Feminism isn’t what it used to be, and it’s sad.
First-wave (and many second-wave) feminists fought for equality and suffrage. Sadly though, third-wave feminists like to ignore women's rights abuses around the world to focus on sexual empowerment, man-hating, and bashing women who disagree with them. This sense of self-importance is not only toxic and against the original feminist movement, but it’s turning women into narcissists.
Modern Feminism Suggests That Women Can Do No Wrong
Have you ever heard someone suggest that there would be no more wars if women ruled the world? (I even heard this sentiment echoed from history professors when I was in college.) It’s a ridiculous argument for many reasons, but mainly because it’s historically false. We don’t have to go back too far in history to prove this is incorrect, for former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher is famous for her involvement in the Falklands War in 1982.
Although women are biologically wired to be more agreeable than men, history proves that women can be just as cruel in positions of power. Powerful female leaders in history like Queen Isabella of Castile, Queen Elizabeth I of England, and Wu Zetian of China were infamous for waging war and/or violence. According to the National Bureau of Economics, "Europe’s queens were 27% more likely than its kings to wage war" between 1480 and 1913.
Women can be just as cruel as men in positions of power.
This sentiment that women leaders = no wars stems from the man-hating branch of feminism, which promotes the idea that everything men do is wrong and everything women do is right. For a movement that originally started as a fight for equality with men, we're quickly approaching the time when feminists promote female superiority to men rather than female equality.
It’s not hard to imagine how thinking that women can do no wrong skips right over empowerment and lands in narcissism.
Empowerment or Narcissism?
Author and feminist critic Jessa Crispin argues that modern feminism has become synonymous with man-hating. In her book, Why I Am Not A Feminist, she wrote, “The easiest way for a group to build its sense of identity is through the rejection or the demeaning of that group’s ‘opposite.’ In order for atheists to present themselves as rational and intelligent, they have to present the religious as superstitious and foolish. This is certainly easier and more effective than consistently being rational and intelligent. In order for America to think of itself as strong and important, it has to think of Europe as being weak and worthless. And in order for women to think of themselves as compassionate, they have to think of men as violent.”
Crispin argues that this attitude leads to a sense of grandiose self-importance, making some modern feminists think they’re more important simply because they’re women. This sense of self-importance (and lack of empathy for others) leads to narcissism, as Crispin writes, “It is a failure of empathy to identify yourself only with those who resemble you. That is as narcissistic as working exclusively in your own self-interest.”
I can’t think of a more relevant example for this phenomenon than what Bachelorette fans witnessed during the season 17 finale. Bachelorette Katie Thurston brought her family to meet her final pick, Blake Moynes, and Katie’s aunt, Lindsey, treated him horribly.
I thought Lindsey’s behavior was disgusting, as well as the perfect example of how the notion of being empowered can turn you into a narcissist. Many fans agreed with me (and there are memes to prove it) that Lindsey came across as a bitter man-hater.
Being sarcastic and condescending doesn't make her seem like a strong woman, it makes her seem rude and immature. Strength means protecting those who are weak, not attacking those who are below you.
Emily B of Screen Rant wrote, “When Blake used his own parent’s failed marriage as an example that he has learned from and one that will help him not make similar mistakes in his future marriage, she laughed and mocked him. Based on her rude and outrageous behavior, it seemed like it did not really matter who the guy Katie picked was; she would have verbally attacked any male that Katie brought home because, in her eyes, he just would not be good enough.”
Lindsey would have verbally attacked any male because he just wouldn't be good enough to her.
Unfortunately, some fans thought that Lindsey’s rude behavior was necessary because she made some good points. Though Lindsey is correct that marriage is hard work, she didn’t have to treat Blake like he was a piece of gum stuck on the bottom of her shoe to make her point. A few simple questions about how they would make the relationship work would have sufficed, but Lindsey felt the need to take it too far.
Lindsey also failed to acknowledge the possibility that Katie herself could contribute to problems in their potential relationship. You know the phrase, "Happy wife, happy life"? It may be a cute phrase, but the idea is incredibly toxic. It implies that the woman is always right and that smart men will learn to shut up and take all the responsibility for any perceived wrong, whether or not it's his fault. How can we expect to have good husbands when we constantly treat them like they're always wrong and we as women are always right? This attitude does nothing but make us miserable and prevent us from growing.
We Need Personal Responsibility To Grow
When you’re going through a breakup, it’s easy to blame the guy who broke your heart. It’s much easier to become bitter and angry over the breakup than to take a look at yourself and recognize the possibility that you contributed to the downfall of the relationship too. I’ve been in this situation before, and you can only heal from heartbreak if you recognize that you messed up too. This not only speeds up the healing process but can prevent us from making the same mistakes in future relationships.
The notion that women can do no wrong and that “men are trash” not only turns us into narcissists but prevents us from being happy. A perfect example comes from conservative commentator Tomi Lahren, who posted an Instagram live last year lamenting that "men are trash." She discussed the issues she and her female friends had with dating. She must have thought she would come off as sympathetic or rightfully fed up, but she just came off as a judgmental and mean-spirited. In her eyes, everything wrong with dating is all men's fault, and she and her friends are just perfect women who are suffering the treatment of terrible men. Her rant not only exposed how prevalent this phenomenon is, but that it also affects women who don’t even identify as feminists.
The way forward is to look inward, to see what you might be doing wrong.
What Lahren failed to do in her viral rant was recognize how she could have contributed to the downfall of her past relationships. In response, marriage coach, author, and podcast host Suzanne Venker wrote, “If you and your friends all have the same problem with men, there’s likely something about you and them that repels the kind of men for whom you're looking. It takes a good dose of maturity to look at it this way, but the way forward is not to cast blame. The way forward is to look inward, to see what you might be doing wrong.”
Venker is right. We can only control our own behavior and our own growth – both of which massively impact our happiness.
Modern-day feminism often paints the picture that women can do no wrong and men are always wrong. This is not only misandrist, but it can prevent women from improving their lives by sinking them in narcissism disguised as empowerment. This has turned the fight for gender equality into a toxic movement, and it’s truly sad to watch.
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