Feminism: Why It Isn’t My Favorite F Word

I’m about to do something which women have been told is the ultimate betrayal: criticize modern-day feminism. Note that I specify modern-day, because it’s precisely the most recent wave of feminism I have an issue with. Before you gouge my eyes out with your acrylic nails, hear me out.

I am not against feminism as a general concept. I want that clear. But what I also want clear is the original definition of feminism, because I am of the opinion that’s been lost in the recent mass uprising that is the modern feminism movement. To the Oxford-Dictionary-mobile! (I admit, that joke sounded better in my head).

Feminism, as defined by Oxford Dictionary (drumroll, please):

The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of the equality of the sexes

I draw your attention to the part that specifies that it’s supposed to be based on the equality of the sexes. Multiple. Meaning both men and women. Bear with me and tolerate the traditional binary view necessary for this particular conversation. (I could get into the binary gender situation, but we’ve already got the first transgender doll taking care of that for us).

Now, a logical person would see said definition of feminism and say, great. Or at least, I do. At the core of the original feminist movement, all women wanted was for there to be equality for both men and women across anything and everything. Personally, equality is a no-brainier for me. It makes total sense that we should treat everyone the same.

Here’s my first issue. Why are we calling it feminism? And before you look at me like I’m an idiot because women’s rights is in the official definition, what I mean is that we should realistically be calling it humanism. I mean, really, do we need a separate label and ideology which says a common sense thing like treat everyone equally? Did no one teach you to share in kindergarten?

Not to mention that the fact that the name feminism itself excludes men. Which is not the (original) point. It perpetuates this idea that men can’t be just as equally into the idea of equality for every single human on this planet (I’m not sure what the deal is with the 7 new planets NASA found recently, so I’m limiting my scope here).

Issues with the name aside, I am not a fan of what modern-day feminism has become. When the movement started in the 1920s, women were fighting for their right to vote. In the 1960s, they were fighting for basic equality in the workplace. These are all amazing things that I’m on board with. The fact that women had to fight for these  basic rights is ridiculous, but the point is that they did, and did so successfully. Those two monumental shifts were largely due to the first and second wave of feminism. Common sense is alive and well here and I salute the women of the past. They made giant strides in the sphere of women’s rights.

What happened, third wave feminism?

Honestly, please, someone explain this to me.

I feel like modern-day feminism needs to revisit the original definition and remember  that the point was equality for everyone. Not just women at the expense of men and not just for men at the expense of women. So much of modern feminism seems to stem from a deep-seated hatred for men, it’s hard to imagine how anyone even functions. How are you able to preach equality with a clear conscience if you demonize half of the world’s population?

Now, I’m not saying that men aren’t sometimes problematic. I’m not saying that they are entirely blameless for some of the real barriers women face or have faced in the past. But if you’re willing to paint them in such a light, it’s no wonder a certain percentage don’t support this brand of feminism. I wouldn’t either, if the ideology being forced upon me was telling me that I was the worst thing to ever exist.

Feminism was never intended to be synonymous with man-hating. But I fear that’s what it’s become, and I have a hard time rationalizing supporting that ideology.

In fact, it’s gone so far as to blame men for essentially everything and anything. Let’s start with the most common one: the wage gap. Yes, I’m opening this Pandora’s Box.

The wage gap essentially says that women earn 70-80 (exact numbers seem to vary here) cents on the dollar compared to men. Meaning there’s roughly a 20-30 cent gap and women are earning less because they’re women.

Here’s the thing though: that 20-30 cent gap exists when you look at the average earnings of all men and all women in the workplace. The fact that it’s even an average is problematic in and of itself, because averages are defined differently by different people, but let’s assume the mean, for the sake of argument. That means that we’re not accounting for differences in occupation, education level, class or race. We’re just looking at gross income.

This is inherently a bad approach, since all of the aforementioned factors play a huge role in how much money one makes. This should be obvious and yet we continue to use these numbers as common  knowledge.

If you actually control for the proper variables and compare men and women doing the same job, working close to the same amount of hours, with the same amount of experience, the wage gap essentially becomes  non-existent.

Which begs the question of why women still seem to make less money than men overall. I’m going to argue that what society perceives as the wage gap is largely perpetuated by women themselves. There are of course societal factors as well that can’t be ignored, but bear with me.

There is a massive difference in the types of education men and women pursue, as an overall trend. Men are overwhelmingly over-represented in STEM occupations, such as chemistry and engineering, while women are overwhelmingly  over-represented in disciplines such as the humanities and psychology. This fact has economic ramifications.  This logically makes sense. Someone with a psychology degree is likely not going to pursue aerospace engineering.  It then follows that certain occupations make more money than others and that therefore, individuals will make different amounts of money depending on their academic and workplace experience.

Women tend to choose academic directions and occupations that are lower on the pay scale. Many ask for a lower starting salary than a man would at the same job, and many are less likely to ask for a raise or promotion. There are multiple reasons for this, and yes, I could tie it to the patriarchy if I wanted to, but purely from an economic standpoint, women are less likely to get raises and promotion because they’re expensive.

Women are more likely than men to ask for an extended family leave. They’re more likely to thus work less hours. By working less hours, they make less money and hence, their incomes are lower than those of men. It’s basic economics.

The wage gap exists, but only when you examine broad trends of incomes and ignore outside influences (bad science, bad economics, bad logic, would not recommend).

What does this mean for women then? If you want to close the wage gap, aim your education and occupation toward a field that is predominantly male-dominant.The men will likely appreciate having at least a few women around, and women will be on more equal ground as a result. This is great.

What do we do instead? A Day Without a Woman.

A day wherein women show solitary for the socioeconomic inequality faced by women (which as I explained above is largely self-inflicted), by, believe it or not, not working. 

Women are protesting the supposed wage gap by not working, consequently working less hours and getting less pay, translating to lower overall income, and aggravating the wage gap that they believe exists, even further. Search for “counter-productive” in the dictionary,  and guess what pops up.

I’m completely for women empowerment. I think it’s awesome. There’s nothing I love more than seeing my girlfriends empowered. There’s a lot that’s amazing about being a woman. But celebrate that, go kick ass in the workplace, earn your spot and show everyone why you deserve respect… By working. Go do the thing that women in the previous movements were told they couldn’t and make them proud.

One of my biggest issues with modern-day feminism is the undertone of victimization that’s rippling through everything lately. Equality should be empowering, not agonizing. Women aren’t  inherently victims because they’re born women. If anything, women are amazing because they’re born women.

Don’t forget that, modern-day feminists. You’re strong, amazing individuals. Stop looking for scapegoats and do you. Advocate for true equality and get back to the roots of the movement. Please.


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