What is Feminism?

Megan McArdle wonders whether to call herself a feminist:

…I differ from the feminist mainstream on many of the questions of how we should change… I don’t think that subsidized childcare should be a civil right, I think comparable worth is a very bad idea, and I don’t view abortion rights as fundamentally a question of female equality, but rather as an incredibly complicated attempt to trade off two important and incommensurable values that has no overwhelmingly obvious answer.

…The feminist movement has a right to define what constitutes being a member, and I’m not going to appropriate their label if it bothers them…

…But that does leave women (and I suppose men) like me with a bothersome question: what do we call ourselves? I share a lot of opinions on structural cultural issues with feminists, even when we disagree on the solutions these imply; I think we’ve come a long way, baby, but I don’t think we’re quite there yet. If I am to leave feminists in peace, I need my own word. Suggestions are welcome.


Heather D. McDonald examines the consequences of Della Sentillianism:

The struggle for women’s equality comes down to this: the men’s grill in the Phoenix Country Club has television and a bar, while the women’s grill has neither of those amenities—though it soon will, following renovation. The New York Times deems the separate and unequal Phoenix grill rooms so laden with national significance as to merit front-page treatment, which it provided on Saturday.

Have the Times get back to me regarding the TV in the Phoenix Country Club women’s grill after clitorectomies have been abolished and honor killing is outlawed.

Camille Paglia provides some history and some suggestions:

…What precisely is feminism? Is it a theory, an ideology, or a praxis (that is, a program for action)? … Who is or is not a feminist, and who defines it? Who confers legitimacy or authenticity? … Who declares, and on what authority, what is or is not permissible to think or say about gender issues?

…In general, feminist theory has failed to acknowledge how much it owes to the Western tradition of civil liberties… Second, feminist theory has failed to acknowledge how much the emergence of modern feminism owes to capitalism and the industrial revolution, which transformed the economy, expanded the professions, and gave women for the first time in history the opportunity to earn their own livings and to escape dependency on father or husband.

…In the 1970s, women’s studies courses and programs were created in profusion… Women’s studies was assembled haphazardly and piecemeal, without due consideration of what the scholarly study of gender ought to entail. The victim-centered agenda of the current women’s movement was adopted wholesale, an ideological bias that neither women’s studies nor its successor, gender studies, has been able to shed.

…In conclusion, my proposals for reform are as follows. First of all, science must be made a fundamental component of all women’s or gender studies programs. Second, every such program must be assessed by qualified faculty (not administrators or politicians) for ideological bias. The writings of conservative opponents of feminism, as well as of dissident feminists, must be included. Without such diversity, students are getting indoctrination, not education.

My final recommendation for reform is a massive rollback of the paternalistic system of grievance committees and other meddlesome bureaucratic contrivances which have turned American college campuses into womblike customer-service resorts. …we must stop seeing everything in life through the narrow lens of gender. If women expect equal treatment in society, they must stop asking for infantilizing special protections. With freedom comes personal responsibility.

Indeed. Fund your own damn bar and buy your own damn television. Or maybe build your own golf course where you can exclude men entirely. Or, maybe, get publicly and officially outraged by the treatment of women in those cultures clinging to the 14th century, and stop your narcissistic whining.

Do one-tenth as much for those women as has the United States military you generally so doctrinally despise.

Update 8:30PM. From the comments.

Like you, I’m more concerned about the women who don’t yet have even the most basic of human rights.

Ellen R. Sheeley, Author
“Reclaiming Honor in Jordan”

2 thoughts on “What is Feminism?”

  1. Like you, I’m more concerned about the women who don’t yet have even the most basic of human rights.Ellen R. Sheeley, Author”Reclaiming Honor in Jordan”http://www.redroom.com/author/ellen-r-sheeley