Women have had a profound influence on my life.
I've often found that women are more caring, silly, and expressive with their emotions than men. Other times, they're emotionally unstable and seemingly irrational and there's nothing wrong with that.
I see women as my equals, but I also acknowledge that there's a distinct feminine energy that I enjoy when I'm around my female friends and family. I just connect differently with them than with my male friends.
It's kind of an amazing and unexplainable feeling.
This curiosity has led me to explore the women's rights movement in the US and the rise of modern day feminism.
Are you a feminist?
Odds are, you may be tempted to say no. Now why is that?
It's because the word has become so tainted and volatile these days due to the modern political movement. I have a lot of friends who believe in equality for women, but don't want to associate with the word "feminist" because they don't believe in the ways of the radical movement today.
It's unfortunate that it has to be this way.
To truly understand the origins of the women's rights movement, I recently read Freedom Feminism by Christina Hoff Sommers. She is widely known as the Factual Feminist on YouTube and works for the American Enterprise Institute. Here's what I learned.
The philosophy most people would consider the modern feminist movement embodies is Egalitarian Feminism. It was based off the belief that women were independent of the roles of wives and mothers, that women and men were essentially identical. It began as a progressive, radical movement in the late 1700's led by women such as Mary Wollstonecraft, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Susan B. Anthony.
These women are heavily credited with the ascent of women's rights.
They promoted great messages of individualism, claiming that a woman needed to be an "arbiter of her own destiny" and talked about freedom, dignity, autonomy, and individual rights. They eventually went so far as to claim equality on the battlefield as well, promoting females in combat and eventually the idea that females be required to sign up for the draft.
The egalitarians also supported the ban of alcohol because of their belief that it would reduce "wife abuse, desertion, destitution, and crime." Not exactly a progressive view by today's standards.
In contrast, Maternal Feminism was a more traditional and family-centered philosophy. It embraced women's established role in society as a care-giver, or at-home wife under the belief that men and women were different, but equal. Maternal Feminism was the more popular movement of its time and garnered much more mainstream support.
Popular history textbooks tend to omit this rather conservative side of the rise of feminism. That's why you've never heard of women like Hannah More, Frances Willard, or Phyllis Schlafly. These women cooperated with the egalitarian feminist movement to empower women to rise above their roles, while also embracing the values that made them unique.
Willard came up with the motto "Of the women, by the women, but for humanity" for her organization, a motto that resonated with a large portion of women in every part of America.
The maternal feminist following united hundreds of thousands of women, and promoted a culture of education and freedom.
Together, the maternal and egalitarian feminist groups achieved great things: the Equal Pay Act of 1963 (illegal to pay men and women different salaries for the same work), the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (prohibited sex discrimination in the workplace), and many more monumental pieces of legislation.
The modern day feminist movement has become a culture of victimization, political correctness, and authoritarian policy based on a reliance of misleading or completely false statistics. It is an ideology that vilifies men and ostracizes women who don't agree.
It's very hard for people to get on board when the movement makes such outlandish claims about culture, such as the 1-in-4 statistic, workplace inequality, and an entitlement mentality based on taking down the "patriarchy".
What Sommers introduces in this book is a new way of thinking about feminism called Freedom Feminism.
Freedom Feminism is a combination of both preceding philosophies. It promotes female autonomy and the pursuit of education and happiness, yet celebrates the distinct differences between both sexes. Freedom Feminism promotes the moral, social, and legal equality of the sexes.
It doesn't shame women who are happy to be in the role of wife, mother, and homemaker.
It doesn't shame men and create an us-vs-them mentality. It acknowledges that men and women complement each other.
It celebrates the fact that with freedom of choice, women will ultimately choose the path that makes them happy, whether that is in the workplace, or at home.
"There are specifically feminine graces and virtues and a specifically female penchant for tenderness, care, and nurture."
Women in the US are some of the most free in the world, however, there are real problems with equality in the rest of the world.
That's why we cannot simply compare the struggle of Sandra Fluke (demanded that Georgetown University's health insurance cover birth control) to that of Burmese dissidents. Women in other parts of the world such as Pakistan, Egypt, and the Congo are getting arrested for speaking out, burned with acid, and being set up in arranged marriages as children.
It's time these types of feminists stop playing the victim and start acknowledging that women in the US have the power to create a real change in countries where women are truly oppressed.
Freedom Feminism has the power to make the movement attractive to the majority of American women who "cherish their rights, but do not wish to be liberated from their femininity."
It's the future of the feminist movement.
Do you think the modern feminism movement has gone "off the tracks"? Would you identify with Freedom Feminism? Am I a sexist pig for suggesting so? Am I promoting misogyny and the "patriarchy"? Comment below and let me know what you think!