In the wake of everyone applauding Emma Watson’s mediocre speech at the U.N., I thought it would be appropriate to give the blogosphere a reality check about feminism. Yes, Emma, feminism by definition is the belief that women and men should have equal rights, but that doesn’t mean that there aren’t some feminists who are man-hating poorly informed hash-tivists. Unfortunately for you, and unfortunately for women at large, the most galvanized feminists don’t quite have the facts straight. And that’s a big problem. Allow me to explain.
Let’s examine a common myth, that women in the U.S. don’t receive equal pay for equal work. Let’s suppose that a well intentioned restaurant franchise owner sees this in an article. “My goodness,” he thinks, “have I been subconsciously paying all my women workers less than their male counterparts?” In response, he pulls out all his payroll sheets and takes a close look at them. He sees that the women he employs as servers, cooks, and hosts make the same amount of money as the men in the same positions. “Phew,” he says, “I’m glad I’m not a subconscious sexist!” He feels good about himself and goes about his business.
What he doesn’t realize is that, in the past 10 years, he hasn’t hired a single female manager or assistant manager at any of his franchises. He isn’t consciously doing it, it’s just that nobody has ever pointed this out to him.
The truth is, in the U.S., women do make equal pay for equal work. The difference is less than .05%. That’s less than $25 on a $50,000 salary. The actual issue is that there aren’t as many women in higher paying professions as there are men. There are less women physicians, less women engineers, less women financial advisors, etc… The problem is that nobody ever focuses on this reality because feminists continue to harp on equal pay, which has already been achieved. The next step to solving “income inequality” is to promote education for women and female involvement in these higher paying fields, not by convincing employers to adjust salaries.
It’s easy to see why this is so harmful. You’re trying to solve a problem that doesn’t exist with a solution that won’t solve the problem that does exist.
Let’s go a little bit deeper down the rabbit hole and talk about rape and sexual assault. There is a prevailing notion among feminists, at least the most vocal ones, that there is a “rape culture” which results in or promotes sexual assault. The same attitudes which sexualize and objectify women contribute to the alarming amount of sexual assault in this country. This is being addressed by policies at universities, media campaigns, etc…
This is a much more drastic example of a misinformed approach causing tremendous damage to a great cause. Rape isn’t about sexualization or objectification. The psychological motivations that fuel this heinous act are much deeper and more complex than just sexual gratification; they have much more to do with fear, power, and control. Further evidence that this is true is that rape occurs, often at greater rates, in countries and cultures in which women are not sexualized. Even further evidence that this approach isn’t correct is that, despite the policies enacted in response to this, sexual assault continues to rise. Admittedly, maybe it’s the incidence of reported sexual assault which is rising, but still, the numbers aren’t declining.
The truth is that sexual assault has to be addressed with measures which allow for the protection of women. Yet, when these measures are developed, like drug detecting nail polish, feminists respond by antagonizing such attempts as placing an undue burden on women. I’m not claiming that society doesn’t need a wake up call and reform measures to reduce sexual assault don’t need to be put in place. But, in order for these measures to be effective, the actual causes and motivations of sexual assault must be addressed, and these measures won’t be put into place overnight. Until then, anti-rape devices, weapons, and self defense training all exist. And, they are all proven defenses against sexual assault. Because of the misinformation perpetuated by feminists, though, these real solutions aren’t examined. The problem has to be the culture of sexualization, right? Why bother looking at other potential causes? Every woman that is motivated not to protect herself during a night out because somebody told her the “onus shouldn’t be on her,” is another casualty of misinformed feminism. Every college student whose life is destroyed because of one night of consensual drunk sex is a casualty of misinformed feminism. Objectifying women is terrible, yes, but there’s a big difference between being an asshole and being a rapist. You can’t address the problem of assault by addressing the culture of sexualization, but people keep trying because of the gross amount of misinformation out there.
Some people may respond to this by saying that I’m just putting more of the burden on women when men should be the ones who should stop sexually assaulting people. Remember that those same people lock their doors and buy safes because murders and thieves aren’t going to stop murdering and stealing. I wish society was better too. I wish I didn’t have to worry about protecting myself. Until the world comes to fruition, though, I’m going to do the reasonable thing.
I don’t have a problem with most feminists. In fact, I think Watson’s movement to recruit men in support of feminism is great. I call myself a feminist, and I do so proudly. I have worked to help a number of women in my own personal life deal with these issues, and my own experiences with domestic violence have made me an ardent supporter of gender equality.
The feminists most visible all around the information sphere, though, are destructive. They do tremendous violence to their own cause, and they do tremendous violence to women all around the country, when they spread incorrect information which leads to policies which don’t address any of the problems that women face.