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May 24 2018

Another Take on Claim that Conservative Women Can't Be Feminists

by Charlotte Hays

As I previously noted,  "Sex Object" author Jessica Valenti had a piece in the New York Times in which she said something that of progressives believe but don't quite come out and say: that conservative women can be feminists.

We've had a lot of debate at IWF over the meaning of the word "feminist." Some of us apply it to ourselves; some of us don't. We're that way: we believe women get to make up their own minds.

Responding to Valenti in National Review, Heather Wilhelm says that feminism today has become so tied to progressive causes that she doesn't want to call herself a feminist:

Today’s feminism is clearly not for everyone, and it hasn’t been for a long time. You can’t really be a conservative and a “feminist,” at least not these days. This is because the modern feminist movement is no longer focused on empowering women for women’s sake. Instead, “feminism” stands as a not-so-subtle code word for over-the-top progressivism, served with a hefty side order of shaming.

. . .

Anywho, back to our topic, where a far more important question lies in wait, like Don Draper from Mad Men loitering near a conference room bar cart. That question is this: Who in their right mind would want to “appropriate” today’s brand of feminism, given that it is a total mess? If it were a ship, today’s feminism would be driven by a proverbial clench-jawed and obsessive Captain Ahab, steering the doomed vessel into the clutches of various ideological drag-you-down whales.

I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true. Sure, you might think women and men deserve equal rights and opportunities, but that alone is terribly old-fashioned. Do you doubt that women are constant victims of a sinister overarching patriarchy? Sayonara, lady! Do you think that abortion is about a life, not a right? Be gone! Do you largely appreciate free markets and capitalism? Oh, dear. Do you think the vast majority of university Women’s Studies departments have largely run out of things to do, sometimes cooking up ridiculous theories simply because they’re bored? Skedaddle! Do you vote for Republicans? How dare you? You are not, at least according to the movement’s current leading lights, a feminist.

The weirdest element of today’s progressive feminism is also its most ironic: The movement is obsessed—and here we are back to old Captain Ahab—with a dreadfully tired script.

When my own mother was growing up, she thought she could be only one of three things: a teacher, a nurse, or a farmer’s wife. By the time I was a kid in the 80s, thanks to earlier renditions of feminism, we’d come a long way: I wanted to be an archeologist or a Supreme Court justice or, on my crazier days, a writer. Today, young women, repeatedly told they can do and be anything they might dream, are dominating on college campuses, the workforce, and beyond.

That’s why it was puzzling to see this year’s commencement address at Barnard College, given by soccer star Abby Wambach. “Women are feared as a threat to our system,” she declared, arguing that girls in our society are told to “stay on the path. . . "

Feminism, as understood by many mainstream women,  was supposed to be about empowering women.

Progressives refuse to recognize the degree to which we are empowered.

IWF's Portrait of a Modern Feminist feature every month profiles women who exemplify a kind of independent-minded, optimistic woman who is taking full advantage of opportunities and doesn't regard herself as a victim.

Maybe it is our progressive friends who need to rethink feminism?

 

 

 

 

Independent Women’s Forum’s mission is to improve the lives of Americans by increasing the number of women who value free markets and personal liberty. Sister organization of Independent Women’s Voice.
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