What modern feminism does for equality

Jeongin Kim, web editor

As a self-proclaimed feminist, I find that when engaged in feminist discourse, the core principle—that the sexes should be equal—isn’t the subject of disagreement. Instead, it’s whether the movement of modern,
third-wave feminism is necessary. I believe it is.

The status quo has still failed to bring equality for many demographics. We see the identities of transwomen undermined as they’re victim to rampant hate crimes; black women are disproportionally denied the healthcare amenities available to white women; pregnant women have their parental rights threatened by rapists legally allowed to sue for custody.

While I believe that feminism should celebrate female autonomy, the flaw of the “choice argument” is that it assumes unrestrained freedom for all women. But there isn’t. Our choices are shaped by the conditions surrounding us, which are not all equitable. This idea can result in victim-blaming women for their dissatisfaction and in extreme cases, violence.

Then there are opponents of third-wave feminism (though they still advocate for gender equality) because it has prioritized the “wrong things.”Unfortunately, many disingenuous by-products have been born out of feminism: corporations have capitalized on the movement, outrage politics have been amplified and celebrities have used their individual success stories (that benefit them singularly) as parables of female equality everywhere. But it would wrong to merely attribute these products to feminism.

So, what exactly does equality look like? The modern woman is often encouraged to be more assertive like men and reject “girly” things. I understand this sentiment is just supposed to empower women to take charge, however, this tactic sounds similar to the advice misogynistic men were told: “Don’t take no for an answer. The world is at your feet.” If we want to redirect society positively forward, this cannot be an ideal for anyone. This resentment of femininity and push for women to present themselves like men illuminate a misogynistic strain
that still remains in feminism.

And what about men? Statistics concerning men’s suicide rates and gun violence are often mentioned to illuminate the vulnerability of men. Paternity fraud and false rape accusations, while always condemnable, aren’t systemic issues that affect most men. The subject of men’s rights is taboo as it is frequently only mentioned to undermine feminism, but the question of what gender equality means for men is completely valid. But any dialogue concerning “who has it worse” is utterly futile for everyone and is nothing but “Oppression Olympics” that furthers the gulf between the sexes.

Despite good intentions, I believe that there has been a bit of disillusionment from feminism’s original objective to equalize the playing field for a more equitable society. So, we must remind ourselves to have empathy, to look beyond our own experiences and listen to others.