“I consider myself a feminist because I believe women should have equal rights. Of course. It’s just that the term ‘feminism’ conjures up other things for people,” explains Marina Lambrini Diamandis, a prominent Welsh singer. (BrainyQuote) The rise of feminism is not only the result of women’s built up resentment from suppression by social norms and practices, but it is also is a response of defense towards their freedom limitation. Another reason given for the existence of this movement is because women are simply tired of being stereotyped to care for children and be responsible for completing domestic duties. Through social, political, and economical advocacy of women’s natural given rights to reach the line of equity with men, the global stereotype of females will be uplifted, and women will share the same privileges as men that they duly deserved since the creation of human civilization. However, feminism has evolved into a distorted form of radicalism using aggression towards men as a means for “defending” and elevating women to gain “respect” from men. Men possess certain qualities of masculinity and dominance that females feel internally oppressed and intimidated by. Therefore, women respond with overreacting by making males feel inferior. This frustration built up over time within “oppressed” women usually leads to aggressive advocacy, resulting in a radical movement.
As feminism is defined to be advocacy of women’s rights, many are not aware that advocacy can be done in several styles. Equality feminists believe that men and women should be equal in all aspects of life. Difference and essentialist feminists emphasize the value of women’s femininity and uniqueness from men. Moderate feminists prefer gradual progress for equal rights and usually do not label themselves as feminists. Radical feminists, also known as feminazis, believe that entirely reforming society and calling for a revolution is essential for women to gain respect by denying their biological differences from men. (Sparknotes) All these diverse definitions of feminism are derived from different places and times.
In the early ages of America’s development, the concept of feminism was introduced during the Women’s Rights Movement from 1848 to 1920. This movement was divided into three waves in which each contributed to the progress of improving American women’s lifestyles including removal of domestic duties and allowing them to earn their own wages through material feminism. Women identified social hindrances of equal opportunity such as the lack of economic and educational opportunities and absenteeism of voice in political issues in the first national meeting in Seneca Falls, New York. In 1902, Elizabeth Stanton drafted the “Declaration of Sentiments, Grievances, and Resolutions” that echoed the resolution of gender equality. The second wave of feminism began in the 1960s and carried into the 1990s, starting off with protests against the Miss America pageant of Atlantic City in 1968. Feminists viewed the beauty pageant to be a representation of the social acceptance of objectified women subjugated by men who expected them to stay home with no aspirations or goals. The Redstockings, a radical feminist group in New York, threw “threatening” feminine products, such as high heels and makeup, in the trash as a way of protest to convey the message that women are not defined by their femininity. The second wave focused on the differentiation between sex and gender: female biology and their roles in society. Because the second wave was comprised of more than just middle class white women, feminism became associated with different races and cultures. Fortunately, the Nineteenth Amendment of the U.S Constitution granted women voting rights and gender equity validation. Because the third feminist wave, starting in the mid-1990s, was more modernized, young feminists brought back what the prior waves denied and aimed to remove due to the impression of inferiority it gave: femininity. Third wave feminists proudly wore red lipstick and heels as a way of embracing their true feminine uniqueness to reach the goal of gaining respect for originality and expanding biological diversity in society. (Pacific University Oregon) After the third wave, feminism evolved and branched out into different beliefs of what an ideal society would be concerning gender equality.
Concerning receiving equal opportunity, women are still limited on an international scale. The government is working to remove the law banning women from driving in Saudi Arabia. One woman is raped every twenty minutes in India. (More) According the White House concerning the American gender wage gap, women would have to work sixty extra days to earn what men did from the previous year. (Pew Research Center) In Iran, married women require their husband’s permission to leave the country by law (Al Monitor). Because of the limitation of women’s opportunity on a global scale, it is necessary for women to advocate their rights. However, if feminism is not promoted with moderation, radical feminism can take place and cause negative rising tension between opposite genders in society.
Radical feminism generates negative tension and instills fear in both men and women. Due to the rising of radical feminism, men feel that women have become their oppressors, as women view men as their new competitors. Mark Bellrose describes today’s feminists as “entitled to attack, degrade and shame men without any fear of social disapproval.” (Huffington Post) Rather feeling at par with women, men feel threatened because radical feminism ideas have become far-fetched, evolving into a distorted theory of women conquering the world.
Difference and essentialist feminism serves as a better solution for reaching gender equality rather than advocating women’s rights through violence of radical feminism. Radical violence is not necessary for this type of movement because aggression is never the best alternative for any beneficial cause in general. A video of young girls using foul language and swearing was used to spread awareness of the feminist campaign. They wanted to emphasize how women are still being treated unequally, “What’s more offensive? A little girl saying f**k or the sexist way society treats girls and women?” (The Independent) In reality, this feminist campaign video brought more attention to the negative language used by young girls, rather than the actual issue of gender inequity. Feminism should not give young girls or even anyone the excuse to swear and use violent language. In 2013 in Argentina, an extremely disturbing protest occurred in which shirtless women physically abused Catholic men who were peacefully praying and protecting the San Juan Cathedral. (A Voice for Men) Because these radical feminists pepper sprayed, physically attacked, and spat on their “oppressors”, it did not make them look worthy to gain respect in society. Physical violence imposed by women rather drove men to deeply despise and cower away from them out of fear. Police brutality did not enforce the law in the case of Freddie Gray’s arrest in Baltimore in which his spinal cord was crushed, leading to his death in April. (CNN) Violence, as always, leads to more violence. As a response to the injustice, two CVS stores were looted and burned down during the heated riots. (Time) Although the police officers responsible for the crime were successfully prosecuted, violence instigated more violence and caused destruction of the city. In another situation, five American colonists were shot by British soldiers in 1770 in the Boston Massacre. These unintentional killings were caused by a mere snowball throwing at the British soldiers by angry American colonists. (Boston Massacre Historical Society) Again, violence lead to more serious violence in the situation. Similarly, radical feminism imposing violence on men can result in men firing back, causing war. Richard B. Felson, a professor of sociology, wrote a book exploring the comparison between violence from women and violence from men. Felson explains,
Attention to the broader study of violence might reveal that violence against women is like any violence and nor an expression of sexism. However, when activists discuss the victimization of women they want a sympathetic ear, not statistical comparisons. This is understandable: Comparative statements dilute moral outrage. (Violence and Gender Reexamined)
Felson’s book proves that feminists cannot advocate through the means of violence just because female violence is less aggressive than men’s violence. Violence is violence, regardless of the gender it is associated with.
It is contradictory for women to claim their superiority over men and simultaneously fight for equal rights. The derived concept of equality is meant to give equal rights and treatment despite their race, age, and especially, gender. Jane Flax, a philosophical scholar, wrote that equality “entails establishing a relation between two or more things. Logically, differences between the objects of comparison must exist, for otherwise the question of their equivalence would not occur.” (“Gender Equality” New Dictionary of the History of Ideas). This common logic implies that men and women must have differences in order to find similar characteristics to be on a certain ground of equality. Therefore, women should embrace their differences, giving them a justification to believe both genders are entitled to equal value and opportunity. Without femininity, women would not only be unequaled to men, but they would be considered genderless.
Not only is radical feminism contradictory, but it is also illogical for women to claim their superiority over men by denying their biological and mental differences. Denying their differences from men implies that they are ashamed of their femininity. Females and males widely differ in biological and psychological health. According to Dr. Michael G. Conner’s essay, females tend to be global thinkers who focus on more than one problem at a time, are easily overwhelmed, recall incidents with emotion, are concerned about how problems are solved rather than actually resolving it, emotionally react more, and feel more engagement through sharing emotional experiences and dialogue whereas males tend to deeply focus on one problem at a time, recall events by thinking of ways to reconstruct their experience, are concerned about demonstrating their competency when solving an issue, and feel more enjoyment through shared activities and competition. (Understanding The Difference Between Men And Women) However, these differences don’t justify the excuse to have global stereotypes burdening men and women. They also are not meant to connect characteristics of femininity with inferiority and masculinity with superiority. In a social experiment about domestic violence in public conducted by a famous YouTube channel, OckTV, people defended the woman getting physically attacked. However, no one defended the man when he was physically abused by the woman. In fact, some people scoffed at the fact that the man could not defend himself. (YouTube Domestic Abuse In Public! (Social Experiment)) Women are allowed to physically assault men, but men are strictly forbidden to lay a hand on a woman. This unwritten rule is usually followed because women are physically weaker, and therefore, men are able to accept and handle the “delicate” physical assault from females to prove their masculinity. In addition to the expectation of women having to limit themselves, Chimamanda Adichie says, “We teach girls to shrink themselves, to make themselves smaller. We say to girls, you can have ambition, but not too much. Otherwise, you would threaten the man.” (YouTube We should all be feminists | Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie |TEDxEuston). In other words, women suppress themselves to make a man feel satisfied about his masculinity. However, men are also expected to financially provide for family and hide their emotions, and treat women with chivalry. These stereotypes can be uplifted with a more peaceful alternative of promoting equality or difference feminism in which women confidently embrace their femininity. After all, human civilization is the culprit of creating stereotypes.
Radical feminists believe that going through the means of direct action and offensive propaganda will help women gain equal respect and rights in society faster. They believe that the issue should be audaciously handled and analyzed from another angle in order to enforce social, political, and economical gender equality in society. But there’s no guarantee that a movement’s speed can be determined by the amount of attention and violent social tension given to the issue. Therefore, it would be more logical to promote essentialist and difference feminism instead of feminazism in which combative techniques are used to spread awareness by stirring resentment, leading to gender rivalry. Radical feminism would rather replace the goal of reaching gender equality with the result of men and women vigorously fighting for supremacy over one another’s opposing genders.
Of course, the American gender wage gap needs to be eliminated and women need to be able to drive in Saudi Arabia, but the spread of awareness for women’s equal opportunity can be done in a strategic nonviolent process. For example, “HeForShe” is a campaign for society reaching gender equality held by the United Nations Women organization. Their goal is to help men understand the value of feminism and advocacy of women’s value and rights in society. This campaign has been successfully progressing not by aggression and intimidation, but through sincere awareness of the need to unite both women and men for equal opportunity. This alternative to radical feminism truly reaches the hearts of people and helps them realize the need for equal opportunity and peace.