"For Love of Neighbor" is a new documentary film offering a hopeful vision for Christian engagement in politics. Click here to learn more.

Why I'm Still Not a Feminist

What I think about feminism is a sort of fuzzy photographic negative of prevailing indoctrination on the topic, best summed up by this motto: Whatever someone who calls herself a feminist says, it’s typically wisest to think the opposite.

Christina Hoff Sommers does women a service by briefly highlighting the lost history of constructive feminists in her new monograph, “Freedom Feminism.” The worst thing about it is that she tries to put a positive spin on the word feminism, which to me is lost along with words like “housewife,” “blood-letting,” “corset,” and “progressive.” Freedom Feminism Sommers’s tiny book shows, as anyone in the middle already knows, that feminism has been entirely captured by radicals who nowhere near represent the typical opinions of modern American women, but pretend to speak for us all. Most women respond to an entirely different kind of pro-woman philosophy, which Sommers calls “freedom feminism.” This celebrates women and men for our differences without also insisting that difference implies degradation. This tradition of feminism calls on women to lift our world up with our unique strengths and interests, which often (but not always) naturally blossom in service professions such as volunteering, education, motherhood and healthcare. Sommers does not say, but I did a few weeks ago when addressing an audience of young women, that this tradition of viewing women as a shining beacon of hope can get a little ridiculous, but also has a large amount of truth. Women can inspire the world to higher things in a way entirely different from men. Why wouldn’t we do so deliberately, attempting to be Beatrice rather than Jezebel? Of course, Jezebel is now the moniker of a popular feminist website, but there are few counterparts to celebrate the Beatrices of our feminine natures, or which discuss women as we are, with all our idiosyncrasies, delights and foibles. This, Sommers says (and I fully agree) is quite a tragedy, and leaves most women feeling alienated from the one-sided public conversation about “women’s issues.” Sommers is at her best pointing out the inanities of women paid money to sit in ivory towers and talk about what horrific victims they are as their counterparts in Third World countries are beaten for wanting to attend school and punished with rapes and acid. I appreciate Sommers’s invitation to “remember the ladies” in a manner that does not equal stomping all over men to get ourselves some attention. Acknowledging and exploring such thoughts, however, still cannot get me to call myself a feminist, of any stripe.