The sudden decision to allow women in combat raises an interesting question. Although most people and even most women repudiate the ideas of radical feminism, we see radical measures being enacted again and again in our society — for example, eliminating men’s teams at colleges because not enough women are interested in sports to make the overall numbers of sports participants 50-50 male-female at any given school. And now, of course, women in combat.
A recent op-ed in the New York Post gives a glimpse into why this keeps happening. Annoyed with several female entertainers — Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Rooney Mara — who have distanced themselves from feminism, Sara Stewart defiantly offers a minimal, and unarguable, definition.
“Here’s the deal,” she writes. “At its most basic, being a feminist simply means you are against women being treated like second-class citizens. That’s it. There are no rules for joining. There’s no official organization.”
Unarguable, right? Stewart then lists some horrendous crimes against women in Muslim countries. She admits that “in this country we have, thankfully, a distinct lack of men who throw acid in little girls’ faces just for going to school. But we have plenty of our own issues to tackle.”
What are our issues? Inequality “in government and in business leadership, wage parity, health care, poverty levels and division of child care and housework.” And she adds mockingly, “Other than that we are totally equal.” She goes on to point out that “women only make up 26% of the leadership roles in government and only 11% in top business roles.”
There you have it, what starts out as a reasonable demand that women not be treated as a second-class citizen winds up being, in effect, a demand for 50-50 male-female representation in all walks of life. Any disparity has to be attributed to discrimination and inequality, rather than to women’s own choices in raising children, for example, or whether they have children without being married, or in the kind of work they seek, or how many hours they put into it. Feminism has succeeded in convincing a lot of people that gender is the same as race. It was startling to hear even sane commentators on Fox News talk about how great it is that the military is going to treat all applicants as individuals and leave supposedly superficial characteristics like gender out of account, as if gender were the same as race. But once you have eliminated consideration of those natural differences, any disparities in outcomes can be made to look like discrimination.
I’d say Katy Perry, Lady Gaga, and Rooney Mara have caught onto this, and that’s why they are repudiating the feminist label altogether. Perhaps they can see even the most moderate and unarguable articulation of feminism soon veers into the radical, and it’s the radical that is undoing our society.