Has modern feminism gone too far?


Fact Box

  • One of the western world's first feminists, Christine de Pizan, was a fifteenth-century French poet and author who wrote The Book of the City of Ladies, a work that 'protested misogyny and the role of women in the Middle Ages.'
  • Martha Rampton, director of the Center for Gender Equity, explains that the first wave of feminism--with roots in the 19th and early 20th century--focused on voting rights for women. From the 1960s to the early 1990s, the second wave dealt with women's sexuality and reproductive rights, as well as getting the Equal Rights Amendment passed. And starting in the mid-1990s, the third wave emphasized 'breaking boundaries' and challenging 'notions of 'universal womanhood,' body, gender, sexuality, and heteronormativity.'
  • A recent Pew Research Center survey found that 61% of American women say that the term 'feminist' describes them 'well.' 
  • The flip-side to feminism is known as 'masculinism,' a term that Oxford Reference defines as 'A male counterpart to feminism. Masculists reject the idea of universal patriarchy, arguing that before feminism, most men were as disempowered as most women. However, in the post-feminist era, they argue that men are in a worse position because of the emphasis on women's rights. Like feminism, masculism reflects a number of positions, from the desire for equal rights for men (for example, in cases of child access after divorce), to more militant calls for the total abolition of women's rights.

Zoe (No)

Modern feminism, arguably in its third or fourth wave, is focused on intersectionality, ending inequality in the workplace, and holding sexual harassers accountable. Despite the progress made by the earlier waves, there are still many ways women are not treated as equals within society.

While the #MeToo movement is often criticized for targeting individuals with allegations that haven't been legally confirmed, the movement's motivation is merely a response to many women's belief that the legal system is designed to fail them. Out of every 100 rapes committed, only 0.4 to 5.4 result in a conviction. In court, women who report sexual assault are often subject to victim-blaming. Their actions--their choice of clothing or alcohol consumption--are seen as justification for the crime.

Additionally, women still face a 'glass ceiling.' In other words, while women excel on the lower rungs of the corporate ladder, there are often barriers that prevent them from reaching the top. For example, women represent 45% of legal associates but only 19% of equity partners. Additionally, women represent just 5% of Fortune 500 CEOs--down from the record 6% in 2017.

Often, women who choose to have children work flexible or reduced hours to provide childcare, while men who have children tend to maintain regular hours. Despite maintaining their productivity, women in this position are disadvantaged in terms of pay and promotion. Studies have also shown that workplaces tend to favor masculine traits when making hiring and promotion decisions. 

Overall, modern feminism has not gone far enough.

Stephanie (Yes)

America's modern feminist movement has gone too far in that it seemingly disregards its own definition: 'political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.' Women have been fighting for equal rights for hundreds of years, and it can be argued that they have accomplished this goal--modern women can do virtually anything that men can do. 

One major issue with today’s feminism is that it dismisses what it means to be a woman. Feminists often get offended when being female is associated with dolls, dresses, or even pink colors. This 'femmephobia' is problematic, as women can be stereotypically female and still be pro-woman. Similarly, the recently promoted idea that 'transgender women are women' is simply delusional and ignorant. Feminism also targets men by claiming that they are victims of 'toxic masculinity' when this may not be the case. All of these ideologies may be the reason why a recent poll revealed that 45% of Americans consider feminism 'polarizing' to our society, while many others associate it with 'man-hating.'

Another way feminism has gone too far involves women thinking that if a man offers to do something for them, such as opening a door or paying for a meal, it is implied that they cannot do these things themselves. These types of gestures allow men to display chivalrous behavior, yet they are now considered to be 'benevolent sexism.' 

The #MeToo Movement has undeniably made societal interactions more complicated, as behaviors once deemed appropriate are now potential grounds for sexual harassment accusations. While there still remains work to be done surrounding sexual assault and harassment, feminism's goal regarding equal rights has undeniably been attained. 

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