Allison Kasic

This weekend, a little-known feminist holiday honors some of the bravest women in American history: the suffragists. Women’s Equality Day reminds us how far women in America have advanced since gaining the right to vote in 1920. It also showcases how distorted the feminist movement has become since the days of Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

In 1971, Congress designated August 26th as Women’s Equality Day to commemorate the passage of the 19th Amendment, which granted women the right to vote. The suffragists, (later deemed “first-wave” feminists) fought for over seventy years for basic women’s rights and were often met with hostility and even violence. The movement had its formal beginnings in 1848 at the legendary women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York, but did not achieve victory until 1920. Many, including Elizabeth Cady Stanton and Susan B. Anthony, did not live to see the enfranchisement they so passionately fought for.

Today, the feminist movement carries on. But with what priorities?

In the 1960s, a second wave of feminism sought to pick up where the suffragists left off: fighting for women’s equality. Led by such women as Gloria Steinem and the late Betty Friedan, second-wave feminists initially challenged society to accept a larger role for women outside of the home. They fought for women to have access to higher education and for equality in the workforce.

Their success deserves celebration. Unfortunately, modern feminists advance an agenda at odds with this legacy.

One needs to look no further than the feminist agenda to see how far they have veered off course. Modern second-wave feminists fight against school choice, Social Security reform, and a host of other programs that would, to use their favorite phrase, “empower” women. Reliance on men is horrible, but reliance on big government is encouraged!

Their priorities range from the misguided (using the well-intentioned Title IX to take away opportunities for men rather than create new opportunities for women) to trivial (NOW’s recent campaign to stop ABC from canceling the unpopular TV show “Commander in Chief”).

All the while, they shout “oppression!” at the hands of “the patriarchy.” If feminism had an official hobby it would undoubtedly be complaining about how bad things are for women in America. Would the suffragists support such a bitter and cranky women’s movement?

Allison Kasic

Allison Kasic is the director of R. Gaull Silberman Center for Collegiate Studies at the Independent Women's Forum.
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