Fox Business host Trish Regan argued on Monday that former First Lady Nancy Reagan — who was perhaps best known for her adoring gazes and devotion to her husband — “was everything feminists should aspire to be.”
“With the passing away of Nancy Reagan, the world has lost a woman who was a great American, and a great role model for all of us, especially women,” Regan opined on her Fox Business show on Monday. “I remember as a kid hearing some of the criticism against her, that she was too old fashioned, not a modern woman, someone who just lived in her husband’s shadow.”
“The so-called feminists of the time, they all took big issue with her,” the Fox Business host continued, pointing to criticisms from Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan.
“As a kid, I just thought, she looks pretty happy,” Regan laughed. “And we since learned she genuinely was, she was dedicated to her husband. She was a formidable advisor to him, understanding they were very much a team. She worked tirelessly for her ‘Just Say No’ campaign. And she was an advocate for Alzheimer’s research.”
“Nancy did the unthinkable, she went to work as an actress,” she continued. “All of this in the 1940s. If you ask me, that’s pretty consistent with being an independent career woman. She chose to give up acting because she wanted to be by [her husband’s] side.”
According to Regan, many “liberal” feminists — like Amanda Marcotte — either did not understand or chose to ignore Regan’s choices.
“In fact, Reagan was everything a feminist should aspire to be,” Regan insisted. “Because Nancy Reagan believed, not in society making choices for women, but in women making choices for ourselves.”
In conclusion, Regan praised the former first lady’s 1985 quote to McCall’s: “Feminism is the ability to choose what you want to do.”
However, writing for Salon on Monday, Marcotte called that view of feminism “a pile of nonsense.”
“Feminism is a movement to secure women’s equality to men, not a self-help movement here to validate every ‘choice’ as equal to every other,” Marcotte wrote. “The truth is that Reagan was part of a conservative women’s movement to valorize inequality as somehow good for women and truer to their inherent nature.”
“More than anything, anti-feminism might be Nancy Reagan’s most lasting legacy,” she added. “[H]er brand of anti-feminism, which posits that inequality is little more than a freely made ‘choice’ women make, continues to be a powerful force, fueling conservative arguments against feminism and feeding continuing pressure on women to step back and live lives in the shadows of their husbands.”
Watch the video below from Fox Business, broadcast March 7, 2016.