Why They Call Her "A Backlasher, A Traitor, Anti-Woman, And A Female Impersonator"
I don't call myself a feminist. I say I'm a humanist, for fair treatment for all people, not special treatment under the guise of equal treatment, which modern feminism too often is. Accordingly, Christina Hoff Sommers calls herself an equity feminist. More on this in an excerpt from Hoff Sommers' talk linked by the American Enterprise Institute, in which she explains why she's so hated:
What I am is a philosophy professor with a respect for logic, clear thinking, rules of evidence and -- I hope -- a strong sense of fairness. In fact, I think it's my bias toward logic, reason, and fairness that has put me at odds with the feminist establishment.
I am not here to urge you to reject old-fashioned classical feminism of the sort that won women the vote, educational opportunity and many other freedoms. I am a passionate supporter of that style of feminism, which I call equity feminism. An equity feminist wants for women what she wants for everyone---fair treatment, respect, and dignity. Equity feminism promotes harmony and good will between the sexes and it can lead to a much saner, happier and more ethical world.
Equity feminism is not new. It is rooted in the classically liberal political tradition that had its beginnings in the European Enlightenment. It was classical liberalism that inspired the First Wave of feminism in the 19th century, which secured women the vote; it also informed the Second Wave in the sixties and seventies that further enhanced women's freedoms and opportunities. By any reasonable measure, equity feminism is a great American success story. American women are flourishing. To give just a few examples from higher education: Women today earn 57 percent of bachelor's degrees, 59 percent of master's degrees, and, 50 percent of doctorate degrees. In every racial and ethnic groups studied by the U.S. Department of Education, young women are outperforming their male counterparts.3
Are things perfect for women? Certainly not. But they are not perfect for men either. The fact is the major battles of American women for equal treatment and opportunity have been fought and won. Yes, women are still struggling with how to balance family and work; yes, we need to find ways to get more young women interested in running for public office and entering fields like math, computer science and engineering. But for the most part the hard work of equity feminism in the 21st century now lies outside this country, in countries where women are truly oppressed. There are many parts of the world, especially in the Middle East and Africa, where women have not yet seen so much as a ripple of freedom, let alone two major waves of liberation. I believe that the liberation of women in the developing world will be the greatest human rights struggle of our time.
Why then, you may be wondering, does my position and that of other equity feminist scholars such as Camille Paglia, Daphne Patai, or the late Elizabeth Fox-Genovese arouse so much opposition? I will explain. If you have had a feminist speaker at your school, taken an introductory women's studies class, or visited the website of one or more of our national women's groups, you will not find the successes of equity feminism celebrated; you will not find expressions of happiness for the freedoms and opportunities American women now enjoy. The dominant philosophy of today's women's movement is not equity feminism--but "victim feminism." "Victim" feminists don't want to hear about the ways in which women have succeeded. They want to focus on and often invent new ways and perspectives in which women can be regarded as oppressed and subordinated to men.
If you have yet to read Hoff Sommers' terrific book, Who Stole Feminism?, pick up a copy here. Her latest book, which I have yet to read: One Nation Under Therapy: How the Helping Culture Is Eroding Self-Reliance.