The Pros And Cons Of Feminism

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Webster defines feminism as both "the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes" and "organized activity on the behalf of women's rights and interests" (Webster 418). Equality of the sexes (in terms of rights) and the furthering of women's rights are seemingly positive aspirations; yet people tend to describe feminism using negative terms, and feminism today has acquired a bad reputation. "Radical" and "extremists" are adjectives commonly applied to feminism as a whole, when, in truth, feminists who adopt extreme positions constitute the minority. Moreover, these "gender feminists," or "militant feminists," as many call them, although they receive the most public attention because of their aggressive tactics and high visibility, alienate people in broadcasting their views. Their goal, to create a "sentimental priesthood" that will achieve collective power and retribution as oppressed "victims" of a white-male supremacy, seems unreasonable (Himmelfarb 20). In contrast, "equity feminists," or "academic feminists," embrace the basic principles of feminism. They celebrate women's achievements, work for the individual rights of all women, and, as Christina Hoff Sommers aptly says, "want for women what they want for everyone, equal protection under the law" (Himmelfarb 20). Though not all feminists agree on how to reach this goal, most argue for a reasonable, realistic, and positive method. By contrasting the differing feminist ideas of writers like Adrienne Rich, Gertrude Himmelfarb, and Camille Paglia, one defines a winning brand of feminism: a philosophy founded on equity feminist ideology and dedicated to the achievement of social, political, economic, and intellectual reform. David Thomas and Camille Pag... ... middle of paper ... ...minism by "constantly raising the stakes," and seeking "not mere reform or revision...but revolution" (Himmelfarb 20). In this way, they isolate themselves and lose support among both men and women for the entire feminist cause. John Ellis concludes that gender feminism "poisons relations between the sexes, and catapults into leadership roles in the women's movement angry, alienated women who divert that movement from the necessary task of exploring feasible changes" (74). People need to know that feminism, based on its essential ideals and goals, has broad appeal, and that they should not dismiss it because of a specific sector. They must look beyond the extremists to find a branch of feminism that welcomes all people and focuses on a positive and reasonable goal: a society that affords everyone the opportunity and right under the law to reach his or her potential.

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