Feminism is, without a doubt, one of the most powerful and widely distributed forces of both our past and present. Infused with both common sense and an admirable degree of perseverance, historical feminism owes its strength to the sharp and refined tongues of women such as Sojourer Truth, Elizabeth Cady Staton, Lucy Stone and Carrie Chapman Catt.
Through literature, politics and even music, the idea that women are both as capable and as intelligent as their male counterparts has been kept alive, a burning flame that continues to illuminate the waxy candle of justice. Our society has made leaps and bounds in accepting and promoting this idea, and while modern feminism has, to some degree, become more concerned with skewed extremism and delicate political correctness than it was 50 years ago, to deny the very existence of feminism or the efforts associated with it is to live in a glass bell jar of ignorance and blatant stupidity. Feminism may not be defined in the same manner as it was in the 19th or 20th centuries, but the spirit of it is as alive as ever.
Yet with every flame comes a thick hose ready to put it out, and female advancement is unfortunately no exception. In an opinion article written by Fox News journalist Suzanne Venker, titled "To be happy, we must admit women and men are not equal," the entire feminist movement is denounced by the author's questionable viewpoint that feminism has created not progress, but utter "confusion."
Women, according to Venker, are driven by uncontrollable sexual passions rather than educational, career-centered and economic goals. Women, according to Venker, would rather enter hostile and "intense romantic relationships" with boyfriends who "are not ready to commit" than become CEOs or professionals. Her basis for this statement? Nothing more than the coincidental fact that our country lacks female CEOs. Let's be clear about something: just because female CEOs are a minority does not mean that women do not want to attain such positions; sometimes our career paths change as we develop our own interests. Other times, no matter how hard we work, things don't go as planned. That's not discrimination, that's life.
In drawing her conclusion, Venker makes the unforgivable error of writing that women and men should obey, without question, the rigid gender standards that are established for them. "We know little girls love their dolls and boys just want to kick that ball... Each gender has its own energy that flows in a specific direction. For God's sake, let it flow."
My retaliation to Venker's theory is this: What about boys who play with Barbies and girls who play with paint guns? What about those men who become stay-at-home parents and those women who rather than enter a hostile relationship, push themselves to study at an institution of higher learning, including world renowned schools such as Columbia, MIT and Stanford, to become engineers, doctors, construction managers, teachers and nurses, to name a few? Are all of these individuals to be outcast simply because they chose to "disobey" the roaring current known as normality? (Note that the two groups described above have been gaining prominence in the last decade alone). Is feminism really dead? The answer to all of the above questions is a big NO.
You claim that your generation is a "product of divorce" and that women turn marriage into "war." You take great liberty in presenting the average woman as irresponsible and vulnerable to male dominance, when in reality, many women, feminists and non-feminists alike, are working their asses off to provide for their own families or further their education. While I can follow the argument that men are women are equal in different ways, it is demeaning and insulting to use this fact to argue that we should remain chained to our respective spheres of influence. A society cannot grow or function without social experimentation, without risk-taking on the individual level. Without female CEOs and stay-at-home fathers for example, we lean ourselves towards a state of complacency. If we chose to stay in our respective rivers, would we even have the 19th Amendment, which in case you forgot, granted suffrage to women? Heck, would we even have the U.S. Constitution if we refused to challenge the hierarchy of submission that traps us all too often? Maybe not. I may be a male, but even I can see that.
Equality is not and cannot be about men and women being encouraged to operate separately and distinctly from one another, even at the same level of intelligence and manpower. Equality relies on opportunity, the principle that allows and grant girls and boys of all shapes and sizes the chance to work for their dreams and make them a reality. We should be promoting girls to play with paint guns, just as we should promote the idea that gender roles are interchangeable.
At the same time, feminism does not have to be about sexism or refusing to cook a meal; that's defiance, not feminism. Feminism is about ensuring that women can safely cross the bridge into the world of masculinity or beyond without being stopped by societal bouncers like Venker. To assume that females as an entire group do not want to cross that bridge makes about as much sense as Miley Cyrus riding a giant inflatable hot dog at one of her concerts. Women may be underestimated by pessimists like Venker, but they're certainly not stupid. Many of them are faces of our future. Don't let them fade away.
There does not have to be a "battle of the sexes" in everything we do. While women have yet to receive the same pay as men on the economic level, nobody is looking to cause trouble like Venker's proposal has done. I'm not saying that the world is perfect. But we all live in 21st century America. Let's stop acting like cavemen.