Originally published May 21, 2014.
Updated and republished September 15, 2015
People can have many things in common, including behaviors and attitudes.
Feminist leaders share two commonalities with outlaw bikers.
Expecting women to remain silent and passive, doing what they are told to do, when to do it, and what to say
The documentary, Biker Chicks: Leather and Lace, chronicles the story of Jennifer Chaffin, founder and president of the largest all female motorcycle club in the world, Leather and Lace. Chaffin married her first outlaw biker husband as a teenager. She quickly learned that as an outlaw biker wife, her role was to “be quiet” and “stay in the background”. Besides sex, outlaw bikers expect biker chicks to provide money.
Feminist Leader Example #1
Eleanor Smeal is a former president of the National Organization for Women and the founder of the Feminist Majority Foundation (FMF). Around 1990, Smeal sent out a letter requesting donations. In exchange for completing an Abortion Rights Questionnaire and sending a “generous contribution”, Smeal promised that:
“at least four times a year we’ll notify you of pending actions
nationally and locally and let you know what action steps you
Smeal emphasized the importance of providing money, then staying quietly in the background by underlining each word separately. At least four times a year, Smeal let pro-choice supporters know what she would allow them to say and do.
Feminist Leader Example #2
The National Organization for Women (NOW) sends out action alerts. The “action” usually means clicking a button to send “Your Letter” to politicians. NOW does not encourage women to use their own words. When NOW feels like indulging in glory for itself, it will include this sort of phrase in “Your Letter”:
“As a supporter of the National Organization for Women…”
Both outlaw bikers and feminist leaders expect women to provide money, then stay quietly in the background.
Expecting women to provide income without any say in how the money is used, and using the money in ways that do not benefit the women who earn it
The current president of the National Organization for Women is Terry O’Neill. O’Neill frequently sends out emails asking for money. I signed up to receive emails in 2007 or 2008. Frustrated that NOW never felt I deserved an explanation for how they would use my money if I donated, I wrote NOW, asking how it uses donations. I received no direct response. Once in awhile the emails will give some information, but mostly the emails just ask for money. They often include phrases like, “with your help, we can” and “show your support” and “your donation today will help us”. Send money, but stay in the background. Send money but don’t expect to have any say in how the money is used. Send money but don’t ask how we spend the money.
NOW President Terry O’Neill probably does not reveal how she spends the money because she is not spending it for the benefit of the women who donate it. An article printed in several Wisconsin newspapers titled “Abortion foes — big clout, little cash” provided me with some of the details NOW refused to give me. It explained the differences in spending between Wisconsin pro-life groups and Wisconsin pro-choice groups during the 2011-2012 legislative session. Below is information from the article:
Pro-life groups’ spending on lobbying
Wisconsin Right to Life $ 43,730
Pro-Life Wisconsin $ 63,113
Pro-choice groups’ spending on lobbying
Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin $241,309
Pro-life groups’ spending on political campaigns
Wisconsin Right to Life & Pro-Life Wisconsin $150,000
Pro-choice groups’ spending on political campaigns
Planned Parenthood $1,300,000
Despite the massive amount of money pro-choice groups spent, they lost in the Wisconsin legislature. Despite the smaller amount of money pro-life groups spent, they won in the Wisconsin legislature. Pro-choice groups had no clout despite their massive spending. Pro-life groups had plenty of clout despite their limited spending. Feminist leaders continually ask for money but spend the money in ways that do not give clout to the women who donate the money. To give the women who donate money clout, feminist leaders would have to change their message.
If babies have the right to life before birth, then they have the right to life after birth. The right to life after birth means children deserve parents who want them. Children deserve lives free of neglect, abuse, and murder at the hands of their parents. The feminist message should be pro-child. Protecting the lives of children would have more clout than protecting women’s right to choose. The pro-child movement could challenge the pro-life movement as only pro-birth, not pro-life. Pro-child supporters could ask pro-birth legislators to explain why they’re not pro-child. Pro-child supporters could ask pro-birth groups what they are doing to protect the lives of children. These tactics would create clout because they would be meeting pro-birth groups at their message that every baby has the right to be born.
I contacted NOW with this suggestion. Since ignoring the women who provide money is what they do, NOW leaders ignored me. Both outlaw bikers and feminist leaders expect women to provide money without any say in how the money is used.
Leaders in Hierarchical Work Environments
In the book, Little Bets: How Breakthrough Ideas Emerge from Small Discoveries, author Peter Sims writes about the fallacy known at Google and other companies as HIPPO, a belief in the Highest Paid Person’s Opinion. The fallacy is that “the most experienced or senior person in the group will have the answers.” Sims wrote that a “dominant hierarchical work environment supports the fallacy.” Feminist organizations like FMF and NOW duplicate dominant hierarchical work environments. My evidence comes from a female feminist professor from my grad school days.
When I was in grad school in the early 1990s, a male professor who considered himself a feminist told me I should write a paper about some of the ideas I had brought up in class. I wrote a paper comparing the words and actions of pro-life leaders and pro-choice leaders. After the male feminist professor read my paper, I asked a female feminist professor to read it. In my paper I described how pro-life leaders told supporters that it was their obligation to take action in their daily lives, an action of their choosing. Pro-choice leaders, on the other hand, made all the choices, telling supporters what to do and when to do it. The female feminist wrote this comment:
“Might those choices be the crucial ones?”
The female feminist professor also wrote:
“You ignore the fact that it takes a certain intellectual sophistication to be pro-choice whereas the anti’s have that vast wasteland of obedient women with time on their hands who are given something to do — however ineffectual it is.”
Feminist leaders live the HIPPO fallacy. They insist on making the “crucial choices” about words, actions, and donations because they believe only they have the “intellectual sophistication” to do so. Pro-choice supporters who remain loyal to pro-choice leaders wait for pro-choice leaders to tell them what to do.
Pro-life leaders believe their supporters have the intellectual sophistication to make decisions about how to participate in the pro-life movement. The “vast wasteland of obedient women” accepted their obligation to take action in their daily lives and continued taking actions. More than 20 years after I wrote my paper, abortion is mostly unavailable and severely restricted where it is available. It does not matter that abortion is legal for women who have no access to abortion services.
As Secretary of Defense under President George W. Bush, Donald Rumsfeld was responsible for planning the invasion of Iraq. He sent too few troops to secure the country after the invasion.
NOW puts too few people into the field as activists. NOW trains state and national leaders to be activists. Maybe they also train other people they handpick. NOW has never answered my questions about how they pick activists or who those activists are. In a press release about a training weekend, NOW wrote that:
“Eleven of the new state presidents, coordinators and executive
directors” plus “33 activists from 14 states braved the chill of an
extended Washington, D.C. winter for intensive training in the
area of their choice.”
That amounts to 44 activists from 25 states, if the 11 were from different states. My guess is that ordinary NOW members paid for the transportation and lodging that allowed these brave people (an extended Washington D.C. winter requires bravery?) to socialize together.
The NOW press release also said,
“Activists from four additional states met during the weekend
to plan reorganizing and revitalizing their state organizations,
which had lately been inactive.”
Did former NOW members in those states grow tired of the “be quiet” and “stay in the background” expectations of NOW leaders?
Contrast those 44 leaders and activists from half the country against the millions of pro-life supporters speaking their own words and taking their own actions in their daily lives. Minnesota Concerned Citizens for Life (MCCL) organizes a fall tour every year. MCCL trainers travel around the state offering training to anyone who wants to take it. Attendees can then take action everyday in the course of their daily lives. Pro-life activists in one state far outnumber NOW’s pro-choice activists for the entire country, because MCCL also trains children to be activists. Since they learn to be activists as children, they will likely continue to be activists as adults.
Donald Rumsfeld and feminist leaders share an ineffective strategy of putting too few people in the field to be effective.
Old Guard of the Catholic Church
A U.S. News & World Report article about the Catholic Church’s attempts to recover from its sex scandals revealed that lay Catholics are unhappy with the way bishops handled the crisis. Lay Catholics are also unhappy with the bishops themselves. Suzanne Morse, spokeswoman for Boston-based Voice of the Faithful said, “We see an old guard that is unwilling to give up a lot of the power and authority they’ve had for years and years.”
In a Time magazine article about abortion, reporter Kate Pickert wrote that the older feminists are “reluctant to pass the torch” of power and authority to younger women.
The old guard of the Catholic Church and the old guard of feminist organizations continue to hold onto the power they’ve had for years and years.
Same Old, Same Old
As you can see, feminist leaders have too much in common with patriarchal male leaders to be anything other than same old, same old. So much for their claims of creating equality for women. Some of the same old includes being less than honest (patriarchal fathers, husbands, bosses, politicians, etc.) and hiding information (patriarchal father, husbands, bosses, politicians, etc.).
The Not Quite National Organization for Women
NOW is not quite the national organization it would like people to believe it is. Before NOW revamped its website, it was easy to see which states did not have any chapters at all. Once when I checked, five states did not have chapters. That’s 10% of the states. And remember, the press release about the activist training weekend included this statement:
“Activists from four additional states met during the weekend to plan reorganizing and revitalizing their state organizations, which had lately been inactive.”
The revamped website makes identifying states with “inactive” chapters (real meaning: no chapters) more difficult. NOW doesn’t want you to know that it’s not always — if it ever was — a national organization.
Feminist Leaders Keep Secrets
Beware of NOW emails and blog posts and anything it says in its press releases. NOW has repeatedly proved that it hides facts. It has hidden facts about:
Procedures for choosing activists
Whom they choose to be activists
How it spends donations
Big spending failures
Number of states without chapters
What else is NOW hiding? Is it hiding information because it expects its supporters to be a “vast wasteland of obedient women” who are too intellectually unsophisticated to understand the reasoning behind the crucial choices made by the intellectually sophisticated leaders of NOW?
Is NOW also hiding information so they can continue to hold onto the power and authority they refuse to pass to younger women?
Plus, there is the issue of titles. Until I pointed this out in blog posts, NOW President Terry O’Neill did not like being caught without her title. I actually saw just “Terry O’Neil” somewhere once, probably in an email. This title need seems to be a common trait for NOW presidents. I once counted “NOW President Kim Gandy” eight times on NOW’s home page. Apparently, NOW members and website visitors are too intellectually unsophisticated to remember who the current president of NOW is without constant reminders.
“NOW President Terry O’Neill” reduced her name count on the old NOW website. O’Neill, however, found a way to remind every visitor of just how important she and other NOW leaders are at the new now.org. A choice at the top of the NOW’s home page is “NOW LEADERS”. It opens a page that says:
Protected: NOW Leader Docs
This content is password protected. To view it please enter your password below.
(NOW has removed the NOW Leaders page. This only means they are no longer announcing that
NOW leaders keep secrets. NOW leaders still keep secrets. They keep their “activist” training secret
from the women who pay for the training.)
Why did NOW make this logon page public rather than private? It’s a public announcement that NOW leaders are intellectually sophisticated people who need to hide (protect!) information from the intellectually unsophisticated members of NOW.
In case website visitors fail to understand just how important Terry O’Neill is, NOW used to say this at the top of the “NOW PAC” page:
“NOW/PAC Chair Terry O’Neill announced…”
Why does Terry O’Neill need to keep thinking up ways to put a title in front of her name?
Same old, same old.
Visit mccl.org for a comparison/contrast to now.org. You won’t see any
obsession with power and authority, and you will find all kinds of information. Click on MCCL’s “Visit Out PAC Site” and you will read about political issues. Click on “Student Commons” and you will see how MCCL is passing power and authority to high school and college students while involving elementary school students. MCCL tells members how it spends money and makes 990 forms for the IRS available on request. MCCL has 240 chapters within Minnesota alone.
If you visit the site, I dare you to find a name with a title in front of it. I finally found a title in a press release, but the title came after the name: “Scott Fishbach, Executive Director of MCCL GO”. The press release quotes Fishbach several times, but his title appears only once. Apparently, MCCL believes its members have enough intellectual sophistication to remember who Fishbach is.
Do you have a better understanding of why abortion is legal but mostly unavailable and severely restricted where it is available?
For the Record
With a B.A. in Women’s Studies/Writing, I used to call myself a feminist. Now I call myself an equality advocate. I advocate for equality between women, between men, and between men and women.
I used to call myself pro-choice. Now I call myself pro-child. Children deserve parents who want them.
Update on May 29, 2014
I received an email entitled, “What’s Happening NOW – May Edition” from NOW. The email included a list several items.
Under Can’t Take It No More was information about an independent documentary film “featuring Terry O’Neill”. The documentary is about Walmart workers around the world standing up “for respect, fair pay and economic justice”.
The information that Terry O’Neill is “featured” in the documentary comes before any mention of the Walmart workers. NOW wanted all of its supporters to know that the most important thing about this documentary is that it “features” Terry O’Neill. Visit the Kickstarter funding page for Can’t Take It No More and see if you can find Terry O’Neill’s name anywhere on the front page. The page mentions Walmart workers, Walmart associates, and Walmart strikers. Not a single mention of Terry O’Neill. O’Neill has no time for respecting Walmart workers, associates, or strikers when she sees an opportunity for a glory fix.
Same old, same old.
“Abortion foes — big clout, little cash”
Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism
July 24, 2013
Biker Chicks: Leather and Lace
January 20, 2010
Can’t Take It No More!
Citizen Blain Productions
“The General who Understood Iraq from the Start”
April 25, 2008
“Struggling to keep the faith”
US News & World ReportDecember 27, 2004
January 14, 2013
Paula M. Kramer
Resource Rock Star (See websites below.)
All rights reserved.
Posts on this blog alternate with posts at the link below. Posts for both blogs are published on Wednesdays as they are ready to be published. Time between posts could be weeks.
Standards For Success Posters
Resource Rock Star Details
For a wide ranging selection of articles on feminism and other topics,
see The Zawadi Nyong’o Daily
As an American, I have freedom of speech.
As a woman, I have the right to express my opinion about anything the National Organization for Women claims to do for women.
In 2016, I started adding the section below to all of my new Feminist Leader blog posts. I also added it to all posts published before 2016.
The National Organization For Women
National NOW has blocked me on its Facebook page. I wrote comments based on my blog posts. All of my blog posts are based on a wide variety of evidence. Much of the evidence comes from National NOW’s website, emails and posts from NOW presidents, and emails from NOW staff members. I use no hostile language, no slurs, no profanity. I do use the phrase “glory addicts” in reference to NOW leaders. I also use “glory addiction”, “glory fixes”, and “a dedicated network of glory addicts”. Dr. Marsha Vanderford (Doyle) identified the glory needs of pro-choice leaders in her 1982 dissertation.
Feminist leaders have been silencing women for decades. bell hooks, Gloria Steinem, Urvashi Vaid, and Naomi Wolf got together for a conversation that was published in Ms. Magazine in 1993. The discussion included why women choose not ta call themselves feminists. Did these four feminist leaders working for women’s equality ask women who choose not to call themselves feminist to speak for themselves? Of course not! The four feminist leaders silenced millions of women by speaking for them without first requesting permission to speak for them.
Imagine a group of women who choose not to call themselves feminists getting together for a conversation to be published in a magazine about why some women call themselves feminists. Would hooks, Steinem, Vaid, Wolf, or Ms. Magazine agree with nonfeminist women denying them the opportunity to speak for themselves? Of course not! Would hooks, Steinem, Vaid, Wolf, or Ms. Magazine agree that nonfeminist women had the right to speak for feminist women without their permission? Of course not!
My feminist leader blog posts provide evidence that feminist leaders still create glory for themselves while relegating supporters to “secondary importance”. Dr. Vanderford used the words “relegated” and “secondary importance” in her dissertation. Eoin Harnett of University College Cork in Ireland used the same “secondary importance” phrase:
“Throughout the ages, women were frequently characterised
and treated as inferior and of secondary importance to men.”
NOW leaders even relegated two of their supporters to secondary importance. The supporters responded to my last two comments on National NOW’s Facebook page with comments supporting NOW. NOW leaders silenced those supporters by removing their comments along with my comments. Instead of creating equality, NOW leaders treat other women the same way patriarchal men treat women:
NOW leaders silenced at least three women on Facebook while posting claims to be creating equality for women. Secondary importance is the opposite of equality, as women throughout the ages could testify.
In-House Rhetoric of Pro-Life and Pro-Choice Special Interest Groups in Minnesota: Motivation and Alienation
Dissertation, University of Minnesota, 1982
Marsha Vanderford Doyle, Ph.D.
(Now Marsha Vanderford)
Quoted words on page 350.
“Let’s Get Real about Feminism: The Backlash, the Myths, the Movement.”
hooks, bell, Gloria Steinem, Urvashi Vaid, and Naomi Wolf.
Vol 4(2) September/October 1993: pages 34-43.
“Multitext Project in Irish History: Movements for Political & Social Reform, 1870-1914”
University College Cork, Ireland
This project is no longer available online.
Updated April 30, 2017.