America is based upon the principle of equality. We all want to be treated with the same respect as the next person. The feminist movement stemmed from that pure idea of equality and yet society holds such a negative attitude towards feminism. Generally, Americans tend to be on board with civil rights and treating others as equals, but yet they don’t want to call themselves feminists. Depending on how we define feminism, society may have a greater number of “feminists” than expected.
Many women and men would not label themselves as “feminist” but they believe that women deserve the basics of civil rights. Most people avoid classifying themselves as a “feminist” because of the societal perspective. I know that I wouldn’t call myself a feminist but I still believe that men and women should have equal rights. I have great worth and I think that I should be treated in a way that is reflective of that worth. The radical movements within the umbrella of feminism have come from the basic ideology of feminism. Unfortunately, the radical approaches have caused the attitudes of the general public to become hostile and inimical towards the original ideals of feminism (Aronson, 2013).
The feminist movement has changed drastically from this idea of equality and moved towards sameness. Deep Green Resistance, a radical feminist organization, states on their website, “As radicals, we intend to dismantle gender and the entire system of patriarchy which it embodies.” They see gender as a tool for domination. The movement has changed from civil rights to a battle for sameness among men and women.
The trouble is that men and women are not the same. Research has found that even brain development and cortical thickness are different in males and females (Mutlu, 2013). This study from Mutlu also shows that differences in abilities and qualities are due to the biological differences.
A different kind of feminism
The diversity in gender is also progressive. If we expect our culture and society to move forward, then we must accept diversity and cultivate it. Families are the building blocks of a society and if families are not being progressive then neither is the community. Equality and differentness can naturally coexist and must if there is a wish for progress in society and families more specifically.
The problem in society is not the opportunity for choice; it is the way people are choosing. Gender can be and is a force for domination. However, as seen in policy change, amendments and societal positivity towards women, they have obtained the lawful equality to men that civil rights require. Many still discriminate against capable women, but eliminating gender would not solve the problem. It would only eliminate the choice for discrimination. The problem is not the options, but it is the choice being made.
Women and men’s inherent abilities can give children great knowledge and growth and this is due to the diversity both a mother and father bring to a family. Just as the workplace presents a need for diversity, the family does as well. As previously established, the family is the most basic unit of society. The diversity between men and women working together would bring progress to a home and family.
Sexism is rampant and there is no merit in discrediting that reality. Women in the past have been ridiculed by society and demeaned due to gender. It still is and we can see that by viewing a few studies of pornography, such as the study by Dolf Zillmann and book by Pamela Paul. That is violating the principle of equality.
However, if we all are judged and acted upon according to our abilities, knowledge, capacity and potential, the principle of equality is not violated. If those things are related inherently to our gender then how can we say that there is an unlawful execution of power on those that judge our abilities, capabilities, knowledge and potential?
Two roots of negativity
It may be hard to differentiate between negative attitudes towards women because attitudes stem from two specific places. The first being inherent qualities due to gender and biological make-up and the second is gender alone. Unfortunately, these two roots of negativity are so interconnected that it is nearly impossible to make laws that would prevent the latter and allow the first.
We, as Americans and humans in general, seek after freedom. We crave the ability to choose and be agents instead of being acted upon. In other words, we crave action and avoid being treated as objects. Maslow, a widely praised psychologist, had a theory revolving around freedom as the motivating factor for all experience (Maslow, 1943). Radical Feminism as a whole requests that law and society change in order to give power to women despite the qualifications that they do or do not have. For myself, I would like to be rewarded according to my abilities rather than my biological inheritances. Things mean more to me when I have earned them.
If women are rewarded due to mandated law solely because they are women then the rights of the people (employers for example) who are making judgments not based on gender but qualities that a person possesses are punished; their rights are taken from them. They will no longer be able to base their hiring choices on what will most benefit their business.
These differences between genders have propelled society forward and if we wish to keep society moving forward, we must ask that the differences be recognized and cherished. According to an article by Hostager and Meuse (2008), diversity brings progress in education and in corporate settings. Widely accepted, diversity in thought, experiences and abilities bring development. Rather than women becoming the same as men, we can foster the differences and use them to our advantage.
For example, women in the workplace can bring great progress due to their differences from men. President Kim B. Clarke, former president of Harvard’s Business College and current president of Brigham Young University- Idaho, in an interview with 60 Minutes, proposes that companies should make changes and accommodations for women in the work place. If a company wishes to employ women and take hold of their unique talents, then they should make it work around the employee rather than having the employee sacrifice for the job.
“Sameness” is not progress
Research has shown that a woman being pulled in different directions is not the most beneficial way to achieve growth in the family or in the workplace (Voydanoff, 2004). Clark’s proposal of fitting the work around family is in direct harmony with the research. Now that there are laws in place, women have the ability to increase their talents and then show to the patriarchy how they can influence the world and the corporations for good.
The direct opposition that society has for diversity between men and women seems to be eating away at the fabric of our families and the workplace. To me, it seems that women are unaware of the great potential they have to advance the communities and families around them.
Sameness does not bring progress and progress is our end goal for our children. Everyone wants a child to succeed in life and yet the general public sees sameness in parenting styles and roles to offer to be perfectly adequate. The principle of diversity has been proven to bring progress and growth. Our goal should be to implement diversity into the basic unit of society—family. As we stand up for the logical reasoning and societal rights, we will protect the family and society as a whole.
Emily Bleazard is a senior at Brigham Young University- Idaho studying child development and psychology. She has been in the leadership of BYU-Idaho’s Child and Family Advocacy Society. Her passion for upholding traditional marriage drives her to continue her education by attending law school. She has most recently spoken at the United Nations on sex selective abortion and the Abortion Breast Cancer Link.