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Manhattan Institute

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Unfeminist Feminists

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Unfeminist Feminists

July 16, 2002
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"When you ask young women today if they think of themselves as feminists, more often than not they will pause for a moment. Then they will answer something like: 'Well, I believe in equal pay for equal work,' or 'Yes, I do believe women should have choices,' or 'Of course, I believe women should have equal rights.'

"If these are the principles that define feminism, then we are all feminists now.

"But how do we explain that pause that comes when you ask women if they consider themselves part of the movement? Polls show that only about a quarter of women are willing to accept the label.

"Activists who try to make sense of these young feminists who are not feminists conclude that the movement has an image problem. The reason so many people believe in feminist goals yet reject the label, they say, is that the media have given us a cartoon picture of liberationists as humorless, Birkenstock-wearing man-haters.

"But this explanation falls far short. Feminism is not simply suffering from a P.R. problem. It's just over. As in finished.

"[F]eminism appears not so much dead as obsolete. Yes, it has bred a generation of empowered young women. But rooted in a utopian politics that longs to transcend both biology and ordinary bourgeois longings, it cannot address the realities of the lives that it has helped to change."

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