Christina Hoff Sommers, an American author known for her controversial writings on feminism in modern culture, called for a “new version of feminism” last night, igniting a vocal debate among audience members.
The former Clark University philosophy professor argued that the modern feminist theory—espoused by many liberal college campuses—fails to acknowledge innate behavior differences in men and women during the discussion hosted by True Love Revolution, the student advocacy group for premarital abstinence.
Today’s feminist movement, Sommers said, is dominated by a “hardcore wing of egalitarian tradition” that overemphasizes statistical equality and ignores a positive image of women as nurturing caretakers and mothers.
“Women want their rights, but they don’t want to be exactly like men,” Sommers said, adding that their brains are not “interchangeable” and that men and women have different preferences and propensities.
For example, Sommers observed that working women, even when presented with other options, still tend towards “caring professions,” such as nursing.
And Sommers argues that such femininity should be presented in a more positive light.
Sommers said that feminist thought, especially at many universities, focuses too heavily on bashing males and victimizing women, triggering a backlash among students.
“It’s ridiculous,” said Lauren D. Fortner, a Romance Languages and Literatures graduate student. “It’s not what’s going on—there are plenty of classes that talk about motherhood in a very interesting and laudatory way.”
Campus sex blogger Lena Chen ’09-’10 voiced similar objections, saying that Sommers had oversimplified current feminist theory. True Love Revolution co-president Rachel L. Wagley ’10 said she was not surprised Sommers’ speech sparked this debate.
“If nothing else, tonight’s talk stressed the idea that both sides have to be represented,” Wagley said.