There’s two kinds of feminism, I think.
One kind of feminist believe that women are entitled to all the same opportunities men are, but recognize that because men and women often approach their lives and careers very differently, unequal outcomes are inevitable. But the base belief is that women shouldn’t be treated as inferior, or less capable, simply because of their sex. As a brother, son, husband and a father to two growing little girls, this is the sort of feminist I aspire to be.
But there’s another kind of feminism. One that goes beyond equality of opportunity, in fact beyond even equality of outcome (which in and of itself is pretty objectionable) to the idea of feminine superiority.
We’ve seen it in our popular culture for some time now. In television and movies, and perhaps most obnoxiously in advertising, men are routinely depicted as little more than doofuses. More children for the smarter, more practical women of the world to take care of. But this attitude is growing beyond pop-culture (because, as the great Andrew Breitbart once put it, “politics is downstream from culture”) into the world of politics.
“We’re less on testosterone,” Democrat Senator Diane Feinstein said during an interview with Senate women on ABC News recently. “We don’t have the need to always be confrontational. And I think we’re problem solvers, and I think that’s what this country needs.”
Feinstein’s comments weren’t seen as all that controversial by most, but I shudder to think of what the consequences might be for a male politician or pundit suggesting that the Senate has too much estrogen these days.
North Dakota’s own Senator Heidi Heitkamp seems to have this same feminist chip on her shoulder. “We’re hoping that number [of female Senators] continues to grow because it’s critically important that we include everyone in the category of people who can serve this country,” Heitkamp told a Huffington Post reporter as she marched to the Senate chamber where she would be sworn in (and sexually harassed a little bit by the Vice President). “I think it will change the way things are done and I’m anxious to see those changes.”
There is definitely a sense of entitlement in these comments from politicians like Heitkamp and Feinstein. As though they were better, as if they were an improvement to the nation’s leadership, simply by being women.
That cloying sense of gender superiority wouldn’t be tolerated from a male, but for some reason it’s just fine coming from women.
Maybe it’s time to re-iterate that gender doesn’t matter. That being a woman, or being a man, doesn’t make you superior. Senator Feinstein, and Senator Heitkamp, aren’t being very good role models for other women.
As my little girls aspire to become whatever it is they’ll be in their lives, I don’t want them thinking that they’re entitled to special treatment because of their gender. I want them to believe that it’s their actions, their hard work and drive, that gets them ahead. They’re certainly not getting that message from some women right now.