Feminism Serves Democrats, Not Women
Brenda M. Hafera
It should come as no surprise that corporate media has been so blatantly inconsistent in its coverage of the accusations made by Christine Blasey Ford against Brett Kavanaugh versus Tara Reade against Joe Biden. They have granted the former vice president the benefit of the doubt in a way they never afforded the now-Supreme Court justice. Not only are there are plenty of other examples of feminists and the media treating conservatives and liberals hypocritically, but feminism on the whole has never been about true equality.
Feminism as a movement has a long and complex history. In the past, feminism largely defined equality as sameness. Such a definition required the transformation of both sexes, wherein women needed to act more like men to secure “an equal participation with men in the various trades, professions, and commerce,” and men became oversensitive and unable to make decisions without the permission of their infinitely more competent wives (think the protagonist of “Everybody Loves Raymond”). Through such modifications, everyone would achieve equality, with both sexes meeting in the asexual middle.
The biggest enemy to such imposed equality was the female form. Birth control enabled women to conquer nature and their own bodies, supposedly the only way for them to be free and equal to men. For feminists, the equality of women was not inherent but achieved with a man-made invention.
Today, many women, particularly educated coastal millennials such as myself, struggle over whether to identify as feminists. The word still conjures up the image of the cool and rebellious flapper striving tirelessly for the vote. Also, despite its faulty premises, feminism did expose and ameliorate some injustices. Women’s suffrage was a significant victory.
The Bad Side of Feminism Is a Doozy
The misguided logic of feminism, however, has also had negative consequences for both men and women. Depriving men of decisions concerning unborn children simultaneously released them from the responsibilities of fatherhood. Careerists sometimes display a snobbery toward stay-at-home moms who help conserve our society by raising the next generation well.
But more fundamentally, people should support ideologies because they are right in and of themselves, not merely on the basis of their effects or out of nostalgic attachment. By examining the arguments of modern feminists, millennials will find that feminism has evolved beyond a desire for equality and actually undermines it.
Feminism is now animated by the vitriol of identity politics, calling for the superiority of women as a way to offset the historical dominion of men. Although not necessarily a logical progression, the early seeds of this dangerous tendency can be traced to the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, back in 1848. For its Declaration of Sentiments claimed, “The history of mankind is a history of repeated injuries and usurpations on the part of man toward woman, having in direct object the establishment of an absolute tyranny over her.”
Modern feminists claim that only by giving women preferential treatment now can society make amends for the injustices of the past. This came into sharp focus during Kavanaugh’s confirmation hearing and the subsequent call to “believe all women.” As actress Alyssa Milano, attempting to explain her lack of support for Reade after the former staffer accused Biden of sexual assault, recently said, “I believe that even though we should believe women, and that is an important thing, what that statement really means is that for so long, the go-to has been not to believe them.”
Through championing identity politics, today’s feminists have shifted the power dynamic. Women have not only the ability to accuse any male acquaintance of misconduct but the right of presumed integrity. We hold privileges in the court of public opinion.
Identity Politics or Bust
But such privileges extend only to those who respect the feminist identity-politics alliance, as Reade has discovered. Between Biden and President Donald Trump, Biden is the identitarian favorite: He has promised to choose a female vice president and appoint a black woman to the Supreme Court. Feminists believe Biden will further their retributive justice cause. Therefore, Reade’s individual privilege has been rescinded for the sake of group rights. Feminism has proved a fickle mistress.
So what would make feminism fair? For feminism to redeem itself today, it would need to renew its love of equality but define that equality in terms of natural rights, not sameness. Equality of right does not require total likeness of form, for moral superiority can’t be derived from physical strength nor childbearing abilities. The feminism of the past erred not in its desire for equality but in its definition of it.
However, true equality does demand equal treatment under the law, for its absence leads to reciprocal unfairness. If a victim cannot rely upon the protection and commanding retribution of the law, she has been shamefully abandoned. In turn, the character of an innocent man is equally ruined when he is falsely accused and presumed guilty. Kavanaugh, Biden, Blasey Ford, and Reade should all be evaluated equally, based on individual merit and honesty.
Brenda M. Hafera is the Director of International and Continuing Education Programs at The Fund for American Studies, a member of The Matthew J. Ryan Society of Villanova University, and was a Publius Fellow at the Claremont Institute.