Posts tagged with: feminism

The recent Rolling Stone debacle has brought to the forefront of national discussion a very serious issue: does America have a “rape culture” on college campuses? This is an important issue for a couple of reasons. First, no person, male or female, should ever fear or experience sexual assault, especially in a place they feel “at home,” such as a college campus. As a society, we have to do everything we can to make sure sexual assault never happens.

This brings us to the second issue. We cannot make our society safe if we are working with shoddy research and specious data. And that is what seems to be at the heart of the Rolling Stone story. Christina H. Sommers of the American Enterprise Institute explains how the notion of “rape culture” became seen as the norm, and why that is downright dangerous. Women (and men) deserve far better than anecdotes masquerading as science, and journalists who play fast and loose with facts.

Lesbian_Heteronormative_Oppression_FeministThe Federalist has published two articles recently that question whether thoughtful women still want to be labeled as “feminists.” It is not a case of, “let’s toss out our high heels and head back into the kitchen where we belong.” Rather, it’s a case of how “feminism” got high-jacked.

Leslie Loftis says we should not throw out feminism. Instead, we women need to reclaim it. She says today’s feminists are allowing themselves to be used as pawns in political games, and that “feminist” has come to mean “victim” in the minds of far too many. Loftis then quotes Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a woman who has spent much of her life speaking and writing about the treatment of women in Islam:

Let’s not throw away feminism. It’s like throwing away the Civil Rights movement and its history. It’s like throwing away the history of the Apartheid movement, or the anti-slavery movement. Feminism is not the monster. Some women are. We can reclaim it. We have to make it serious and you’re on the right path by standing up and giving them opposition.

I am a feminist. I am a grateful and vicious feminist. I’ll tell you what we need to fight against – the real war on women.

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Some feminists will tell you: it’s tough being a woman. We don’t have enough choices. We don’t get paid enough. There’s glass ceilings and sexist stereotypes. Women, arise and unite!

Maybe not. “Hysteria and hype,” says the American Enterprise Institute’s Christina Hoff Sommers. She examines radical feminism vs. truth. Guess which wins?

Birth ControlOne of my jobs when I was in college was doing tech work (lights and sound) for a small but busy theater. I enjoyed the work, and most of my co-workers, not to mention the opportunity to meet the varied and creative people who came to perform. One of my co-workers, though, was a first-class jerk. His hands “wandered,” he said inappropriately sexual things to me and harassed me. When I finally figured out that he was targeting me, I told him to not only knock it off, but if he didn’t, I’d call his wife and let her know exactly what he was doing. He never bothered me again. This situation did not require a bill to passed in Congress, nor a sexual harassment seminar for all employees. It required me to stand  up for myself.

When Sandra Fluke testified before a House panel on the need for employers to pay for women’s contraception in 2012, her testimony was celebrated by radical feminists and decried by women who believed we should be responsible for our own healthcare. It’s interesting to note how the President of the United States reacted to the whole situation. President Obama called Ms. Fluke to tell her that her parents should be proud of her. Huh? Ms. Fluke wasn’t some 4th-grade girl who stood up to bullies. She’s an adult, making adult choices and decisions. Why did the president feel it necessary to bring her parents into the discussion? (more…)

After Elliot Rodger decided to take out his rage on innocent people in California, the web went crazy with vitriol. Rodger had mentioned in his homemade video and his writings that he was angry at women, couldn’t get a date, etc. Despite the fact that the majority of his victims were male, the #YesAllWomen tag went viral. It was meant to denote that all women suffer from abuse and violence.

But is this really the case? Thankfully, Christina Hoff Sommers from the American Enterprise Institute does a great job on setting the record straight. She reminds us that this is too important an issue to get the facts wrong.

Elsa Walsh and her daughter - Courtesy of Elsa Walsh

Elsa Walsh and her daughter – Courtesy of Elsa Walsh

In a recent piece for the Washington Post, Elsa Walsh offers some healthy reflections on motherhood and career, hitting at some of the key themes I pointed to in my recent post on family and vocation.

She begins by discussing her own college-aged feminism, saying, “I wanted to be independent and self-supporting. I wanted love, but I wanted to be free.” With marriage and children, however, her views on freedom, family, and success would eventually change. “I’ve come to question many of the truths I once held dear,” she writes. “The woman I wanted to be at 22 is not the woman I wanted to be at 38 — not even close — and she is certainly not who I am now at 55.”

Tying things to the current discussion about women and career — driven largely by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s popular book, Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead — Walsh notes that, much like the revolutionary feminism of the 1970s, there’s something narrow and unsatisfying in the way that womanhood and career are currently being discussed:

Every few years, America rightly plunges into a public and heated discussion about women and feminism, work and family. The latest round has been stoked by Sheryl Sandberg, Anne-Marie Slaughter and Marissa Mayer, who have become symbols and participants in the argument over what women want. Yet, I find it to be a narrow conversation, centered largely on work, as though feminism is about nothing more than becoming a smart and productive employee and rising to the top.

Parenthood and family are much more central to our lives than this conversation lets on. The debate has become twisted and simplistic, as if we’re merely trying to figure out how women can become more like men. Instead, let’s ask: How can women have full lives, not just one squeezed around a career?

It helps to take a longer view of a woman’s life. (more…)

(March is Women’s History Month. Acton will be highlighting a number of women who have contributed significantly to the issue of liberty during this month.)

“This strange child” is how Hildegard was once described. Born in 1098, she was known to have visions, but kept them private for many years. Her family sent her at the age of 8 for religious education. It was not until the age of 42 that she realized the full extent of her visions and her understanding of religious texts. She sought the advice of St. Bernard and then Pope Eugenius so that her visions would never be seen as anything outside of or against Church teaching.

iconographer: Richard Cannuli

iconographer: Richard Cannuli

Hildegard’s work was some of the most prolific and wide-ranging in church history. She wrote music, plays, theology, and natural history. She also left behind massive correspondence. Besides writing to those who sought prayerful and private advice, she took to task men like Emperor Frederick Barbarossa of Germany, the archbishop of Main, and King Henry II of England. She was known to openly approach medical subjects (such as menstruation) and political and religious topics even some men would not discuss.

The 12th century was one of schisms and religious turmoil, and Hildegard was openly critical of those who spoke against the Church. However, the practice of burning heretics, popular at this time, was one Hildegard eschewed: “Do not kill them, for they are God’s image.”

Some feminist theologians of the 20th century have found Hildegard to be “feminist-friendly“, focusing on her apparent disobedience of a local bishop when relocating her convent. However, nothing suggests that Hildegard was anything but a true scholar, a student of science, reason and theology, who sought to work within the Church’s tradition of intellectual endeavor. In 2012, now-Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI declared Hildegard of Bingen a “Doctor of the Church”: a title given to certain saints known for their work that leads to new understandings of the Catholic Church’s Faith. It is in the realm of faith, reason, and intellect that Hildegard can be regarded a woman of liberty.