When Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers came to campus to discuss her vision of feminism based on equality and the freedom of each sex to do as it chooses last week, the Sexual Assault Peer Education program protested her presence. It emailed its members stating that “an extremist anti-feminist speaker that dismisses and denies survivors of sexual assault” was coming to campus and insisted on “trigger warnings” outside the event.
Continuing, this past Monday The Hoya’s Editorial Board published the editorial “No More Distractions” (April 21, 2015, The Hoya, A2) about how outrageous it was to bring a speaker on campus that disagrees with them. The editorial argued that Dr. Sommers’ opinion and prior writings on sexual assault statistics were distracting and that this “is not the conversation that students should be having.” This is despite the fact that Dr. Sommers’ remarks on campus were about her version of feminism. She only addressed sexual assault because the protestors brought it up.
This knee-jerk reaction of dismissing opinions that do not sit well with the listener while ignoring the substance of what is actually being discussed is indicative of a larger problem within the modern feminist movement. Despite what every self-proclaimed feminist has rather condescendingly reassured me, modern feminism is not simply about the fact that men and women should be equal. This patronizing definition ignores how incredibly politicized modern feminism has become. It is not simply a movement aimed at getting men and women equal treatment. It is deeply embedded in a hyper-political framework, and removing it from this framework would constitute a misunderstanding of social movements and the true meaning of feminism today.
For example, feminist political organizations regularly focus on abortion rather than on achieving equal representation, marginalizing pro-life women. The National Organization for Women prefers to donate money to men’s political campaigns rather than support a pro-life woman. With only 19.4 percent of Congress made up of women, we are far from accomplishing parity in politics. If equality were really the aim of these feminists, they would not exclude pro-life women from their organizations.
The fate of those who fail to live up to the feminist political agenda is much worse — even liberal feminists do not escape the scathing punishment. When Patricia Arquette used her Oscar acceptance speech to discuss the wage gap, some derided her for not saying enough about intersectionality, while others even labeled her comments as “insulting.” Speeches can only last so long, yet not including “enough” will prompt endless vitriol from some of today’s feminists.
And that is how some modern feminists treat those who largely agree with them. The real fury is reserved for those who dare to think differently. Dr. Sommers, one of many advocates for accurate statistics and due process when it comes to campus sexual assault, was on the receiving end of this fury last week. She was called a “rape apologist” for refusing to conform to the feminist political agenda.
If feminists were consistent in their outrage, this would also mean the Department of Justice and The Washington Post are equally deserving of being labeled “rape apologists.” They agree that the “one-in-five college-aged women is sexually assaulted” statistic repeated by campus activists, the White House, and the Center for Disease Control is false since it is based on a study done at two universities and not the nation at large.
As journalist Glenn Kessler of The Washington Post column “Fact Checker” notes, “This oft-cited statistic comes from a Web-based survey of two large universities, making it misleading to suggest that it is representative of the experience of all college women.” The Department of Justice puts the rate of reported sexual assault among college women at a much lower 0.61 percent — and that number is on the decline. Having an honest discussion about sexual assault is necessary in order to confront the problem. The real disservice to victims of sexual assault is the promulgation of false statistics that undermine their cause and belittle their fights for justice.
Although ignoring the facts of underlying opposing opinions and resorting to name-calling is beyond obscene and falls outside the accepted boundaries of civil discourse, it is par for the course for modern feminists. Feminist hysteria over every oppositional opinion has turned them into caricatures of themselves.
When only 18 percent of Americans identify themselves with a movement that alleges to solely stand for equality, the problem is not with Americans. It is with the movement. Most women are all too happy avoiding the laughingstock that some say modern feminism has become. To advance true equality with the broad support of all women, the movement needs to be more inclusive and less political. If feminists want us to sign on, they need to adapt.
Mallory Carr is a junior in the College. This is the final appearance of The Right Corner this semester.