F.R. Duplantier reporting Behind The Headlines
Week of:
March 26, 2000
Call a Truce in War Between the Sexes

F.R. Duplantier

by: F.R. Duplantier

Men and women may have trouble getting along, but how far can they go without each other?

"Young women today confront the daunting task of trying to plan their lives from scratch, with very little in the way of guidance about how to reconcile their modern ambitions with the old institutions of marriage and motherhood," declares Danielle Crittenden of the Independent WomenÕs Forum. "On the one hand," she observes, "they wish to be free, strong, and independent; and, on the other, to find husbands who will be devoted and monogamous and will financially support them when they need it. They want to have interesting, fulfilling jobs and yet also be involved, committed mothers. The resulting relationships," Crittenden laments, "are often incongruous and flimsy."

In her new book, What Our Mothers Didn't Tell Us, published by Simon & Schuster, Crittenden examines the flimsy relationships of modern men and women. "We may pledge to love each other until death do us part, but we blanch at the first hint of sacrifice," she asserts. "We may believe strongly in the sanctity of marriage, but we would never impose social sanctions upon those who fail or betray their vows, or even upon couples who refuse to take those vows in the first place. As women, we may be willing to accept most of the duties of child care, but we certainly won't take sole charge of the housekeeping."

Crittenden suggests that women who want the joys and benefits of marriage and motherhood "must be willing to accept the responsibilities and sacrifices that go along with them. . . . We must understand the trade-off of every action we take," she insists. "If we want to be heart surgeons or presidents, we will have to accept that we may not be the mothers we want to be, or may not be mothers at all. If we are unwilling to trust men, we might not have the marriages we want. If we refuse to give ourselves over to our families, we cannot expect much from our families in return. If we wish to live for ourselves and think only about ourselves, we will manage to retain our independence but little else."

Crittenden chastises feminists for teaching women "to think of themselves as a victimized subset of humanity and not as active participants in a free and democratic society." She rejects the feminist notion "that women should bear no consequences for their decisions, that we can live independently of men and children -- that we should live independently of them." In the grip of this pernicious idea, she laments, "men and women alike have abandoned their responsibilities to their families and to each other. They have caused untold pain and unhappiness to their children as well as to themselves. But men and women should not be locked in competition," Crittenden counsels. "One sex cannot triumph over the other without hurting itself. Men and women are as inextricably linked and necessary to one another as the food we eat. . . ."

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