There seems to be a lot of confusion in this country about feminism.
Even experts on the subject seem to have a difficult time explaining it. Experts Phyllis Schlafly and Anita Perez Ferguson both admitted in Tuesday’s debate that they had a hard time defining feminism. Ms. Schlafly seemed convinced feminism is an agenda supporting abortion, gay rights and the placement of women in the military. But then again, perhaps she just wanted to convince others to believe such tripe. By the same logic, I could define a Christian as a person who expresses hatred for gays, encourages war against Muslim nations and opposes abortion, for prominent Christians have advocated all these things.
I would be dead wrong, of course. A Christian is a person who believes in the teachings of Jesus Christ, and a feminist is a person who believes that women should be treated equally by law and society in every way possible. You don’t have to be a lesbian, a man-hater or even a woman to be a feminist, no matter what you hear on the radio.
The fact of the matter is that there is not yet gender equality. Leading anti-feminists like Schlafly like to convince us that women can do anything that they want to by emphasizing a few success stories. Unfortunately, such stories are anomalies.
The cold, hard statistics are that more than half of college enrollments go to women, and more women put out the effort to pursue a successful career than men do. Yet, women are still paid less on average than men holding the same jobs. The system is clearly not fair, and conservatives who pretend that it is are doing us all a great disservice.
Pundits like Schlafly don’t deserve the title of “American Heroes” given to them by the College Republicans, unless you define a hero as a champion of inequity. The real issue is that most plans to alleviate this clear inequality are themselves unfair.
Affirmative action programs may harm an equally qualified applicant because of his gender, which would be inherently unfair. So would a program to audit companies and penalize them if they paid less to members of a particular gender or minority. Wait a minute, that would be fair! It’s just politically infeasible because the people who want to cover their ears and mumble about already being equal have convinced too many suckers who desperately want to believe that it’s true.
For the time being, the best solution to inequality is education. We need to know that misogyny exists and be ready to confront it when it appears – just like it did last night, in the form of a cute old lady.
You see, not all anti-feminism is based on the pretension that equality already exists. Oh, no. Far too many people are hard at work trying to preserve an old, irrational social order. Women are treated as dainty creatures incapable of positions traditionally held by men. As Schlafly said, “Women don’t have the drive” to become successful in business.
Most feminists have no problem with women taking on the role of homemaker, if that is what they find most rewarding. What really twists our nipples is when the fact that most women play this role is used as an excuse to eliminate the opportunity for others to do differently. Gender roles need to change with the times. Women are just as good at just about everything, and will eventually fill those roles.
There are now male homemakers, and we may see more of those as men decide that that’s what they want to do. The anti-feminist mindset will pass away with the aging gestapo of tradition who carries its tattered banner.
Loren Williams is a senior computer science major.