Dr. Christina Hoff Sommers gave an excellent keynote speech during this year’s National Conference. She began by stating that the feminist movement was in need of new management, that we need smart and fair-minded women, and that we need to embrace truthful, tough-minded research.
Dr. Sommers started by making the claim that feminism received its negative stereotype in the media because it has isolated mainstream women. When asked to teach a course on feminist theory, for example, she found that the textbooks for the class were radical and elitist, ignoring mainstream arguments that resonate with average women. She argued that we do not have a functional women’s movement that is welcoming to mainstream women, and that we are in need of it. Feminism needs to become a healthy, truth-based, male and female-respecting, and reality-based movement that resonates with women. Dr. Sommers called this “Freedom Feminism,” a new style of feminism which stands for the moral, social, and legal equality of the sexes, and the freedom of women to employ their equal status to pursue what they wish. It is not at war with masculinity or femininity, and does not view men and women as opposing tribes. Women and men should be free to reject the stereotypes of their gender if they wish, but women should also be free to embrace their stereotype. Freedom Feminism respects the choice of a self-determining woman.
Dr. Sommers also argued that the feminist movement needs to make common cause with women who are truly oppressed across the globe. Feminists are so focused on trying to get others to believe that our society is rigged against women, when in actuality, there has never been a society less rigged against women. Some countries within the developing world have not experienced a single wave of feminism, and we ought to aim our efforts toward helping those women achieve equality.
Furthermore, Sommers cited a study conducted by the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, which showed that the more prosperous and free a country, the greater the differences between the sexes. They speculated the divergence was because people in those prosperous countries had more freedom to choose as they please, implying that sex differentiation within a society may actually be a measure of well-being. Dr. Sommers reiterated that the feminist movement needs to be reformed by welcoming the moderate and conservative woman, should reach out to other women across the globe, and should not be at war with men or gender stereotypes.
Dr. Sommers spoke to over 50 attendees at this year’s National Conference, and was a hit for all. Thank you again to Dr. Sommers for speaking on behalf of NeW women and men everywhere!