I am a conservative who has been saying much of the same things this author says in this editorial (below). Too many other conservatives automatically discredit any and all arguments or concerns of feminists, in part because they wrongly conflate feminism with liberalism.
Even if it were true that all feminists are liberals (which is not the case), it does not stand that every point they raise is wrong.
I’ve also noticed for a long time now that a lot of conservatives misunderstand some of the terms or concepts feminists discuss.
I agree with about 99% of the following piece by S. Quinlan; there may be one or two points I do not fully agree with, however.
I was a lifelong Republican until a few years ago. I left the Republican party for several reasons, one of which is I do see double standards – Republicans really do not respect women; a lot of conservative men really are sexist (as are some of the women on the right, who at times pen editorials denying the barriers their own biological sex face).
I, however, cannot join the left or the Democratic Party, because they also adhere to sexist double standards, as well.
by S. Quinlan
Today’s feminists have some valid concerns, and those on the right would benefit from listening.
Last week, Representative Martha McSally (R., Ariz.) revealed that she had been sexually abused in high school by a coach. Her #MeToo story is a reminder that conservatism cannot afford to dismiss the modern feminist movement.
In the six months since the #MeToo movement began, conservatives have, at times rightly, questioned or criticized some aspects of it. But too often they have wrongly downplayed, ignored, or completely dismissed the impetus of the movement.
This Republican politician’s story, and the many similar stories shared in recent months, show how typical these incidents and experiences are, and they illustrate how the feminist movement shines a spotlight on the unique obstacles women face.
Those on the right should not ignore this movement or its concerns; there is a greater need for feminism in the United States than conservatives sometimes believe.
Unfortunately, the word “feminist” is often treated as though it were synonymous with “liberal,” and so it’s become a dirty word to many of us on the right. It shouldn’t be.
The concept of feminism should be nonpartisan; after all, the basic definition of feminism is the idea that there should be social, political, and economic equality of the sexes, and that it is important to defend women’s rights and equality. This definition of feminism is, admittedly, different from the one promoted by some of today’s most prominent and vocal feminists.
Though many aspects of third-wave feminism include laudatory goals, such as inclusivity and intersectionality, modern feminism often gives conservatives valid reasons to object to it. Third-wave feminists have promoted the movement as one attempting to include everyone, while simultaneously forcefully and harshly rejecting anyone whose views deviate even slightly from their preferred agenda. …
In short, many of those invested in third-wave feminism often choose to create hostile environments in the name of tolerance and browbeat people into agreement with their agenda rather than start and encourage productive discussions. But we cannot allow these individuals — who claim that their definition of feminism and their agendas are the only correct worldview — to prevent us from striving for full equality for women.
Some conservatives argue that feminism is no longer necessary because women already have equal rights.
It’s true that, thanks to the persistent work of past feminists, women today have attained equal political rights and participate more fully in the American economy.
We were granted the right to vote in 1920, not even 100 years ago. We entered the workforce just within the last century. We first coined the term “sexual harassment” and insisted it was unacceptable in the 1970s, fewer than 50 years ago.
Is it truly possible to counteract all the stereotypes, gender assumptions, and common viewpoints and attitudes about women in such little time? We still hear comments today about women being too emotional, too hysterical, too shrill, too bossy, too unlikeable, too ambitious, too independent.
Many on the right also criticize modern feminism for focusing more on the victimization of women, than on their empowerment — a valid criticism. But it isnecessary to recognize and understand that there are historical disadvantages for women, particularly for women of color or those in poverty, that cannot be so easily overcome in under a century.
It’s true that American women are better off, significantly so in many cases, than women in many other countries, but it is also glaringly evident that even in the United States, there are obstacles and challenges that women face that men do not, which impede full social, political, and economic equality, including sexual harassment and violence against women; everyday or benevolent sexism; or workplace inequality, such as when identical résumés with male names receive more offers than those with female names, when credit is given to men instead of women in mixed-sex professional groups, and when women receive less acknowledgment than men do for offering ideas or identifying issues.
Unfortunately, these problems often get lost amid partisan squabbles, while the most extreme parts of modern feminism are mocked — such as prominent feminists who idealize a world without men, compare the United States (with its functioning government and elections) to The Handmaid’s Tale, and treat small but valid annoyances such as “manspreading” as an egregious affront. But modern feminists do raise some valid concerns, and conservatives should pay attention, if not to improve the plight of women, then for their own political benefit. Specifically, modern feminism works to counteract rape culture as well as double standards and inequality in the workplace.
“Rape culture” is, admittedly, a loaded term, as it appears to argue that society openlycelebrates rape and the mistreatment of women — an idea that sounds preposterous on its face. But “rape culture” doesn’t mean that every man is a rapist or that there are no good people willing to stop the mistreatment of women. It simply refers to the allowances granted to abusers and the way society often tolerates, minimizes, and trivializes sexual mistreatment.
It is difficult to argue that such a culture doesn’t exist when powerful men get away with sexual abuse in the workplace and when those around such predators enable, cover up, or otherwise assist them, while victims get blacklisted or fired.
On many campuses, college administrations have shown that athletic programs take precedence over seeking justice for women, and athletes receive harsher punishments for using drugs than for assaulting women.
Thousands of rape kits, containing physical evidence collected from victims, remain untested across the country, including 11,341 untested kits discovered in one county alone. [The author then cites numerous examples of how courts, society, etc, mistreat women rape victims]
Some conservatives argue that the falls from grace of Harvey Weinstein, Matt Lauer, and Bill O’Reilly are evidence that the notion of rape culture is a myth because those predators were punished after their crimes came to light. But that ignores how others knew of the abuse at the time and let it continue for years, if not decades. Even after losing their careers, these men still have defenders and supporters.
Many in the conservative movement are too quick to insist that rape culture does not exist and that statistics regarding the prevalence of sexual assault are overblown, but the events of 2017 and the thousands of #MeToo stories women have told should cause us at least to question those conclusions.
…Sex is not a predictor of performance, and it is not more important than whether a person is qualified for a job. But conservatives should look at this research and ask a few questions: Why are men more confident in running for office? Are there specific things holding women back? Can we do something to alleviate those issues? Shouldn’t we strive to eliminate factors that hold women back from pursuing their passions and achieving their potential? Shouldn’t wewant to do so? Shouldn’t we be concerned that women feel held back?
… Studies do show that women who negotiate are viewed more negatively than men who negotiate. These four studies found that women were penalized for negotiating more than men were. It’s not victimhood to acknowledge that this obstacle, and many more, exist in the workplace.
….We don’t have to renounce the term “feminism” and cede the movement to the Left. Conservatism needs feminism, because women are leaving the Republican party, an alarming phenomenon that is being largely ignored. Only 23 percent of Millennial women identify as Republicans — down from 36 percent in 2002.
Conservatism needs feminism because, when women in Hollywood formed an anti-harassment initiative, there was more focus on mocking women for wearing black dresses to awards shows than on highlighting the initiative’s impressive legal-defense fund for victims of sexual harassment.
Conservatism needs feminism because, during the debate regarding criminal punishment for women who have abortions, there was no national recognition of the responsibility of the men who impregnate them. It takes two to make a baby, and it’s no secret that many men have pressured women into getting abortions and paid for those procedures.
In such cases, wouldn’t those fathers deserve to be legally penalized as well? It’s no secret that many men have threatened not to be involved in a child’s life and refused to provide child support.
Are they not just as responsible for their child’s welfare? From the party of personal responsibility, where is the demand to also hold the men accountable?
Conservatism needs feminism because, out of all the people to take the stage during the Conservative Political Action Conference, only one person used the spotlight to denounce the treatment of women by President Donald Trump and Republican Senate candidate Roy Moore (the former having crudely admitted on tape to grabbing women by the genitals, the latter having been credibly accused of preying on teenage women).
Conservatism needs feminism because that speaker at CPAC was booed and escorted out by security for her own safety — because of the actions of people on the right, who claim that only the Left shouts or shuts down opposing viewpoints.
…Feminism can strengthen conservatism, just as conservatism can strengthen feminism by pointing out inconsistencies in the feminist movement, such as how some self-proclaimed feminists criticize a conservative woman’s physical appearance or sexual history instead of her ideas, or how the Women’s March continues to overlook anti-Semitism.
Despite such flaws in the feminist movement, though, we should not view feminism as unnecessary or argue that it should not exist. Instead, we should admit that it seeks to address real problems. We should criticize modern feminism where its diagnoses or solutions are wrong, but we have to engage the substantive issues it raises.
I proudly identify as conservative and voted Republican my entire life until 2016. But the Republican party is driving women away. Something needs to change.
Anti- ‘Me Too’ Hash Trend Advocates Seeking to Minimize Sexual Harassment Against Women; Tag Was Never About Rape Only – ‘Me Too’ Trend Is Not Suggesting that All Women are Weak, All Men are Sexual Abuser – Me Too Is Not a Witch Hunt
Toxic Femininity, the Flip Side of Toxic Masculinity, and the Love of Scientific- Sounding Jargon to Endorse Sexism – Sexist Beliefs and Practices are Acceptable so Long As There is a Scientific Study That Defends Them