I was once about to enter into a debate on feminism when the girl with whom I was talking with showed me the definition of feminism; she read, "The belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities.” To my surprise, I realized I must be a feminist because I certainly agree with that goal. However, I have never felt as though those in the feminist movement would much like my support.
This is probably because I do not believe that the government should pass equal pay laws. I do not believe that the government should pass laws to force companies to hire more women. I do not believe that the government should make maternity leave mandatory. And I do not believe that the government should pay for women’s birth control.
Hear me out! I am in no way saying that I believe women should not take birth control. I am not saying that women do not deserve maternity leave. And I am certainly not saying that women should receive less compensation for equal work. What I am saying is that supporting government intervention on those issues is entirely anti-feminist.
Unfortunately, the current debate over feminism has become stale and interminable. Anti-feminists only attack the extreme wing of the feminist movement, even though most feminists are not militant, and most do not believe that men are the root of all evil. On the other side, feminists respond in kind, defending their own moderate beliefs, while claiming anti-feminists are not in touch with real women’s issues. This back and forth of cliché arguments achieves nothing.
Therefore, I address this article to moderate American feminists and ask them to consider the following questions. If women and men should have equal rights, why do feminists want preferential treatment under the law? They want legal protection from arbitrary pay, something men will not receive. If feminists believe that women are competent enough to be diligent workers, as I do, why do they insist that the government must provide them with opportunities? Men do not receive such treatment, and women would be better served if they obtain jobs through merit rather than force.
If feminists believe all women deserve maternity leave, as I do, doesn’t passing a law simply reject the idea that women are capable of advocating for themselves? I believe that women are resourceful enough to search for jobs that provide adequate benefits while leaving that responsibility to the government only makes them dependent. If a company does not want to offer maternity leave, then they will suffer losing a great employee, and a smarter company will be ready to offer another job.
Finally, if feminists believe women should have access to birth control, as I do, why do they demand that it should be provided free of charge from the American taxpayer? If we want to encourage women to be strong and independent, then they should be expected to pay for their own lifestyle choices without the incessant cosseting of the government.
I find it ironic that my views are not typical among feminists because they seem to fit logically with the goal of “equality." I am not so naïve as to believe that many feminists will accept that the government should not support women, but I hope the direction of the debate can shift. Since I believe women deserve equality, I am a feminist by definition, but that does not mean I must conform to the dominant ideology. It is possible to strive for equality and women’s rights without supporting conventional feminist opinions or perverse government programs.