Strolling through the Freshman Week Activities Fair, I was accosted by an energetic young woman from a women’s issues group who asked me fiercely, “Do you support women?” As I took my time answering, my interrogator laughingly remarked, “It’d be really sad if you didn’t.”
Although at the time I shrugged my shoulders and signed my name to the mailing list, the feeling of having been grouped into a general category against my will simply because of my sex haunted me. For the question being asked was not “Do I support women?”—which I certainly do—but “Do I support feminism?”—which I emphatically do not. Feminism is an outdated, misdirected ideology that perpetuates the very virtues it condemns and harms women much more than it helps them.
Perhaps there was once a time when feminism was warranted, when its name was not synonymous with self-pitying whining but with active efforts toward positive change. In the early 20th century, when women still had not gained the right to vote, the suffragettes showed remarkable dedication in bringing the system’s inherent inequality to the forefront of public awareness.
In recent years, however, feminism in America has found itself hopelessly bereaved of a cause for which to fight. Women in this country are now on an entirely equal footing with men and are sometimes even given preferential treatment. Instead of focusing on areas of the world where women are truly being oppressed, where they cannot show their ankles on the street without fear of being shot and killed, feminists of today spend their time creating support groups for one another and debating the relative disadvantages faced by girls in science and math classrooms. Feminism keeps women from naturally asserting their equality to men in an environment which is now conducive to such equality.
Feminism also creates a double standard for men and women, thus promoting the societal ills it supposedly opposes. Feminists laud women-only discussion groups, dance teams and drama clubs, but when men try to create or maintain similar men-only groups, they are accused of discrimination. The feminist movement operates on the principle that past wrongs done to women can be remedied by preferential treatment now—that two wrongs will make a right. This reverse discrimination is not only unethical but also belies their alleged opposition to judgment or exclusion based on gender alone.
Finally, and most importantly, feminism accomplishes the exact opposite of what it intends. Instead of raising women’s social status, it burdens them with a weighty sense of victimization that neither empowers them nor motivates men to view them as equals. Girls are not born feeling inferior to boys. Rather, it is their exposure to feminism that causes them to develop a slave-like mentality.
This is particularly evident in school, where the “feminist aspect” of every subject is now played up, thereby bringing social activism into the classroom where it only detracts from the learning process. English teachers ask students to apply feminist criticism to books with no semblance of a feminist outlook. History textbooks try to compensate for the fact that women were in the kitchen for most of recorded time by highlighting the life of one particular female or another regardless of how little she matters to history. Other programs, such as Take Your Daughter to Work Day, also impress upon young girls the notion that they are inherently inferior citizens who need rewritten history books and politically correct semi-holidays to raise them up to the level of their male peers who, incidentally, seem to do just fine without any such support. In this way, the movement marginalizes women by reminding them constantly of their former subservient status and instilling in them at a very young age a dependency on the support of other women and on feminism to “survive” in a horribly male-dominated world.
If feminists were to take a step back and view the current situation of women in this country objectively, they might realize that women no longer need interest groups, support networks, activism and doctored curriculae—that they, in fact, are better off without feminists’ supposed help. But that objective view would leave feminists without a viable raison d’etre, and so they continue to ignore, for example, the possibility that the average female college student walking through an activities fair might support women but not support feminism, that she might instead consider feminism a threat to her own sense of self and empowerment.
Maybe feminists should start asking themselves the question, “Do we support women?” And maybe it’s time someone said, “It’s sad, but you don’t.”