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COMMENTARY: Sommers might be able to save feminism

The feminist movement has grown since its birth, for better and worse. From its inception at the 1848 Seneca Falls Convention, feminism has made tremendous strides towards egalitarian respect for women. Today, feminist ideals bleed into every facet of mainstream culture, from international social media campaigns to the prospect of having a first female president. With all this progress, a question still remains: Has modern, third-wave feminism accomplished its goal of gaining autonomy for women and empowering them? Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers, a resident scholar at a conservative think tank, the American Enterprise Institute, summarizes modern campus feminism as "'fainting couch feminism’, which views women as fragile and easily traumatized. It calls for special protections for women ... because it views women as an oppressed and silenced class."

There are few credible feminists in academia at the forefront of the modern women’s movement. When it comes to the feminist assault on freedom on college campuses, Sommers is leading the resistance with iron-clad facts and gallant politeness. Known for her defense of classic liberal feminism and critique of gender feminism, Sommers has written various pieces on what she views as the “utter madness” on college campuses, including "Who Stole Feminism?" and "The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism Is Harming Our Young Men," which received a New York Times Notable Book of the Year in 2001

There is copious misinformation about male and female relations in Western society that drastically divides the two sexes, especially on college campuses. The term “feminist” has attracted negative attention from people outside their circle, and rightfully so. Whether feminists like it or not, a vocal chunk of their group has been insistent on making feminism into a “man-hating club” that actively shames young men and dismisses their grievances, originating society’s problems with the male sex instead of taking responsibility for their own actions. Instead of empowering both men and women, they seek to coddle women and victimize men. Women’s equality should not be at the expense of men’s prospects. Sommers seeks to return the women’s movement back to its roots through what she calls "equity feminism," which harkens back to European Enlightenment ideals of basic human rights for all. In particular, she seeks to educate college students about the flaws and failings of third-wave feminism. Sommers acknowledges the differences between men and women and views this as a source of pride for women to embrace. Because women have unique moral experiences, they deserve equal consideration and respect. Modern feminism seeks to create a society where women are superior and men are subservient, completely undermining its original goal. This is the main issue that Sommers wishes to dismantle.

Women like Sommers are dedicated to regaining the honor feminism once had, where women were fighting for and addressing treatment in the workplace rather than being concerned with petty and imaginary skirmishes. Once strong on college campuses in the 1960s and 1970s, feminism seems to be collapsing on itself. College feminists must address the fervent reactionaries in their coalition if they are to take back the dignity of the movement. Feminism, at its core, is about equal treatment for both men and women. Men should not be shunned but rather embraced by feminists. By promoting intolerance towards men, they are discrediting themselves and offering no incentive for others to listen to them. Their wrath is not exclusive to men — dissent feminists, which include conservative women and those disillusioned by the modern feminist movement, are banished from the feminist circle and labeled as traitors. The incessant reference to the dictionary definition of feminism no longer applies to third-wave feminists. It has been distorted into matriarchal faction that actively discriminates against the male sex and advocates nothing but malice for them.

It is important that Sommers came to speak to the Rutgers community on Dec. 5. The student body likely benefitted from listening and engaging in her lecture, and challenging their own views on feminism, whether positive or negative.

Giana Castelli is a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore majoring in political science.


*Columns, cartoons and letters do not necessarily reflect the views of the Targum Publishing Company or its staff.

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