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> Books > Reviews > Ceasefire!

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The Washington Times

Cease-fire in War Between the Sexes?

By Mona Charen

Searching for the silver lining to the cloud that is the Clinton era, some are imagining hopefully that the excesses to which sexual harassment law has been put will now cease and that we will enter a new era of harmony between the sexes.

But don't hold your breath. If everyone in America were to read Cathy Young's new book "Cease-fire: Why Women and Men Must Join Forces to Achieve True Equality," such an outcome might be conceivable. But then again, when one considers the, ahem, indifference to facts among the feminists - the chances that common sense will suddenly break out are slim.

Perhaps when the history of our era is written, it will be recalled for the craven obeisance we paid to any and all claims of victimhood. While the initial impulse to side with the underdog is undoubtedly an admirable American trait, the willingness to go overboard - just as American - is not.

The feminist slogan "the personal is political" has now metastasized into "everything is political." Take rape shield laws for example. Initially enacted to protect rape victims from the disgusting accusation by their rapists that if they were anything less than virginal prior to the attack, they must have been "asking for it," shield laws have now been dragooned into service of the "vio-lence against women" dogma. Feminist theoretician Katherine MacKinnon believes feminism requires belief "in women's accounts of sexual use and abuse by men."

No one knows how often women falsely cry rape, but the feminist claim that women are always to be believed is ridiculous. (As is their terror tactic of accusing anyone who notices that women are human, not angels, of being part of an anti-feminist "backlash.") Young cites a survey by The Washington Post show-ing 25 percent of rape reports in Virginia and Maryland during a one-year period were unfounded; many of the "victims" subsequently recanted.

Shield laws can and often do put defendants at an unfair disadvantage. In the case of sportscaster Marv Albert, his sexual history was entered into evidence, but hers, including a history of biting her sexual partners and making false accusations against past boyfriends who had left her (as Mr. Albert was about to do), was barred. Unable to mount a defense, Mr. Albert had no choice but to plead guilty to misdemeanor assault.

Mr. Albert is not a sympathetic figure, but many young men on college campuses who have been caught in the "date rape" net are. A Michigan State student who met a woman at a party and brought her back to his room for sex was convicted of rape - though she admitted she had been drinking heavily and both of his roommates testified they saw the couple together and that she had asked only that the lights be turned off. Is that a rape?

So much of the propaganda that paints women as victims is false that it is exhausting merely to refute it. Girls are not shortchanged by the schools; they are doing better than boys. Women are not neglected by medical science. One example: In 1993, Congress appropriated $39 million for prostate cancer -- which kills 34,000 men annually - and $400 million for breast cancer - which kills 42,000 women annually. Women are not always the pathetic victims of domestic violence; in many cases, they contribute to it. And while some women have clearly been harassed sexually at work, other women have used their sexuality to their advantage.

On the whole, Miss Young's plea for a rule of reason in the realm of male/female interactions is welcome. Her extra step of disdaining traditional sex roles in every realm of life, from the military to parenthood, is extreme. Women are not the pathetic punching bags that victim feminism portrays, but biology cannot be denied either. Both the desires of women and the needs of children militate in favor of at least quasi-traditional roles within the family.

Miss Young powerfully challenges the "woman good, man bad" propaganda we've been force-fed for so long. If she errs, it is in neglecting children and their interests. Were it not for kids, her plea for total equality between the sexes might be persuasive. But when children come along, they change everything.

Mona Charen is a nationally syndicated columnist.

February 15, 1999

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