A little over a week ago, retailer Lands End published a catalog that highlighted the legacy of feminist Gloria Steinem. That old wrinkly lady in the “I had an abortion” t-shirt.
I found this more than a little off putting. After all, I – and lots of others – have been purchasing their products for years to outfit children with uniforms for Catholic school. Lands End, which has been experiencing financial issues on and off for many years now, has in part been kept alive through scooter skirts, Oxford shirts, khakis and Peter Pan collars approved by priests and nuns across the country.
In the best light, this catalog was a publication of a struggling company that does not know or understand a large portion of its customer base. (In case Lands End didn’t know, most Catholics and Christians are pro-life.) In the worst, it was yet another attempt from a business leader trying to use unrelated products to push an agenda people would rather not discuss. (The collision of social issues and business is starting too get out of hand on all sides of all issues – I’m talking to you Pepsi, Coke, Chik-Fil-A, Starbucks, Honey Maid, Campells Soup, Red Lobster, Burger King, etc., etc. )
Later that same week, after angry customers took to social media in droves to tell Lands End they wouldn’t be buying their button downs and dungarees anymore, someone in marketing had the sense to pull the campaign and catalog, and issue the all-too-familiar “Oops!” apology.
Last night, I saw some of my more liberal feminist friends lamenting this move online. They say it’s bad for women’s issues and rights. I say it’s wrong to glorify a woman who’s life has been about making sure women can kill their babies legally.
As you might imagine, they probably think I’m anti-women’s health, anti-equality, anti-working woman and so on and so forth. They chastised me for benefitting from Ms. Steinem’s “work” while I criticized her ethics.
I’ve never had an abortion. I also never enjoyed equal pay for equal work. But I have been forced from a job by childless, unmarried career women who don’t appreciate working mothers. I have had my personal health issues – infertility, post-partum depression, and heart disease (the biggest killer of women by the way) – belittled by other women. I once had a young female gynecologist tell me if I wanted to have a child so desperately, I should hang an Anne Gedes calendar in my office for motivation.
That’s not how empowering other women is supposed to work.
As women, God has given us the ultimate superpower. We, and only we, have the privilege and anatomy to create and grow life inside of us. To nurture humanity – to make our world better by building and educating generations of more complete and loving human beings through motherhood. Pro-life Catholics are not anti-woman. One of the most important figures of our faith is a woman. Mary, Jesus’s mother. Other honored women include Mary Magdelene (a prostitute), Mary and Martha (old maids) Ruth, Sarah and Eve. And don’t forget Joan of Arc, Maria Goretti, Mother Teresa, Bernadette, and St. Gianna.
I’m a diabetic – having children for me was a miracle. As a high-risk, doctors monitored my pregnancies almost ad nauseum for the entire nine months. I was alerted to every developmental milestone to keep my babies healthy. I knew when the spinal column was closing, about brain growth, shoulder and skeletal development. We monitored heart rates almost weekly, and I had more sonograms than I could count. If I could care for my baby before it was born, there is no doubt in my mind that from conception babies deserve the right to live.
Great power we often say, comes with great responsibility. If we women are the vehicle that sustains the human race, we should treat that ability accordingly. When are we more powerful than when we are bringing a new life into the world? Certainly not when we forsake that life to selfishly nurture our careers, bank accounts, dreams or sex lives instead. Life is the greatest contribution we can make to society. Those of us who choose to are indeed rich and blessed.
Gloria Steinem is not a role model. The modern feminist movement she helped to create aims to make women irresponsible to their greatest God-given gift while blaming everything they don’t like on men and religion.
Honoring someone who would encourage women to disrespect that which makes them special, powerful and beautiful so they can instead be more like men is just bad business in my opinion.