Brains Not Boobs: Re-Formulating for Feminist Success
Last week, Leslie Loftis hit the ball back into my court in our ongoing discussion on the future of feminism. Her conclusion is simple, but profound: "Abroad we need action. At home we need to bury the hatchet." How many on the right would be willing to agree?
"I was troubled to see some comments on my original post wondering why we should care about feminism’s woes. Feminism, the term, or the Marxist influences hidden inside it, true, those will not be missed by the right."
The boorishness of the comment my counterpart is referring to did, in part, motivate my response to her first piece. Simplistic right-wing criticism of cultural Marxism has become like flatulence riddling otherwise productive conversation on this side of the political spectrum. It's all well and good for commentators to disavow socialism in the political sphere. It is even more important for those with first-hand experience of Marxism to tell their stories publicly. But for the average reader to dismiss every single aspect of American cultural life as the bastard child of the liberal lie is, quite frankly, defeatist. And, as Loftis so eloquently points out, by dismissing feminism as so much Marxist claptrap, critics of today's feminism are dismissing every woman born after Steinem as well:
"But despite its modern reputation as a leftist faction, most modern women’s lives are guided by feminism. ...The lives of modern women are built upon feminist ideas. As feminism collapses, we need to worry about what comes after."
The time for silver-tongued lashings has passed. If anything, a real critique of feminism requires the reclamation of classical liberalism from the clutches of contemporary socialism's PR machine. This begins with the embrace of feminism's powerful history. In an era nostalgic for social revolution we would be wise to ditch Steinem's vaginal definition of female inferiority in favor of Mary Wollstonecraft's drive for gender equality through education. Put simply: We must re-frame the debate in terms of brains, not boobs.