When Help Hurts: Women’s rights gone wrong

Christine Colleran

I am a woman, and I am powerful. I have the capability to do and achieve great things. There was a time women could not confidently make claims like those, and I understand that it is thanks to women’s rights and feminist movements that I can freely make and believe such statements.

That being said, the current women’s rights movement in our society puts the country in danger of further gender segregation. The women’s rights of today promote special treatment of the female sex, treatment that can prove counter-productive.

Before an angry mob armed with pitchforks burns down my house; I would like to assure you that I do not believe that feminism and women’s rights are bad things. In fact, there are still issues of inequality women need to fix in regards to their male counterparts- many of which lie in the workplace. We should continue to strive towards equivalence in these areas. My real concern lays in the idea that feminism and women’s rights of today may hurt society more than they help.

As women, we voice dreams of equality, but in reality we often expect to be treated with special consideration. Merriam Webster dictionary defines “special” as the following: “being distinguished by some unusual quality; especially being in some way superior.” The Women’s Center, for example, is special treatment for women.

Now, I know they do amazing work at GVSU’s Women’s Center …but where is the Men’s Center? You may laugh, but I am serious. Are we not promoting discrimination and separation by the very means we are attempting to use to resolve them? Would we not consider it sexist if there was a center for male students and not females- even if its focus was promoting gender equality? Would we not, as feminists, fight for our right to join it? Or change its name to the Gender Equality Center?
It’s not equal, and it’s not fair.

I have another issue with the fact that we (as a society) punish men for objectifying us (which is wrong) but continue to objectify men with little consideration. For example, female talk show hosts can gush over the “sexiness” of the male celebrities they interview, but if a male host were to do the same it would be sexist and rude. Why do women get special privileges? It is because women spent so long being oppressed? Is it our turn to be on top? Do two wrongs make a right now?

There are places in the world where feminism is so necessary and women’s rights are so limited. America, for the most part, is not one of them. As an advanced, educated society it is time for us to stop drawing gender distinctions and start looking at each other as equals. Women’s centers and women’s issues should become gender equality centers and gender equality issues. It is time for us to put aside gender differences, and recognize each other as purely people.

As Benjamin Franklin said, “We must all hang together, or assuredly we will hang separately.”

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