Phyllis Schlafly’s Positive Woman 7, Avoiding Evil and Pursuing Good on Lent

1.  In my reading this morning of The Power of the Positive Woman, Phyllis Schlafly argues that the Equal Rights Amendment would require women to be drafted into the military (if the draft were to be reinstated) as well as place them in combat positions.  She also states that the ERA would affect the police department, requiring it to give women the same assignments that it gives to men.  While she’s not against women serving in the military and the police, she’s against them doing the exact same things that men do, for they do not have the physical strength that men possess.  Physical strength is required for soldiers to carry heavy equipment in combat operations, or (in the 1970’s) to have the stamina to fight in the jungles of Vietnam.  And physical strength is important in police assignments as well, for police officers need to intimidate and overpower criminals. 

Mrs. Schlafly offers impressive documentation for her arguments.  She quotes prestigious law journals, ERA proponents, the selective service manual, and real-life examples of the disaster that’s resulted from certain attempts in her time to extend to women complete equality in the armed services and the police.  Ill effects have included women becoming pregnant on military ships, a lowering of standards, and the crippling of desperately-needed police departments, as they spend time trying to comply with an activist judge’s definition of “equality.” 

Against those who argue that Israel drafts women, Mrs. Schlafly points out on page 101 that the Israeli military does not have complete equality:

Israeli women serve in the armed forces only about half as long as men.  Israeli women have automatic exemption if they marry or have a baby.  They are not put into combat or into integrated barracks with men.  The Israelis tried putting their women into combat for a very brief period in the 1948 war, and they found out what happens to women when they fall into the hands of vicious men.  Israel did not make that mistake in any of its three later wars.

Mrs. Schlafly wrote The Power of the Positive Women in 1977, but there was criticism of placing women in combat units as late as the early 1990’s.  Mrs. Schlafly wrote against it, and Pat Buchanan mentioned it in a list of liberal evils in his speech before the 1992 Republican National Convention.

Nowadays, women are in military combat.  There was a female soldier who tortured some Iraqis, which resulted in a scandal.  Jessica Lynch and another woman were captured by Iraqis while they were in combat.  And, during a 2008 Republican Presidential debate, arch-conservative candidate Duncan Hunter praised a woman pilot who did a heroic deed in Iraq. 

Women don’t necessarily need physical strength to fly a plane, or to shoot a gun so as to hit their target.  But I still wonder if there is complete equality in the armed forces.  I wouldn’t be surprised if men still carry the heavy equipment.  Plus, whenever I watch ABC’s This Week and see the lists of men and women who have died in Iraq and Afghanistan, I mostly see men.

Regarding the police, I don’t know as much about that.  I think that women can be effective and intimidating through swiftly-applied martial arts or their gun.  I’m not sure how things are in real life, but, on television, men police-officers have female partners.  Clint Eastwood had Tyne Daley on one of the Dirty Harry movies.  On 7th Heaven, Lucy Camden’s husband, Kevin, had a beautiful partner named Roxanne.   Robert Barone’s partner is a female on Everybody Loves Raymond.  And then there’s the short-lived series, The Unusuals, starring Amber Tamblyn of Joan of Arcadia fame.  Is art reflecting life?

I wonder if the military and the police have found ways to allow women to contribute, without defying common sense in the pursuit of complete equality.

2.  At Latin mass this morning, we had the priest who talks about love.  He referred to the parable in Luke 11:24-26, in which an unclean spirit leaves a man, gathers more unclean spirits, and (together with them) possesses the man again, after the man has been swept and cleaned up on the inside.  The man’s state then becomes worse than it was before!  The priest likened that to us becoming spiritually proud during Lent, as we pat ourselves on the back for fasting, doing good, and giving up our sins.  He also cited Ephesians 5:3, which says that fornication, uncleanness, and covetousness are not to be named among saints.  According to the priest, we don’t have to make a laundry list of our sins during Lent (a surprising statement from a Catholic); rather, we should focus on intimacy with God and our imitation of God.  

I’m not sure if I have much of a problem with spiritual pride.  The reason is that I’m too occupied with getting through the day in one piece—without bitterness, or bad thoughts.  I turn to God to get me through my inner demons.  I don’t have time to pat myself on the back, nor, for that matter, do I have much of a reason to do so.

I like the priest’s idea of just doing good rather than beating myself up over all the wrong that I do.  As far as the part about not naming sins is concerned, do I violate that rule when I watch TV—such as Desperate Housewives?  One can easily point out that the Bible presents its share of sordid acts, for human corruption is a part of the world with which God interacts.  I don’t plan to give up Desperate Housewives, but I should take heed lest I become like the world.  And perhaps, even as I watch my shows, I can reject the evil in them while embracing the good values that they promote—kindness, friendship, respect for others, etc.    

About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting. I have degrees in fields of religious studies. I have an M.Phil. in the History of Biblical Interpretation from Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio. I also have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University.
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