There have been quite a few rebuttals of the feminist propensity to point to the crafted dictionary definition of feminism as the one and only qualifier of what it entails. Most of them have to do with either arguing about the actions of feminists and feminist organizations which seem to contradict or at least entail something other than what is contained in the definition.
I thought I would attempt something that I’ve not seen, namely taking a swing at the benign definition. I hope to show that even under the benign and sterile dictionary definition of feminism that the ideology is at minimum, superfluous. I will use an amalgamation of dictionary definitions for this essay. I will also restrict my concerns here to the democratic west, as it’s sometimes called.
Feminism – the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.
I would like to note that the word “legal” in the string of equalities sought for is not included in any definition I could find. (Feel free to leave such a definition in the comments if you can find one). In other words the fact that women seem to have preferred status in the legal system, whether criminal or family court, is not actually important enough to warrant inclusion in the definition.
While the definition I used above says “women’s rights” there are many others that leave those two words out so I’ll not include that glaringly obvious target in my dissection of the definition.
Political Equality– “Political” is defined as: “of or relating to the government or the public affairs of a country”; so political equality would be equality relating to government or public affairs. While I will certainly admit that the numbers of female politicians are not representative of the population, that fact alone does not mean females are not represented. Suppose in my congressional district a woman or a black man is elected. Can I now say that my interest aren’t represented in congress? No, I can’t. Here’s why: elected officials represent everyone in their district. Anyone within that district may voice their concerns to their representative.
Another way to look at it might be to examine who the elected officials work for rather than who they are. Our current president has declared himself a feminist and has challenged congress to pass another “equal pay” act. He has signed executive orders addressing that cause for women (despite economic studies that point to differing choices between men and women as the cause of the raw earnings gap). He has a program that addresses multiple issues women are concerned with. Most western countries have at least one ministerial level office dealing strictly with issues of women.
Additionally, women are permitted (even encouraged) to run for political office. In some western countries there are “short lists” for female candidate preference. Despite the public’s dislike of shortlists and gender quotas, the electorate does not seem to punish the female candidates for having used them. Even in countries without shortlists, there seems to be no bias against female candidates. In other words ladies…if you want more women in public office, run for office. The fact that fewer women choose to run for political office is merely the end result of having a free society where people can make choices about their own life paths.
Economic Equality – Economic is defined as ““. One would expect economic equality to mean equal
Certainly everyone has heard of the gender earnings gap, it’s difficult not to hear of it. The oft cited figure of women earning 77% of what men earn on average is incorrect. In the US in 2013 (the most recent full year information) the actual percentage is 82.1%. This disparity narrows further when relevant variables and choices are accounted for, but the raw gap is sufficient for this essay.
What the statistics often conceal is the spending power wielded by women. Some 85% of purchases and purchase influences are made by women. Additionally, 60% of personal wealth in the US is held by women. On the macro scale, economic equity has been achieved.
Social Equality – “Social” is defined in a few ways. I’ll be using the most appropriate and beneficial to feminism- a) Of or relating to human society and its modes of organization b) Of or relating to rank and status in society. It’s far from clear how one would even compare the “status” or “rank” of men and women in a social context. Of the three major equalities feminism is concerned with (according to their definition) social equality is the most nebulous. Still, let’s examine some social “status” issues to see if we can find any meat in this sandwich.
Social standing is wildly variable and can be earned or granted. Fame, wealth, and achievement confer status upon the individual. It’s clear then that comparing individuals and trying to extrapolate to the general group is a flawed method. What we need to do is examine if there is any status granted to all members of the group. Many times it seems as if feminism compares the entire demographic of women to the top 1-5% of men to adjudge status differences. Let’s compare men and women without including the top 5% of either group.
Men make up over 93% of the prison population in the US. This is compounded by the sentencing gap where men receive over 60% longer sentences for similar crimes. Males make up about 2/3 of the homeless, but an interesting phenomenon occurs when trying to tease these numbers out of studies. Whenever women have an advantage in some specific area (homelessness, spending power, rates of overall violent victimization, etc) many studies don’t include the gender breakdown directly.
Men have a higher rate of violent victimization in the US (including being almost 75% of homicide victims), but the US has a Violence Against Women Act and no such act for men. Women are not required to register with Selective Service.
Even when simple preference is studied, women are the preferred gender of both men and women. Women also have huge numbers of organizations, lobbies, and government offices dedicated strictly to their concerns. Women can police men’s apparel, speech and even public sitting position and be taken seriously. Imagine the reverse of each of these situations. Women can even publicly advocate to #KillAllMen.
Summary – I think it’s safe to say an argument can be made that western feminism has achieved its stated definitional goals and can shut down, disband, or move on to other pursuits. It certainly doesn’t help their case when the loudest voices in public are more concerned with men’s clothing, the knee to knee distance of men on public transportation, and the use of the word “bossy”, than any substantive issues like those faced by African or Middle Eastern women.
Get some time.