The Fall of Feminism

Elaina Schilt, Writer/Designer

     Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines feminism as “the belief in and advocacy of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.” By this definition, I would consider myself a feminist, and I believe that most people would consider themselves to be one too. 

     However, the modern feminist movement has strayed from its original ideals of equal rights and opportunities to an equity-based, social-justice approach that degrades and disadvantages women more than it empowers them. 

     First, let’s look at the history of feminism in the United States.

     First-wave feminism was the movement from the mid-nineteenth century to the mid-twentieth century that aimed to achieve suffrage and property rights for women.

     It began with the Seneca Falls Convention, led by Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1848, was the first women’s rights convention in history. It was here where the revised Declaration of Sentiments was written: “We hold these truths to be self-evident; that all men and women are created equal.” It led to decades of social activism and political action that completely changed the future of women’s roles in America. 

     The National American Woman Suffrage Association, as well as many other similar organizations of the late nineteenth century, was at the forefront of fighting for women’s rights. Their success is evident in many aspects of life, the first being education.

     The feminist organizations prompted colleges to begin educating women int he 1830s. Few women were able to learn in the same classroom as men at these universities. Still, the progress was pivotal, as educated women began to take on roles outside of the home.

     In 1849, for instance, Elizabeth Blackwell became the first woman to ever graduate from medical school and become a physician. She had the highest grades in her all-male class.

     The movement also provoked an expansion of political rights. By 1900,  women in every state had ample property and ownership rights. In 1917, the first congresswoman, Jeannette Rankin, was elected and sworn in. And finally, in 1920, women won the right to vote with the addition of the Nineteenth Amendment to the Constitution. 

     Now having proper representation in American politics, women were able to work towards equal pay, ending discrimination, and social improvement in areas such as education and the workplace, which were the goals that defined the era of feminism of the late twentieth century, second-wave feminism.

     Into the twenty-first century, a new kind of feminism started to take shape. This post-modern, third-wave feminism advocates for “woke” culture rather than a movement centered on women’s rights.

     For decades, feminism has focused on fighting the objectification of women. Objectification is the reduction of a woman to her body and appearance, rather than her character and values. 

     Feminists today claim to adamantly oppose objectification yet many also proudly support popular artists, influencers and entertainers who are the very proponents of it. 

     For example, many female celebrities have spoken out against objectification and claim that women who are seen in movies, music videos and advertisements are not realistic. Isn’t it ironic, though, that these celebrities who vocalize their disgust with today’s beauty standards are the very proponents of these standards? They are the ones who young women look up to, therefore they are the ones in the position to change this. 

     So many feminists claim to be opposed to these unrealistic ideals of attraction and objectification, while they proudle engage in or support the industries that make them a reality.

     Furthermore,  radical feminists are trying to re-define and erase womanhood. Recently, because of the insane idea that the word woman is not inclusive enough, the term “birth-giver” or “birthing person” have been used by politicians, journalists and even scientists, to refer to women.

     In an attempt to be more politically correct and inclusive, feminists have launched an attack on womanhood itself. According to this new term, women are not mothers; they are simply a body that can give birth to a child.

     This is eerily reminiscent of the “newspeak” language of Oceania in George Orwell’s 1984, where society shrinks its vocabulary and reduces complex thoughts to more simple terms.

     This attempt to erase the word “woman” and replace it with a physiological term such as menstruating or birthing person does nothing but degrade women. It directly contradicts the feminist, anti-objectification message that is pushed today. These new and unfamiliar terms serve only to reduce women to their bodies.

     Another area where today’s modern feminism has split from traditional feminism is in athletics. For centuries, women were thought of as too fragile and gentle to engage in physical activity. Furthermore, many scientists claimed that excessive physical activity would harm a woman’s beauty and fertility. It was widely believed that it was not modest or lady-like for women to play sports. 

     It wasn’t until the mid-nineteenth century that women began to engage in non-competitive golf, tennis, archery and swimming in a club setting. Serious competitive sports for women during this time were pretty much unheard-of.

     By 1920—the same year that women achieved the right to vote—women’s competitive college sports were finally under way, with 22 percent of universities offering sports to women. However, physical educators at the collegiate level were so adamantly opposed to competitive women’s sports that they got rid of all women’s competitive sports in the 1930s.

     In short, the road to women’s participation in sports was a long road paved with obstacles and setbacks. Finally, in 1972, with Title IX of the Education Act, women were required to be given equal opportunities in education and athletics. 

     Today, women have outstanding athletic opportunities. Women in the NBA make hundreds of thousands of dollars each year, and the highest paid female athlete, Naomi Osaka, has made over $57 million since the start of her tennis career. 

     Sadly, though, women’s opportunities for athletic success are dwindling. Modern feminism blatantly ignores the women whose livelihoods are being ruined by transgender athletes, who have an undeniable biological advantage over the women whom they are competing against. 

     Even after decreased testosterone levels, a man’s oxygen carrying capacity is still higher than a woman’s. Also, Men’s lung capacity is 10 percent to 12 percent larger than that of women.

     And, according to a study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, transgender women exceled in the physical tests performed, running 12 percent faster, and doing 31 percent more pushups than women. After hormone therapy, transgender women still have a higher lean body mass and a greater muscle area than women.

     All of these factors and more contribute to the inherent physical advantage that biological males have over women when it comes to sports, even after hormone therapy.

      There are countless examples of mediocre male athletes who underwent hormone therapy and easily rose to the top of the women’s division. For example, Craig Telfer, Fallon Fox, Laurel Hubbard, Lia Thomas, Andraya Yearwood and Terry Miller are just a handful of the many transgender women that are not only competing in women’s sports but are dominating them. These are also reasons why separate categories were created for men’s and women’s sports. 

     Is it really fair to women, who have spent over a century fighting for an equal playing field in sports, to be subject to competition against athletes who were born as men? Women’s opportunity to succeed in athletics is now being taken away in the name of inclusion.

     Perhaps a league for exclusively transgender women would be a better option.

     Modern feminism turns its back on the female athletes that are being outcompeted by transgender athletes. These women whose careers are being destroyed don’t dare to speak out because they believe that nothing will be done about it, and they don’t want to be labeled as intolerant or bigoted.

     The support that modern feminists show for many groups of victimized women does not extend to the athletic sphere. 

     Many modern feminists turn their back on the silent victims of this athletic unfairness, displaying the selective nature and double standard of the feminist movement. 

     Plenty of feminists will only support certain groups of victimized women—groups whose motives align with their own. They claim to advocate for women’s rights yet they ignore the violation of female athletes’ rights.

     Perhaps the most common myth that modern feminists perpetuate is that of the “wage gap.” While modern feminists lead you to believe that the gap is rooted in oppression and discrimination, there is more to the story than what meets the eye. 

     The Equal Pay Act of 1963 outlawed gender-based discrimination in the payment of wages. However, the modern, third-wave feminists of today constantly point out the infamous wage gap that exists between men and women. Is there really a wage gap, and if so, why does it exist? 

     Yes, there is a difference between the average salary earned by men and women annually.  The reason for this disparity, however, really boils down to individual choice. 

     Statistically, men tend to choose higher paying jobs than women. For example, men make up 62 percent of all surgeons, 54 percent of anesthesiologists, 68 percent of lawyers, 92 percent of aerospace engineers, seventy-five percent of all architects and 60 percent of all financial analysts; all of which are very high-paying jobs.

     It is commonly argued that the reason why men are ahead in these fields is because they have been open to men longer than women. But, in reality, all fields have been open to men longer than women, not just the high-paying ones. 

     Many women are more interested in career fields that are not as high-paying as male-dominated ones. It is expected for men and women to choose careers that are more accustomed to their ideal, individual lifestyle. 

     For many women, though not all, getting married and having children is high on the priority list. This is a truth that dates back centuries and has been reinforced by American social systems throughout history such as the Cult of Domesticity. In contrast, most men always have and still do tend to devote more time and energy to their careers.

     Naturally, therefore, this variation in careers pursued by men and women exists.According to the Pew Research Center, around 29 percent of women in America are stay-at-home mothers, while just 4 percent of men do the same. 

     This decision made by many women to give up a career for raising their children can account for much of the salary difference. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, only 57 percent of women participate in the workforce, compared to 70 percent of men. Even with unemployment rates considered, which are higher among men, the number of men in the labor force is significantly higher than the number of women.

     All of these factors contribute to the so-called wage gap. Women have all of the same opportunities that men do when it comes to education and careers. It’s simply the case that women and men usually have different interests and priorities that, in turn, align with different careers.

     Just because there is a disparity between men and women’s salaries does not mean that there is inherit discrimination or inequality. In fact, in many areas, women are more successful than men. According to the organization, Catalyst, women have been earning more bachelor’s degrees than men since 1982, more master’s degrees since 1987, and more doctoral degrees since 2006. Likewise, women hold about 52 percent of all management positions. 

     Also, it is often said that men make more than women for doing the exact same job. While there are pay differences by gender for the same job, it does not mean that men earn more and women earn less. According to US Census data, there are many fields where women earn more than men for the same job, including childcare, social services, medical records specialties, and executive secretary work.

     Women’s increasing success in the professional field is evidence of the equality of opportunities between men and women. There has never been a time in history when women had more opportunities than they do today.

     The modern feminist movement is plagued with falsehoods, startlingly radical ideologies, and double standards. It does not welcome women with beliefs that differ from the increasingly-extreme feminist viewpoint.

     There is no place for pro-life or conservative women in the modern feminist movement, as it has become centered on political correctness and woke ideologies. 

     Traditional feminism worked towards a common goal, which was to secure equal rights for women. These earlier feminist movements included women from all different viewpoints, religions, and backgrounds. 

     The absence of many women’s voices is a major flaw of feminism and is yet another example of how today’s feminism has strayed from its origins.