Conservatives can't seem to make up their mind when it comes to feminism--is it dangerous or dead? Apparently it's both.
A new scourge of anti-feminism is blaming feminists for everything from the downfall of academia to the reason behind why men rape--while simultaneously reassuring folks that the "furor is over." Baffling, I know.
The latest incarnation of this anti-feminist contradiction is the Network of Enlightened Women (NeW), which aims to "foster the education and leadership skills of conservative university women." (Looks like it also helps to be blonde.)
Founder Karin Agness says she founded the inaugural chapter at the University of Virginia to give a voice to conservative women in college and to battle the oh-so-dangerous teachings of women's studies. "I believe that women have to stand up and fight feminism," she said recently.
And how does NeW fight feminism on campus? Like similarly-minded organizations Concerned Women for America and the Independent Women's Forum (IWF)--they grasp at straws. The single biggest "issue" that these groups focus on is--brace yourself--The Vagina Monologues. The award-winning play is apparently responsible for promiscuity, promoting rape, and reducing women to body parts (you know, that one).
I guess when you really think about it, their strategy is pretty smart. Why focus on the troubling rollback of women's rights when you can call attention to something truly terrifying: vaginas.
But seriously, if feminism is already dead--why try so hard to kill it? Seems to me we're doing something right. As Rebecca Traister of Salon said recently, the creation of NeW and its ilk means "a passion for current feminism is alive and urgent among young women...if it weren't, [they] wouldn't have any reason for being."
So in a way, I have anti-feminism to thank for the renewed vigor in my own work. It's not always easy being a full-time feminist--especially as a young woman--when you're constantly being told that what you do is irrelevant. I'm on the defense all the time. But when I really take a look at who is "fighting back" against feminism, it makes that fear evaporate (usually in a fit of laughter) and makes me all the more determined to keep moving forward.
Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go destroy a family and hover over a cauldron while obsessing about vaginas. It's tough work being a feminist.