I am enrolled in a seminar on gender equality this semester and few times in my life have I felt so frustrated with feminism.
I fooled myself into thinking that I would walk out of class feeling empowered and eager to share what I had learned with the world to fuel the fight against patriarchy. Instead, I sit in every lecture seething and strongly questioning my presence in the classroom as well as my entire belief system.
For the first two weeks, I really felt left out of most discussions because I often disagreed with what was being said. People’s interpretations of gender equality and what needs to be done to achieve it did not match my opinion. After some thought, I came to a conclusion that first brought me immense relief, then a new devotion to my feminist anger. I do not share the views of liberal feminism not because I am for the status quo, but rather because this movement has only disappointed women.
Liberal feminism originated in the 18th century as an offshoot of liberal thought in politics and represents the first wave of feminism. Its true definition and focus were codified by figures such as Harriet Taylor, her husband John Stuart Mill and Virginia Woolf, who drew inspiration from liberalism’s quest for equality and freedom.
Therefore, liberal feminism strives to grant women the same rights as their male counterparts, especially in terms of legal and political equality. The movement won the battle over suffrage, including having a stronger voice in politics, access to higher education, and improved reproductive rights. Instead of aiming to defeat capitalism with a bottom-up approach, the goal is to improve it in order to create a society that respects women’s rights.
Despite the good premises, I have always seen liberal feminism as a product of liberal men who found a quieter way to perpetuate patriarchy.
Indeed, while men tend to strongly oppose more radical feminist movements, they have little or no problem with liberal feminism since it does not really challenge them. For example, liberal feminists want to take back the many degrading conditions and actions they have suffered from men to weaponize them and present them as total emancipation. This action, however, allows men to simply watch from afar and not participate.
They wouldn’t care if women suddenly decided they no longer perceived words like “whore” as oppressive. Not only would they continue to use them, but now they would also have a reason to justify themselves if anyone still found their behavior offensive.
Likewise, erasing the stigma around sex work and pornography would not suddenly allow women to take control of these male-dominated environments and create more equality within them. The victims of such industries would continue to be exploited and their pain would fall deaf to the ears of liberal feminists who march through the streets glorifying prostitution.
One of the concepts that constitute the core of this wave of feminism is “my body, my choice”. Although liberal feminists have begun to embrace it to encourage other women to take back control of their bodies and end the abortion controversy – a cause that must be desperately fought until the pro -choice becomes the norm – they surely don’t realize the slogan’s other dangerous implication.
Women can be legally topless in public in Wyoming, Kansas, Utah and several other states, but few would actually choose to be naked from the waist down – thus putting themselves in danger – as their preferred means of wrestling. against sexism. By advancing similar ideas, liberal feminism proves to be completely disconnected from reality and unable to understand its priorities.
Because joining the movement simply requires embracing the status quo – and is therefore easy and effortless – it has become infamous globally, offering a very biased interpretation of women’s struggles.
Most liberal feminists are middle-class white women who represent the embodiment of privilege, but refuse to acknowledge it and claim to speak for everyone. In doing so, they ignore the vital issue of intersectionality and create many gaps within the feminist community.
In the 19th century, suffragettes silenced the voices of black women by forcing them to step back on their marches. Today, many white women’s emancipation advocates still choose to circumvent the challenges that women of color face on a daily basis and have been blessed never to experience.
As a result, they lose the crucial support of entire groups of victims of intersectional discrimination. They also lose the opportunity to expand their understanding of gender inequality, which other groups have had to learn the hard way.
Choosing to identify with a specific form of feminism is undeniably difficult, especially in light of the internal animosity within the various waves. I have yet to fully develop my individual master plan against the patriarchy, much less devote myself completely to a movement. Nevertheless, it is important to learn about their initiatives and to stay away from those who try to sell sexism under another name.
In 2022, it’s time to end liberal feminism.