All women should be feminists. All women should fight for respect, protection and equal rights. It is what they deserve; it is what they are meant for. And yet an average woman shies away from the label “feminist.”
These days, the word “feminist” conjures up an image of a bitter, man-hating woman who blames all the world’s misfortunes on men and their oppressive, patriarchal social behavior. True, that is where our world started. Women did have to fight for suffrage rights, the rights to initiate divorce and the rights to access, and use, contraceptives. Today, because these rights have been rewarded to women in many places, the concept of feminism is often blurry.
Maureen Dowd, known for her New York Times columns and her book, “Are Men Necessary?” is a feminist gone sexist. In both her columns and book, she disrespects men in every aspect. According to CNN, she portrayed her attitude on “American Morning” by saying “there’s a body of evidence now that the Y chromosome is rotting at such a fast rate that it will go out of business in about 100,000 years.” Also, in a column last fall, she wrote, “men are simply not biologically suited to hold higher office. The Bush administration has proved that once and for all.”
Such statements from an educated woman like Dowd are an embarrassment to feminists. At a time of war, voices expressing opinions on the Bush administration are inevitable and necessary; however, Dowd’s ridiculous claims are insulting and uncalled for.
Feminism originated as a fight against sexism, but because of figures such as Dowd, it is becoming widely perceived as another form of sexism and that is unacceptable regardless of which sex is attacking which.
Dowd and other feminists of today go on to denounce beauty magazines that encourage women to take extreme, superficial measures to become more attractive sex objects to men. They even go on to put down men by saying that they are incapable of seeing women as people who deserve to be treated better than sex objects. This display of disrespect might have been true a decade or two ago when it was still difficult for women to rise high in society. There is no excuse for why it should still be true today.
As women now have much-improved opportunities and rights, they are well-educated, independent and self-sufficient. There is not much a man can do in today’s society that a woman cannot.
However, there are still so many women out there, regardless of their intelligence, that make the mistake of basing their self-confidence on how men react to them. Breast implants are becoming a norm, and eating disorders have been haunting women for ages. Can we blame men for regarding women, who parade around with their chests tightly wrapped with a T-shirt that says “I take candy from strangers,” as mere sex objects?
Another feminist complaint is that men regard women as weak, incapable beings. Of course there are the obvious physical and emotional differences between the two sexes. Women are smaller in stature and delicate both physically and emotionally. Women do require protection from men; however, that does not render them incapable. They are not completely helpless when it comes to changing a light bulb or hammering in a nail – even if they might act like it. The only things holding them back are the freshly manicured nails on their fingers. Women suffer from stereotypes that they help create.
Feminism is not a battle of the sexes. It is about respect – not just for women, but for each other. Feminists no longer should be labeled man-haters. Men are not the enemy. Feminism starts with each individual woman and her realization that her IQ is valued more than her bra size – by the real men that are worth associating with anyway. Feminism is not a fight. It is a matter of respect earned through a demonstration of dignity.
– Saerom Yoo is a sophomore news-editorial journalism major from Pusan, South Korea. Her column appears every Thursday.