in honor of Alice Paul. Of particular interest in the video is the accurate portrayal of Democratic President Woodrow Wilson as the man blocking the path of women’s equality, and the clever dramatization of Tennessee Republican Harry Burn’s tie-breaking vote in favor of ratification.

Another strong point of the production is that it underscores the cautionary tale in Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance video which it parodies. (The Lady Gaga original is Not Suitable for Work or Children.) Just as the ladies of Alice Paul’s day were rightly dissatisfied with their relegation to the kitchen barefoot and pregnant, Lady Gaga reminds us of the equally contemptible practice in modern American of pegging a woman’s value to her performance bare naked and barren in the boudoir.

Unfortunately, liberal feminist groups today are caught in a Bad Romance with the Democratic party establishment. Alice Paul and her compatriots subjected themselves to harsh imprisonment, brutal beatings, forced feedings, and mental asylums to enfranchise all American women. The Democrats have turned back the clock by trivializing a woman’s right to vote through buy-offs such as “free” birth control and lifelong wardship of the state. Completely contrary to the legacy of Alice Paul’s multiparty strategy is the Democratic and feminist operatives’ frenzy of ridicule reserved for female candidates who dare caucus with the Republicans.

The Feminists for Life report that

“In the mid-seventies Pat Goltz, co-founder of Feminists for Life, had the honor of meeting Paul. Paul had known some of our earlier feminist foremothers, and made it clear to Goltz that the early feminists were altogether opposed to abortion. She then related to Goltz her concern that abortion would destroy feminism if it were not stopped.”

The prescience of Paul’s opinion is evident in the Planned Parenthood’s public relations war against the Susan G. Komen Foundation, the failure for women’s groups to support restrictions on gender selection abortions, and the politically correct practice of allowing abortion clinics to operate unregulated, unsanitary, and unsafe.

This week alone, the Bad Romance of modern feminism has been exposed on several fronts. Emily Buchanan of the Susan B. Anthony list lays out the case for pro-life feminism in Time magazine. A New York Times article reports the lament of abortion clinics that they are unable to provide the same holistic care that pro-life crisis pregnancy centers offer women. The President, who was endorsed by America’s foremost women’s groups, demonstrated his unwillingness to identify qualified women for senior posts in his staff.

May the memory of Alice Paul and her struggle remind us that no matter how difficult and unpopular our work may be, we are on the side of right, and this Bad Romance will someday be history.

For a complete biography of Alice Paul visit the Alice Paul Institute online. An oral history interview with Alice Paul is available from the University of California.