Feminism — a dirty word to many. This country is probably as divided as it has ever been on the issue of women’s rights and what role women should play in the workplace and society as a whole. Is feminism good for modern society? Feminism is a highly disputed movement in contemporary society. People get angry and defensive, making it difficult to get an open and honest conversation going. Unfortunately, this happens because debates about feminism have a lot going on for them. They get in touch with the fundamental issues surrounding the place of women in modern society—a blog about the goals of feminism and its obstacles.
What are the goals of feminism?
A man can be a man. A woman can be a woman. That’s the ideal.
But the ideal is moving away from gender-specific roles. Of course, this ideal is still a long way off.
Gender-specific roles are a bad bargain. They tie women down. Women don’t have the same opportunities as men, and society is far more unfair toward women than men. The solution to that unfairness is not to do away with gender-specific gender roles but to find ways to be better managed.
Women’s empowerment is a solution. Empowerment means giving women the same opportunities as men but including them in decisions that affect them. Empowerment means giving them the same opportunities as men but letting them make their own decisions. Empowerment means giving them the same opportunities as men but giving them something extra.
Equality means not treating men and women differently. Equality means treating men and women the same. Equal means equal.
Recognition of diversity means treating people as individuals, not as representatives of their group. Recognition of diversity means recognizing, for example, that a man can be a woman, and a woman can be a man. Recognition of diversity means acknowledging that some people prefer, and some people prefer to avoid, sex roles.
Feminists disagree about what all these goals mean. But they agree on the fundamental point: feminists are not arguing in favor of bad choices; they are arguing for better options. Their arguments are not about giving women special privileges. They are about making sure women are treated the same as men to have the same opportunities as men. Feminists recognize diversity.
Where are the obstacles for today’s feminists?
I once heard a modern feminist explain to an audience of atheists that she believed that women are inherently superior. The atheists nodded, unconvinced.
A few exchanges like that, and it’s tempting to assume that modern feminism is dead. But feminism is not over, and today’s feminists are still encountering the same dilemma their predecessors faced.
The dilemma is this: if women are naturally better, then it’s almost as if women have been cheated. It’s not fair. Women deserve better than what they have.
But how can they get better than what they have? By pushing themselves, of course. But making yourself takes effort. And, as feminists discovered, and as anyone who spends enough time around first-year college students knows, the action is costly.
In modern times, feminists tried to solve the problem by downplaying the allegedly innate superiority of women. They thought this would make it easier for feminists to achieve their goals. But it didn’t.
Still, feminists were right about one thing: the disadvantages women face in our society are real. And feminists are still trying to solve it. But today, there are two main obstacles.
The first is political: there are two major political parties, and both have policies that treat women as second-class citizens.
The other is psychological: feminists, like other people, are motivated to avoid pain. The greater the pain women suffer, the harder it is to get them to change.
Those obstacles are bad enough, but another problem also hinders feminists. Two feminist theorists, Judith Butler and Catharine MacKinnon argue that when societies treat women as second-class citizens, that hurts women more than it hurts men.
Is Feminism good for modern society?
The first point I want to make is that feminism isn’t necessarily good. Feminist goals, properly understood, are incompatible with many values that we hold dear. To take just one example, feminism is intrinsically hostile to the family, and as a result, it has undermined it. According to a 2010 Pew survey, about 40% of American adults are married. But 58% of never-married adults are women — and 83% of never-married adults under age 30 are women. If feminism were good for modern society, the number of married adults would have risen; instead, it has plummeted.
But feminism isn’t really about gender at all. It’s about power. Feminism is an extreme version of a liberal ideology. Liberalism is all about maximizing individual liberty, and feminism is all about maximizing personal power over others.
The feminist goal is to eliminate all inequalities and destroy the institutions that make those inequalities possible. The feminist goal is to eliminate all status distinctions by destroying the institutions of status and the status quo. The feminist goal is to eliminate all hierarchies by destroying the institutions of order. The feminist goal is to eliminate all distinctions between men and women by destroying the institutions of sex.
The feminist goal is to eliminate the social contract. The feminist goal is to eliminate the idea of equality before the law. The feminist goal is to eliminate the concept of individual rights. The feminist goal is to stop civil rights.
The feminist goal is to prevent men from ever aspiring to positions of power. The feminist goal is to play rough and compete with men. The feminist goal is to dominate men.
The feminist goal is to undermine traditional authority.
Traditional vs. modern feminism
Feminism has been changing a lot lately. What was once thought of as radical is now considered mainstream? Traditional feminism is, in fact, largely mainstream now, especially in the United States.
Traditional feminism is the idea that women’s freedom and independence are essential and that society should help them do so. Modern feminism is the idea that women have even more space and autonomy than before and that the community should help them do so even more.
Traditional feminism argues that women should be treated equally, without regard to their sex. Modern feminism argues that women should be treated equally but without regard to their sex. Traditional feminism says that men and women are different but that the differences are complementary—that sex differences shouldn’t be used to divide the sexes. Modern feminism says sex differences shouldn’t be used to split the sexes, but also that men and women are different, and women should behave more like men.
Modern feminism says women’s power, freedom, and independence are essential, but traditional feminism argues that space, energy, and independence are paramount. Traditional feminism argues that women should be free to do whatever they want, even if that means taking jobs traditionally done by men, such as investment bankers. Modern feminism says women should be free to do whatever they want and that even if they don’t, society should accept their choices as long as they don’t hurt others. Traditional feminism says that men should be afraid of women, but modern feminism says that men should be afraid of women, and other men, too.
Traditional feminism says that women are different, but modern feminism says women are interchangeable.
Traditional feminism vs. liberal feminism
Liberal feminism is the branch of feminism most visible in popular culture, though historians usually recognize it as an older tradition. It emerged in the early twentieth century when women began to enter the workforce in large numbers. Liberals were the ones who insisted that women must be valued as individuals, not as sex objects. They opposed biological determinism, which held that men and women were the same except that women had less physical strength.
Liberal feminism recognized the cleavage between men and women and argued that women’s emancipation was good for society. It promoted the idea that women should be educated and encouraged to become good citizens and that feminism should be supported in principle.
Traditional feminists, on the other hand, believed that women’s lives had been oppressed by centuries of male domination. Traditional feminists thought that women would be better off not participating in the workforce and that society would be better off if men weren’t forced to spend half their time raising children.
Traditional feminists also challenged the idea that men and women were essentially equal. They believed that there was an essential difference between men and women and that this difference was in response to the needs of society. Women, they believed, were better suited to motherhood and domestic work, while men were better suited to military service. Traditional feminists worried that modern society was damaging the natural balance between the two sexes.
The conflict between liberal and traditional feminism continues to this day. Liberals support women’s equality in principle, while traditionalists argue that women need special protection from men. Traditionalists support the conventional division of gender roles, while liberals believe society should encourage women to be independent. Liberals believe that unless women are allowed to play as full a role in society as men do, women will suffer.
Liberals like to say that feminism is the equal-opportunity opponent of sexism. But the right words for this view are “equal opportunity opponents,” not “opponents.”
Feminism’ opponents are people who discriminate against women. Traditional feminism’s opponents are not because they are not sexist.
And so, when traditional feminism says that women should work outside the home, it is implicitly saying that women who do not should stay at home.
Traditional feminism’s opponents have been sexist. But its opponents have not been.
I don’t think it’s fair that women have to do everything that men have to do to be accepted as equals. We all have our roles in life that are different. I don’t see why we’re supposed to change the system just because the rules are unfair. There is no way. When it comes to feminism, “the great is the enemy of the good.” Decide for yourself how you feel about feminism and why. The success of feminism depends on how you choose to do so. Both camps can agree on the same thing but for different reasons. Feminism is complex!
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