On a cold day in March 1913, more than 8,000 people (men and women) took to the streets to “march in a spirit of protest against the present political organization of society, from which women [were] excluded.”
These men and women braved frigid temperatures, public ridicule and even the threat of persecution so that women could enjoy the same basic rights and opportunities as men.
Seven years later, women would receive the right to vote. Over the next 100 years, the feminist movement would change and adapt to changing goals, societal issues and cultural values.
Today, as we enter the fourth wave of feminism, females are joining elite military combat units that were once reserved for men and holding more seats in all levels of government office than ever before.
Millennial females are graduating from college and graduate school at unprecedented rates, yet some feminist supporters cry out that our gender is still subject to oppressive threats.
While it is true that there are very real obstacles that women face, the enemy is no longer the government, corporate America or antiquated legal practices. We are the enemy.
That’s right; we, as a gender, have created our own worst enemy: a socialist dynamic that is the result of our own complacency, misguided anger and inflated sense of entitlement.
To understand how we went from Susan B. Anthony’s educated, articulate speeches of yesteryear to today’s mess, it’s important to first understand the historical context of the three prior waves of feminism.
Waves of feminism
Scholars and sociologists commonly agree that feminism has transpired in three waves. The first occurred at the turn of the 20th century and focused on women’s suffrage and opportunities for women.
The second occurred in the 1960’s and continued into the next two decades, aligning itself with the Civil Rights Movement that was happening simultaneously.
Perhaps the most notable event of this movement was during the 1968 Miss America pageant, when feminist protesters tossed things that they believed represented female oppression (bras, kitchen utensils, Playboy magazines, etc.) into trashcans and attempted to set them on fire (hence the term “bra burning”).
The emphasis of this second wave was sexuality, reproductive rights, equal employment opportunities and the challenging of traditional gender roles.
The third wave of feminism took place in the 1990s and focused on women’s rights to be sexual beings. An aspect of third-phase feminism that commonly mystifies earlier feminists is the re-adoption of the very lipstick, high heels and cleavage that the first two phases attributed to male oppression.
Today, feminism stands on the brink of a fourth wave, although few can articulate exactly what that means. While people debate the meaning or goals of the movement, one thing is clear: The Internet will play a large part.
According to Jennifer Baumgartner of feminist.com,
“Because of media advances and globalization, waves of mass change are coming faster and faster. The waves are all part of the same body politic known as feminism, and combine to become a powerful and distinct force.”
The fourth wave is already upon us and we are just now realizing that we are in the midst of it. Technology has given a voice to anyone with an Internet connection. No longer are women passive recipients of information, but rather, active contributors who are shaping virtual and real societies.
Unfortunately, though, some of those women are wrong.
From freedom of choice to a socialist dictatorship
Sheryl Sandberg, COO of Facebook and author of the pseudo-feminist manifesto, “Lean In” (both the book and website), has spent the last few months promoting her 50/50 idea everywhere from “The Colbert Report” to her most recent university commencement speech.
The idea states, “We are still far from that 50/50 dream of [hers] where women will run half of our countries and companies and men will run half of our homes.”
However, Sandberg’s warped vision of utopia sounds more like a socialist dictatorship than a place where women have choices. Women wanted the right to vote because they wanted to be able to choose for whom to vote.
Women wanted the right to work because they wanted to be able to choose from more career options than ever before. Many women still choose to be nurses and teachers and other traditionally feminine positions — and that is perfectly okay.
What if 50 percent of women don’t want to be CEOs or world leaders? What if 50 percent of men don’t want to be stay-at-home dads? If Sandberg and her feminist friends want real equality between the sexes, then they’ll respect the freedom of choice and stop trying to push us into gender roles.
An inflated sense of entitlement
Perhaps Ms. Sandberg’s views are based on the sense of entitlement that so many feminists seem to be embracing these days.
In the late 19th century, a notable feminist, Elizabeth Cady-Stanton, presented the Declaration of Sentiments at the Seneca Falls convention in New York in what would later be known as one of the boldest moves that paved the way for women to eventually earn the right to vote. Many years later, it would pave the way for the basis of a myriad of anti-discrimination laws.
Ms. Cady-Stanton asked for the law to afford equal opportunities and protection for both men and women — a request that was eventually obliged. However, with equal opportunity and protection comes equal responsibility, an idea that seems to have escaped many modern women.
The National Organization of Woman (NOW) provides a comprehensive list of some of the issues women face today. One of these issues is a “women-friendly workplace,” which one would logically assume is a workplace free of harassment and one that offers incentives and promotions based on ability rather than gender.
Not so fast.
A cursory search for the definition of a “women-friendly workplace” includes things like flexible schedules, freedom to work from home, paid maternity leave and the option to bring babies to work (not in a nursery or daycare, mind you — in the cubicle or office).
These proposals, by definition, seem anti-feminist.
Suppose I am an employer and have a male and female employee who each perform the same basic job functions and who receive the same salary. I expect them both to arrive at 8 am and leave at 5 pm and they each have 10 sick/vacation days per year. However, the woman frequently arrives late and leaves early to tend to her children.
If she has a child and takes off work for three months, she expects to be paid. When she returns, she brings her baby to an office environment and spends time tending to him or her, thus compromising her productivity.
Meanwhile, in her absence, her male and childless female colleagues are forced to pick up her slack, yet to give them raises would be sexist of me, as the employer?
This dynamic screams “inequality” to me. Are we, women, so naïve that we believe it’s okay to say, “We can do the same jobs as men can, but we need exceptions, accommodations and leniencies?”
Most women choose to have children. They feel entitled to children — as well as a large paycheck and a husband who does 50 percent of the work.
This idea is propagated in the book “Getting to 50/50: How Working Couples Can Have It All by Sharing It All” by Sharon Meers and Joanna Strober, who seemingly believe that the only way we can achieve an equality nirvana is by forcing people — both men and women — into some sort of predefined role.
The problem rests in this sense of privilege that has led women to practically riot against any employer who believes that a mother should be able to do the same job as her male and childless female counterparts without any accommodation.
Equal pay for equal work? Yeah, that sounds totally unreasonable and crazy, right?
Many of today’s women fail to realize that having a child is a choice. It wasn’t the employer’s decision, so why should the employer be the one to accommodate?
From an employer’s perspective, I’d want my human capital (i.e. employees) to be strong, dependable and predictable — not weak, indecisive and unable to focus on work.
Competition and criticism
The Internet phenomenon of this fourth wave of feminism has provided an unprecedented opportunity for women to communicate their personal viewpoints and offer both praise and criticism to men and women alike.
Sandberg and others cry sexism anytime a female seems to criticize a fellow female. Sandberg states, “There's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women.”
However, being a feminist shouldn’t mean unconditionally supporting someone just because of her genitalia. If I disagree with a woman’s values, goals, morals or beliefs, I’m sure as hell not going to help her, nor would I expect her to help me.
Again, that is real choice — the decision to align ourselves with whomever we choose — male or female.
Acceptance of all females
Noted feminist Betty Friedan stated,
“It is easier to live through someone else than to complete yourself. The freedom to lead and plan your own life is frightening if you have never faced it before.
It is frightening when a woman finally realizes that there is no answer to the question ‘who am I’ except the voice inside herself.”
The world needs different kinds of females: those who wear power suits and those who wear sundresses, those who teach preschool and those who hold seats in Congress, and everything in between.
A true feminist believes that males and females are equally capable and should have equal rights to make personal choices that are right for our personal selves — not the choices that are right for Sheryl Sandberg.