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by Dustin Celestino

In the lecture “What’s Wrong and What’s Right with Contemporary Feminism?” Philosophy Professor Christina Hoff Sommers makes a distinction between equity feminism and “gender feminism” calling the latter, “victim feminism.” She describes Equity Feminism as the classical liberalism that inspired the First Wave of feminism in the 19th century. What she refers to as “victim feminism” is, according to her, the type of feminism that adheres to the sex/gender system and defines it as a “complex process whereby bi-sexual infants are transformed into male and female gender personalities, the one destined to command, the other to obey.”

She does not agree with the latter view and even complains that, “The dominant philosophy of today’s women’s movement is not equity feminism–but “victim feminism.”

According to her, “Victim feminists don’t want to hear about the ways in which women have succeeded.  They want to focus on and often invent new ways and perspectives in which women can be regarded as oppressed and subordinated to men.”

Ms. Sommers connects the “gender feminist” perspective with how Eve Ensler’s Vagina Monologues was written. She says, “What I want to point out to you is the play’s deeper gender feminist message. It is all about exposing the ravages of patriarchy and the evils of all things masculine. The play is poisonously anti-male.  There are no admirable males in the Monologues–-the play presents a rogues’ gallery of male brutes, sadists, child-molesters, genital mutilators, gang rapists and hateful little boys.”

She criticizes both the play and gender feminism saying, “Here is the problem with the play and with the gender feminist philosophy that informs it: Most men are not brutes. They are not oppressors.  Yes, there are some contemptible Neanderthals among us, and I have no sympathy for them whatsoever. But to confuse them with the ethical majority of men is blatantly sexist. Yet again and again, we find that contemporary feminists take the worst case example of pathological masculinity and treat it as the male norm.”

"They want to focus on and often invent new ways and perspectives in which women can be regarded as oppressed and subordinated to men."

Equal Rights or Special Rights?

The SlutWalk movement, in my opinion, is an extension of what Ms. Sommers called “victim feminism.” I’m sure, by now, you’ve heard about SlutWalks since a few articles on it have been written by several of my colleagues. It’s this movement which is supposed to deconstruct patriarchy’s negative caricature stereotype of sexually liberal, sex-positive women (since patriarchy, allegedly, implies that only prostitutes can enjoy sex with multiple-partners) but ends up reinforcing it by walking the streets dressed up like, well, prostitutes – thereby inadvertently isolating the idea of “a woman who enjoys sexual freedom” with the image of – provocative clothing.

Some would argue that these provocative clothes are worn as costumes to make fun of the patriarchal stereotype. But at the end of the day it’s called a SlutWalk; it’s a pride march for a sexually liberated lifestyle and a sexually liberated identity and even in jest, the association between sexualized images and sexual liberty might imply that only women who have the audacity to dress like this enjoy sex.

Personally, I have nothing against women who dress provocatively. Ultimately, women are supposed to be able to wear what they want. In fact, it is completely legal for women to wear what they want. There is no law which prevents women from wearing revealing clothing. My problem with the SlutWalk is that these women want a privilege or an assurance that extends beyond legal permission.

There’s a claim that women should not be judged for what they wear, and that people should not respond negatively (by calling them sluts) or respond positively (by approaching them, or staring at them at length [I think the exact term was “to ogle”], or by whistling) to what they wear. In other words, they want to be able to wear what they want, without you being able to say what you want about what they wear. They are, in my opinion, asking for “special” rights, not equal rights.

According to Brendan O’Neill, in his article, “These are the most anti-social sluts on earth,” “The SlutWalk organiser says that one of the ‘main messages’ of her campaign is that ‘a woman’s appearance is not a sexual invitation’. But it is. When women wear revealing gear in a pub or a nightclub, they are definitely issuing a sexual invitation. And why shouldn’t they? They want to pull, get off, cop off or whatever the crazy kids call it these days. It is part and parcel of the perfectly normal, perfectly healthy interaction of the sexes that women dress attractively and men respond in kind, by making a comment, offering to buy a drink, attempting one of those apparently criminal come-ons.”

"A 1991 study by the Council for Prostitution Alternatives, in Portland, Oregon, documented that 78 percent of 55 prostituted women reported being raped an average of 16 times annually by their pimps and 33 times a year by johns."

Prostitution and Rape

SlutWalks claim that there is no correlation between sexy clothing and rape. Research proves that there isn’t, so I have to agree. There is no proven correlation between sexy clothing and rape, but how about sexy clothing and cat calls? How about plunging necklines and ogles? How about promiscuity and rape?

Read the full article on the Filipino Freethinkers website

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