Monday, December 10, 2012

Ruth Institute Booklet Blasts Feminism and "Socialism"

The National Organization for Marriage's Ruth Institute recently released a booklet entitled Freedom, the Family, and the Market: The Socialist Attack on the Family by Ruth Institute founder Jennifer Roback Morse. The document blasts "socialist ideology" for allegedly launching an attack on marriage and the family. In effect, Morse creates an illusory shadow enemy on which to blame social developments that she disagrees with, then offers right-wing Christianity as an antidote. She speaks of socialists and left-leaning people interchangeably, branding progressives and liberals as "socialists" -- while ignoring the fact that not all left-wing persons identify as socialists or embrace its principles.

Morse argues that nefarious "socialists" are determined to abolish marriage and eliminate gender differences. To boot, she disparages feminism for encouraging equality, which she incorrectly caricatures as men and women being identical. Morse frowns upon because allegedly "[m]en and women are so different that they are highly unlikely to volunteer to behave identically in all the ways that would be necessary to create identical incomes." Feminism, she insists, is to blame for developments such as no-fault divorce, unmarried parenthood, and the alleged encroachment of the state into family life.

As an alternative to the straw man caricatures of socialism and feminism she creates, Morse proposes right-wing Christianity. She praises Christianity for supposedly "defending the weak", including fetuses. Additionally, she celebrates Christianity for embracing alleged differences between the sexes. Morse frames marriage as a heterosexual union in which a man and a woman play complimentary roles, which she contrasts to an ugly caricature of "socialist" marriages in which spouses supposedly compete for dominance. Morse recycles the old, tired arguments that egalitarian sexual ethics supposedly force the sexes to exploit each other. For instance, she claims that "socialist" men exploit women for sexual gratification, and women exploit men for reproductive purposes. The idea that egalitarian couples (same-sex or opposite-sex) could have happy, health relationships never seems to occur to her.

Morse quickly descends into a romanticized vision of stereotypical gender roles, arguing that women long for children and men develop love through sexual desire. Predictably, she states that sex and reproduction cannot be separated. A man's sexual attraction to a woman turns to love, Morse claims, and under Christian influences, it obliges him to love the children she births. Women's supposed desire for children begets love for the father of those children, she claims. The idea that men and women do not fit into stereotypical boxes is not considered. Furthermore the idea that couples can deeply love each other without having children seems alien to her, as does the idea that not all relationships are suitable environments for childbearing and not all reproduction begets mutual love.

In a flashback to the 1950s, Morse demands that women avoid vocational education, get married, and become stay-at-home housewives before pursuing a career. Again, she fails to consider that not all women desire this path, not all men can support a wife and children on one salary, and that being competitive in the workforce later in life can be extremely difficult.

Morse, like many Religious Right opponents of LGBTQ equality and feminism, doesn't realize that she is living in 2012. Gender roles, sexuality, economic conditions, and workplace demands have changed drastically over the past decades. We simply will not go back to an outmoded 1950s vision of reality. To boot, Morse fails to recognize that not everyone is a straight, cisgender, reproducing, Christian walking-gender-stereotype. The rich diversity of humanity and the many life paths open to us is to be celebrated, not disdained.

In short, Morse's hysterical attack on sinister socialist-feminist forces simply isn't based in reality. Recycled right-wing rhetoric and stale gender stereotypes simply do not reflect the reality of most Americans. Because of that, it will not resonate with level-headed people who understand that they're living in 2012.

(Hat tip to Equality Matters)


  1. It's amazing how many Americans continue to advise women not to prepare for careers.

    1. Donna -- In these economic times, NOT preparing for a competitive workforce would be financial suicide. It's not 1950 anymore.

  2. Why is she speaking in public? Couldn't they find a MAN to promote this viewpoint?

    Th cognitive dissonance/hypocrisy of right wing fundamentalist career women is breathtaking.

    1. Brian -- I'm left scratching my head too when high-power career women like Morse and Phyllis Schlafly tell other women to stay home. It's hypocrisy at its finest.


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