by Elena Novak
Feminism is not a strictly liberal idea, but many liberal feminists tend to treat their ideological counterparts as if this were true.
On January 15th, Shannon and I, both members of the FSU NeW chapter, attended an open forum event in Tallahassee where notable conservative feminist Suzanne Venker and other reputable women spoke.
The event was hosted by a political but ideologically neutral non-profit called The Village Square; ideally, it would have flowed like a living room discussion about women in general and not feminist values in particular.
Unfortunately Ms. Venker was outnumbered 3 to 1 and surrounded by a sea of audience members who largely leaned left. This is not the fault of the organization who hosted the event but simply the hard truth about the numbers when looking at feminism: conservative feminists are in the minority, especially in the field of politics.
The following morning Shannon and I along with additional members had the opportunity to speak in a private setting with Ms. Venker. As a result we were able to hear her real thoughts on feminism, thoughts she felt unable to say the previous evening.
Ms. Venker has a lot of important points to make about the state of feminism in our culture and some of its destructive aspects. She feels that women at some point in their lives are going to want to be married and have children, and there’s nothing wrong with that, the same way there’s nothing wrong with pursuing a career.
But there is something wrong with making other women feel inferior for not keeping up with career-driven women, for choosing instead to be housewives and stay-at-home moms. Feminism should be about equal opportunity and choice. In fact, most women achieve a successful career and have a family, and some do it simultaneously.
Ms. Venker also believes that women have pushed men aside to the point where they feel unneeded. Men like to protect, to provide, and, with mutual respect, to love. We have told them their duties are unwanted. As a result, “a good man is hard to find.”
Ms. Venker’s points are valid, and they deserve to be heard, regardless of whether or not you agree. Conservative feminists should speak out and offer support to one another, or else we will continue to go unheard.
Elena is a junior at FSU, and a leader of the NeW at FSU chapter.