Feminism used to be about equality, then superiority, but in 2015, it’s supposedly about something more: It’s now about being sexy. To this strong, independent, millennial woman, the notion that modern feminism is sexy—or that any politician who espouses feminism is sexy—is not only patently false, but also absurd, and misses the whole point of feminism altogether.
Feminism as sex appeal is a thing now. From “Six Sexy Feminist Reasons Why Sexy Feminists Should Love Sexy Prince” to the website sexyfeminist.com’s list of sexy feminists (Jane Austen and Anthony Weiner made the cut, in case you’re curious), it seems everyone wants see feminism through the eyes of sexual appeal.
Case in point: Canada recently elected a new prime minister, the dashing, handsome and externally sexy Justin Trudeau. This piece in The New Republic gives Trudeau and his sex appeal, liberalism, and feminism a 1200-word advertisement, although it ends up being misleading and distasteful rather than seductive.
The piece lauds Trudeau as a feminist. The author’s evidence? He “has promised gender parity in the cabinet, and has made support for reproductive choice […] marches in pride parades to celebrate the LGBT community. He’s called for an overturning of the rule prohibiting gay men from donating blood.”
He’s christened with the sought-after “sexy” label, for not only looking sexy, but supposedly promoting sexy things. Hold up: This is the new feminism? I thought feminism was about equality at best, and superiority at worst. But “reproductive choice,” participation in gay pride parades, and allowing gays to donate blood doesn’t sound near as feminist or sexy as it does just plain liberal. Talk about the flaccid bigotry of low sexpectations.
The first wave of the feminist movement began with legal inequalities, particularly women’s suffrage. The second wave broadened the issues to “cultural inequalities” and gender norms. This continued to the third wave, where we now find ourselves drowning in a sea of egomaniacal issues: the mommy wars, the so-called “gender wage gap,” and gender parity in government.
Riding this third wave is where Trudeau and his government find themselves, pushing feminism further into the twilight zone while feminists dub stances they espouse sexy. Trudeau takes feminism as a “continuing project” seriously: “The promise to have gender parity in the cabinet is itself a major advance on practices not just of earlier governments, but also of Pierre [Justin’s father] Trudeau’s version of liberalism.”
Here The New Republic sneaks in their true thesis: It’s liberalism they find sexy, and they define feminism as liberal—so liberalism is sexy. Unfortunately, a liberal’s idea of what defines feminism isn’t true feminism at all. Forced gender parity isn’t feminism, it’s actually anti-feminism. The idea of gender parity in a political cabinet just for the sake of it is like pitting the New York Mets against the Royals in the World Series and hoping they win because they’re the underdogs.
Equality Isn’t Special Pleading
Placing a woman in a cabinet position in Canada just because she’s a woman does nothing for the feminist movement and actually works actively against it. In a piece for National Review Online last year, David French wrote, “Treating women as equals in our culture and politics is simple fairness. Modern feminism, by contrast, has nothing to do with fairness and everything to do with the special pleading of its entitled commentariat.”
The original feminist movement heralded a woman’s worth as equal to a man’s worth; her feminine traits were considered just as valuable as a man’s traits, but different. A woman should be given a cabinet position because her employment history, character, and political gravitas would aid Trudeau’s government, not because she’s got fallopian tubes.
Last year, Elle UK spearheaded a campaign encouraging folks to don their t-shirts, which read: “This is what a feminist looks like.” While Britain’s deputy prime minister, the leader of the Labour Party, and even heartthrob British actor Benedict Cumberbatch all wore the shirt, Prime Minister David Cameron didn’t.
This upset Elle: “It should be simple. Do you believe that men and women are equal? Do you believe men and women should have the same rights? The same opportunities? Yes? Then you are a feminist.” Could it be that Cameron took umbrage with the fact that the modern feminist movement reaches well beyond the simple things they claim to espouse?
Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby
The sexiest part about sexy feminism is, obviously, sex. Not just any ol’ sex, but the new, liberated kind. Trudeau’s parents were especially promiscuous, and flaunted this publicly. His father, Pierre, a former Canadian prime minister himself, “embodied sexual liberation.”
The New Republic article concludes, “Yet it is precisely their advocacy of sexual liberalism, much more than their personal sex appeal, that explains their popularity. There’s a formidable constituency for sexual liberalism in Canada, and both Pierre and Justin Trudeau have been adept at harnessing it.”
Sexual liberation may be an effective buzzword, but what’s sexier than promiscuous, in-your-face sex? Not having a sexually transmitted disease due to having multiple sexual partners. What’s sexier than being adept at “harnessing” sexual liberation? Not suffering from anxiety and depression due to choosing a lifestyle that promised liberty and only caused psychological imprisonment.
Ignore Modern Feminism
The modern feminist movement has scrambled so far from the origin of the feminist movement—one dedicated to equality—that it not only tarnishes its honorable past but damns any hope for its future. One of the unfortunate, and by now prosaic, hallmarks of feminism is this twisted equation: Ideology coupled with whining equals more whining, typically about the “patriarchal” system feminists have found themselves suffering within.
Feminism was never supposed to be sexy. It was supposed to salvage what an unaware patriarchy had pushed aside. When feminism as a movement started broadcasting “sexy” as a mantra, rather than “equality,” it not only defeated its purpose but reveled in its own irony: Since when is it sexy to give a woman a job over a man merely because she’s a woman?
You know what’s sexier than modern-day feminism? Women who, rather than over-exalt their feminine traits, simply embrace their God-given qualities in a way that encourages and edifies the people in their lives, whether publicly or privately. Women who, rather than eschew men in general because of their hard-wired traits, appreciate the many characteristics men embody that aid our society. (God help us all if the world were filled with only women!). Women who, rather than claim they need no man, can do anything better than a man, and in fact, spread propaganda about how men are prowling beasts, educate themselves with facts, not feelings, about the differences between and rights of men and women.
Equal rights and opportunities for women, which were elemental to the first wave of feminism, encouraged appreciating women for their feminine qualities, not the belief that they should receive positions merely because of their sex, or lord their sexuality over men. A true feminist not only believes her worth to be equal to that of a man’s, but that his worth is just as equal, albeit different. What’s sexier than that? Certainly not Justin Trudeau or his politics.