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For weeks now, perhaps months, the press led us to believe that women
were going to elect the next president of the United States. So the
question “What do women want?” has thus become no longer a subject for
intellectual psycho-cultural reflection but the nitty-gritty of power
politics.

As I write, with the American population about to enter the voting
booths, radical feminist groups like the National Organization for Women
have convinced the country that they speak for women. At its height NOW
had fewer members than there are female subscribers to Playboy. But the
popular impression is very different. A check of Lexis-Nexus reveals
that over the past decade NOW has been cited in 802 articles, while a
quick contrast with the conservative independent Women’s Forum reveals
that it has been cited all of seven times. I repeat 802 vs. seven.

An article in The City Journal has pointed out that the tiny number
of women who write and edit the New York Times, for example, are hardly
representative of American women at large. But they are far from
unrecognized or unrewarded in their own paper. The review of a 1998
autobiographical work by a Times editor, “Woman, An Intimate Geography,”
was killed as “too negative,” although the original reviewer assigned by
the Times considered it “totally idiotic,” filled with phrases like “the
vagina as a model for the universe itself.” A later Times reviewer,
author of “A History of the Breast,” (to make up for the earlier review
by another review which made print) pronounced the book “dazzling …
supported by rigorous scientific underpinnings.” A couple of years
earlier the breast book had been reviewed in the N.Y. Times Book Review
as “a fascinating cultural, political history of our most symbolically
freighted body part.”

Another Times reviewer tells us that Stephanie Gutmann, whose “A
Kinder Gentler Military” details the crumbling of standards in our
feminized military, “flies in the face of evidence — read Margaret Mead
– that both women and men can be fierce in defending themselves.” What
evidence? I’d thought that Ms. Mead’s South Seas fantasies had become a
joke.

But, unkind as this may seem, feminist statistics in general are a
joke. In Christina Hoff Sommers’ first book — which made her a pariah
in the feminist community — she says that it is not enough for
feminists to say that many brutal and selfish men hurt women, “we must
be persuaded that the system itself sanctions male brutality.”

What drew most attention to Ms. Sommers’ book was its focus on how
feminist activists chronically and wildly abuse statistics. Particularly
choice is Gloria Steinem’s allegation in “Revolution from Within”
(repeated in Naomi Wolf’s “The Beauty Myth,” not to mention Ann Landers)
that 150,000 American women die of anorexia every year. The actual
number turned out to be less than 100. Then there was the hysterical
charge made by NOW’s Patricia Ireland (and picked up by the Boston
Globe, Chicago Tribune and Time magazine) that domestic violence against
pregnant women was responsible for more birth defects than all other
causes combined.

A key feminist hysteric whose beliefs about the malevolence of the
male patriarchy are truly stunning is Katherine Hanson, who runs the
Women’s Educational Equity Act Publishing Center. Ms. Hanson believes
that 4 million women are annually beaten to death by men. This makes
11,000 a day, or 40 million a decade (at which rate we should soon be
running out of women). The actual total of women murdered in the U.S. in
1996 was 3,631 — mostly by perfect strangers, and occasionally by other
women.

But the question of the day is how will women vote whose lives
(according to some of the more extreme feminist theorists) are hanging
by a thread. It’s fairly obvious that out of naked self-interest they
can’t vote for a male candidate. But what if they have no choice?

My guess (and it is little more than a guess) is that when it comes
right down to it, women will dismiss a fair amount of the feminist elite
culture that has been served up to them lately as little better than
hogwash. But when the voting machines have whirred and clicked and given
their final verdict, we will see.

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