Out With the Old, in With the N.E.W.

By | Beverly LaHaye Institute, FemFacts, Feminist / Women's Issues | No Comments

kagness.jpgThe glory of feminism, which engulfed waves of young women in the 1960s and ’70s, has increasingly lost its luster with today’s generation, many of whom have observed its radical swerve to the left. Today’s feminists have embraced an increasingly hostile and denigrating view of the male half of the species, bitterly viewing them as a hindrance to female liberation. Not surprisingly, radical feminists today also devalue the institution of marriage (after all, empowered women don’t need men), and view motherhood with contempt.

Many collegiate women have observed the detrimental effects of such attitudes, and just aren’t buying them. Being feminist is as out-of-style as crimped hair and big bangs; conservative college women are exposing today’s feminism for what it is: entangling ideology that needs to be toned down.

Karin Agness, a college senior at the University of Virginia, has become a leader of this endeavor. Tired of feminist propaganda, she founded the Network of Enlightened Women (N.E.W.) to foster education and leadership and advance conservative principles among university women.

“Prior to founding the group, I couldn’t find any other collegiate conservative women’s organizations in existence,” Agness told Concerned Women for America’s Beverly LaHaye Institute (BLI). “I think it’s important for women to have a network of other like-minded women. The growth of N.E.W. has been exciting, and there has been a lot of enthusiasm among the members. I believe that women have to stand up and fight feminism because it is much more effective and persuasive if women are the ones who do it.”

Agness says N.E.W., which grew from five to 25 members in just one year, is designed to create an environment that empowers women, where they are able to engage in political discussion, learn about women’s issues, sharpen debate skills, and participate more in public policy and political activism.

“We embody the most dangerous threat to the feminists because we engage them intellectually. Instead of using feminist tactics such as protesting, rudely interrupting, or writing inaccurate commentaries, we develop leadership through education,” Agness says.

Book-club style discussions are one of N.E.W.’s methods. Most recently, the group read Danielle Crittenden’s book, What our Mothers Didn’t Tell Us: Why Happiness Eludes the Modern Woman, which describes how feminist ideology has victimized young women.

Agness believes the discussion is valuable for college-age women who are often surrounded by feminist influences that devalue the virtues of motherhood and elevate a career. “Conservative women aren’t being suppressed by a patriarchal society, as feminists allege,” she says. “Women will be happier when they recognize the need for balance and realize the importance of the family is just as valid as having a career. Both are great choices.”

Dr. Janice Crouse, senior fellow of BLI, agrees. “Our research indicated a couple of years ago that a new trend seemed to be emerging. Current data proves that it is a solid trend; for the first time in over 50 years, young mothers are leaving the work force to stay home with their babies. More and more mothers understand that there is no substitute for their influence and nurturing for their children. They are finding creative ways to balance their lives to make being a wife and mother a priority.”

In just one year, Agness’ group has grown in size and clout, and fostered intellectual diversity on campus. It has organized debates with opposing student organizations, conducted panel discussions and hosted conservative speakers. Most recently, N.E.W. invited Christina Hoff Sommers, a conservative speaker and author of The War Against Boys, to address a group of approximately 200 students and faculty members about the shortcomings of feminism.

The lecture succeeded in sparking intense debate and angering feminists who, reliably, resorted to name-calling and accusations instead of the facts. Feminists denounced N.E.W. as “anti-woman” and “intolerant.”

“So much of the feminist debate is not intellectual,” Agness states, noting the large volume of hate e-mail N.E.W. receives. “They just recite the feminist dogma.” Crouse adds, “Plus, they respond so emotionally and irrationally in debates especially when their views are challenged.”

Such controversy has helped N.E.W. strengthen its profile on the University of Virginia campus.

“Whereas before, for instance, the campus newspaper would automatically go to feminists from the National Organization of Women (NOW) or the women’s studies department to get a woman’s perspective on an issue, they now have started coming to us for our opinion,” Agness said. “We want to reclaim the voice that is used to represent women.”

It appears that conservative women’s voices will be stronger and louder on university campuses this fall. As word of N.E.W.’s success has spread, Agness has received requests from conservative women across the country who desire to establish chapters. She anticipates N.E.W.’s expansion to multiple college campuses this fall and has assisted in their planning and development.

“We are really creating a nationwide network of conservative women,” Agness says. “As long as conservative principles are ignored on college campuses, N.E.W. will continue to flourish.”

So feminists, beware! The Network of Enlightened Women might be on its way to a campus near you. Expect them to brush out a lot of gnarly knots.

Jessica Anderson, a senior at the University of Northern Iowa, is an intern in CWA’s Ronald Reagan Memorial Internship Program. She is majoring in public administration, political science and music.

Pediatricians Shun Abstinence-Only Education

By | Beverly LaHaye Institute, FemFacts, Social / Cultural Issues | No Comments

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) issued new recommendations Tuesday for its official teen pregnancy policy, criticizing abstinence-only education and advocating teenage access to birth control and emergency contraception.

The updated recommendations are a shift from previous policy guidelines, which stated that “abstinence counseling is an important role for all pediatricians.”

The new policy undermines abstinence-only education, claiming that it increases the risk of unsafe sex and sexually transmitted diseases among adolescents. It suggests that while doctors should encourage teens to delay sexual activity, they should also make contraceptives accessible to all teenagers, regardless of whether they are sexually active.

This timing is ironic and troubling since the most recent data indicate a decrease in teen sexual activity and teen pregnancy. In addition, the recommendations are raising concern because they offer contradictory advice to teenagers, sending an ambiguous message about sexual behavior and condoning promiscuity.

Dr. Janice Crouse, senior fellow of Concerned Women for America’s (CWA’s) Beverly LaHaye Institute, states, “These new recommendations reflect the increased political involvements of medical associations. Under the cover of professional groups, political partisans are enacting policies and establishing procedures that conform to their leftist ideology. It is sad to see professional organizations captured by special interests in this way and it is a disservice to the public and to those pediatricians who pay membership fees thinking that they are advancing the professionalism of their medical specialty.”

Dr. Crouse is also concerned with the AAP’s advocacy of emergency contraception, often known as the morning-after pill, which can prevent implantation of an embryo. Crouse said, “Those who advocate the morning-after pills are steam-rolling over the highly respected physicians who are concerned about the safety of this potent medication for women especially for teens whose reproductive systems are still developing. Doctors who oppose these pills on moral/ethical grounds face a dilemma when their professional organization turns a blind eye to the legitimate questions they raise about the pill’s impact on women’s overall health and well-being.”

CWA is disappointed with the AAP’s decision to abandon abstinence-only counseling, and regrets that many teenagers will be misled into “safe sex” propaganda-a prescription for disaster.

Tough and Tougher, Meet Toughest

By | Beverly LaHaye Institute, FemFacts, Feminist / Women's Issues | No Comments

Kim Gandy, president of the National Organization for Women, has said that the next four years under a Bush administration are going to be “tough” for the feminists and that they are just going to have to be “tougher.” Well, conservative women, who have been marginalized, stereotyped, put-down, and humiliated at every turn over the past couple of decades, have gone through tough and tougher and, now that our time is here, we’re the toughest gals around.

Being called “anti-woman” because we didn’t embrace abortion-on-demand and alternative lifestyles has produced a hardy bunch while the feminists became fat cats dining on preferences and gorging on government and corporate subsidies for their women’s studies programs and other enterprises that promote their radical “politically correct” agenda.

Conservative women came out of their enclaves determined to battle for their daughters’ futures. Women like Beverly LaHaye and Phyllis Schlafly worked tirelessly to break the force of years of liberal momentum when it looked like there was no end in sight. Women like Kathleen Sullivan and Leslee Unruh launched an abstinence movement to combat the notion that adolescents would inevitably become sexually active because it is “normal” and they are simply “at the mercy of their hormones.” Common sense and experience knew better, but liberalism cowed a whole generation of people into silence until conservative women had had enough.

Trends today are proof positive that moral boundaries can be rebuilt and we can reclaim the nation’s traditional Judeo-Christian heritage. Today’s teens are leading the way by responding to the challenge to choose virtue over the fast crowd’s acceptance and approval, to value their innocence and purity; these are the messages that conservative women are working hard to spread.

After peaking in 1994, unwed teen births are down 24 percent. Teens are the reason that the nmbr05.jpgoverall out-of-wedlock birthrate has improved; there is no change in the 20-24 age bracket. It would appear that we are making headway in teaching abstinence at the high school level, but sadly we are losing our young people at the universities where the moral relativism of the secular humanists and radical women’s studies programs are still having a devastating impact.

Clearly, current trends are passing the feminists by and they are out-of-step with the concerns and issues that are important to women today. Mothers don’t want federally funded day care; they want the opportunity to nurture their own children without government interference. Women don’t want abortion-on-demand; they want a husband who will cherish them and be committed to wife and children for a lifetime. Girls don’t want a one-night stand; they want a great guy to take them out for a nice dinner, pleasing conversation or good entertainment and not have to worry about fighting off a jerk who treats them like a sex object and won’t be calling the next day. Parents want their daughters to reach their potential; they don’t want them squandering their lives and messing up their emotions.

Parents also want to be informed and involved in their children’s lives even during late adolescence when decisions are made that have life-long impact. When a parent has to sign for their child to take an aspirin, go on a field trip or have ears pierced, it doesn’t make sense that the same child could have an abortion without the parent’s knowledge. By focusing almost exclusively on abortion (euphemistically called “reproductive health” and “choice”), feminist groups have lost sight of real women’s concerns and they are hopelessly out-of-touch on the issues. While feminists have been marching for abortion, young women have been earning law degrees, becoming doctors and getting their PhDs in record numbers, and they have been entering occupations with better training than many of the men they compete against. The “choice” that these women long for is to have honorable men for friends and from which to choose a husband.

The reality is that millions of young women have been deeply wounded by promiscuous sex and cohabitation. Over the past 10 years, college counselors have seen their case loads expand dramatically depression cases have doubled, suicide attempts have tripled and sexual assaults have quadrupled.

In becoming a one-issue organization, the National Organization for Women (NOW) has made itself irrelevant and unattractive to the next generation which was its hope for the future. Today’s young women have seen friends’ ambitions short-circuited by the “sex is no big deal” culture, and they are turning away from the destructive lifestyles. Abortion rates among young women are declining because many of them are realizing that instead of solving problems, abortion can make them worse, like a lifetime of regret or infertility. Young women are growing increasingly knowledgeable about the realities of the sexual revolution’s disastrous consequences for their mothers and grandmothers; they are a lot wiser and much more conservative.

Having grown up while liberalism reigned, this generation possesses more tough young ladies. I’ve enjoyed mentoring a number of them and it’s going to be fun to see them come of age!

Janice Shaw Crouse is senior fellow at the Beverly LaHaye Institute, the think tank for Concerned Women for America.

Sharia, Again in Iraq?

By | Beverly LaHaye Institute, FemFacts, Religious Issues | No Comments

Perhaps nothing illustrates the hard-won liberation of Afghanistan and Iraq any more than the freedom of their women symbolized by, for instance, the removal of burqas, sending girls back to school and bringing women back into public life.

But nothing threatens that liberation any more than a nae understanding of Islamic factions specifically how some Muslims interpret Islamic law to prevail over individual liberty, human rights and freedom, especially for women and girl children.

I used to teach parliamentary procedure which is based on the premise that rules of order for conducting a meeting must ensure that the majority prevails while seeing that the minority’s rights are respected and their views freely and completely expressed. Likewise, freedom means that all have the right to be respected and to express their views freely and completely. That freedom is the essence of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights; that everyone has the right of “freedom of thought, conscience and religion.” Those same individual freedoms are essential in the broader, community or national context; democracy means that the majority prevails, though minority rights are fully protected.

Both individual rights and democracy are at risk now in Iraq, just as they were previously in Afghanistan. The new Afghan constitution is not all that it should be; it establishes institutional religious rights but fails to protect individual religious freedom. The new Iraqi constitution is not merely important for Iraq; it will also be a model for the whole Middle East. It must not be overlooked that the November 15 agreement mandates religious freedom as an integral aspect of the new constitution.

Iraq’s Governing Council will complete the drafting of the interim constitution by the end of this month February 28 and that constitution will be in place until the permanent constitution is enacted not before mid-2005. At present, there are very real threats to the separation of church and state in Iraq: there is a big difference between the “freedom of worship” and the “freedom of religion,” just as there are significant differences between “religious rites” and “religious rights.”

Certain Islamist groups are seeking to establish an Islamic state and to bring back sectarian laws such as Sharia (which directly affects women’s freedoms by limiting their involvement in public life as well as affecting inheritance and domestic laws). The conflict between the various Muslim groups is a power struggle with significant and long-range ramifications for freedom, democracy and the equality of women. It is not an exaggeration to say that ultimately the outcome will determine whether Iraq remains free and whether Iraqi women and children will have equal status and opportunity as citizens.

Two prominent women in Iraq have already felt the strong arm of Sharia. A woman lawyer in Najaf was dismissed from her job by a Shiite cleric who declared that judges must be “sane, mature and male.” The woman deputy minister of agriculture, Dr. Sawson al-Sharafi, is under attack because some Islamists do not want to work for a woman.

In the same way, if Islam becomes the state religion, religious liberty will be curtailed by the extremists who are already introducing resolutions and proposals that seek to overturn religious neutrality and women’s equality. We must never forget that religious freedom is essential to democracy and individual liberties.

Nigeria is learning this lesson the hard way. Examples abound: 23 Christian women have been brought before Islamic courts charged with non-compliance of the Muslim dress code, prostitution (being unmarried and older than 13 years), or refusal to marry early. At the University of Maiduguri in Borno state, female students have been forced to adhere to the Islamic dress code in order to sit for exams, some are being expelled from the university. Eleven female nurses were fired in Azare when they refused to change their nurse uniforms for Islamic attire.

Individual religious liberty and women’s equality must be guaranteed in Iraq’s interim constitution, otherwise all that we have fought for in the Middle East will be lost not just for Iraq and its citizens, but for the United States’ interests and democratic values as well.

Dr. Janice Crouse, Senior Fellow, The Beverly LaHaye Institute, was a U.S. delegate to the 2003 United Nations Commission on the Status of Women.

Leaving on a Jet Plane:Illegitimacy Trends and the Nation’s Children

By | Beverly LaHaye Institute, Family Issues, FemFacts | No Comments

The late senator, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, famously and controversially predicted in 1970 that out-of-wedlock births in black families would soar and that the trend would soon follow in white families. Over subsequent decades, Senator Moynihan (and others) charted the illegitimacy rates that skyrocketed at a rate of almost one percent each year from the 70s to the 90s. Moynihan described the illegitimacy trend line as “like a jet plane taking off.”


Looking at the trends in the 70s and 80s, Moynihan quite reasonably predicted that by the year 2004, half of all births would be illegitimate.

Researchers (and observers alike) were, understandably, distressed at the impact the trends were having on women and children indeed, it was Moynihan’s view that fatherless families were producing “chaos” in American culture and that nothing like the disintegration of the two-parent family had ever happened in two thousand years of recorded history.

We can all be grateful that Moynihan’s forecasting skills, in this instance, weren’t exactly on target the overall ratio of out-of-wedlock births, while far too high and with alarming ramifications, is 34% below worst predictions. There are, however, pockets of the population where illegitimacy is over 50% (for instance, among teens 80% of all births are illegitimate and among 20-24 year olds it is 52% and climbing) and areas of our country (inner cities) where illegitimacy is far above 50%. These illegitimacy rates are significantly higher than the much-maligned “Leave-it-to-Beaver” decade of 1950s when the ratio averaged less than 4.5%.

Things have started to get a bit better since the mid-90s. From 1994 to the present, the growth in the percentage of unmarried births to all women has decreased to less than one-fifth of the average increase seen in the 1980s. For teens, the percentage has increased from 76% in 1994 to 80% in 2002. But the steepest growth since 1994 is among the 20 to 24 year old age groups, where the percentage of births to unmarried women has increased from 45% to 52%. Also worth noting, the percentage of out-of-wedlock births has leveled off among black teens and all black women while among white teens and white women, the trend continues to climb. Since Welfare Reform legislation was instituted in 1996, there has been significant improvement in the percent of children living in mother-only type families for blacks (54% down to 48%) and Hispanics (29% down to 25%) from 1996 and 2002 though for non-Hispanic whites there has been no similar improvement. This reflects in part the fact that the percentage of births to unmarried women peaked for black women in 1994 (at 70.4%) and has declined since then (down to 68.2%) whereas the percentage for white women continues to climb (25.4% in 1994 and up to 28.5 in 2002). Sadly, this part of Moynihan’s prediction continues to materialize.

Percent Births to Unmarried Women by Race Year All White Nonwhite Black 1940 3.8 1.8 13.7 – 1950 4.0 1.7 16.8 – 1960 5.3 2.3 21.6 – 1970 10.7 5.7 34.9 37.6 1980 18.4 11.2 49.8 56.1 1990 28.0 20.4 57.1 66.5 1994 32.6 25.4 59.6 70.4 2000 33.2 27.1 55.6 66.7 2002 34.0 28.5 54.5 68.2

So, the good news is that even though the trend line that Moynihan projected forward certainly looked like it was going to shoot right past 50%, it hasn’t. Further, while the overall unwed birth ratio is still climbing, unwed birthrates for some ages and population groups have begun to decline.

While we can celebrate this progress, we must also acknowledge that the problem is far from resolved the fact remains that today a third of all children and more than two-thirds of black children are born out of wedlock. With the increase in cohabitation today (up nearly 1000% since 1960), 40% of all children will spend some of their childhood with a cohabiting couple. With divorce still hovering at around 50% of all marriages, the proportion of children now living with their married parents is less than 70% (down from 85% in 1970). Currently, the percentage of time that a person spends living with a spouse and children is at the lowest point in U.S. history in 1960, people spent 62% of lives with their spouse and children; by 1985, that percentage had dropped to 43%.

It is little wonder that there has been such a dramatic decline in the well being of children children in non-intact families have roughly twice the risk of social and behavioral problems compared with children in married-parent families. Far too many children today live with problems that researchers have identified as associated with broken families emotional upheaval and struggles with anxiety, depression, eating disorders and other psychosocial difficulties.

One of the best things that we can do for children today is to strengthen marriage and families. At a time when everyone is concerned about the nation’s children, one of the best things that we can do is to take steps to create a marriage-friendly culture where healthy marriages and families are encouraged and supported.

Nothing is more important on the domestic agenda than to work assiduously to get that illegitimacy jet plane trending downward as soon as possible.