1. For today’s write-up on Phyllis Schlafly’s Power of the Positive Woman, I’ll do what I did yesterday: pick a quote, and relate that quote to the main themes of today’s reading. The quote for today occurs on page 27: “Our strength is in our diversity, not in our sameness.”
“Diversity” is a word that’s mostly championed by liberals, so I was surprised to see Phyllis Schlafly exalting it! But her conception of diversity is revealed in four areas.
First, she’s against the federal government establishing homogeneity throughout the nation, and she prefers for states and local communities to come up with their own solutions to their problems. She’s against the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare forcing school groups to go co ed, or forbidding federally-funded schools and colleges to fire teachers for immoral conduct (such as being pregnant outside of wedlock, or having an abortion). For her, diversity means being free from the complusive power of the federal government.
Second, she’s against MacMillan Publishing Company’s guidelines for gender neutrality in textbooks, which (among other things) forbid reference to Sacajawea as an “amazing Sheshoni Indian woman” because she led Lewis and Clark through the Rockies “with a young baby strapped on her back.” MacMillan sees that as implying female fragility. Phyllis Schlafly regards that guideline as absurd. Regarding MacMillan’s distaste for the word “lady,” Phyllis states on page 27: The MacMillan guidelines are not only a good source for laughs, but are a healthy exposure to the hypocrisy of the liberals who pilloried the West Virginia parents who tried to censor obnoxious four-letter words from their children’s textbooks. It all depends on which four-letter words you want to censor. Phyllis Schafly is against feminists trying to conform all textbooks to one ideology—their own.
Third, she’s against the feminist contention that men and women should be exactly alike, quoting Alexis de Tocqueville’s exaltation of gender roles in America, in which women have a high status within the domestic sphere. Here, diversity means that men and women are different and perform different roles.
Yet, fourth, she seems to be open to women having diverse options. Her examples of the “Positive Woman” include Ann Landers, who (in 1977) had a syndicated column in 810 newspapers, and Rose Totino, the corporate Vice-President of Pillsbury. She celebrates the role of technology in easing the burden of housework on American women, freeing them to pursue different ways to spend their time. And she says that women don’t have to worry about discrimination, for laws enacted in the 1970’s guarantee equal pay for equal work. So she believes that working outside of the home is an option for women, maybe even a legitimate one. At the same time, she obviously prefers for women to be wives and mothers, and it is her contention that most women gravitate towards this option. According to Phyllis, most women aren’t paid the same amount as men because they aren’t willing to sacrifice time with their families for the long hours that financial success demands. And she refers to actress Lauren Bacall, who preferred to raise a family and nurture Bogie over being a super-star. Bacall notes that her female colleagues in the acting profession who chose career over family are lonely.
Is Mrs. Schlafly against women working outside of the home? Or does she oppose them doing so at the expense of their families? Or is she against the feminist insistence (in her mind) that all women should pursue careers rather than fulfillment in the domestic sphere?
One could argue that Mrs. Schlafly also has ideas that run counter to diversity. I see this in three areas.
First of all, on page 24, she states: The Positive Woman supports equal opportunity for individuals of both sexes, as well as of all faiths and races. She rejects the theories of reverse discrimination and “group rights.” It does no good for the woman who may have been discriminated against twenty-five years ago to know that an unqualified woman today receives preferential treatment at the expense of a qualified man. Only the vindictive radical would support such a policy of revenge.
Phyllis’ belief in local control doesn’t mean that she supports Jim Crow, for she’s against racial discrimination. This is an area in which diverse policies throughout the nation (some areas for segregation, some against) is not a good thing, for there should be a policy for the entire nation that racial discrimination is wrong. But she’s against affirmative action. While she certainly has a point that “revenge” is not exactly positive, and also that jobs shouldn’t go to unqualified applicants, she neglects other reasons for affirmative action that aren’t rooted in revenge. For example, affirmative action can lead to a diverse workplace, as people bring their different backgrounds and perspectives into their jobs. Phyllis notes that men are competitive, whereas women are cooperative. Why not bring these different approaches into the workplace? But a diverse workplace isn’t really on her radar. Plus, she assumes that the “Positive Woman” has to have one position on affirmative action—hers—which isn’t especially pro-diversity.
Second, on page 25, Phyllis expresses opposition to the idea “that homosexuals and lesbians should have just as much right to teach in the schools and to adopt children as anyone else…” And she’s not just against allowing schools and colleges to discriminate against homosexuals and unmarried pregnant women. She states on the same page: The Positive Woman believes that our educational institutions have not only the right, but the obligation, to set minimum standards of moral conduct at the local level. She believes that schools and colleges have no right to use our public money to promote conduct that is offensive to the religious and moral values of parents and taxpayers. No right, she says. So I gather that she doesn’t celebrate diversity in lifestyle! Also, she doesn’t consider that atheist parents and taxpayers would have to support conduct that they find offensive if prayer were in public schools, something Phyllis supports (see Rewind: The Religious Right & the GOP).
Third, she seems to believe that America should encourage other countries to embrace free-enterprise and Judeo-Christianity. She sees free-enterprise as a system that brings prosperity and helps American women. On page 33, she states, “A positive approach to the genuine problems of women in other countries would be to invite them to the United States so that we can lend them a helping hand up the ladder that American women have already successfully climbed.” And, while Judeo-Christianity has led America to create a culture in which men support and honor women, Phyllis claims, some African and Indian societies have a different approach. They require women to do back-breaking labor while men “strut around wearing feathers and beads and hunting and fishing” (33). And she mentions the Indian custom in which the widow flings “herself on her husband’s funeral pyre” (34). So she’s not exactly supportive of countries having different customs, at least not in an absolute sense.
It seems as if both sides—Left and Right—support diversity in some areas, but not in others. Phyllis shows how this is true of some on the Left. I’ve tried to show that she does this as well.
2. In Louis Feldman’s Josephus’s Interpretation of the Bible, something on page 43 stood out to me. According to Antiquities 1:13, the Bible covers a history of five thousand years. Feldman states that, in Josephus’ reckoning, there were 4,977 years between the creation of the world and his time (first century C.E.). So Josephus believes that the earth was created before 4004 B.C.E. (Usher’s chronology)! Actually, he says that creation occurred before many orthodox Jews would assert. Orthodox Jews say that our year is 5,770 years from creation, meaning that they think creation occurred in 3760 B.C.E. Armstrongites and others maintain that Christ is supposed to return 6,000 years after creation. Well, Christ should be here right now, if Josephus’ chronology is correct (along with the Armstrongite position)!
Note: See Emet’s comments under my blogger post, “Phyllis Schlafly’s Positive Woman 2, Josephus on the Age of the Earth, Why Dahood Says the Psalms Are Pre-Exilic, Ishtar and Ghost Whisperer, Pederast”. According to him, orthodox Jews are counting 5,770 years from the creation of man, not the creation of the earth.
3. On page xxxv of Psalms III: 101-150, Mitchell Dahood says that the Psalms were composed in the pre-exilic period, for they resemble Ugaritic (or, for Dahood, their grammar is best explained in reference to Ugaritic), and they differ from the grammar of the Septuagint and Qumran manuscripts. He dismisses the possibility that the Psalms could reflect post-exilic archaizing (writing a document using an older form of the language) because the differences between the Psalms and post-exilic literature are so pronounced, showing that a post-exilic author probably didn’t have the knowledge to make the Psalms appear as they do. (At least that’s my understanding of Dahood’s argument.)
But there are scholars who hold different ideas from that of Dahood. As we saw in my post, Miss Jane Pittman, Torah in Psalm 119, Eschatological Psalm, Why Create Riddles?, Sophia’s Fall, Jon Levenson dates Psalm 119 to the post-exilic period. But he doesn’t comment on the Psalm’s language; he just thinks that the ideology of the Psalm fits a post-exilic setting, with its views on Torah and divine revelation.
4. In Theodore Mullen’s Assembly of the Gods, something on pages 68-69 stood out to me. Mullen mentions a story in the Epic of Gilgamesh VI:92-100, in which Ishtar, the Mesopotamian goddess of love and war, requests from the high god Anu the Bull of Heaven so that she can kill the half-human, half-divine king of Uruk, Gilgamesh. If Anu refuses her request, Ishtar threatens, then she will smash the doors of the Underworld and bring up the dead “eating and alive,” so that the dead outnumber the living. (Incidentally, that’s the goal of the evil dead in Ghost Whisperer.) Mullen then says that Anu is afraid to give Ishtar the Bull, for to do so would cause famine.
I read some of the story in Stephanie Dalley’s Myths from Mesopotamia. Ishtar is mad at Gilgamesh because he refused her advances, since she wasn’t all that nice to her previous boyfriends. I’m not sure why Anu thinks the Bull will cause famine in Uruk. Could it be because the king guarantees fertility, and the absence of King Gilgamesh would bring lean years? Wikipedia (which I quote very reluctantly) states: The bull of heaven is a plague for the lands. Apparently the creature has something to do with drought because, according to the epic, the water disappeared and the vegetation died. I don’t know. In any case, Ishtar assures her father, Anu, that she’s stored up grain in Uruk, so murdering Gilgamesh won’t have an ill effect.
5. In H.I. Marrou’s History of Education in Antiquity, I read about pederasty, which was a sexual relationship between a student and his male teacher. Marrou says that Greece regarded homosexuality as abnormal—in language and in law—and I’m not sure what he means by this. Does he mean that Greeks disapproved of gay marriage, but tolerated homosexuality in certain settings, such as education and the military? Is he saying that they thought homosexuality was acceptable in some cases, as when a male was away from his wife and was with a bunch of other males (as occurs in the army)?
Marrou says that the relationship between student and teacher was about more than sex, for it involved mentorship. And, on page 31, he states that the child couldn’t really be educated in his family. The mom raised him up to age 7, but she was deemed incompetent when her child passed that age. (So I guess the ancient Greeks believed her nurturing skills had its limits!) And the child’s father was occupied with work and politics. So his teacher was really the only mentor he had!
On my blogger blog, Emet wrote:
I’m not an authority on Orthodox Judaism but I have to disagree with your statement – “Actually, he says that creation occurred before many orthodox Jews would assert. Orthodox Jews say that our year is 5,770 years from creation, meaning that they think creation occurred in 3760 B.C.E.”
You are correct that Judaism says this year is 5770. But it is not 5770 years from creation. The counting begins with the creation of man – the one from Genesis 2:7 – the one that the Almighty “blew into his nostrils the soul of life; and man became a living being”. This statement allows for the Neanderthal man who has been dated as appearing 130,000 years ago. At some point the Almighty gave man a higher level soul. That’s where the counting begins.
The Torah is silent on the age of creation. But there is a wonderful book, The Science of God, by Dr. Gerald Schroeder. He taught physics at MIT. You are a voracious reader and I know you won’t be able to put it down.
A little less harsh?
Hi Emet! I’ll paste your comment onto my WordPress blog. I like it because you present a Scriptural justification for what popes have said—that evolution occurred, and that God at some point breathed into man a soul of life. But I’m not sure if that gels with ancient rabbinic thought, since I thought the rabbis believed in six literal creation days.
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