Wait, hold on: Ross Douthat wrote a column about feminism that didn’t leave me retching? Is it opposite day?
As soon as I saw the headline– “No Mystique About Feminism,” I readied myself for the ensuing rage that invariably comes with reading Douthat’s commentary on the ladyfolk. And yet, the main point Douthat makes this time is one I kinda sorta agree with. He rehashes the feminist agitas over the female Republican candidates’ victories in last week’s primaries, and then announces that in actuality “their rise is a testament to the overall triumph of the women’s movement.”
Umm, cool? Halfway through the column I was still waiting for the sudden twist, wherein Douthat would make up some stat on how women holding elected office spells out fifteen kinds of doom for their children/spouses/the world at large. But no, in this column he seems mainly content to point out the positive change that these women represent: “America is now a country where social conservatives are as comfortable as liberals with the idea of women in high office.” Which I agree is a pretty cool thing. And not just any cool thing, but one that the women’s rights movement is pretty clearly responsible for.
Of course, Douthat doesn’t point out any of the problems inherent in equating this change with a feminist victory. To briefly rehash my post last week, it’s hard to cheer for women who disparage or ignore the impact of the earlier feminists who paved the way for their candidacies. It’s hard to get excited about female candidates who wrongly insist that sexism is dead and so feminism is now superfluous. And it’s especially hard to see this as a victory when all these women would insist on restricting many of the rights that feminists have worked so long and hard to expand (or, at this point, at least protect). So, unsurprisingly, I’m not in total agreement with his analysis, but I’m still kind of weirded out to find Douthat crediting feminism with something he apparently doesn’t find hateful. Am I missing something?