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Feminism is not sexist

Not all feminists hate men, and not all feminists are sexist toward men either. Feminism, according to Dictionary.com, is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality to men.” The fundamental goal of feminism is to promote equality between the genders in all spheres of life. Sexism, by its very nature, is contradictory to these aims. Feminists, instead, want to ensure there is a balance of power between men and women where no gender is seen as superior.

Now that I have defined feminism, I will make it very clear what sexism means. People believed that sexism was demonstrated more after The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) was written. Women, under the ERA, became equal to men. This equality pushed people to believe that women would become sexist toward men. According to Dictionary.com, sexism is “discrimination or devaluation based on a person’s sex, as in restricted job opportunities.” Women, in short, would be sexist and exhibit reverse sexism if they had institutional power over men. If women could exclude men from, say, job opportunities, then that would be sexist. Women do not, obviously, which means they are not sexist in that regard. Focusing on women’s issues, to some, is creating a “war on men.” This point is expressed in Suzanne Venker’s article “Women Aren’t Women Anymore.”

She said that women have been “raised to think of men as the enemy.” Women, in most families, were not raised to believe that men are the enemy. People that believe men are the enemy most likely came to that conclusion by looking at other outside resources. In my childhood, my family tried to convince me that Santa Claus was real; they did not persuade me to believe that men are enemies. Feminists, too, do not necessarily see men as enemies. Though, Venker said, “Women pushed men off their pedestal (women had their own pedestal, but feminists convinced them otherwise).” All feminists wanted was for women to leave their pedestals. If women were not “inferior” to men, they would not have been on these pedestals in the first place.

It was certainly not fun to be on these pedestals. Eva, the protagonist in Tillie Olsen’s Tell Me a Riddle, was on a pedestal and treated like property by her husband. In the book, Olsen says, “In paradise woman, you will be the footstool of your husband.” For most of her adulthood, she took care of her children and kept the house clean. In the end of the story, she becomes depressed. She “lost” herself because she could not express her individuality; she was stuck with her position as a housewife.

A lot of women today are not like Eva; they are not pushed up on pedestals. Women can express themselves freely. People should not be angry at women for getting their words out in society and people should be delighted that men and women are equal. When women speak up for themselves, some people believe they are demonstrating sexism. If women pushed men up on a pedestal, then it would be reverse sexism. But it is not.

Venker does not understand this. “Women have the power to turn everything around. All they have to do is surrender to their nature – their femininity – and let men surrender to theirs,” she said. In addition, she thinks women can forget about their economic, education and social roles. I, however, believe that they should acknowledge these roles; they once did not have these roles. “If they do [surrender], marriageable men will come out of their woodwork,” she added. She suggests that men seek women who stay on their pedestal. This is not true in a lot of cases. Think about some marriages where the wife is a lawyer and the husband is not a professional. This should not be strange to anyone; this is why we need feminism.

We also need feminism because a woman once told me that I was “too cute” to get a PhD. She suggested I, like her, stay on a pedestal and be a stay at home mother. As a feminist, I refuse to be placed on a pedestal. I also refuse to call a woman who is not on a pedestal sexist. I will get a PhD, and it will not be considered reverse sexism if I marry a man who does not have one.

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Feminism is not sexist