Women's Rights in Her Personal Essay

Excerpt from Essay :

Women winning the right to vote, far too long after the founding of America, was of course an important 'first step' in ensuring that women become full participants in the American experiment. But understanding the subtle cultural discrimination, as manifest in John Adams' treatment of his wife, and the subsidiary complaints of Stanton, Wollstonecraft, and Woolf also demonstrate that simply passing a law is not enough to change the rights of women. Women have been treated as children, and also viewed as incapable of truly realizing their dreams because of their capacity to be mothers. This has remained unchanged in the cultural discourse and memory in a way that affects all of our perceptions, male and female, and unless we remember this, we may be too easily seduced by the achievements, however remarkable, of a few talented women who have been able to chip away at the 'glass ceiling.'

Part II

It is amazing to read Christina Hoff Sommers' essay from her book the War Against Boys and compare it with the words of past feminist advocates. Only a very short while ago, in historical time, it was assumed that women were the 'inferior sex.' Now boys are seen as fragile. We live in a competitive, ego-driven and capitalistic society that supposedly women could not participate in, because of their inherently delicate bodies and temperaments. However, as soon as women began to make some political and social gains, and when these gains not only proved the naysayers wrong, but seemed to exceed even feminists' dreams, women such as Sommers began to demand a retreat. Sommers falls prey to an evil kind of 'us vs. them' thinking. She sees men and women as polar opposites, and being in an environment of women in school or in society damages boys. For example, the fact that most teachers are women (a phenomenon that is itself a product of patriarchy, as many talented women became teachers because few other options were open to them, and they needed the extra time to raise their children as society mandated) is viewed as threatening to young boys. When girls succeed, and teachers demand boys pay attention, turn in their homework, and do not excuse acting out as 'boys being boys,' Sommers believe boys are being discriminated against. The fact, in essence, that girls are not failing as antifeminists predicted years ago, must mean that things are slanted in favor of girls now, not that the antifeminists were wrong

The Mother of All Problems" is not feminism, but the 'us vs. them' attitude of pitting men against women, as was done in the founding of the nation, even before the founding of the nation, as Wollstonecraft's 18th century words demonstrate. A gain for women is not a loss for men. Nor is any woman a mother first, any more than a male is a father first. Communities must take responsibility for children's education and welfare. No single parent, mother or father, can improve the school system and healthcare system for her child alone. Ironically, women having sole responsibility for rearing a nuclear family is itself a relatively recent political development, as once a community and a network of relatives would raise a child. Feminism, by highlighting the inconsistent ideology of patriarchy towards women and children, can help all parents and all children, men and women alike.

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