By Joel Warner
By Michael Roberts
By Alan Prendergast
By Michael Roberts
By Michael Roberts
By Amber Taufen
By Patricia Calhoun
By William Breathes
They don't have a prayer.
As women from across the country arrive in Denver this week for the Summit on Women's Economic Security, they may think they've come to talk about planning for retirement, or new technological opportunities, or dealing with daycare, or how to imbue girls with the proper entrepreneurial spirit. They may think that Hillary Rodham Clinton is here, as advertised, to deliver the keynote speech and tour Mi Casa, which has compiled an impressive record of helping low-income women (and women with no income at all) take fiscal responsibility for their lives.
That's the gathering that has James Dobson's shorts in such a knot.
The founder of Focus on the Family has been hyperventilating over the conference all month, drawing barely a breath between diatribes broadcast over the airwaves to the 4,000 radio stations that pick up his weekly show out of Colorado Springs, published in his newsletters, uttered in his speeches.
Dobson's words conjure up images of the most dangerous band of dames since the early James Bond movies, deadly females who are out to dominate the world--and don't need to don bikinis or mix martinis to do it.
His most recent screed against the upcoming "travesty" in China was sent out over the electronic PR Newswire on July 14, preceded by a notation that "portions of this letter are not suitable for children."
For that matter, portions are not suitable for any rational human.
"The events about to unfold on the world scene are beyond comprehension," Dobson writes in this preview of a letter he'll send to "two million American households and opinion leaders" next month. "The extremists who are preparing for and promoting this conference are a million miles outside the American mainstream, and yet they will be speaking in Beijing with the authority of the United States government...It is a mystery, in fact, how such enormous threats to our spiritual and cultural heritage could have slithered into our midst without due notice or alarm."
But then, who was to know that this slithering serpent, this agent of evil, would look so much like Bella Abzug, whom Dobson refers to as "that veteran sexual warrior" and credits with inspiring him to start Focus on the Family back in 1977, when she was one of the organizers of the International Women's Conference in Houston. Clearly he's still steamed about the women's libbers--and you can throw in Rosalynn and Jimmy Carter, too, even though the former president's evangelical pedigree is as pure as Dobson's.
But Dobson is on a holy roll: "Make no mistake about it, most of what Christianity stands for will be challenged during this atheistic conference. Every good and perfect gift from the hand of the Creator will be mocked and vilified by many of its delegates. That is their agenda. That is their program. And if they have their way, the family as it has been known since antiquity will cease to exist."
Of course, the family has not exactly been stagnant since antiquity. It used to be that most babies died before they could grow up; that sorry statistic has been turned around. (So has the fact that a goodly percentage of women died in childbirth.) It used to be that God-fearing Christian countries endorsed child labor; that, too, has changed. But Dobson ignores these hard-to-argue advances in favor of some dubious China-bashing, including descriptions of the country's monitoring "menstrual cycles so it can identify young women with unapproved pregnancies and drag them into medical clinics to have their babies killed"; and how "human fetuses have begun to appear on menus of Chinese restaurants as a delicacy and health tonic."
Despite the allures of such a gruesome side trip (other tangents include the dangers inherent in Sesame Street and the assertion that "many mothers who sent their lovely daughters off to college to prepare for careers are weeping, because their daughters have come home with lesbian lovers"), Dobson refocuses on his primary theme: "Of great significance to the framers of the conference is a concept known as `gender feminism.' Please read carefully, now, because this is the basis for the Beijing conference. What is being proposed is a new way of looking at human sexuality. The notion that babies come into the world as male or female based on the size and shape of their genitalia is anathema. Sexual identification, they say, is something society imposes on children and then expects them to play out in their behavior ever after...
"After maleness and femaleness have been disenfranchised, everything related to sex will change. All household responsibilities will be divided 50/50 by governmental decree. Every business will be governed by strict 50/50 quotas. The military will also be apportioned equally between men and women, including ground combat assignments and any future selection of draftees. There will be absolutely no differences tolerated between the sexes. In short, the distinction between masculinity and femininity will utterly disappear from the cultures of the world."