In the fight for women’s rights, the rallying cry for feminists has traditionally been: “women should be equal to men.” In the past, feminists took this phrase to mean that women should be treated equally to men and should have the same opportunities. However, lately, many feminists are taking the phrase much too literally.
Now, feminists are pushing women to be the same as men in all areas of their lives. This attitude of “everything must be equal” comes into play especially on the topic of what futures women should pursue. Instead of encouraging women to choose whichever profession they would like, feminists are pressuring them to enter traditionally male-dominated fields, like science or engineering, so that an “equal” number of men and women will be in these fields. For example, high school girls are offered dozens of scholarships and academic events, especially at Gunn, to pursue a career in engineering, while similar opportunities for future female artists or teachers are not readily available. Feminist media efforts, like the Goldie Blox Super Bowl ad, are also geared towards forcing girls into science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. The commercial itself features lyrics like “We don’t want pink, pink, pink; we want to think, think, think,” and insinuates that wanting to play with “girly” toys equates to being unintelligent.
Clearly, feminists have lost sight of their original intent: to ensure that all women can carve their own futures. When feminists demand that a woman be a certain way, they are attacking a woman’s right to determine her own path. In this way, the feminist movement is in fact failing to respect the rights they claim to be fighting for. If feminists truly want to help women, they should stop trying to force women into molds and instead focus on ensuring that they have the freedom to be what they want, whatever that may be.
Over all else, feminists need to stop defining a successful woman as being a certain way—the “manly” way. By putting women who snag high-paying and influential positions in male-dominated fields on a pedestal, feminists essentially define a “successful woman” as one that competes with males in the workplace. Young, well-educated girls are fed the message that they should strive to be like these women instead of wanting to be mere housewives, as if being a mother or a wife is somehow a “lesser” profession. Girls are thus unfairly pressured into becoming engineers and doctors and business women, because they know that if they choose otherwise they will be told that they are wasting their potential or “buying into” the patriarchal society. However, feminists should not try to tell women how to be “successful,” because the truth is, everyone’s definition of “success” is different, and there is nothing wrong with that. Feminists should respect women’s career choices, no matter what they may be, and stop trying to herd females into male-dominated fields just for the sake of “equality.”
Overall, feminism should not be about achieving equality for equality’s sake, but about opening up doorways so that equal opportunities for both genders exist. Whether a girl decides to become a doctor or a housewife should be her own decision, uninfluenced and unhindered by biased feminist messages. If feminists can refocus their priorities, then they surely will find themselves one step closer to the equality for which they strive.
—Lee, a senior, is a Features Editor.