Feminism And The Women’s Rights Movements

636 words | 3 page(s)

Feminism is a confrontational topic between career feminists and anti-feminist individuals who feel feminism has destroyed progress and society. Author Barbara Epstein explores the benefits feminism has had upon American culture. Author Kate O’Beirne on the other hand explores how feminism has pushed an extreme agenda that isolates people. Both make valid points but fail to address certain aspects of the issue.

Epstein evaluates feminism and the Women’s Rights movements to determine its strengths and weaknesses in making progress. Epstein demonstrates many similarities between the Women’s Right Movement of the 1970’s to other grassroots initiatives, such as the Civil Rights Movement or protests against the United States involvement in the Vietnam War. Epstein explores how the movement has changed, with feminism softening and losing its passion in the modern age. According to Epstein, women no longer feel the call to fight for various reasons, from equal wage laws to women feeling feminism is too severe. For many, they feel that the issue is complete and resolved and see no reason to continue fighting for equality they think is already achieved (Epstein, 2002).

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Epstein explores how this idea of resolution is false. Women still earn a lesser wage than men. Violent acts upon women for the sheer sake of being a woman continues. Childcare still typically falls to the woman with many workplaces not having appropriate maternity leave or childcare support initiatives in place. Epstein urges dramatic change to the feminist movement to renew focus and change these pressing issues (Epstein, 2002).

Author Kate O’Beirne addresses the idea of radical feminism and the harm it has caused in her book. O’Beirne argues that traditional feminine roles, such as the stay-at-home mom and wife, enable the happiness and success of husbands, children, and the women themselves. She denotes that there is a hostility among feminists that denigrate and belittle women who choose to be mothers and wives first and foremost (O’Beirne, 2006).

Among other issues, O’Beirne also attacks the issue of equal pay as a feminist mistake. She argues that feminists like Susan Bianchi-Sand conflated and ruined the equal pay discussion. O’Beirne believes feminism is pushing for women to get equal pay as men, even when they are doing different work, and that is why there continues to be a disparity in pay. Rather than addressing education and women’s employment initiatives, she believes feminists focus on getting women in female-traditional roles like teaching to get the same pay as male-dominated industries like engineering (O’Beirne, 2006).

Epstein and O’Beirne clearly differ in their thoughts about feminism and its future in supporting women. While both make strong arguments, they both do not address key questions pivotal to feminism. For Epstein, she focuses on the passion and fervor of the 1970’s movement (Epstein, 2002). However, she fails to address the fanaticism that was rampant during that era and how that shaped views of feminists today. Feminists continue to be portrayed as bitter crusaders because of some of the extreme behaviors displayed during that era which negatively impact the equality discussions occurring now.

While O’Beirne focuses heavily on combatting the ideal of a wage gap between men and women, she fails to address the real and present pay disparity (O’Beirne, 2006). While she argues that feminists want equal pay for different work, there have been many studies that showed women are paid less for the same work than men with the same experience and education. This is a true, pervasive issue that continues on that O’Beirne dismisses as a false issue, but is an issue pivotal to understanding of the Women’s Rights Movement.

  • Epstein, B. (2002). The Successes and Failures of Feminism. Journal of Women’s History. 14 (2) 116-128.
  • O’Beirne, K. (2006). Women Who Make The World Worse. New York, NY. The Penguin Group.

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