James Dobson is holding feminists responsible for the objectification of women in American culture, quoting from a 2007 article from Marc Gellman in his latest column that maintains that the feminist movement “surrendered women to predatory men who have taken women’s newfound freedom as the perfect opportunity to surrender all sexual responsibility, respect and gallantry.” He laments that women rich and poor now “become bimbos,” pointing out that he sees “the bimbofication of young girls all the time in my affluent suburban synagogue.” After setting up a false dichotomy between the Taliban’s oppression of women and the “the latest exploits of Paris, Lindsay and Britney,” Gellman says it’s wrong to let women begin “embracing their sexuality in any way they desire” because it “supports porn, which coarsens our culture.”
Anna Nicole was stigmatized as poor white trash. However, it is a cruel illusion to believe that only poor, pretty women must become bimbos, strippers and gold diggers to get out of the trailer park. I see the bimbofication of young girls all the time in my affluent suburban synagogue. Sadly, some of the brightest adolescent girls around the age of 12 suddenly try to dumb themselves down so that they can attract a boy- friend who will not be scared off by their intelligence. I also see echoes of Anna Nicole in the successful twentysomethings and thirtysomethings, whose little black cocktail dresses are meant to both reveal their cleavage and conceal their desperation at the thought that pursuing a career means abandoning the pursuit of love and family. The feminist movement has won important victories for egalitarianism, but it has also surrendered women to predatory men who have taken women’s newfound freedom as the perfect opportunity to surrender all sexual responsibility, respect and gallantry. One can rejoice at newfound freedoms without distorting their cost.
The problem with treating women as meat is that many of the solutions offered up are far worse than the problem. The Taliban had an easy and perverse solution, and that was to treat women as prisoners. Completely covering up the female form with a burqa and shutting women out of Afghani public and professional life is even worse than being forced to hear about the latest exploits of Paris, Lindsay and Britney. On the other hand, making the case that there is nothing wrong with women freely displaying their bodies and embracing their sexuality in any way they desire is equally perverse because it supports porn, which coarsens our culture, degrades women and led to the death of a woman whose infant daughter needs her now. We need to find a place between prudes and porn. The future of our culture and the dignity of both men and women depend upon us finding such a place now.
** This post has been updated for clarity. In his column, Dobson didn’t note where the quote from Gellman’s article begins or ends.