How feminism became egotism

“Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.”
 ― Cheris Kramarae
“Feminism is the radical notion that women are human beings.” ― Cheris Kramarae

There was a time when feminism was a serious business. It meant campaigning for key principles. In this post I explore how things have changed today.

Feminism and principles

For me, feminism means campaigning for key principles. These include:

And feminists have also worked to ensure access to legal abortions and social integration. Also, they push for protecting women and girls from rape, sexual harassment, and domestic violence. So, it’s easy to admire those, like Harriet Harman, who advanced these principles.

How things have changed

Once a political movement it seems that today it is little more than a fashionable badge. Or maybe it’s a foolish and possibly misguided marketing opportunity. In 2019 you would be hard pushed to find a person who wouldn’t proudly call themselves a feminist, or at least broadly support its ideals. For instance:

A study of 27,000 people in the US found that two-thirds believed in gender equality in 2016, up from a quarter in 1977.

And in a 2017 UK poll, 8% said they agreed with traditional gender roles — that a man should earn money and a woman should stay at home — down from 43% in 1984.

But does simply asserting the fact help to advance the cause? Yet what many refer to as feminism isn’t feminism at all. It is an awful kind of egotism. It narcissistically espouses indiscriminate admiration for ‘all things women‘. And it’s also a way for companies to promote their brand.

Never mind that Starbucks uses zero-hours contracts. These make it almost impossible for female employees to plan childcare. It still wraps itself in the feminist cloak. Recently its customers were able to celebrate International Women’s Day. They could drink a coffee endorsed by Ariana Grande while listening to a feminist-themed playlist.

This isn’t feminism; it’s egotistical activism for fools.

What do you think?

Photo by Allie Smith on Unsplash



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Robert Thompson

Big ideas and important articles. Writing to help you make sense of the world. And cope with being human.