Why feminists don't speak for me

Ashley Herzog
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Posted: May 29, 2007 12:00 AM
Why feminists don't speak for me

During my three years as a columnist for my college newspaper, I’ve resisted frequent requests that I explain my opposition to feminism. Apparently, a lot of people are shocked to discover a female college student who does not spend her days singing the praises of the National Organization for Women. Feminists fight for my rights, my readers tell me – so why am I constantly criticizing them?

I usually decline to answer because I think my columns speak for themselves. However, since I’m currently working on a book about this subject, I’ve decided to answer the question I hear most often: “What do you have against feminists?”

Most people who ask me this question believe that feminists simply want to advance the interests of all women. No, they don’t. Contrary to popular perception, the modern feminist movement is not a movement to promote freedom and equality for all women. It is a rigid ideology dictating what women should think and how they should live. Women who don’t parrot the views of NARAL Pro-Choice America – especially conservative and religious women -- are shunned from the feminist clique.

I’ve known this since my freshman year of college, when I cheerfully referred to myself as a “conservative feminist.” After all, what kind of forward-thinking girl wouldn’t embrace a movement that encouraged women to be strong, independent, and outspoken? I certainly wanted to be all of those things.

I realized about five minutes into my first women’s studies class that wasn’t enough. To the contrary, the feminist clique had a litany of complaints against me and other non-liberal women. We didn’t brand ourselves “Vagina Warriors” or chant obscenities in a crowded auditorium (see the feminist play The Vagina Monologues for details). We weren’t offended by suggestions that men and women are innately different. And, perhaps most egregiously of all, we didn’t consider the “right” to butcher unborn children essential to our liberty. The message from feminists was clear: accept our dogma, or remain permanently on the outs.

I wouldn’t have been surprised by their behavior if I had known the history of the feminist movement since the 1960s. Except for their slightly greater enthusiasm for abortion, the policy agenda of feminist groups like the National Organization for Women is indistinguishable from that of the Democratic National Committee. The self-appointed “women’s advocates” are only interested in advocating for leftist women.

In fact, most feminists don’t even include conservatives in the “woman” category. The godmother of the women’s movement, Gloria Steinem, famously called Republican Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson a “female impersonator” and said, “having someone who looks like us but thinks like them is worse than having no one at all.”

Bailey Hutchinson is just one of many accomplished, independent women whom feminists hate, such as Phyllis Schlafly, Condoleezza Rice, Jeanne Kirkpatrick, Laura Schlessinger, Bay Buchanan and Marji Ross (if I missed a few, don’t worry: they’ll all be mentioned in my book!).

So if feminism is not an ideology that encourages women to be strong and independent – no matter what their political persuasion -- what is it? With few exceptions, most self-described “women’s rights activists” have no intention of encouraging women to think for themselves. Instead, they aim to mold all women into loyal, obedient liberals who demean dissidents as “female impersonators.”

I don’t particularly care if feminists hate me. I don’t even care if they want to promote only fellow liberals. Just don’t tell me they’re fighting for “my” rights.