Feminism Movement Neglects Truly Oppressed

Mikhail Vasilyev, Staff Writer

3rd wave feminism, which I believe is solely concerned with the equality of women in the developed Western world, is concerned more on the special treatment of women and political correctness rather than equal treatment of the sexes.

In developing countries and the Middle East, women are genuinely 2nd class citizens who deserve more rights.

Unfortunately, 3 wave feminism does not address those needs, but instead is focused on Western society and is based on lies and flawed logic, including in its claims about a wage gap and rape culture.

According to Merriam-Webster, feminism is “the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes,” which is certainly a good cause and can’t really be argued against. Yet 3rd wave feminism is different; the feminist publication, Feminism Now, states that the goal of third-wave feminism is to achieve “gender equality within a currently patriarchal society.” This is certainly a good goal, but feminist arguments supporting the oppression of women in developed society do not hold up to the goals of feminism, as they cannot prove that society is truly dominated by men.

Perhaps as a result, only 23% of women in America consider themselves feminists, even though most believe in gender equality, according to the Huffington Post. Surely there is a problem with feminism, if most women who support gender equality do not identify as feminists. Even more drastically, only 7% of women in the United Kingdom who support gender equality are feminists, according the The Telegraph.

The now-infamous wage gap is the main argument put forth by 3rd wave feminists, but it is misleading. The claim about the wage gap is that women make 78 cents to every dollar that men make while working the same jobs. This may seem like a fair argument, but the Bureau of Labor Statistics disproved the wage gap theory because, according to them,  “[the wage gap study] did not control for many factors that can be significant in explaining earnings differences.” For instance, the study did not take into account the actual hours worked by both genders; it only considered full-time employees. Full-time is classified as 35 hours or more per week, but employees usually work up to 45 hours. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, men are more likely to work long hours, so when taking into account all full-time employees, it seems as if men make more money. If the wage gap is judged by only people who work 40 hour weeks, then the gap comes very close to zero.

Family roles weren’t taken into account either. Usually, marriage and raising children cause women to leave the workforce. After looking through multiple statistics, reports, and findings, the director of the Congressional Budgeting Office said, “there is no gender gap in wages among men and women with similar family roles.” Time Magazine also reported, that in 98% of America’s largest 150 cities, single women under 30 actually earned, on average, 8% more than their male counterparts. The wage gap study also failed to take into account numerous “subjective” factors such as education, training, experience, quantity or quality of work, and so on. According to Harvard Economics Professor Claudia Goldin, “when all of these facts are taken into consideration, the wage gap simply disappears.”

3rd wave feminists also mislead with their notion of “rape culture.” The idea of rape culture, according to the publication Everyday Feminism is that our society is composed of “cultural practices that excuse or otherwise tolerate sexual violence.” According to a report by Marshal University Women’s Center, these practices include victim blaming, trivializing rape, and even sexist jokes. The report goes on to say that these issues are systemic in our society, that most men and women act and feel this way, and that every women is affected by rape culture, “thereby creating a society that disregards women’s rights and safety.”

The problem with this argument is the claim of systematic rape culture being imbedded into society, especially for males. This wide generalization is simply incorrect in the developed world. Rape is certainly not trivialized. Rapists are despised, and the developed world views it as a horrible crime. There is just simply no evidence for some nation-wide conspiracy that turns rape into a minor offense.

On top of that, victim blaming is not at all common in our society, according to the article written by Caroline Kitchens for The New York Times. Even the Rape, Abuse, and Incest National Network (RAINN), the world’s largest anti-sexual violence organization denies the existence of rape culture. So does the Bureau of Justice Statistics. According to RAINNN, the notion of rape culture is in itself counter-productive, as the trend of focusing on rape culture “has the paradoxical effect of making it harder to stop sexual violence, since it removes the focus from the individual at fault, and seemingly mitigates personal responsibility for his or her own actions.”

In most ways, women enjoy equality with men, or even have it better than them, in the West. Indeed men have their advantages in some categories, but so do women, and it ends up balancing out. This might seem like a wild declaration, but really, there is plenty of evidence to back this up. First off, by law, women are equal to men in the U.S. There is not a single law or bill that denies women’s rights, and they are given the same fundamental rights as men. There is not a single Constitutional amendment that only applies to men. All rights are given to both genders.

According to EducationProject.com, virtually all of developed western countries have ratified the Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). This bill makes the countries “enshrine gender equality into their domestic legislation, repeal all discriminatory provisions in their laws, and enact new provisions to guard against discrimination against women.” Basically, it gives fully equal rights to women.

There is no point in arguing for equality in the West when it is already declared by law. Congress has passed multiple laws that make gender discrimination illegal, according to infoplease.com, the equal employment opportunity commission, and the national archives. For instance, Congress passed a law in 1964 that made discrimination in the workplace based on gender illegal. Also, in 1967, Executive Order 11375 allowed women to enjoy the same educational and employment opportunities as men, and made denying those opportunities also against the law.

The 1986 Supreme Court case Meritor Savings Bank v. Vinson found that sexual harassment in the workplace is a form of illegal job discrimination. In the Jackson v. Birmingham Board of Education Supreme Court case Title IX was established, which prohibits discrimination based on gender and also prohibits disciplining someone for complaining about gender-based discrimination. There have been many other bills that have been passed, including President Obama’s signing of the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act. There is no evidence of a “patriarchal society” that feminists fight against in the West. Women have equal rights guaranteed by law.

But women do have some legal advantages over men. While all able-bodied men are subject to the draft, women can volunteer to join the army, and are never forced into it. Also, women are more likely to receive custody of their kids when divorcing or splitting away from their children’s father. Women are given custody 82.2% of the time, according to The United States Census Bureau.

According to thoughcatalog.com, women have the right to chose parenthood when men don’t. For instance, women may abort the child before it is born, give the child up for adoption, or surrender the infant under Safe Haven laws, without the consent of the father and without even notifying him. In this way, men do not have the rights to decide if they want to keep their child or not. Women cannot be forced or coerced into parenthood, but they can legally force men to be responsible for their kids or pay child support.

In many states, men can be forced into financial responsibility for children to whom they are not biologically related.

Finally, women who have been victims of sexual assault are legally treated better than their male counterparts, and male rape is also trivialized. The original FBI definition of rape said that only women could be victims, excluding the possibility of male victims. Later the FBI updated that with the “penetration” clause, according to The Washington City Paper. The clause states that “Penetration of any orifice must occur for rape to have happened,” basically not considering the vast majority of male rape victims. The FBI does report non-penetrating male sexual assaults in the“made to penetrate” category, according to Thought Catalog. This category includes men who were “coerced, tricked or bullied into sex with women they would otherwise not have had sex with.” This had for some reason not been considered rape until then.

The government-run National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey found that 1.27 million women reported rape and over a million men reported “made to penetrate.”  Yet the information was collected in separate categories, not just one category concerning rape of both men and women, and because of that, male rape was not fairly recognized. Following these legal definitions, women have the right to have their rapes called “rape.” Men do not.

3rd wave feminism is misguided. Instead of wasting time and effort on the developed world, where women enjoy equality, we should devote our efforts to fighting for women’s rights in the Middle East and other countries where women are oppressed.