Feminism was a cult of personalities

"Grandiose, petty, quarrelsome, deeply ridden by feelings of inferiority"

By Salon Staff

Published June 14, 2000 7:30PM (EDT)

When feminists were divas BY LAURA MILLER (06/09/00)

I was pleased to see my biography of Gloria Steinem mentioned in such a measured, thoughtful treatment of the feminist movement. I agree that it's partly that over-the-top quality of women like Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem that made them such effective leaders. And while they enjoyed the attention -- and they did, however vociferously they might have denied it -- they were in there for the cause: They used the media attention they attracted to promote feminism. By contrast, to me, the media-anointed feminist spokeswomen today seem to be using feminism to promote themselves. Why don't you take them on in a follow-up article?

-- Sydney Ladensohn Stern

Laura Miller's essay on feminism and personality rings all too true. Arguably feminism was about nothing but personalities -- grandiose, petty, quarrelsome, deeply ridden by feelings of inferiority and, yes, hysterical. The progress feminists claim credit for would have come anyway; men were more than eager to give women whatever they wanted. Just as the civil rights movement is really the story of white acceptance of blacks, female advancement is really the story of men's acceptance of women's equality. Women succeeded because the time was right for women to succeed. Everything else is sheer puffery and self-aggrandizement.

-- Barry Aronson

Iagree that modern feminism has become too politically correct. The most extreme views are accepted without criticism, so no one gets her feelings hurt. The current image is a rigid pro-lesbian, pro-abortion agenda which does not appeal to a typical educated professional woman in Generation X. I personally have experienced salary discrimination due to my gender, and would gladly support or join a group of women bringing attention to this issue. I am not interested in promoting a lesbian agenda, and I angrily denounce "pro choice" as THE choice of feminists. When the feminist movement once again is about equal opportunities for women, I will join an organization. Until then, I'm just kicking and screaming by myself.

-- Elaine Risner DiRienzo "

"A housewife and mother of three with a freelance writing career on the side when 'The Feminist Mystique' came out, Friedan always saw herself as the voice of mainstream feminism." Betty Friedan was a left-wing labor journalist for years, before she became a suburban housewife. Sheesh! Don't your writers search your archives? Much as I dislike David Horowitz's egotistic column, he wrote about Friedan's Communist past months ago. Don't get me wrong, I'm a red diaper baby myself -- but Friedan's leftist past shouldn't be left out.

-- Carol Anne Sundahl

Salon Staff

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