Into the Mainstream -- By: Mary A. Kassian

Journal: Journal for Biblical Manhood and Womanhood
Volume: JBMW 11:2 (Fall 2006)
Article: Into the Mainstream
Author: Mary A. Kassian


Into the Mainstream1

Mary Kassian

Distinguished Professor of Women’s Studies
The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary,
Louisville, Kentucky
Author, Speaker
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada

The women. .. had neither adopted nor rejected feminism. Rather, it had seeped into their minds like intravenous saline into the arm of an unconscious patient. They were feminists without knowing it.2

In 1989 a publisher approached twenty-seven-year-old writer Danielle Crittenden to write a book about why feminism had lost its appeal, particularly to women under thirty. These were the “daughters of the revolution,” those on whose behalf liberation had been sought but who appeared to be “rather ungratefully bored by the whole thing.”3

Crittenden, in order to understand the state of the feminist movement, drove around eastern Canada and the northeastern United States interviewing young female students—mostly at universities. She found that most young women ardently reacted to the label “feminist”—“as if it were an orange bell-bottomed pantsuit found at the back of their mother’s [sic] closets.”4 Few of these women had read Betty Friedan’s The Feminine Mystique or any other feminist pop classic for that matter. Nor did they belong to any feminist organizations. But, according to Crittenden, they were feminists nonetheless:

The young people of their generation had been made the laboratory mice for the numerous social experiments of the past 20 years: infant day care and no-fault divorce; textbooks illustrated with little girls flying planes and little boys doing the vacuuming; coed shop classes instead of home economics; the frank discussions about condoms with high school gym teachers. Their brains, meanwhile, had been irradiated with a mishmash of feminist cultural messages, from the proudly

menstruating teenage heroines of Judy Blume novels to the supportive articles about single mothers in the Sunday life-style section to the audience applause on Donahue for the woman who left her husband and three kids in Minnesota to realize herself as a potter in Santa Fe.

The women I interviewed had neither adopted nor rejected feminism. Rather, it had seeped into their minds like intravenous saline into the arm of an unconscious patient. They were feminists without knowing it.5

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