“I am a single college student with jobs but no set career. Unlike Newman, I cannot speak for anyone else, but I can say that I did not appreciate her representation of our sex.”
In her interview with Jordan Peterson, British journalist and Oxford graduate Cathy Newman intended to fight on behalf of women, but she actually demonstrated the degradation of feminism, and its internal war against women. The war is twofold:
1) Suppressing and shaming what (some) women truly want: a husband and family.
2) Pressuring women into areas they aren’t necessarily interested: STEM fields, corporate positions, political spheres. Women tend to be more interested in people and relationships, whereas men tend sometimes to be more interested in accruing things like status and wealth.
The war is being waged at home and in the workplace, and Newman addresses both.
She opens the interview by criticizing Peterson for telling young men to, “Grow the hell up,” but he does so for the sake of young women and the health of society. Peterson was actually not talking exclusively to men; he was talking to young adults in general. And he was encouraging maturity for personal development and healthy relationships asking, “What sort of partner do you want? Do you want an overgrown child? Or do you want someone to contend with, who is going to help you?” The message may be considered critical and severe but not malevolent.
Unlike Newman, I cannot speak for anyone else, but I can say that I did not appreciate her representation of our sex. The War Against Women is very real and very harmful.
Newman then transitioned to the gender pay gap. She fixated determinatively and exclusively on the wage disparity, while Peterson strove to portray the issue’s complex, “multivariate equation,” such as differing interests and priorities. Newman was unprepared for his multilevel analysis and research, so she denied to validate their implications.
Despite being an adult, married woman with a successful professional life, Newman shoulders the victimhood of women like me: I am a single college student with jobs but no set career. Unlike Newman, I cannot speak for anyone else, but I can say that I did not appreciate her representation of our sex. The War Against Women is very real and very harmful.
I consider myself a true, traditional feminist who desires, and will fight for, equality between men and women. I don’t need a man, but I also won’t shun chivalry. I’m not ashamed to be alone, but I’m also not ashamed to ask for help.
Feminism isn’t just a female pursuit. One of the earliest and strongest feminists was John Stuart Mill. The thesis of his text The Subjection of Women desires to develop “a principle of perfect equality that does not allow any power or privilege on one side or disability on the other.” Feminism isn’t redistributing the advantages of patriarchal society to create a matriarchal one. We don’t celebrate the subjugation or shaming of men any more than we do when they are directed at women. Feminism is equality, not exclusion. It is the same sentiment that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. expressed in his landmark “I Have a Dream” speech:
“We must forever conduct our struggle on the high plane of dignity and discipline. We must not allow our creative protests to degenerate […] must not lead to us to distrust all white people, for many of our white brothers, as evidenced by their presence here today, have come to realize that their destiny is tied up with our destiny.”
Feminism isn’t just for women; it’s for humanity. It’s the desire for equality between men and women. When properly defined, everyone should be a feminist.
In the Workplace
Women don’t need to be like men to be as good as men. As Ben Shapiro notes: “Once you obliterate the distinction between the sexes, you end up destroying the feminists.” He goes on to discuss the gender gap in STEM fields and concludes: “This not to say that girls aren’t good at STEM stuff. It’s just that they don’t prefer working in STEM fields.”
Shapiro’s claim is not merely observation but founded on research. Dr. Steve Stewart-Williams, a professor of psychology at University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus, wrote an excellent article entitled “The Sticking Point: Why Men Still Outnumber Women in Science,” in which he addresses the disparity between men and women in STEM fields. The article features a debate between Dr. Steven Pinker and Professor Elizabeth Spelke and thoroughly analyzes the various arguments that are addressed.
More men are at the top of society – there are more male CEOs than female—but, a less discussed, and therefore less recognized, phenomenon is that more men are also at the bottom of society—more men are homeless and incarcerated.
As Jordan Peterson repeatedly professed in his interview with Cathy Newman, it is a difficult issue with several variables. Besides discrimination and socialization, one issue is gender variability and focus. More men are at the top of society – there are more male CEOs than female—but, a less discussed, and therefore less recognized, phenomenon is that more men are also at the bottom of society—more men are homeless and incarcerated. Another issue is priority. As I said before, women tend to prioritize people and relationships, whereas men tend to prioritize money and material strides. Women also tend to distribute value across several outlets, such as the domestic sphere and their careers and their social lives, whereas men tend to fixate on one pursuit, such as their careers, at the expense of others. Of course, these are generalizations, but there is something to them.
And these aren’t just social constructs either. In “The Sticking Point,” Stewart-Williams cites Simon Baron-Cohen’s work that found that, “The first signs of the difference emerge within the first 24-hours of life: Newborn girls are more attentive to faces whereas newborn boys are more attentive to a mechanical stimulus.” Women are biologically different from men, not only physiologically, but also neurologically.
Even socialization doesn’t always disadvantage women. Dr. Stewart-Williams states that “by four years of age, children tend to assume that boys are academically inferior to girls.” In my classes growing up, the girls were the best at math—and English. We were better students; we didn’t think the boys were smarter. Really, they weren’t stupider either; they just hadn’t taken school as seriously yet. At my school, the math instructors were women, and the English teacher was a man. My masculine brother—a typical teenage boy who liked money, sports, cars, and girls—excelled in English and studied Communications. I didn’t know about stereotyped gender differences, academically, until I started college.
A Strong, Independent Woman and Her Family
In my family, my mother is the mathematician. Early in her career, my mom worked the late nights, traveled for her job, and managed the finances. She was a pioneer in her field as a female agronomist and very proud of it. She later transitioned from agronomist to mathematician, and she’s just as proud. She’s never regretted the change. It wasn’t a sacrifice but a gain. She was the one I went to for homework help in math and science. She sent me to my dad when I needed help drawing pictures or writing my first book reports in elementary.
My parents didn’t break all the gender norms by any means. My mom drinks tea, and my dad drinks coffee. My mom gardens, and my dad cuts the grass. My mom cooks; my dad takes care of the pets. My mom taught me how to knit, and my dad taught me how to drive. They do what they’re good at and what they enjoy, not what society or tradition tells them to.
My dad never felt emasculated by my mom, and my mom never felt subjugated by my dad. They’re partners. They both do laundry, clean house, run errands. They help each other, and they worked together to raise us well. Being good parents and role models was about taking care of us and helping us grow into our own persons, not what society wanted us to be—and not even what they wanted us to be. They just want us to be our best. I can always go to either of them about anything, and I always feel safe with both of them.
My mother is proof that women can have a good career and a good family. A career isn’t everything, and there’s no shame in wanting a husband and family. And they’re not mutually exclusive. We don’t have to choose, and we’re not wrong to want both. My father is an example of a good man who supports and protects his wife and children. My father taught me how to split wood. He didn’t send me back inside because I was a girl. My mother taught me how to start and maintain a fire, lessons her father had taught her. My brother taught me how to shoot a gun. My sister taught me how to live a healthy lifestyle. I am very proud of my family. They didn’t just teach me how to do things; they taught me how to be someone. They taught me how to a be strong, independent woman.
Sophia Redelfs is studying English, with an emphasis in literature at Columbia College in Missouri.