- Posted June 17, 2014 by
Salt Lake City, Utah
This iReport is part of an assignment:
First Person: Your essays
Fourth Wave Feminism: Facing down a new enemy and achieving the American Dream
However, the enemy is no longer the government, corporate America, or antiquated legal practices. We as a gender have created our own worst enemy: a socialist dynamic that is the result of our own complacency, misguided anger, and inflated sense of entitlement. We are our own worst enemy, and it is preventing us from achieving the American Dream.
Scholars and sociologists commonly agree that feminism has taken place in three waves, with the first occurring at the turn of the 20th century and focused on suffrage and opportunities for women. The second wave occurred in the 1960’s and continued into the next two decades, emphasizing sexuality, reproductive rights, equal employment opportunities, and the challenge of traditional gender roles.
The third wave of feminism that took place in the 1990’s dealt with women’s rights to be sexual beings, mystifying the mothers of the earlier feminist movement in the readoption by young feminists who embraced lipstick, high-heels, and cleavage.
Today, feminism stands on the brink of a fourth wave. While people debate the meaning or goals of the movement, one thing is clear: the Internet will play a large part. Jennifer Baumgartner of feminist.com, states “because of media advances and globalization, waves of mass change are coming faster and faster. The waves are all part of the same body politic known as feminism, and combine to become a powerful and distinct force.”
The fourth wave is already upon us and we are just now realizing that we are in the midst of it. Technology has given a voice to anyone with an Internet connection. No longer are women passive recipients of information, but active contributors to shaping a virtual, and real society.
Unfortunately, some of those women are wrong.
Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook and the author of the pseudo-feminist manifesto Lean In (both the book and website), has spent the last few months promoting her 50/50 idea everywhere from the Colbert Report to her most recent university commencement speech. Her 50/50 idea, which she reiterates every minute that someone gives her a microphone, states that “we are still far from that 50-50 dream of mine where women will run half of our countries and companies and men will run half of our homes.”
First of all, her warped vision of utopia sounds more like a socialist dictatorship rather than a place where women are given choices. Women wanted the right to vote because they wanted to be able to choose whom to vote for and the right to choose their occupation. Many women still choose to be nurses, teachers, and other traditionally feminine job roles- and that is okay. What if 50% of women don’t want to be a CEO or world leader? What if 50% of men don’t want to be stay-at-home dads? If Sandberg and her feminist friends want real equality between the sexes, then they’ll respect the freedom of choice and stop trying to push us into gender roles.
Perhaps Ms. Sandberg’s views are based on the sense of entitlement that too many feminists seem to be embracing these days.
Ms. Cady-Stanton, who presented the Declaration of Sentiments at the Seneca Falls convention, asked for a law to afford equal opportunities and protection for men and women- a request that was eventually obliged. However, with equal opportunity and protection comes equal responsibility- an idea that seems to have escaped many women of today.
The National Organization of Woman (NOW) provides a comprehensive list of issues facing women today. One of these issues is “women-friendly workplace,” which one would logically assume is a workplace free of harassment and offers incentives for pay increases and promotion based on ability rather than gender.
Not so fast.
A cursory search for the definition of a “women-friendly workplace” includes flexible schedules, ability to work from home, paid maternal leave, and the ability to bring their babies to work (not in a nursery or daycare, but in the cubicle).
The sheer ludicrousness of proposals such as these seems anti-feminist. Suppose an employer has a male and female employee that each perform the same basic job and will receive the same amount of pay. However, the woman arrives late and leaves frequently because of her existing children. She has a child and takes off work for three months and expects to be paid. When she returns, she brings her baby to an office environment and spends time tending to it, lessening her productivity level. Meanwhile, in her absence, her male and childless female colleagues are forced to pick up some of the slack, yet to give them a raise would be sexist?
This dynamic basically screams inequality. Are we as women so naïve to believe that it’s ok to say, “We can do the same jobs as men, but we need exceptions, accommodations, and leniency?”
While there are some horrible situations in which a woman is raped and forced to have a child, the fact of the matter is that most women choose to have children. They feel entitled to children- as well as a large paycheck and a husband who does 50% of the work, apparently. This idea is propagated in a book called Getting to 50/50: How Working Couples Can Have It All by Sharing It All, whose authors seem to believe that the only way that we can achieve equality nirvana is by forcing both men and women both into predefined roles.
This sense of privilege has caused women to practically riot against any employer who believes that a woman with children should be able to do the same job as her male and childless female counterparts without any accommodations.
Today’s women don’t seem to realize that having a child is a choice that they made. It wasn’t their employer’s decision, so why should the employer be the one to accommodate their personal life decisions? This lack of responsibility and foresight shown by so many females is making those of us who can do our jobs look weak.
The Internet and fourth wave of feminism has provided an unprecedented opportunity for women to communicate their personal viewpoints and offer both praise and criticism to men and women alike.
Sandberg and others cry sexism anytime a female criticizes another female. Sandberg states, “there's a special place in hell for women who don't help other women.” However, being a feminist isn’t unconditionally supporting someone just because of her genitalia. If I disagree with a woman’s values, goals, or beliefs, I’m sure not going to help her, nor would I expect her to help me. Real choice is the decision to align ourselves with whomever we choose- male or female.
Feminist Betty Friedan said, “The freedom to lead and plan your own life is frightening if you have never faced it before. It is frightening when a woman finally realizes that there is no answer to the question 'who am I' except the voice inside herself.” The world needs all kinds of females- those who wear power suits and those who wear dresses, those who teach kids and those who hold seats in Congress, and everything in between.
A true feminist believes that males and females are equally capable and should have equal rights to make the choices that are right for ourselves- not the choices that are right for Sheryl Sandberg.