First-wave feminism fought for women’s right to vote. Second-wave feminism fought for equality in the workplace. Third-wave feminism is fighting for the right for women to engage in self-destructive behavior and get away with it while making sure men do not. For proof, I’ll now direct you to the Jessica Valenti article titled “Real equality is when women have the right to be as drunk and stupid as men.”
Do we really believe that women shouldn’t have the freedom to get drunk and be stupid? That they can’t partake in the silly, fun, dumb behavior that we’ve come to expect of young people – young men – on the brink of adulthood? That one bad decision and they could “get themselves” raped, but that never making a bad one will protect them?
Do we really believe that only women can stop rapists?
Sure, binge drinking is a problem among young people – and, though men are far more likely to binge drink than women, the rate of women binge drinking has stayed steady as the rate among men declined. No, we should not encourage people to do dangerous things (and there are dangers). But the freedom to have fun, make mistakes and participate in some youthful irresponsibility shouldn’t be limited to men.
And if we spent even a fraction of the time and energy teaching affirmative consent, fighting rape and punishing rapists that we normally squander on chastising women for not being good boring girls, it wouldn’t have to be. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need a drink.
Note what Valenti is doing here: she goes out of her way to say we should not encourage women to drink, but if they do drink themselves under the table and do stupid shit, we should give them a pass, just like we do for men. News flash to Valenti: all you have to do is recall the Stubenville rape case to know that, no, we do not give a pass to stupid, youthful indiscretions done by men. If we buy Valenti’s premises, then the Stubenville rapists should have been let completely off the hook because supposedly men are let off the hook for their stupid drunken indiscretions, but that is not what happened. The boys were sent to jail. Their lives are ruined because of a really stupid decision.
In fact, what Valenti is arguing for is what women always had all along, because the girl who went to a party full of people she did not know and got passed-out drunk never had to answer for her complete failure to be safe and protect herself from the boys who ultimately raped her. I do not think it is unreasonable to expect women to protect themselves, but in our current climate they do not have to, as it is all men’s responsibility to keep them safe, or pay the dire consequences. This is the unequal status quo and Valenti is arguing to keep it in the name of equality.
I used to be a hardcore feminist. Even just a few months ago, I’d probably have cheered at the article, Now I just scratch my head and wonder how I believed that crap in the first place. This is what they’re fighting for? From equality under the law and equality in the workplace to … equality only if you live in some bizarre alternate universe where women do not have any privilege at all as they are all thrown in jail for their crazy drunken antics. While first- and second-wave feminism had their serious problems, there were legitimate grievances that those movements were fighting against. Third-wave feminism seems to have emerged simply because the feminist establishment that was created under second-wave feminism gave birth to a new generation of feminists, feminists who had to make stuff up to fight for and against. If there are any articles where third-wave feminism is clearly shown to have flown completely off the rails, if they were on them to begin with, it’s this one.
The next time somebody says modern feminism is about equality, I’d show them Valenti’s article because Valenti made a gaffe. By arguing what she (and many like minded-feminists) believes equality to be, she proved the exact opposite, that feminism is not about real equality, only “equality” in their minds, which is not equality at all. All third-wave equality is are women fighting for rights they already have, and in effect only giving themselves more rights in the process.
Feature image by roanokecollege