Turn to a college student you know and ask this simple question: “What is feminism?”
Chances are, every response will mention women, not men. If they expand on their answer, they will likely reference “freeing the nipple” and “reproductive rights.” These are typical crusades seen across campus.
Then, ask that same person: “What was feminism?” Chances are, every response will mention fighting for voting rights, representation in the STEM — Science, Technology, Engineering and Math — fields, and being viewed as more than an object. Historical feminism.
Modern feminism, with all its focus on shock and awe, can divert attention from a wider look at the injustices and struggles faced by people of both sexes in our shared society.
Feminism won’t tell you that men are 80 percent of the suicide victims and 76 percent of the homicide victims. Feminism won’t tell you that men are 93 percent of the workforce fatalities and 61 percent of the homeless population. You will never know that fewer than 20 percent of men win child custody battles, and you will never find a relief center for domestic violence against men.
The feminist argument is disconnected, and college students of all people should understand this.
A feminist might claim that “men’s issues are important to us, too” but the proof is in the pudding and feminists rarely — read never — actively campaign on behalf of men. While there are hundreds of campus feminist organizations, you’ll never see pro-men groups because that would be sexist.
Today’s version of feminism deems “freeing the nipple” as one of their most empowering sub-movements, but that cannot lift the socially constructed norm about breasts. Breasts, while serving the primary purpose of child nourishment, have always remained a sexualized organ. If legislation allowing partial female nudity were enacted, society would still sexualize breasts. The feminist argument is disconnected, and college students of all people should understand this.
Today’s feminists can be found screaming about “reproductive rights,” but allow me to remind you that nearly all founding feminists were against abortion — Susan B. Anthony, Mary Wollstonecraft, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Jane Addams, Dorothy Day, the list goes on and on. Unfortunately, this fun fact is left out of our history classes.
Abortion, in and of itself, exploits women as it teaches them that they cannot succeed if they have children. The promotion of ending pregnancies tells women that the natural process of childbirth is not normal, that their body should not always work as it is meant to. Less empowering, more restricting. Already a mother and want to succeed in other arenas of life such as your job or academics? Feminism implies that it’s too late for you.
We should not only focus on the women receiving abortions, though. Let us remember that tens of millions of girls have been murdered by abortion. Their heartbeat, which begins at 18 days gestation, is ignored. Their ability to recoil from pain as early as eight weeks is ignored. Their fully formed limbs, which are observable via ultrasound, are ignored. I’m sorry, but my body does not have two distinct DNA, 20 fingers, 20 toes, and two heartbeats. These are key indicators of another life, in many cases a female life that needs protection.
Many intersectional feminists on my campus tell me that because I protect all women, in or out of the womb, I am a “bad feminist.” That’s OK, though, because for the reasons listed above, I am not any kind of feminist.
Alexandra Artiles is a dual enrollment student at Indian River State College. This piece is part of a CampusZette series exploring the culture, oddities, and experiences of students on college campuses through their eyes.