The feminist movement in America began as a fight for political suffrage, economic independence, and personal autonomy. Now, almost a century after the Nineteenth Amendment was ratified, many so-called feminist lobbies and leaders no longer promote the political interests of American women, but instead promote leftist policies.
Historically, the feminist movement was progressive, pushing boundaries from one goal to the next, continuing to fight battles for equality in the voting booth, schools, the workplace, health care, and other major spheres of private and public life. This gave feminism a natural affiliation with political progressivism, but also put it on a trajectory of progress for progress’s sake.
Where progressivism has outstripped—or in some cases, directly attacked—the original egalitarian, independence-minded goals of Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton, modern political feminism has seemed obliged to go along, even at the cost of the current autonomy, prosperity, and preferences of American women.
Feminists Are Out of Touch
For example, feminists continue to fight for legislation like the Equal Rights Amendment. This bill, while a major feminist messaging tool 50 years ago, does nothing to protect women any further than the Fourteenth Amendment. Movement leaders also advocated strongly for same-sex marriage, an issue somewhat alien to the interests of most women, with or without families of their own.
The “equal pay” mantra has become de rigeur for anyone daring to call herself a feminist, even though the pay-gap myth has been proven false again and again. If anything, the core reason feminist activists get the data wrong is insulting: they ignore women who have voluntarily chosen flexible working hours, motherhood, or low-risk careers instead of high paychecks. Political feminism seems so opposed to women’s actual choices that now they can’t acknowledge they’re even being made.
As shown by some particularly unflattering headgear worn at recent marches, feminist activists love celebrating their vaginas, but choose not to place the same importance on their womb. It is little surprise that a feminism that has neglected the choices and individual freedom of grown women has also failed to recognize the choice and freedom of unborn girls. They sweep under the rug the fact that our earliest feminist icons were pro-life, and would recoil at eliminating new generations of women.
All too often, dissent from progressive orthodoxy is viciously squashed, even when it comes from strong, successful professional women. Attend to the tale of Kellyanne Conway, playing out now on your TV screens, to see how the Left punishes a woman for being feminist without being progressive.
Feminists Refuse to Respect Women’s Diversity of Ideas
To say women should fight under one progressive feminist banner undermines the notion that women are independent actors, able to determine for themselves what is moral, just, and right. The modern feminist cause lumps women under one ideological banner and hands them a small set of issues they are allowed to engage on, defined by the Left. The reason? The Left is more interested in sex, skin color, sexuality, etc., rather than what a person believes.
In truth, the political issues that occur in a woman’s daily life are the same any lawmaker wrestles with daily on Capitol Hill. Is our military prepared and ready to defend my nation and our national interests? Is the economy growing so my business or investments can thrive? Do I, my family, and friends have good job opportunities?
As it happens, American women can get behind a wealth of policies outside of the progressive agenda modern feminists assume we all must want. We can lower taxes and put dollars back in women’s pocket books, giving them the choice and freedom to invest or spend their hard-earned dollars how they please.
We can reduce regulations and bureaucracy to allow more women to enter trades and start businesses, providing them with the opportunity to achieve their dreams and provide for themselves and their families.
We can fight to localize our political power away from DC and to the state level, whether for health care or education policy. We can give the power to the people who know how to handle it best: the individual stakeholders.
We can protect religious freedom so women are able to live fulfilling religious lives, free from persecution or fear that their tax dollars will be spent on something 78 percent of Americans fundamentally oppose like taxpayer funding of Planned Parenthood.
We can protect human rights, including those of the unborn. American women have fought for human rights since the founding of our nation, but in the last half-century, disturbing numbers of political “women’s organizations” have failed to stand up for the rights of viable humans who are yet unborn, disregarding the majority of American women who say that abortion is morally wrong.
The modern feminist movement has been hijacked in the name of progress. No longer does it boldly stand for the best opportunities for women, but deals subscribers a limited hand of cards from which they can choose to play. In 2017, women deserve freedom of choice—choice of their principles, priorities, and politics. The feminist movement will have to return to its roots if it wants to actually represent them.