Talk radio host Tammy Bruce, an openly gay conservative, has a long and complex history when it comes to her views on political and social issues. One of those is feminism, a movement she now says liberals have tarnished and turned into a "shell" of its former self.
Conservative talk radio host Tammy Bruce (Image source: Tammy Bruce via Twitter)
Once a staffer on numerous Democratic campaigns and a member of the National Organization for Women's national board of directors, Bruce eventually traded in her left-of-center worldview and became a conservative.
Now, she's not afraid to take on modern-day feminism, saying the movement has been plagued by politicization and, as a result, has drifted away from its original purpose.
Feminism in America, Bruce said in an interview with TheBlaze, really started with the push to allow women to vote. While the 19th Amendment guaranteeing this right was first presented in 1848, it wasn't until 1920 that it finally gained passage.
"This was 'the' victory of the movement. Guaranteeing women the right to vote obviously set the foundation, giving women a voice politically and socially," Bruce said. "While this was the significant achievement, this first wave of the feminist movement also changed laws and societal barriers."
Until feminism's first wave, from 1848 to 1960, married women couldn't own property, manage their own wages, sign contracts -- and most couldn't achieve higher education. It was the early feminists who changed that dynamic, Bruce said.
But men, too, played a role.
"While the women involved in the suffrage movement were arguably the first modern and organized feminists in America, their work was ultimately successful because men made it possible." she said. "Yes, women agitated and organized, but the men in power, in Congress, voted to change the system, granting women suffrage."
When it comes to feminism's second wave, from 1960 to 1990, Bruce pointed out that abortion is generally the only prominent issue that is spoken about. But lawsuits, organizing and lobbying led to some other monumental benefits and social changes for women.
"The 'unspoken rule' banning girls from becoming [now defunct] congressional pages finally ended in 1973 with the acceptance of the first female page only after a protest by young feminists, fair hiring practices and paid maternity leave were accomplished, newspapers were forced to end sex-segregated 'help wanted' ads, previously 'male only' jobs were finally opened to women, shuttle flights between New York and Washington D.C. stopped banning women, et cetera.," she said.
But with the good came what Bruce described as politicization from leftist forces. Ironically, she believes that women need the conservative ideal to attain financial freedom, so she finds the movement's purported political sway to the left confounding.
"Historically, like a parasite, the left attaches itself to genuine social movements, rides them to power and ends up destroying not only the special interest groups at issue, but very often society itself," she explained. "The feminist movement was not immune from that trajectory."
What is left of the movement, she claims, is "the shell" of what it formerly represented. Today, she believes left-of-center feminists rely on victimhood -- something she believes is a result of liberal allegiance.
"The left needs an enemy with which to divide the country and control its own base, and the easiest enemy, of course, is the immediate opposite of the constituency at issue," Bruce said. "For blacks, it's whites, for gays it's straights, for women, men were painted as the enemy."
As for this latter point, Bruce believes that modern feminists made a fatal mistake: cutting men out of the equation and labeling them the enemy. Men, she claims, made victory and progress possible for women, noting that it was a man who invented birth control, a development lauded for offering sexual freedom.
Bruce argued that the feminism that is practiced today is quite different from what she called "authentic feminism."
"Authentic feminism requires all doors to be unlocked, encouraging women to make choices that best suit them. Leftists can have nothing to do with that, working instead to demonize choices women might make that involve family," she said. "In order to survive, the left must be successful in keeping women away from men, away from family, children, and the larger American experience."
To fix feminism, Bruce said that young women need to be shown the difference between genuine feminism and leftist politics. Conservatives, too, play a role, as she argued that they should push back and "claim the mantle of feminism."
In a new video on conservative radio host Dennis Prager's Prager University titled "Feminism 2.0," Bruce tackled the ins and outs of the women's rights movement, further delving into her central thesis that what was once a respectable and vibrant movement has been hijacked by liberals who have taken it far off course.
Watch it below:
So, what does she think about abortion -- the contentious issue that has become a centerpiece of the feminist movement?
Bruce, who opposes legislation that would ban abortion, told TheBlaze she has nothing favorable to say about the procedure, saying there is no excuse for women to seek an abortion considering the birth control methods that are available in the modern era.
"During my time as a feminist organizer, I was appalled at the argument that abortion was something to be proud of, and confronted those who espoused that absurdity," she said. "Some argued then and to this day, that abortion is somehow empowering. Nothing could be further from the truth. It is a failure in every sense."
Bruce added, "The modern feminist movement abandoned young women when they chose to romanticize abortion."
Find out more about Bruce here.