Dobson and Passno Create Straw Woman Feminists


Diane Passno, who works for Focus on the Family and has a new anti-feminist book out, appeared on James Dobson’s radio show and the two of them had a good old time beating up that tired old straw woman feminist who allegedly believes in a world without men. And Passno claims, with a straight face, that feminism was originally a Christian movement.

Passno: What’s so tragic about the feminist movement today is that what started as a Christian movement based on Christian principles and the wonderful examples that Jesus gives in Scripture—there’s so many women that are mentioned specifically in Scripture whose lives He touched and whose lives He changed for the better—and a movement that started in that way has become so distorted and is now completely antagonistic to the Christian faith.

Uh, what? Ernestine Rose, Susan B. Anthony, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Lucretia Mott, Matilda Joslyn Gage and Frances Wright were all non-believers and freethinkers. Stanton wrote a pamphlet called “Has Christianity Benefited Woman?” that argued:

“All religions thus far have taught the headship and superiority of man, [and] the inferiority and subordination of woman. Whatever new dignity, honor, and self-respect the changing theologies may have brought to man, they have all alike brought to woman but another form of humiliation”

She later wrote “The Woman’s Bible” along with 26 other feminist leaders, which concludes that “the Bible in its teachings degrades women from Genesis to Revelation.” Gage wrote the book “Woman, Church, and State,” which argues that Christianity had been the chief roadblock preventing women from achieving equality in America, which is so obviously true as to be undeniable. Feminism began as a Christian movement? Seriously? This is David Barton-level delusion.

Dobson: With a lot of either unintended consequences or consequences that were hidden. The National Organization for Women and what I would call the radical feminist movement really boils down to two issues today; you got them on the tip of your tongue?

Passno: Yes, you can define feminism today really as having two foundational issues. One is abortion, and of course this is a result of their love affair with abortion and so many of our listeners know that and understand that. What is less understood is the fact that what the feminist movement has done it’s gone from wanting equality with men to being a movement that doesn’t think men are really necessary at all.

I wish I could remember who it was who once responded to a similar statement by saying — and this is from memory, so it isn’t verbatim — “I’ve known a lot of women in my lifetime, almost all of them feminists. In all that time I’ve only known one of them who thinks that men are unnecessary — and we’ve been married for 27 years.”

This all reminds me of probably the most bizarre thing ever said by Pat Robertson (and imagine the competition for that award). In a fundraising letter in 1992, he wrote:

“The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”

That’s not just a straw woman, it’s a straw reality, and is absolutely delusional.

Comments

  1. Reginald Selkirk says

    And Passno claims, with a straight face, that feminism was originally a Christian movement.

    Just wait a few decades. They will be claiming that the LBGT rights movement was led by Christians. I wish I were joking, but I’m not.

  2. jamessweet says

    I’d be interested what Passno actually meant by the “feminism started as a Christian tradition” comment. She probably didn’t mean anything coherent, she was probably just being an idiot… but she might have had half a point if she was referring to some of the practices of certain early Christian sects. It’s beyond a stretch to call that “the start of feminism”, but it is true that some of the very early Christian sects were radically gender-egalitarian (for the time, of course). Not that they were the first group to experiment with that, nor does that have any connection to modern feminism… but if she meant that, it’s at least only disingenuous, and not Batshit Fucking Crazy.

  3. jamessweet says

    Just wait a few decades. They will be claiming that the LBGT rights movement was led by Christians. I wish I were joking, but I’m not.

    Yes, this is a virtual certainty. There are quite a few religious groups that march in our city’s Pride parade, and while I suppose I am happy to see them there, that will be ammunition fifty years from now to prove that the struggle for LGBT rights was driven by Christian compassion, and the secular world was just hating on teh geys out of unguided prejudice.

  4. Dexeron says

    My first thought was Kate Beaton’s “Straw Feminists” comic. That’s what these people actually believe feminism is.

  5. mythbri says

    I would challenge either of those people to tell me accurately what a radical feminist is. It is a thing, but it is not a thing that they are using correctly in this context.

  6. says

    I’ve heard it said that Christianity puts women on a pedestal because that makes it easier to look up her dress.

    To be fair, though: there was (and perhaps still is) a school of thought in second-wave feminism that was radically segregationist and sought to create social structures and society that were open only to cis-women. To my knowledge, they were considered fringe even among other second-wavers, but they did exist and did have an impact on the public dialog.

  7. says

    a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.

    Lets do it!

  8. Taz says

    …and of course this is a result of their love affair with abortion…

    The lack of awareness and intelligence in that phrase is staggering.

  9. smhll says

    “The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians.”

    The Robertson quote is less wildly divorced from reality than the other crap. It contains a dash of truthiness underneath it’s distortions.

    Feminism did attempt to de-stigmatize divorce and did encourage women to leave abusive husbands.

    “Kill children” is his charming description of abortion rights.

    Feminists were fairly encouraging of religions that were not Christian. However paganism and goddess worship are not the same thing as “witchcraft”.

    Feminism sometimes aligned with labor movements in attempts to throw off the shackles of oppressive capitalism and get better wages or working conditions. (Scandalous, I know.) Also, Betty Friedan was a socialist, I think.

    After the movement’s initial intolerant period, many feminists did embrace equal rights for lesbians.

    (I don’t think there’s a smidgen of truth in the other stuff you quoted the conservative woman as saying.)

  10. says

    “I’ve known a lot of women in my lifetime, almost all of them feminists. In all that time I’ve only known one of them who thinks that men are unnecessary — and we’ve been married for 27 years.”

    Well, I was married to my late wife for 31 years and could have said it … I only wish I had! (She would have loved it!)

  11. Aliasalpha says

    Just wait a few decades. They will be claiming that the LBGT rights movement was led by Christians.

    They’ll have to be dragged kicking and screaming into the room of elementary civility and the second they’re inside they’ll be telling everyone they were the ones who built the room…

  12. daved says

    “All religions thus far have taught the headship and superiority of man, [and] the inferiority and subordination of woman.”

    I’m no student of comparative religion, but I know enough to know that this is true of most religions. Anyone know of any where it’s not true, or is at least debatable?

  13. Steve Morrison says

    Ed, I’m fairly sure that that quote is from Al Franken’s Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot, but I don’t have a copy at hand to check. Anybody? IIRC, the straw feminist position was “all sex is rape” rather than “all men are useless”.

  14. says

    One is abortion, and of course this is a result of their love affair with abortion

    They shouldn’t knock it until they’ve tried it! The best part of abortions are the post-abortion parties we throw immediately afterwards to celebrate the removal of those pesky little parasites who lodged themselves in the uterus.

    Seriously though, I wonder if that line was stolen from former US Surgeon General Joycelyn Elders, who famously told forced-birthers to get over their love affair with the fetus.

    Obviously, feminism isn’t a Christian inspired movement. In fairness though, early Christianity was a religion that did appeal to women. In the context of the status of women in the Roman Empire, one could probably make a case that some elements of Christianity were feminist for its time. Even Augustine, in City of God, states that women who are raped are not unchaste and places the blame squarely on the rapist, in contrast to certain Islamic cultures today where the woman is seen as bringing shame upon herself and her family if she is raped.

  15. says

    Steve Morrison — Yes, that’s where it’s from! I remembered the quote, relatively accurately at least, but could not for the life of me remember where it came from. But that’s it. Thanks.

  16. abb3w says

    The opposition expressed by many women to the introduction of woman’s suffrage, as for instance, the New York State Association opposed to Woman “Suffrage”, should be regarded by Catholics as, at least, the voice of common sense

    — The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907

    The suffrage movement seems to have started as a movement among women Freethinkers — though in the sense including some particularly heterodox theists. As I understand, it gathered momentum among more orthodox Christian women (such as Anna Howard Shaw and Frances Willard), who eventually outnumbered the original Freethinkers.

    But this seems another case where calling it a Christian movement resembles calling the Protestant Reformation a Catholic movement.

  17. says

    THere certainly have been alliance between feminists and religious groups, notably the temperance movement and the anti-porn crusades, but they were motivated by divergent goals.

    Gage is probably thinking of Maureen Dowd’s book Are Men Necessary: When Sexes Collide and ignoring that this book didn’t go over well. How many feminists would seriously agree that Hillary Clinton is a traitor that destroyed feminism for not divorcing Bill? Isn’t she like the uber boogie-feminist in most of the right-wing narratives anyway?

  18. Sastra says

    daved #13 wrote:

    “All religions thus far have taught the headship and superiority of man, [and] the inferiority and subordination of woman.” …I’m no student of comparative religion, but I know enough to know that this is true of most religions. Anyone know of any where it’s not true, or is at least debatable?

    I think modern versions of Wicca, New Age/New Thought, and neopaganism have a lot of foundational respect for the concept of the strong woman (when they’re not flirting with ‘difference feminism.’) I suppose it’s debatable as to whether these are “true” religions — their ancient history and traditions are often modern inventions — but I’d readily grant it.

  19. Michael Heath says

    Steve Morrison writes:

    I’m fairly sure that that quote is from Al Franken’s Rush Limbaugh is a Big Fat Idiot . . .

    Al Franken’s book was one of the first books I read that had me seriously questioning my being a member of the Republican party (which I finally left in 2008 though I hadn’t been a straight ticket voter since 1992). At the time of Franken’s book I found Limbaugh to be a buffoon but not representative of the GOP, certainly as it was when I was a teen and young adult forming my political ideology. Franken made a great case that Limbaugh’s republicanism was becoming the party’s, he also made a great case for liberalism, but even more convincing, for the absurdity of American conservatism, and its inherent anti-Americanism, as it morphed into what Limbaugh and James Dobson / Jerry Falwell instead desired.

    My respect and appreciation for Mr. Franken has only grown since them. I’m especially thankful for the obvious hard work he puts in prior to critical committee hearings where he questions committee guests. He’s a great American.

  20. Ichthyic says

    wonderful examples that Jesus gives in Scripture—there’s so many women that are mentioned specifically in Scripture whose lives He touched

    camp followers and groupies.

    they always have the same stories.

  21. hypatiasdaughter says

    In my experience, when the right-wing and/or religious speak positively of “feminism”, they usually mean the “freedom” for women to fill their natural and god given role to be wives and mothers. The right not to be “forced” into the working world or “denied” the right to be a stay-at-home mother.
    It is rather unclear whether they think that a woman’s opinion about which role she wants to fulfill really matters.

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