In the midst of writing about the language of discussing abortion, I found an article on The Atlantic that caught my eye. Christina Hoff Sommers, an author and former philosophy professor who is probably best known for her 1995 book Who Stole Feminism?, offers another critique of the modern feminist movement. Only 23 percent of women and 16 percent of men are willing to call themselves “feminists,” she writes. Among those who shun the term are Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, former American Supreme Court justice Sandra Day O’Connor, and musician Taylor Swift.
I would be in good company, if not for women like Andrea Mrozek and Hoff Sommers. They are two of the only women I’ve seen who address, in secular terms, the divide between “Everything is patriarchy!” and what is considered standard in the 21st century. They are the reason why I hesitate to look at what some call “the second F word” with the same disgust as the first. As a Catholic young woman, I can stand behind the “new feminism” promoted by pro-life and Christian influences such as writer Theresa Martin and the Guiding Star Project. For the many who do not share our beliefs, however, another avenue is necessary and Hoff Sommers seems to fill the void. Her separation of “freedom feminism” from the extremism found on many college campuses is a secular way for both sexes to be treated as the complementary companions they are. The varying aspirations women have, to be mothers, homemakers, scientists, professors, or anything else, can all fit under these tents.
Hoff Sommers says that the reason modern feminism has lost much of its appeal is because it lacks a clear purpose. Today North American women can, for example, work outside the home and vote. Why, then, to use a Canadian example, do feminists waste so much time knitting fuzzy uteri for politicians who defend human life? One would think the obvious stereotypes this image conjures up are the things they’re trying to avoid. For goodness’ sake, they’re knitting. As well, aren’t these radical feminists just enabling the pro-life politicians (who are, admittedly, mostly male), since these feminists claim that they cannot speak out on this women’s issue until they have female parts? They gave him plenty of fake ones.
One solution Hoff Sommers suggests is to focus on problems affecting women outside of our continent. Our sisters around the world do not enjoy many of the same privileges we take for granted. They are denied education, jobs and the chance to leave the house without an accompanying male relative just because they are female. That is where our focus as feminists should be. Like the sometimes misguided social media campaign tries to show, feminism is still needed. I believe it was made for more than equal, worthy people of both sexes mocking and belittling each other.