Bring Back Classical Feminism
As a college-educated, employed young woman with Opinions, my conversations and social media posts should be filled with angry tirades against The Oppressive Male and strong words demanding Women’s Rights, preferably at the expense of Men’s Rights. Right?
How sexist of you to assume so. Or it would be, if third-wave feminism hadn’t declared that anyone without those opinions is himself (or herself, to be fair) sexist.
Flipping the Tables
Feminism, as with all movements, has become more and more radical with each wave. Members see themselves go from -5 to 0 to break even, and they decide they want to try to get to +5. Sometimes this escalation is good; or, at least, not harmful. But when it progresses to the point where it commits all the wrongdoings it was originally meant to protest, it becomes a problem.
What was feminism, originally? It was a movement that advanced “the radical notion that women are people”: individuals just as deserving of life, liberty, and property as men.
What does feminism mean, now? It is a movement that advocates the radical notion that men are lesser than women as people; that they are less deserving of life, liberty, and property than men; that they are entitled to things just for being women; that one sex is better than the other, just ‘cause. It has gone from being a movement for equality, to a movement for supremacy.
This is stupid.
It seems counterintuitive that I, a woman, who would profit from this inequality, thinks that this is stupid. But I don’t profit. No one does. Moreover, it makes my life complicated, and the whole thing is insulting.
The Modern Manifestations
According to third-wave feminism, I should want to be paid more for simply being a woman; possibly to make up for the many years that women were paid less than men as a matter of course. But the whole idea of being given a raise or promotion based on gender is insulting to my abilities as a person (yes, and as a woman).
I do not need to be given that promotion thanks to something I can’t even help. I can earn it, thank you very much. My brain is more than capable; I don’t need the physical attributes of my double-X chromosomes to do it for me.
Third-wave feminists intimidate me. Just as men do, I get a little nervous when a woman emphatically identifies herself as a feminist to me. I spend the rest of the time waiting to be accused of hating my sex, being a barnacle on the wheel of progress, and just generally being a horrible example of womanhood.
I’m a feminist, but I’m a “classical feminist” – I am all for voting rights and equal pay and the cultural destruction of everyday sexism. I get mad when a man praises me in a voice dripping with patronage, all but resisting the urge to vocalize the implied clause, “...for a girl.”
I’m tired of the double standard we have for sexual promiscuity, one that blames and even attacks women while men are excused for “just being men.” But don’t lower your expectations for me to the standards for men – raise theirs to mine!
I ardently want real equality between the sexes. But to third-wavers, that often does not make me feminist enough.
Third-wave feminists intimidate men, too. That’s the point. But then what happens? Men stop stepping up. They back off, they stop trying, they become enfeebled. Suddenly humanity’s “other half” becomes less productive, less interesting, and more pathetic. Women, feminists included, then have to contribute much more heavily to the economy and society to support the weaker, less productive half they created. They would hate that. So would I.
Men descending to a lower level does not raise women to a higher one: quite the opposite.
Third-wave feminism says I should hate men. I’m supposed to think they’re big, stupid oafs. I don’t. I think men are wonderful. I have a lot of close male friends who I would trust with my life if I had to. I don’t understand them all the time, but I don’t understand women all the time either. I don’t even understand myself all the time. But I don’t hate myself.
As Luwig von Mises said in 1922, when my classical feminist forbears were paving the way for their radical followers, "So far as Feminism seeks to adjust the legal position of woman to that of man, so far as it seeks to offer her legal and economic freedom to develop and act in accordance with her inclinations, desires, and economic circumstances – so far it is nothing more than a branch of the great liberal movement, which advocates peaceful and free evolution."
Fighting for women’s equality is a wonderful thing. But it only works if it’s fighting for equality, not total dominance, to the detriment of everyone else, without earning it. It’s a fine line that needs to be walked in every aspect of life. We need to get used to doing it, but it is possible.
This first appeared at FEE.