There are shenanigans going on at Newsweek, where today someone called Krista Gesaman has published something that I’m not quite sure how to interpret. At first I thought it was insidious, now I think it just might be profoundly stupid.
Gesaman, writing about the March for Life in DC in a post entitled “Who’s Missing at the ‘Roe v. Wade’ Anniversary Demonstrations? Young Women,” makes some claims that, while too confused and bewildering to be called an argument, constitute a slander. The question is whether she’s slandering the pro-life movement with misstatements or herself with a display of cluelessness.
But there will be one major difference with the demonstration route this year—it’s shorter.
“The organizers are getting older, and it’s more difficult for them to walk a long distance,” says Stanley Radzilowski, an officer in the planning unit for the Washington, D.C., police department. A majority of the participants are in their 60s and were the original pioneers either for or against the case, he says.
So this raises the question: where are the young, vibrant women supporting their pro-life or pro-choice positions? Likely, they’re at home. “Young women are still concerned about these issues, but they’re not trained to go out and protest,” says Kristy Maddux, assistant professor at the University of Maryland, who specializes in historical feminism.
Gesaman offers two quotes here that she either misinterpreted or got from unreliable sources. Surely Stanley Radzilowski does not think that pioneers for Roe v. Wade are “participating” in the March for Life. And there is no way that Prof. Maddux thinks that young pro-life women do not go out there and protest. Given that she’s a specialist in feminism, my guess is that she was referring to feminists, specifically pro-choice feminists. No one with a passing knowledge of the issues could think that young women were not involved on the pro-life side — the annual march alone would be a glaring counterexample.
Instead of painting a sign and taking to the streets, the modern feminist is probably discussing her views on a blog or in a chat room, Maddux says. “I don’t want to frame young women as lazy, but they don’t have any reason to believe that it matters if they go out and protest. Instead, they talk about their positions to friends and neighbors.”
This perspective might be hard for someone like Olivia Gans to understand. Gans is the spokesperson for National Right to Life, the nations largest pro-life organization, and she has been attending the rallies for more than 20 years. This year she expects to see a surge of young women, likely because of the Youth Rally and Mass for Life sponsored by the Catholic Archdioceses of Washington.
Why would Gans have trouble understanding that very simple point about modern feminists, and what does that have to do with anything?
And where is Gesaman getting these facts? The youth rallies and mass for life have been going on for as long as I can remember. Also, there is only one Archdiocese of Washington. It’s troubling to think that a writer assigned to this beat could believe it possible that there would be more than one archdiocese.
Gesaman concludes her discussion of Gans’s outlook asking, “So what’s responsible for this generational divide among feminists?” Does this mean that she thinks that the women on the March for Life are the same feminists that “pioneered” the court decision legalizing abortion?
Because the role of the modern feminist is still unclear, so is the future of events like the Roe v. Wade rallies. “I would say that memorializing Roe v. Wade will continue to happen, I just don’t know if it will always take the form of a march,” Maddux says.
It appears — and I cringe to write this — that either Gesaman or Maddux (or both), does not comprehend that the annual Jan. 22 protest in Washington, DC is a pro-life protest. Her/their concern over the prospect that “feminists” will no longer march to “memorialize” Roe v. Wade is…
I don’t know. Clearly, this blog post is inscrutable and it’s not worth trying to figure out the author’s intent. But I am still wrestling with the idea that A) it’s possible that there’s someone out there — anywhere — that does not understand that pro-choice feminists are not participating in the March for Life and B) that Newsweek chose this person to write about today’s protests.