Newsweek Writer Incoherent on March for Life
by Deal W. Hudson
Krista Gesaman at Newsweek has published a story claiming younger women are missing from today’s March for Life. The problem with the story is that she offers no evidence, and in trying to disguise her lack of evidence the story becomes incoherent.
Gesaman’s argument goes like this:
1. The March for Life route is shorter this year. Why?
2. A DC policeman is quoted saying it is shorter because the organizers are getting older. (I think Nellie Gray would be the person to give the real reason for the route being shorter, since she is the organizer, not the DC policeman.)
3. Notice this leap in reasoning after she quoted the policeman:
So this raises the question: Where are the young, vibrant women supporting their pro-life or pro-choice positions? Likely, they’re at home. “Young women are still concerned about these issues, but they’re not trained to go out and protest,” says Kristy Maddux, assistant professor at the University of Maryland, who specializes in historical feminism.
How does the organizers growing older “raise the question” of a lack of young women? Of course the organizers are older — the March has been held for over 35 years. The presence of older organizers does not, to reasonable people, prove the lack of young people, male or female.
4. For evidence, Gesaman cites a feminist professor at the University of Maryland and concludes, “Likely, they’re at home.” Huh, what kind of evidence is that? Was Prof. Maddux in downtown DC yesterday watching the busloads of young people arriving from all over the country. (I was nearly stampeded by young, corn-fed Iowans myself.) Has Maddux ever been to a March for Life?
5. Gesaman then quotes from an interview with Oliva Gans from National Right to Life who says she expects a “surge” in young women at the March, a counter-fact which Gesaman ignores in favor of this comment:
But Gans acknowledges that the next generation of pro-life supporters is strongly tuned in to technology, whether it’s Facebook or YouTube. In fact, National Right to Life relies on both the social-networking and the video Web site to arrange events and increase membership.
6. Gesaman doesn’t return to question her premise about the lack of young women at the March but instead turns to another claim about a “generational divide” among feminists.
So what’s responsible for this generational divide among feminists? Maddux speculates that it’s personal experience. “Older generations had friends and family members who died of complications or found themselves sterilized because of abortion. Young women today don’t have that personal connection,” she says.
This turn in Gesaman’s argument is completely muddled. Is she calling Gans a feminist, though she’s a pro-lifer? Is she claiming the pro-lifers who supposedly aren’t at the March because they are on Youtube are feminists because they’re into technology? Is the divide between pro-choice and pro-life feminism, or between those who march and those who use technology?
7. Here is Gesaman’s conclusion:
Because the role of the modern feminist is still unclear, so is the future of events like the Roe v. Wade rallies. “I would say that memorializing Roe v. Wade will continue to happen, I just don’t know if it will always take the form of a march,” Maddux says.
It’s difficult to understand the meaning of her first sentence. She’s really interested in the question –though she doesn’t admit it — of whether or not young women are buying into the pro-abortion ideology of the old feminism. She also avoids recognizing the new feminism advocated by many young, pro-life women who have embraced the “theology of the body” promulgated by John Paul II.
I guess the editors at Newsweek just let this one slip by.