By Dave Andrusko
Michelle Goldberg, pro-abortion to the core, wrote an interesting and a very much worth reading column this morning for the New York Times. The headline read, “The Future Isn’t Female Anymore.”
It’s a play on words. “A T-shirt often seen in bourgeois neighborhoods in the months before the election of Donald Trump proclaimed: ‘The Future Is Female.’ It was an expression of a cheerfully complacent moment in American politics,” she writes. But, as the saying goes, that was then and this is now.
Referring to a series of short essays that appeared in “The Drift” earlier this year, she laments “Though the pieces came from different angles, there seemed a general agreement that mainstream feminism had grown stale and somewhat embarrassing, that it failed to speak to the realities of many women’s lives, and that it lacked a vision of a better world.”
There’s a lot to think about. From our perspective, neither pro nor anti-feminist, what matters is how pro-abortion feminists of all stripes (who are fighting nonstop amongst themselves on other issues) close ranks around abortion. But even that is not enough to stem the internecine wars.
Goldberg quotes The Intercept’s Ryan Grim who “published a long investigation into progressive groups that have essentially ceased to function because they are caught up in internal turmoil, often blending labor disputes with fights over identity. In the last days of Roe v. Wade, reproductive health groups including Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America have been locked in what Grim calls ‘knock-down, drag-out fights between competing factions of their organizations.’”
For decades, Roe has functioned as kind of talisman. Of course, it could not be reversed—until suddenly it could!
But, even if the Supreme Court does overturn Roe next week, pro-abortionist tell us (and themselves) that there will be a righteous uproar.
Goldberg is not so sure.
While many younger women identify as feminists, there is a noticeable disenchantment—what Goldberg calls “youthful anti-feminism.” She sounds the alarum in the first paragraph: “[Y]oung people especially were turning against the movement.”
As the backlash gains steam, a lot of feminism feels enervated. There had been a desperate hope, among reproductive rights activists and Democratic strategists alike, that the end of Roe v. Wade would lead to an explosive feminist mobilization, that people committed to women’s equality would take to the streets and recommit themselves to politics. But after the leak of the Supreme Court’s draft decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization, it’s far from clear whether a political groundswell will materialize.
Certainly, most Americans believe abortion should be legal, and a recent Gallup poll showed that pro-choice sentiment is at a near record high. There could still be a tidal wave of public outrage when the actual Dobbs decision is handed down and clinics start closing en masse.
So far, however, there hasn’t been.
What danger signs are there for the “pro-choice” movement? Goldberg writes
Polls continue to show a likely Republican romp in the midterms. The most anti-abortion Democrat in the House, Henry Cuellar of Texas, appears to have won his May primary against an opponent who foregrounded abortion rights. Coordinated pro-choice marches across the country last month were lively but not huge; The New York Times estimated that 5,000 people turned out in Los Angeles, compared with well upward of 100,000 at the city’s first Women’s March.
There is lots and lots more, but we’ll end with Goldberg’s final five sentences:
The left, feminism very much included, needs people to be optimistic and confident about change. It needs to be able to paint a picture of a better world and enlist people in the adventure of trying to create it.
But this is a fearful, hopeless and even nihilistic time. Retrenchment is, perhaps, to be expected. That doesn’t make it any easier to bear.
If that does not qualify as reason (one of many) for pro-life optimism, what would?