This article was born from my irritation with the third wave feminist tendency to insist that minor sexist comments and other microaggressions are justification for insisting that twenty-first century America is a patriarchal society.
I selected five such alleged microaggressions, but I plan to show that they don't result from sexism at all; rather they reveal that feminists are hypersensitive and desperate for a claim to victimhood. I also provide personal examples and anecdotes of what I consider more appropriate responses than rolling over and feigning death by misogyny.
It's my fervent conviction that women are not victims, and that feminism has become actively counterproductive in the efforts of women to achieve true equality.
If you're a "Meninist", don't get too excited, because I am not your friend. Although I care about, listen to, and value men, I am not convinced that men are victims any more than women are. All that the existence of "Meninism" shows is that men are not immune to the tendency of society to glamorize victimhood, such in excess that many people of both genders aspire to victimhood and are so eager to claim victim status that they overreact and ascribe malicious intentions to normal occurrences.
But I leave it to men to address that tendency in men.
As a woman, my particular concern is for women and women's rights; and sadly my commitment to that now requires that I push back against modern feminism and reveal the ways in which it is harming women.
Finally, if you're here because you think women don't need college and should never work outside the home, it is likely that you will find me about twice as distasteful, obnoxiously independent, and disagreeable as your least favorite third-wave feminist; since the presupposition of this entire article is essentially that modern feminism isn't feminist enough for me.
Not so long ago, the Atlantic published an article about how it's 2018 and women still don't have pockets in their clothing. As is typical of a left-leaning news source, most of the comments were from outraged women affirming the validity of the article and lamenting their lack of pockets. In response to one such comment, a man replied and asked why we still were buying clothes from mainstream fashion designers when we had the opportunity to vote with our dollars; he pointed out that if we stopped buying clothes from these labels until they had pockets, they'd have pockets pretty quickly. Roughly 15-20 feminists dogpiled on him, lambasting him for daring to be a male with thoughts on women's clothing. The most recent reply before I got there was "You're a man, you don't understand."
I replied to the comment and said that maybe I don't understand either, but I buy my clothes online from independent Christian fashion designers who know what kind of modesty, durability, style, and pockets I'm looking for. What he said we should do is precisely what I've been doing for years--I don't want to pay $60 for a tissue-paper shirt that does not properly cover me and will fall apart after one wash, so I don't. I pay $30 ($20 when I shop the sales) for modest, comfy, timeless dresses with pockets. It's actually that simple. I included a couple of links to my favorite clothing websites for dresses with pockets. The woman who posted the original comment either deleted it or blocked me. I often elicit that response from feminists because the "no uterus, no opinion" "defense", which is really all they've got, doesn't work on me. The only sexism in our society I marvel at is how women like this are allowed and even expected to be this intellectually vapid and no one thinks it's a problem.
The solution to this issue is easy. If you want clothes with pockets, go here, here, or here and buy some. Go here for an entire blog dedicated to connecting women with brands that have pockets. Real women are resilient and resourceful, solving problems using their intelligence and skills. They noticed the demand for pockets and saw an opportunity to make money--and did so. They are, at a minimum, smart enough to Google "women's clothing with pockets" and peruse the 93 million results. The reason why feminists don't do this is that they don't want a solution to their issue--they just want to have an issue.
Fortunately for humanity, most women have better things to do than caterwaul about a problem that's already been solved. Most women just want to get their pocketed dress and then tackle the next thing on their To-Do list. If third-wave feminism was really about women's advancement, they'd be shouting about these small fashion designers from the rooftops, since it's pretty remarkable that women are so independent and resourceful that we don't even need to make the mainstream fashion designers listen to us in order to get what we want.
2. Wage Gap
I am not the biggest fan of men like Jordan Peterson or Milo Yiannopoulos, or the toxic, pathetic, allegedly satirical "Meninist" movement, but even broken clocks are right twice a day. One of the few rare things they get right is that the wage gap between men and women is not due to sexism or misogyny. There are two main reasons for this wage gap, and both result entirely from women's choices: first, women tend to select lower-paying college majors like early childhood education, sociology, and communications. Some reduce this to a chicken-and-egg scenario, alleging that these fields are low-paying because they're mainly female, but I don't accept that at all because a difficult major like nursing, which is 91% female, pays over $75,000 a year. Nursing, engineering, and computer science are harder majors than education, sociology, and communications, and fewer people are capable of or want to suffer through four (usually more) years of that. In other words, supply is down. Moreover, healthcare and a wide swathe of engineering fields are growing rapidly (demand is up) and when supply is down and demand is up, prices go up. Economics, not sexism, is the reason harder majors pay more.
If you're like me, and you don't see a good reason why the difficult and high-paying fields should be largely male-dominated (and you shouldn't because there is none), I have some great news for you: there is nothing in the world stopping you from majoring in engineering or computer science yourself. In anything you choose to do, it's illegal to discriminate against you on the basis of sex. What a wonderful time to be a woman! Now, on the basis of intelligence, competence, and qualifications--that's another story. But don't conflate roadblocks due to those with roadblocks due to your gender. There are no rules against women studying at any school in the country. There are no rules against women holding any engineering job in the country. If you find such a rule, sue them and collect your check.
Second, women earn less because after having children, we work less. Men and women both tend to work (and earn) a lot prior to reproducing, but women tend to assume primary caregiver roles for children and thus are more likely to leave work at 3 pm to pick up their children, and are a lot less likely to stay until 9 pm to finish a project. So the wage gap increases sharply for parents, where it was nonexistent prior to parenthood.
If you don't like it, remember that nobody is making you have a child. Nobody is making you be the primary parent--you could marry a guy like this. No one is saying you can't work 80 hours a week while your husband stays home with the kids. But I personally don't think that's a biologically sensible thing to do, and most women agree. Most of us implicitly recognize that our kids are/will be far more important than any career. For me, I would sooner live in a trailer park on my husband's income alone than go to work and leave my sweet future babies at a daycare or the junior prisons they call public schools. The important part is to recognize that your employer is paying you to do a job, not to have it all. Your choices are not your employer's financial responsibility.
Some feminists act like it's illegal not to wear makeup. I have put a lot of time and thought into this topic, and even performed my own experiment to determine whether foregoing makeup during my internship would compromise my career at that company (it emphatically did not, judging by the fact that they offered me a full-time job at 10-20% above the usual salary range for the position.) I had a conversation on this subject recently with one of my guy friends, and he observed that if you don't wear makeup, people just think that's what your face looks like and you experience no negative repercussions. This aligns with my experience: the only time in my life people have made comments to me about a lack of makeup was when they were used to seeing me wearing a lot of makeup.
(Once, during my winged eyeliner and purple lipstick phase, I was at work, not wearing makeup, minding my own beeswax, when an older coworker approached me and said, "Honey, you should work for the CIA! You'd be great at disguises because you could just take off your makeup and look like somebody else!" Thanks Christine.)
It is very much socially acceptable to go without makeup, but sometimes feminists who don't wear makeup also forego exercise, healthful eating, shaving, deodorant, perfume, etc. and think that the persecution arises from the lack of makeup. Women must be mindful of basic hygiene, just like everyone else, and that is not sexism.
Studies show that women wear makeup because they want to. Some women I know personally say they do because they feel "pressure" to wear makeup, but "feeling pressure" is inherently subjective and hard to quantify. I have vague memories of how I used to feel slight pressure to wear makeup because other girls did, because I wanted to be pretty, because I wanted people to think I was pretty, but it was all in my own head and it's amazing how fast it all went away once I stopped caring.
What exactly is "society" going to do to me if I don't wear makeup anyway? I stopped wearing it five months ago and the only thing Society did was tell me repeatedly through friends and acquaintances how much happier and more confident I look and how I don't need makeup. I suppose now that I'm thinking, a few people did ask if I was sick, but I said "No" and went back to what I was doing, and they took a hint. If someone were to say something really over the top, which hasn't happened, I would just tell them that if they don't like my face they can take it up with God.
The worst I've ever heard of happening is that people make comments. So what? Is that it? Is that the worst that happens? Show me a workplace (an ethically and morally acceptable place to work) where women must wear makeup to be hired, or a school where girls must wear makeup to be admitted. Show me a town with a local ordinance saying women can't set foot outside without makeup. The reality is that while most women do wear makeup in our society, they do so because they want to, and any negative repercussion beyond that is usually from other women and is personal rather than institutional. A society with a few sexist people in it is not the same as a sexist society.
A note: I heard from friends that some managers at Cheddar's put what I consider to be an unreasonable amount of pressure on their female waitstaff to wear makeup. I didn't like that, so I don't eat there anymore, and I wrote them a letter letting them know why. Cheddar's Corporate reassured me that they definitely do not agree with that and will be "investigating the situation". Women influence 83% of consumer spending decisions (source), so companies do well to keep us happy. If a corporation does something we dislike, why would we have a temper tantrum when our satisfaction is so crucial to that corporation's very existence? Why are we not leveraging this?
4. Pink Tax
This one grinds my gears a little more than the others because it's a working example of capitalism. The "pink tax" describes the price difference between men's and women's toiletry items like deodorant and razors, with women's typically being more expensive. This does not result from sexism but rather from the fact that women tend to care slightly more about cleanliness and hairless-ness than do men and are willing to pay more for these products. If we were not, the prices would drop.
But guess what? There is no law saying your razor has to be pink. It's not like any store won't sell you the blue ones. I was at HEB recently getting razors (I shave my legs every single day and cannot be happy if I don't, so I buy a lot of razors) and decided, for curiosity's sake, to check the men's shaving aisle. I found the same brand I like, with the same number of razors and blades, for about 30 cents cheaper, which isn't much, but the economically smart thing to do was still to buy the men's. If all women started doing this, guess how fast the prices for the pink razors would drop.
There are no fat, white business executives sitting in boardrooms wearing top hats and monacles, scheming how to oppress women, okay? These decisions are made following market research which provides insights on how to maximize profit based on how much the product's target demographic is willing to pay.
Furthermore, guess what else? There is no law saying you have to shave at all. I personally do and will never, ever, ever, ever stop, but that is my personal choice; and humans happen to be a hairy species. If you don't want to shave your legs or underarms, you won't go to jail for it. I hope men can see the hypocrisy in walking around covered in shag carpet but freaking out if they see one (1) hair on a girl's leg. However, it's not wrong to have a type--guys shouldn't be rude to a girl who doesn't shave, but they also don't have to date her, just as I will both be nice to and not date guys who look like Sasquatch.
The same principle applies to other products. I used to use men's deodorant and the only reason I stopped is because it was too rough on my skin. With deodorant and soap, it is harder to buy men's products because our skin is thinner and drier than theirs, so it's formulated differently. I buy the slightly more expensive women's now because not getting chemical burns is worth it to me, but if I was really so offended by mine being more expensive, I would buy deodorant at the dollar store where both men's and women's deodorants cost $1. Hopefully, I am making myself clear: these are not real problems and this is not real sexism.
We've all experienced it, especially when we're young and less established, because we're quieter and higher pitched, and because our body language makes us look smaller. Women are also more agreeable, and that can be a good thing, but you don't have to be agreeable if you don't want to. You certainly should not be agreeable if you are being interrupted or otherwise disrespected. Of everything on this list, this is probably the closest to actual sexism, but we will get the best results from growing a backbone, not demanding legislation to protect our feelings.
As with all the others, Congress has passed no act saying you have to be a timid little mouse. Here is what I have learned after spending 4 years in all male-dominated classes and male-dominated organizations: first, know what you're talking about. If you're getting "talked down to", first make sure it's not because you're stupid. When I'm actually wrong, I've learned not to take it personally if I get contradicted. Better that than to be treated as if I'm so fragile I should just be allowed to be wrong since that would imply that I am not capable of reasoning my way to correct conclusions, and I would be very insulted by that.
Second, when you do know what you're talking about, be firm and believe in yourself. It takes practice, but it's an extraordinarily valuable skill. If a man (or anyone) corrects me when I wasn't wrong or because he misunderstood what I said, you can bet your bottom dollar that he will be met with a polite but firm "Actually--". You are not doing men any favors to put up with that sort of nonsense. Don't escalate the hostility of the situation unnecessarily (men ought not to either), but if it's already hostile, there's nothing wrong with rising to the occasion as opposed to backing down to keep the peace. Be adamant, confident, and competent. If you want to be treated like one of the guys, you have to earn your respect like everyone else. Don't constantly be second-guessing yourself based on your gender. You should certainly not be rude, or harsher than required, but you should defend your contentions with as much firmness as required. It is not mean to set limits with men who are not being respectful; if you happen across one who thinks it is (I never have) he can get over it.
Women say that men call them "b*tches" for doing this. I have a few thoughts on that, which requires demarcating between the reactions of 99.999% of men and the 0.001%: If you were termed a "b*tch" just for being a strong woman by one of the 0.001% of men who are threatened by you based solely on your gender, handle it in accordance with the situation. If it's at work, report him. If he calls you that to your face, say firmly "I don't let people talk to me like that." But this has never happened to me, or if it has, they didn't have the nerve to say it to my face. I suspect that many women to whom this happens are so insecure and defensive that they are preemptively rude to men and obviously you should be kind and treat them nicely because men are human and most of them have no problem with you unless you give them a reason, as is typical of humans. Despite my lack of "agreeableness", I have not been called any words like this that I am aware of--but it's important to be clear that I am not actually contentious nor hostile. There is a big difference.
Insisting that words be policed to protect your feelings is the wrong response here because it's counterproductive; what you're really saying is that women are so inept that men will never take them seriously unless legally obligated, and that is very untrue. Don't do that.
Second, we have the 99.999% of men who don't think you're incompetent at all, but they'll argue back if they disagree, interrupt, and mansplain to you. Before you get upset, first compare it to the way they talk to the other males in the room. I always find that when they do this to me, I'm never the only one. It means you're basically one of the guys, and, listen up because this is the important part and it took me 3 years to learn: THEY DON'T MEAN ANYTHING BY IT. They interrupt, mansplain, and use derisive tones with one another too because they're guys and guys are different. The proper response here is again not to get offended, but just to take care of yourself when the need arises. The ability to hold your own in a room full of men is a skill every woman needs and will serve her well in her career, especially in high pressure, highly competitive careers in male-dominated fields. One thing Jordan Peterson does that I love is that he coaches women to be less agreeable. I live for it.
If men interrupt you, say "I was talking" as loudly as it takes, and continue. If they mansplain a simple concept, say "I get that", matching their tone (i.e., the more condescending the mansplain was, the more scornful your response should be in order to communicate your point; but if it was a mild correction, a mild counter-correction will suffice.)
I learned all of this from my four years' membership in Ratio Christi. These situations don't come up that often, and when they do it's usually newer guys (as opposed to the core officer team who have all known me for years and aren't inclined toward sexism anyway) but they learn quickly. I do not tolerate mansplaining or interrupting, and I think most men respect that. 99% of men are just nice humans who consider women equals. I don't wish to give off the impression that the men in my life test me and push me 24/7 because they certainly don't, and the men in your life won't either.
If all this counter-mansplaining sounds a little rough, it's because sure, it can be sometimes, and I don't think that's a bad thing. It's about what you'd expect from an almost-all-male Christian philosophy club filled with engineers who all have the same personality as Dwight Schrute. It makes me a better apologist, theologian, and thinker. Our meetings are by definition not going to sound the same as a soccer moms' book club, which I happen to appreciate since the latter would bore me to death. The solution was for me to adjust, earn respect, and fit in since I wanted to be there and I chose to keep coming back. The guys eventually got used to me. (We don't retain women well, for obvious reasons and I'm fine with it. There's equality of opportunity; we don't need equality of outcome.)
Some may object that this behavior I advocate is inconsistent with my overall claim that women should be feminine. I couldn't disagree more. Order, logic, reason, assertiveness, confidence, and respect are not male qualities. The exchange of ideas is not a male activity. I am not behaving in a manner one iota less feminine than a soccer mom at the book club where the atmosphere is dominated by feelings and sappy quotes. I do not have to act rough nor harsh to earn respect. I have not and I will not be mean or rude to anyone in RC or class or elsewhere. My refusal to be walked over, disrespected, interrupted, or contradicted without merit is not at odds with a quiet and gentle spirit. My initial difficulty adjusting was not due to the fact that I used to be more feminine, but because I'd absorbed the idea that insecurity and intellectual wimpiness are feminine qualities. What a toxic and dangerous lie.
I hope it's clear what I've been getting at this entire article. Every bullet point and anecdote I shared is designed to point back to my larger contention that personal sexism merits a personal response. Institutional sexism merits an institutional response. Institutional sexism, defined as a rule or law that discriminates against women solely on the basis of sex, should be met with an institutional response (the reversal of the unfair law.) When women respond to personal sexism by calling for an institutional response, the obvious undertone is that women aren't smart enough or capable enough to accomplish whatever is in question without the help of legislation. That disempowers women and leads to more sexism since it feeds the idea that women aren't as intelligent or capable as men. Personal sexism (which also includes corporations charging women more or not sewing pockets into women's clothing) should be met with equal and opposite personal responses. This increases women's general respect in society and shows the error in the thinking of those who believe women to be inferior. Respect is always earned.
But there are some lazy women in this society (some third-wave feminists) who don't care if they disempower women or make women appear less capable and intelligent, as long as they can hide their lack of personal achievement behind alleged persecution. Now that feminism has achieved its goal of giving women equality of opportunity, feminists have become absorbed to the point of obsession with breaking into the most venerated caste of our society, the victims; and they don't care that they're making women look terrible in the process. This is my biggest beef with identity politics. It is far easier to play a victim than to be an intelligent, strong, and hardworking woman, but to do so harms women in the long run.