Feminism: noun fem·i·nism \ˈfe-mə-ˌni-zəm\- the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.
Feminism has a different meaning for almost every woman around the world. While some may believe a feminist is someone who is completely anti-male, some believe a feminist is someone who is a fighter for women’s rights. It is up to each woman how she defines feminism, but the illiberal Left has taken it into their hands to villainize any effort by conservatives to take on women’s issues.
The feminism debate is something that has become more vicious with the evolution of social media. Jill Bader, Director of Strategic Partnerships at Strategic Perceptions, and former Communications Director at “Right Women Right Now,” an organization that stemmed from the Republican National Committee that encourages women to run for office, believes that public discourse has gotten a lot shriller because of social media. The idea of being able to be anonymous behind a computer screen has given people the ability to make comments without being held accountable.
Political debates on social media outlets have led to many opinions being drowned out, which has brought even more contention between the left and the right. Many women believe that the Left has hijacked the term “feminism,” and in doing so, has brought the anti-abortion debate to center stage.
Early model feminists such as Susan B. Anthony actually did not approve of abortion. Dr. Elizabeth Blackwell, the first woman to receive a degree in medicine from an American university, was strongly opposed to abortion. Dr. Blackwell commonly referred to abortions as, “the gross perversion and destruction of motherhood.” Modern feminists have adopted a view of feminism that has turned women who do not believe in abortion into villains of the feminist movement.
During the Women’s March on Washington, which was meant to raise awareness for women’s rights, organizers would not allow pro-life groups, such as Students for Life and New Wave Feminists, to march with the rest. This goes to show the unwillingness to work together by certain members of the Left. Why can’t we accept that we all have different viewpoints? Why can’t we accept that we are all working to the same goal, and simply have different ways of achieving it? People who do not see eye-to-eye on this issue were deemed to not care for women’s rights, and not care for the “livelihood” of women.
This mindset is the exact mindset that has brought us to the current state of our political discourse.
For any male or female that did not march in a Women’s March, you are no less of a feminist than any woman who did. As a country that prides itself on being a diverse nation of immigrants, we should also want to pride ourself on being a country that has a diverse number of accepted opinions. While you may not agree with an individual’s opinions, you should respect it.
Bader, a conservative activist, believes that one of the best ways we can ensure that women are treated equally is by encouraging them to run for office. In a phone conversation with Bader, we discussed how it is important to acknowledge the difference between approaching a male and female to get them to run for office. For many people, especially females, the increase of public shaming and humiliation via social media has become something that has made it significantly harder to get individuals to run for office in fear that they will be a victim themselves.
In a time that we are trying to convince more females to run for office, we must not discount another woman’s opinion simply because we don’t agree. That is not feminism. While every woman has their own view of what feminism encompasses, it all generally revolves around some sort of empowerment for women. How can someone say they empower women when they crucify them for being anti-abortion? How can someone say they empower women when they vilify them for supporting a conservative candidate for office? How can someone say they empower women when they turn against them for BEING a conservative?
Our society currently has an incredible double standard. We must fix this. Being a conservative feminist doesn’t make you any less of a feminist then the person next to you. In an article written in Order and Liberty, University of North Carolina student Emma Harrison writes that, “The conservative feminist fights for her equality everyday by fighting for her right to make decisions for herself as a free, independently-minded, strong-willed individual.”
The Left does not own Feminism, nor will it ever.
A conservative individual is no less of a feminist than a woman on the left. Conservative women do not belittle themselves or those around them who may see things differently. Harrison describes what a conservative woman is when she writes,
“A conservative feminist believes she has the right to make her own decisions, free from government regulation and control. Sure, a conservative feminist may have a different view on abortion and equal pay, but she refuses to be a victim instead of a victor.”
Bader describes that it will take every one of us to stand up, and promote change. We must get off our Facebook timelines and Twitter feeds and have a real conversation so people can feel less muzzled. You do not have to be loud, but you have to be substantive.
We have a chance now, as men and women, to stand up for change. Our country has been built on principles of equality for all, and as time has went on, we have made significant steps forward. With the creation of social media, it has given the illiberal left the opportunity to bully men and women into thinking that there is only one way of looking at things.