AEI Scholar Gives Conservative Feminist View

Katherine DeVries

Liberal feminism is a movement most observers, especially women, consider a helpful one, based on good principles and a righteous quest for equality. Christina Hoff Sommers, however, is not one of these people. Sommers – a writer and teacher who currently works for a conservative Washington D.C. think tank called the American Enterprise Institute – has written two books on the faults of feminism entitled, “Who Stole Feminism” and “The War Against Boys”. Sommers came to Colgate on March 12 thanks to the collaborative efforts of the College Republicans, Professor of Political Science, Presidential Scholar, and Director of the Center for Freedom and Western Civilization (CFWC) Robert Kraynak, and the CFWC. The CFWC is a student group at Colgate that aims to allow more conservative voices to infiltrate the ideological homogeneity of what it sees as a liberally dominated campus – a goal that was clearly obtained through Sommers’ hour-long attack on conventional liberal feminism.Sommers began her lecture with an explanation of how she came to take her current political position. She explained how she began her career as a traditional “gender feminist.” However, she soon discovered that the “gender feminist” belief that the opposing ways in which society socializes men and women is the only distinguishing factor between them was dangerously inaccurate.After committing herself to “logic” and “reason,” Sommers began to affiliate herself with “equity feminism,” a brand of feminism based on equality of opportunities for men and women, while simultaneously recognizing their innate differences.She continued by explaining how gender feminism – the dominant form of feminism in the media and on college campuses – is innately biased and has proven to have detrimental effects for both men and women. She extrapolated on this idea, presenting evidence that showed that spousal violence is primarily a result of the nature of relationships, as opposed to a male desire to subordinate women. She also presented scientific data on the real, biological and behavioral differences between men and women.Sommers claimed that gender feminism, as it is displayed through rallies, protests and anti-masculine public performances like the Vagina Monologues, is nothing more than a reversal of the negative effects of patriarchy. Sommers said that society must “move out of this oppressive depressive 1970’s feminism.” “I didn’t become a feminist so women could imitate some of the worst traits of misogynist men,” she said.Sommers ended her lecture by applying her reasoning to education, which is the basis of her second book, The War Against Boys: How Misguided Feminism is Harming our Young Men. She claimed that the male-blaming rhetoric of feminism today has found its way into schools and is succeeding in disencouraging males from succeeding academically. She believes that in order to change these effects, society needs to take four imperative anti-feminist steps.Firstly, we need to start checking our facts and disallowing skewed statistics from influencing opinion. Secondly, we must stop blaming and criticizing men. Thirdly, we need to learn more about the benefits of equity feminism and, finally, we need to recognize that Mother Nature is far from politically correct, and that there are recognizable mental and emotional differences between men and women. While Sommers did not address the topic at length, she said that one solution she would propose to the problem of anti-male, feminist-based education would be to instigate in public schools a system of single-sex education. While to many this may seem to take the importance of internal gender differences to a bit of an extreme, Sommers argued that there is some rationale behind the need to recognize the reality of gender relations in our education system today, as well as how feminism is helping or harming them.