There never was a more noble cause than the Emancipation of Women. Never was an untruth so blatant that women were morally and intellectually inferior to men. Never was there a better case for Reason to oppose itself to ignorance and hate, which appeared in their usual guises of “common sense” and “the way we’ve always done it”.
The trouble with humanity is that good causes can be hijacked by others, very often to make money. Such was the case with Torches of Freedom*. It was the way that the tobacco industry and early geniuses of marketing like Edward Bernays jumped on the bandwagon of feminism in order to sell cigarettes. And how they succeeded! There had been quite strong social pressure against women smoking for decades. But by pushing their Torches of Freedom campaign, and many other marketing ploys linking smoking to freedom for the gals, they soon had the entire second half of the population hooked, and well on the way to the cancer ward.
The success of advertising, marketing and PR has educated vast groups of people to believe that they can choose their facts in the same way they choose their brand of toothpaste or car. In place of critical thinking, the ideals are unquestioning brand loyalty, personal identity and unconscious choice. These are not the skills that created the Enlightenment or underwrote the Industrial Revolution. Some people call for teaching critical thinking in schools. There will be others who will fight that tooth and nail, as their jobs and power depend on it.
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