I was chatting with a friend of mine the other day when she asked me if I was a feminist. I responded that I believed in equal rights for women, but that I wouldn’t call myself a feminist in the current climate. She looked at me confusedly. “But feminism is about equal rights,” she told me. I told her I disagreed.
That’s when the conversation went off the rails. She began to discuss all of the other things that feminism has come to mean in the last fifty years, things I absolutely do not agree with. And it was in that moment I realized that feminists begin their argument in one place and end it in quite another.
Women Don’t Want To Call Themselves Feminist
In 2018, a YouGov poll found that only 38% of American women considered themselves feminist. That same poll found that of those women who responded by saying they weren’t feminist, 47% felt that “the current wave of feminism does not represent true feminism.” The question must be asked: why do so many women feel that feminism in 2020 doesn’t apply to them?
But what’s fascinating is how divested the concept of feminism has become from the theory of equality.
What’s interesting to note is that another YouGov study conducted in five countries found that eight out of ten people do believe in equal rights. Despite a majority of people not calling themselves feminists, they do believe in equality. This is the crux of the point. Feminists would have you believe that all they are fighting for is equal rights – that’s how they convince young women that they, too, are feminist. But what’s fascinating is how divested the concept of feminism has become from the theory of equality.
Feminism Is Not Just about Equality Anymore
In Christina Hoff Summer’s book Who Stole Feminism?, she discusses how feminism has changed since the 1960’s and has moved from a fight for equal rights to a fight against men and the patriarchy. She compares equity feminism to what she terms “gender feminism” - an agenda that looks to make up for historical inequalities based on sex.
“Gender feminism,” which pits men against women, is just one facet of 2020 feminism that turns people away from the term. Another is the promiscuity that is encouraged in young feminists to fulfill their empowerment. Feminism is not simply legal equality anymore – it’s equality with men’s basest urges. Surprisingly, feminists today believe in legalizing sex work and prostitution. They are also huge advocates of encouraging women to dress scantily, have sex with strangers, and leave behind their femininity in favor of becoming more masculine.
Feminists don’t encourage women to respect themselves or their bodies by keeping themselves safe or making wise choices. Instead, they tell women to do whatever they want, regardless of the consequences. And if there are any consequences? Feminists respond, “Well, men wouldn’t have those consequences so we don’t want them either!”
Feminism encourages women to accept themselves - which isn’t a bad thing - but to the point where there is no room for improvement.
Additionally, feminism encourages women to accept themselves - which isn’t a bad thing - but to the point where there is no room for improvement. You live an unhealthy lifestyle? “You do you!” You lash out at those around you? “If you can’t handle me at my worst, you don’t deserve me at my best.” You had unprotected sex and have an accidental pregnancy? “My body, my choice.”
The original definition of feminism was “the advocacy of women's rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes.” Fighting for equal rights – including equal pay and opportunity in the workplace – is and was a worthy goal. However, this definition is wildly outdated.
Now, instead of embracing the differences between men and women even as we fight for equal rights, feminists are calling for the abandonment of those differences. So when a feminist tells you that you’re a feminist because you believe in equal rights, you can simply respond, “I believe in equal rights, but feminism is a whole different story.”
Abby Roth is the creator of Classically Abby, an opera, beauty, fashion, and lifestyle brand dedicated to looking at the world from a classic perspective. Abby is an opera singer with three degrees in operatic performance from USC and Manhattan School of Music. She has performed all over at companies including Opera Omaha, Opera Maine, and Aspen Music Festival. You can find her website at www.classicallyabby.com and follow her on YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest at @ClassicallyAbby.