Virtual Voices

Two women, two legacies

Issues

Like many moms who've had to navigate the supermarket checkout lines with children in tow, I've held a special place of contempt for Cosmopolitan magazine, whose shocking headlines at kids'-eye level have been polluting young minds for more than 40 years-not to mention the damage to a few generations of lost young women.

On becoming editor in 1965, Helen Gurley Brown quickly changed a women's magazine from one with tips on food and fashion and decorating and diets, to a racy rag preaching a gospel of sex, sex, and more sex.

In Brown's vicious may-the-sexiest-woman-win world, all traditions and conventions were off. So your boss is married? So he has three kids? So what? If you want him, go for it, girl! No guilt, no regrets.

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Brown made her final personal headline Monday, dead at the age of 90, wealthy but childless. But what did that matter when-according to the cultural elite-she was personally responsible for liberating young women from the goal of husband, family, and home, and replacing it with a sex- and pleasure-driven lifestyle, like the one eventually celebrated in the TV series Sex and the City. She empowered women, they said, overlooking the fact that she had made them sexual slaves, trying to keep happy with uncommitted sex while being unconcerned with the havoc they wreaked in the lives of husbands and fathers and children.

Another woman died Monday: 88-year-old Nellie Gray, a more modest role model whose life was dedicated to saving families, lives, love, and hope.

Gray's service as a corporal in the Women's Army Corps (WACS) during World War II changed the direction of her life. According to Father Frank Pavone, founder of Priests for Life:

"The reality of the Holocaust made a profound impression upon her, as did the Nuremburg Trials, to which she often referred in explaining her pro-life position. At issue for her were not the numbersof people killed, vast and disturbing as those statistics are.

"For Nellie, the horror was that a single human life had been intentionally taken.That was the point at which government transgressed its proper authority. That was the evil that had to be stopped."

In 1974, on the first anniversary of Roe v. Wade decision, Gray organized a March for Life in Washington, D.C., which evolved from a one-time event into a growing coming-together of pro-life groups from across the country, and she had been involved every year since, serving as a voice for unity in the midst of disagreements and infighting among well-intentioned but passionate political players.

Gray was also responsible for bringing to light the terrible toll abortion has had on fathers and other family members-as well as the holocaust within the black community: While only 13 percent of the female population is minority, that group accounts for 36 percent of the abortions.

Two women, two legacies, both with legacies reaching well beyond their lifetimes-a reminder to each of us to look to our own lives and to make the most of what time we have left.

Listen to reports on Nellie Gray and Helen Gurley Brown on WORLD's radio news magazine The World and Everything in It

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