Monday, September 29, 2008

Real Woman of Canada ~ By David Warren ~ Ottawa Citizen

In praise of the real women of Canada

David Warren, The Ottawa Citizen

Published: Sunday, September 28, 2008

I missed my opportunity to mark the precise 25th anniversary of REAL Women of Canada, celebrated at the Ch√Ęteau Laurier last weekend, owing to distraction with market meltdowns and other little things.

The acronym stands for "Realistic, Equal, Active, for Life." I know some of the ladies who started the thing, back in 1983, and who continue to fight for what they consider to be the full range of women's real interests against Canada's heavily subsidized, rigidly Left-feminist "official" women's lobbies.

The founders and leaders of REAL Women are among my personal heroes, or "heroines" as we used to say: Gwen Landolt, Judy Anderson, et al. A quarter-century before Sarah Palin suddenly emerged as a U.S. vice-presidential candidate, these Canadian women were showing the take-charge attitudes we now associate with Alaska's governor.

The spirit of the thing is renewed, in Canada today, by, for example, Andrea Mrozek and the girls at the Ottawa website,ProWomanProLife.

Just as strident feminism renews itself, by finding a new generation of embittered young women and confused men, attracted to the task of infiltrating our legal and political bureaucracies, so also we find a new generation of women determined to resist them, and to defend common sense with unflappable courage.

For to paraphrase the old Burkean adage, "When bad women combine, good women must associate."

And yet I make this point more forcefully than any of these women do. As their statements of purpose have always made clear, REAL Women do not consider themselves the only legitimate champions of women's interests. They have consistently stated that they take women for individuals, as diverse in their wants and needs as men.

The difference from "movement feminism" is not only one of attitude -- the positive, unwhining, "men and women are in this together" approach of REAL Women, as against the opposite, "victimhood" approach of movement feminism. The question of subsidy is also important, and one of the many pocks on the face of our decreasingly free, democratic order is the provision of taxpayer funding to lobbies, of any sort.

REAL Women thrive on the fees of their 55,000 members, and don't get handouts. Typically, the various feminist and leftist lobbies derive most of their large budgets from the taxpayer. The unwillingness of their supporters to put their own money on the line is not only a confession of moral weakness. It also represents a severe tactical weakness, for a government of the day could pull the plug on them, and after a moment of shrieking they would fall silent.

One of the greatest accomplishments of REAL Women has been their effective attack on the Canadian state's "court challenges program" -- by which taxpayer money is used to finance Charter challenges to standing Parliamentary legislation, as a way around having to get laws changed democratically. The reader who is familiar with the extraordinary efforts made by movement feminists to "marginalize" REAL Women will understand what a large accomplishment this was -- the product of tireless, unselfish labour.

From their beginnings to the present day, and by their very existence and perseverance, these women have been defending a natural political and social order in which the family is at the root of society, and is secured in law by civilized nations against intrusions by commissars with various schemes of social engineering.

Over millennia, families have had not only the right but the solemn primary responsibility to "care for the young, protect the weak, and attend the elderly."

It is the family that has always provided these "social services," by human nature from out of the inspiration of love.

The Nanny State cannot provide the human touch, can only provide ukases and directives and the horror of vast, Procrustean bureaucracies that dole out resources with ludicrous inefficiency, on the inevitable principle of "one size fits all."

The sheer, pathological hatred directed by movement feminists against Sarah Palin, for instance, is nothing new. The notion that, as Heather Mallick wrote for the CBC, Mrs. Palin "isn't even female really," that she "has a toned-down version of the porn actress look," that she comes from "white trash," that the men around her are "sexual inadequates" -- and so on and on -- is what feminists have been dishing out to independent women for a long time. It takes backbone and a thick skin to stand up to such filth.

It takes backbone to refuse to play the victim, to refuse to quit, to refuse to be intimidated, to take your lumps. These are fine qualities in men and women alike, at their best, and in the long run they prevail.

There is probably no member of REAL Women who has not experienced such an attack in person, while making a stand for herself, for her children, for her whole family, for what she thinks is right. I know many of them, and I know them to be of far more independent mind and spirit than the slogan-guided feminists I also know.

As I said, they are my heroines. But we also need men with the guts to stand up against feminist intimidation.

David Warren's column appears Sunday, Wednesday and Saturday.

© The Ottawa Citizen 2008

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