Thursday, April 10, 2008

The More Things Change...

As far as guidance for young women is concerned, it seems as if not much has changed during the last 200 years. In the early 1700's, Dr. John Gregory wrote a conduct book entitled A Father's Legacy to His Daughters in which he advised women:
Be even cautious in displaying your good sense. It will be thought you assume superiority over the rest of the company. But if you happen to have any learning, keep it a profound secret, especially from the men, who will generally look with a jealous and malignant eye on a woman of great parts, and a cultivated understanding.
Soon Dr. Laura Schlessinger will be getting her own regular spot on Fox's Hannity's America, where she will bring a similar brand of sexist advice for women to a broad T.V. audience.

You might remember Schlessinger's more notorious counsel, including her assertion that it is a wife's responsibility to ensure that her husband won't cheat:

When the wife does not focus in on the needs and the feelings — sexually, personally — to make him feel like a man, to make him feel like a success, to make him feel like her hero, he’s very susceptible to the charm of some other woman. […]

The cheating was his decision to repair what’s damaged and to feed himself where he’s starving. But yes, I hold women accountable for tossing out perfectly good men by not treating them with the love and kindness and respect and attention they need.

Or her lamenting that a woman's virginity is no longer her most valuable asset:

Now it is difficult to find the male who values virginity, purity and innocence when females dress like babes and perform oral sex and intercourse without even having to be fed dinner... Who cares about vows - after all, why buy the cow when the milk is free?

Or her assertion that an appreciation of women's history and multiculturalism is degrading our universities:

Hallowed halls of higher education subvert the very meaning of education to give forums to perverts, racists and gender hostilities (which is the definition of a black/Hispanic/women’s/whatever studies curriculum) and biased, leftist, anti-Western Civilization courses … and nothing happens.

So - careers are still being made off of advise to women that they live only to pamper (straight, white) male egos. We've traded in the male Dr. Gregory for the female Dr. Laura, but is that progress? It has been 234 years since A Father's Legacy to His Daughters was first published. How is it that, centuries later, this tripe still sells?


Natalie said...

Dr. G and Dr. L even dress alike - they have matching hideously frilly pants suits and androgynous haircuts. Is this proof of an anti-feminist uniform, do you think?

OutcrazyOphelia said...

So long as the patriarchy exists, Dr. Laura will always have a job assuring men that everything is women's fault--women unlike her of course.

Mächtige Maus said...

I believe owning one's past sets them free. In an effort of full disclosure then, I must admit that at one point in my life, there was actually a Dr. Laura book in my possession. It was given to me by someone well meaning I am sure. I just fail to see, as I did then, what that well meaning sentiment could possibly have been.

La Pobre Habladora said...

Did you read it?

Mächtige Maus said...

Well, I started it. I wasn't familiar with who she was at the time. It didn't take me too long to put it down. I found that I reached a point where I couldn't continue. The ability to listen to other people's opinions failed me in that book.

La Pobre Habladora said...

Some people's opinions are based on facts, and therefore deserve consideration. Other people's opinions are based on prejudice and hatred, and don't merit consideration. Dr. Laura seems to fall into the second category most of the time.