By Andrew Keith
Feminism. In today’s society, it seems as if this one word has a different meaning for each individual taking part in the modern feminist movement. The modern-day feminist movement, also called 3rd Wave Feminism, seems to be daily manifesting its ideas and its ideology into the minds of anyone who encounters it. We see it all over our social medias where it’s easier than ever to casually share ideas no matter how controversial or factual. We see it all over our entertainment and Hollywood where movies perniciously capitulate feminist ideas without the viewer ever even realizing. We see it in identity politics where some politicians like to make it out that our country is divided, in this case, meaning divided into male vs female. Feminism radiates from everything we encounter. But what is this new wave of feminism all about? Should I be a part of it? What is the message of modern-day feminism?
To understand the modern-day feminist movement, we must first understand its predecessor. The 2nd Wave Feminist movement rocked the United States throughout the ‘60s into the ‘80s. The movement heavily focused on suffrage and legal obstacles but also opened more discussion about family, working privileges, and the questioning of racial challenges present in America. The movement was partially triggered after the inclusion of women in the workforce during World War II where women really felt they deserved the same working rights as men. The movement, as a whole, shows progress concerning women’s inequalities and spurred on an ongoing, productive conversation about equality. In the end, the 2nd Wave Feminist movement achieved strides for women to be more financially and economically independent.
The modern-day feminist movement, 3rd Wave Feminism, dawned from the discussions sparked by the 2nd Wave movement. The newest iteration of a centuries-long struggle between men and women is culminating in something very different than the previous movements. The difference: there doesn’t seem to be a definitive goal. Child-star-turned-political-activist Emma Watson (also a UN Women Goodwill Ambassador) describes feminism as “giving women choice”. The incredible, perfect, all-knowing Beyoncé describes a feminist as “a person who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes”. If Beyoncé said it then it must be true. This definition is hard to dispute because it is one of those universal claims that if you disagree with, you’ll be condemned as a misogynist, sexist, bigot. I would be willing to say that most people believe in this definition of a feminist, but this isn’t necessarily what the rest of the country believes feminism is about.
Most modern feminists use the movement to feel “empowered” as is shown in a poll by the Washington Post where 70% of women described feminism in that way (the number is larger for ages 18-34 with 84% saying the same thing). Jessa Crispin, author of Why I Am Not a Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto, says that “we don’t understand what feminism is anymore. We think of it as a self-improvement project”. Founder and editor of Feminist Current Meghan Murphy says that feminism is “the only political movement where people can define it for themselves”. This is the biggest issue with new wave feminism. Previous generations of feminists had a basis of understanding about what their movement was about, but new wave feminism has no solid foundation other than Beyoncé’s oversimplified definition. The newest movement has a greater focus on self-improvement than actual political objectives. Today’s feminism is more a mindset than a movement. Women want to overcome the previous generations’ inequality by finally feeling empowered and doing whatever a woman wants to do because she’s a woman and deserves it. Powerful, isn’t it? But the truth is, modern feminism isn’t proving how great and awesome women truly are (see childbirth, mothering, work ethic, and empathy).
Instead, modern feminists decide to tackle issues such as LGBT rights and the woman’s right to abortion. Both subjects are highly controversial and alienate many women who would normally classify themselves as a feminist. The problem with this alienation is that you are no longer a suitable member of the feminist movement if you aren’t a Leftist. You can’t believe that women deserve to be treated and paid equally in the workforce if you don’t believe a woman should be able to choose to have an abortion. They conjoin these issues in order for you to submit to the Leftist ideology that the ends justify the means. Ben Shapiro, a conservative author, talk show host, and a founder of the Daily Wire, defines a Leftist as “someone who believes that equality of outcome matters more than the equality of opportunity”. Modern feminists demand that you must submit to this ideology for you to truly be part of the progress for women’s rights. These issues have almost nothing to do with one another and the conjoining is merely employed as a bully strategy to make you agree with their ideology.
One major push with modern feminism is equality for the LGBT community which has grown tremendously since the last feminist movement ended in the early ‘80s. This shows that the movement has now taken on a new role: breaking down traditional gender barriers. The focus is no longer on the middle-class white woman who just wants to work and get paid the same as a man does, but it is now about the man who feels uncomfortable and pressured to be a man in an oppressive society so he wants to transition to become a woman. The new face of modern-day feminism is the transgender. The transgender movement in and of itself has progressed quite rapidly the last few years under the guidance of the Democratic Party and the publicity of Caitlin Jenner among others. This divisive issue is one major reason the feminist movement isn’t getting much accomplished.
The other major push is for women to be able to choose what they want to do with their bodies, i.e. have legal, government-funded abortion. This is, personally, the most controversial issue in the modern feminist movement because it violates all sorts of moral and religious values held dear to countless Americans both male and female. To Christians, for example, abortion takes away the value and the miracle of life cherished by the God who created us. As a moral argument, the murder of babies should never be legal and especially not tax-payer funded.
An irresistible irony in the feminist movement regarding these two divisive issues is that feminists believe a child should not be assigned a gender based on genitalia because no matter how young a child is, they should be able to choose for themselves what gender they want to be, but for some reason they aren’t able to have their life valued in that way at all until they’re magically out of the womb and into the real world where they count as a real human being. Inside the womb, though? Heart beating? Nope, they’re just a lifeless amoeba.
The biggest issue with these two controversial subjects being pushed (more like shoved) by the modern feminists is that they are completely alienating a lot of women who might be able to be wooed into joining the feminist movement. Instead, it seems as if the movement completely disregards a large portion of the female population. The bully tactic used to push these ideas also turn a lot of people off from sharing the modern feminist’s point of view. Truthfully, no good human being desires to become a bully out of their own free-will. Feminists aren’t being as successful as they hope to be because they don’t understand how to share their ideology in a non-confrontational way. A way where you can discuss issues and leave the conversation with a smile and a firm handshake and agree to disagree. Instead, many feminists don’t really converse at all but rather they just keep shoving their ideas into the media and Hollywood until everyone is bullied into submission. Yay.
This is, however, something that modern-day feminists are really, really good at: connecting with the culture. The late Andrew Breitbart, founder of Breitbart.com among other things, was adamant that “politics is downstream of culture” meaning that a lot of young people who aren’t totally enthused by reading about politics instead go to their cultural icons like Beyoncé and Emma Watson for political perspective. Many celebrities have adopted modern feminism and preach it like a Bible-thumping evangelist. This is genius. How else to connect to an entire generation but through the entertainment they listen to and watch all the time. It’s subtle yet effective and feminists do it masterfully.
When criticizers critique feminists and engage in, hopefully, friendly discussions regarding the feminist mission, feminists like to point out the wage gap. They cite that men have a distinct advantage over women because they’re inherently men and that a woman doesn’t make as much as a man does because of discrimination. They point out that men are more inclined to start off higher economically and socially than a woman.
These are blatant lies. The only thing truthful is that there is a wage gap, but not for the reasons they prescribe. Women, on average, make $.79 for every $1 a man makes, that is true. A major reason is because women sometimes have to hold a baby in their bellies for 9 months and then they must take care of said baby. A poll taken by PewSocialTrends.org shows that more women are likely to: take off a significant amount of time from work (39% of women vs 24% of men), have reduced work hours (42% vs 28%), and even quit their jobs (27% vs 10%) all in order to care for a child or family member. These statistics do show up in the overall average wage for females. Another debunked lie is that men start off better and end up in better places because of an initial advantage of being male. That same study proved this argument completely false. The study says:
“Among older Millennials today (those ages 25 to 32), 38% of women have a bachelor’s degree, compared with 31% of men. And among younger Millennials (those ages 18 to 24), women are more likely than men to be enrolled in college (45% vs. 38% in 2012).”
Women excel in getting higher education and exceed men in just about every category. These lazy arguments are used to target uninformed individuals who have the cojones to stand up to the feminist movement. Consider yourself informed.
The final thing to point out about the modern feminist movement is that not every woman believes in this new feminism. I was beginning to research modern feminism when I casually asked my sister if she considered herself a feminist. She said no and I asked why. Her answer was simple and logical. She said the modern feminist movement was hypocritical because their ideology is that they don’t want certain things or treatment because they’re a woman but in fact their entire ideology is centered around wanting certain things or treatment for being a specified gender. She said that her salary should be appropriated according to her job performance, not based on her gender. These simple statements slip the minds of so many people, and this shows that our society has lost touch with logicality and simplicity. Ockham’s razor. And that truly is the saddest part. Our society is so consumed with the idea of inclusion that it instead excludes such an enormous number of women (and practically all men) in order for women to feel “empowered”.
So how does one go about combatting the falsities regarding modern feminism? Engage the culture. Dan McLaughlin says in his article titled Politics Is Still Downstream From Culture, he writes:
“Culture matters. Withdrawing from it is no answer. If you want to change the future of the country, you need to engage the culture and not just expect that the kinds of citizens who vote for your values can be summoned from the hills.”
If the message of modern-day feminism doesn’t resonate with you, you’re not alone. We can still strive for progress and further equality in the workplace where there is true inequality, but we must also strive to combat the lies that are being propagated on social media and entertainment outlets. Lies give way to evil and if our country continues to believe in such monstrous lies, we will undoubtedly see repercussions. Edmund Burke once famously said, “the only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” So let’s not sit idle and do nothing about the plague infecting our culture and in turn affecting millions of teenagers nationwide. And while we go out and achieve true progress, feminists can rage and call Edmund Burke a sexist for neglecting to mention women.