The devolution of feminism

It saddens me that feminism has come to be associated with elderly Cat Ladies condemning the oppressive institution of matrimony in their solitary existence, and bra-burning hippies denouncing the constriction of monogamy, and with immodest women vending their wares for the world while justifying it as having the morals of a man, and ruthless high-high-heeled business moguls viciously beating out their male counterparts in bouts of reverse sexism.

That’s not feminism. That’s cynicism, psychedelic trances, immodesty, and reverse-anot upon the fronts of masculinity and femininity, but of humanity. Feminism is women being equals to men because they are human. Feminism is believing you don’t have to prostitute yourself to be value, because you are worth as much as any human. Feminism is having human morals. Feminism is human equality.

We, as a society, have universally condemned the Victorian Eras of Wuthering Heights and Middlemarch, as sexist, chauvinistic, oppressive, and generally anti-women, in order to champion women’s suffrage. We agree that until the early twentieth century, women were degraded and treated as inferiors. But is twenty-first century America really that much different than sixteenth century America?

Take a look at these quotes. Which comes from the 19th century and which from the 21st?

“Women feel just as men feel; they need exercise for their faculties, and a field for their efforts, as much as their brothers do; they suffer from too rigid a restraint, too absolute a stagnation, precisely as men would suffer; and it… is narrow-minded [and] thoughtless to condemn them… if they seek to do more or learn more than custom has pronounced necessary for their sex.”


“To all my second string bitches trying to get a baby… now you talkin’ crazy.” “Hurry up with my damn massage/ Get the Porsche out the damn garage.”

Perhaps the eloquent prose of the first and the deplorable grammar and vulgarity of the second gave away the answer, but that is a different complaint all together. The content of the first is more likened to modern thinking than the degradation of the second is, yet the truth is our media and music more frequently contain messages resembling Kanye West’s 2013 piece than Jane Eyre (1847). Consider that if any unfortunate child was to be exposed to such music as the second quotation, the message they would readily absorb is that women are good for nothing but sex and housework. If it’s no longer permissible to talk about women barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen, why is it permissible to talk about them like servants and prostitutes? If you think about it like that, we have actually devolved in our thinking of women.

If you need another example, consider Robin Thicke’s highly popular “Blurred Lines.” If you were fortunate enough not to have heard this degrading song, these lyrics should sum it up:

“Yeah, I had a bitch, but she ain’t bad as you,

So hit me up…. I’ll give you something big enough to tear your ass in two… Nothing like your last guy, he too square for you.

He don’t smack that ass and pull your hair like that…

Not many women can refuse this pimpin’.”

In case that didn’t quite repulse you, let me just explain his music video (I humbly request you not watch the video if you have any iota of respect for women). It consists of four and a half minutes of naked women strutting past Robin Thicke and his cohorts as they ogle their breasts and dance around them. The women take great pains to seem appreciative of their “attentions.” The men seem to really enjoy themselves. Disgusting.

Continuing to examine modern music, it’s not just male pop stars that treat women as pieces of meat hawked to the highest bidder. Females permit this to continue.

“Are you gonna stay the night? Doesn’t mean we’re bound for life… Come pour yourself all over me.”

Hayley Williams sings in an acknowledgment that women are only appreciable when used for casual sex; she uses her body as the only means to maintain a relationship, essentially telling men it’s okay to think women are good for nothing but sex because women think the same thing. Perhaps Ms. Williams and Mr. West would get on swimmingly.

Lady Gaga, generally known for her antics and self-confidence, seems to surrender on this front as well. Her song “Do What U Want” takes a slightly more feminist approach, but still is largely conducive to permitting men to be womanizers (more on that term later).

“You can’t stop my voice cuz you don’t own my life, but do what you want with my body. Do what you want with my body.”

While, yes, some of her lyrics seem to show a certain resilience and refusal to become an object (as opposed to a human being with feelings), most of it—to a casual listener, at least—seems to be resigned to men using women for nothing but their bodies. For other demeaning songs, see “Get Lucky,” “Suit and Tie,” “Where Have You Been,” “You Make Me Feel,” “Come and Get It,” or (unfortunately) simply tune in to your local radio station.

Just to emphasize the “modern” sentiment, let’s revisit 1920 thoughts with Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence.

“I’m sick of the hypocrisy… Women ought to be free- as free as we [men] are.”

In case all that seems too objective, let’s look at some cold, hard facts, too.

  • The United States ranks 79th worldwide in female representation in our political system; looking at non-white women, the statistics take another turn for the dismal.
  • In 2006, researchers from the University of Maryland set up fake online accounts in chat rooms. On average, feminine usernames received 100 sexually explicit or threatening messages a day to masculine names’ 3.7.
  • The term “womanize” literally translates to “to make womanly.” It is most commonly used to describe men who have casual sex with many women. Putting two and two together, a woman must have casual sex to be a “woman” according to linguistic society.
  • According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics in 2008, only 6.5% of state police officers and 19 percent of FBI agents were women.
  • When a man “gets” a woman that means he has successfully caused her to renounce all claims of a relationship with any other man. This is also his “conquest.”

Before concluding, I’d simply like to say that I am not in any way advocating women’s superiority or innate moral supremacy. Nor am I proposing that our society treat women as “more” than men or the entirely opposite side of the spectrum from Robin Thicke, which would result in validation of Camille Paglia’s claim that “educated culture routinely denigrates masculinity and manhood.” I am simply advocating true feminism (see second paragraph) and looking to expose a certain double standard and hypocrisy in our society, both of which are personal pet peeves.

I apologize for the obscenity in this piece as I personally oppose such vulgarity, but I did not want to dilute the repulsion through censorship. I felt a completely accurate depiction could only be achieved without any “sanitizing.

For more startling anecdotes on the unfair treatment of women, see Amanda Hess’s “Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet.”

If you need a little cleansing laugh from the disgust of some of the song lyrics or statistics may have created, see How to Deal With a Mansplainer: Starring Hillary Clinton” for some female empowerment (definition of mansplaining here).