Women Lose, Part 2

I, for one, am tired of living in a culture that devalues women.

Oh, the culture values what we bring to academia, our intellect and skill. It values what we contribute to the workforce, our ability to multi-task and communicate. It values what we bring to politics, our strength and presence.  It values what we bring to the arts, our talent and sex appeal.

But for those with eyes to see it, the so-called “feminist” movement that began as an effort to protect women from masculine oppression has succeeded in bringing up a generation of women who are objectified and used perhaps more than any other.

Today, it seems women are valued only if they act like men — like lost and misguided men at that.

One of the most compelling summaries of the failure of the feminist movement was given (albeit unintentionally) by Professor Nancy Bauer in her (rather graphic) 2010 New York Times opinion piece, “Lady Power.”

If there’s anything that feminism has bequeathed to young women of means, it’s that power is their birthright.  Visit an American college campus on a Monday morning and you’ll find any number of amazingly ambitious and talented young women wielding their brain power, determined not to let anything — including a relationship with some needy, dependent man — get in their way.  Come back on a party night, and you’ll find many of these same girls (they stopped calling themselves “women” years ago) wielding their sexual power, dressed as provocatively as they dare, matching the guys drink for drink — and then hook-up for hook-up.

Lady Gaga idealizes this way of being in the world.  But real young women, who, as has been well documented, are pressured to make themselves into boy toys at younger and younger ages, feel torn.  They tell themselves a Gaga-esque story about what they’re doing […] But the morning after, students routinely tell me, they are vulnerable to what I’ve come to call the “hook-up hangover.”  They’ll see the guy in the quad and cringe.  Or they’ll find themselves wishing in vain for more — if not for a prince (or a vampire, maybe) to sweep them off their feet, at least for the guy actually to have programmed their number into his cell phone the night before […]

What’s going on here?  Women of my generation…have been scratching our heads.  When we hear our daughters tell us that in between taking A.P. Statistics and fronting your own band you may be expected to perform […] sexual feats, we can’t believe it […] They (are not) living in a world in which their acts of self-expression or self-empowerment are distinguishable, even in theory, from acts of self-objectification.

The lie is so obvious — “empower yourself by becoming an object.” Yet, this is the alluring fruit for the modern-day Eve.

Women are losing — horribly.

At the end of her column, Bauer asked a pertinent question.

It remains to be seen whether philosophers will be able to pick up the gauntlet that’s still lying on the ground more than half a century after Beauvoir tossed it down: whether we can sketch a vision of a just world seductive enough to compete with the allures of the present one.

It’s time we started living the culture our Philosopher established, the just world where women are truly valued for who they are.

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