Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Why I am Not a Feminist? Because I am a Constitutionalist

It should come as no surprise that most people would describe feminism as "the radical notion that women are human beings," or perhaps even reference buzzwords like "equality," "sex," "race," "class," along with the ubiquitous displays of "vagina power." What should be surprising is that many women do not consider themselves feminists at all. Only 20 percent of Americans, (23 percent of women, and 16 percent of men) consider themselves feminists, according to a HuffPost/YouGovpoll. Not to mention the tiny bubbling 8 percent of those polled were anti-feminists; usually women who hold up signs starting with the phrase "I don't need feminism because..." followed by more buzzwords like "victim hood," "man-hating," or some trivial anecdotal note about how their boyfriend treats them respectfully.
HuffPost/YouGovpoll n=1000 ± 3.5%

Most people consider themselves to be neither feminist nor anti-feminists; I just so happen to be in that category. I am not opposed to women forming groups to tackle what they believe are important issues directly related to their gender. I'm usually opposed to their reasoning, their historical foundation, and their attempt to redefine language to suit a specific narrative. I mean say that the term "girl" is oppressive to women in general seems a bit of a stretch, but I guess that is just one way to end the Patriarchy.

As for why I'm not a feminist, I would cite American political scientist specializing in the Constitution, Robert A. Goldwin's essay "Why Blacks, Women & Jews are Not Mentioned in the Constitution" for influencing my decision. During the late 1980s there were some citizens who denounced celebrating the Constitution of the United States, because in their eyes the original Constitution was shameful, or in modern terms, problematic. Goldwin then goes on to explain how and/or why the original Constitution is not problematic, even when it lacked the 13th and 19th Amendment.

In contrast, feminism makes the claim that women were specifically left out of the Constitution, and that the 19th Amendment was necessary in giving women the right to vote. In order to be a feminist you must believe that the original Constitution was a sexist document, and that is something I refuse to do. Goldwin would agree because "women have always been included in all of the constitutional protection provided to all persons, fully and equally, without any basis in the text for discrimination on the basis of sex." Women were included for the purposes of representation due to the phrases found in Article I, section 2, clause 3, "the whole number of free persons" and were taxed along with Native Americans as "all other persons."

Many Feminists will be unconvinced stating that by not mentioning women in the Constitution specifically gives more privileges to men. That is completely ridiculous. If the original Constitution was sexist then it would specifically and frequently use male pronouns. It does not and more importantly it uses non-sexist language such as "citizens," "members," "electors," "officers," "representatives," "inhabitants," and "persons." Yes, I know that pronouns such as "he" "his" and "himself" are also in the original text, but these pronouns are rightly viewed as generic or neutral. Therefore, according to Goldwin, "there is not a single noun or adjective that denotes sex."

Still feminists would make the claim that laws were written for men, by men, about men, however this is also untrue. As an example Goldwin mentions Article IV, section 2, clause 2, in which "a person charged with a crime who flees from justice is found in another state shall be delivered up on demand of the governor of the State from which he fled..." No reasonable person would believe that the he mentioned in the clause means that only men and not women are going to be considered fugitives. The Fifth Amendment states that "no person... shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself." I guess this would mean that women like former IRS official Lois Lerner could have not plead the 5th when called to testify about IRS supposedly targeting conservative groups, but she did, and no language was changed in the Constitution in direct response to this act.
As for the foundations of feminism themselves, which are based in the suffrage movement and the ratification of the 19th Amendment, I find that this was not as necessary as feminists would like us to believe. Women have voted on an "equal basis with men for the first time anywhere in the U.S. in 1869 in the Wyoming Territory." By 1914 ten more states were added to this list. Therefore we can conclude that the suffragettes were fighting the Federal government to firmly secure the vote for women, when all these groups really needed to do was petition the states, because according to the original Constitution women already had the right to vote. The problem was that certain states did not recognize this right. 

On that note, why did the suffragettes want to vote in the first place? What were they claiming that they could provide the nation by their vote? Suffragettes believed that women, being that they are different, would bring their experience as mothers, care-givers, female workers, to the voting booth. So the founding feminists believed that women have "reproductive power" that makes them have an inherently different but vital voice. Some would say this kind of thinking is sexist, but that would be problematic, so I'll just move on.

If you are still unconvinced that the 19th Amendment was unnecessary (or at least not as necessary as what feminists would propose) then answer this, after the ratification of the 19th Amendment was any text in the original Constitution changed or amended? It does not, and was not intended to amend anything, and as Goldwin says, "the barriers to voting by women had always been in the state constitutions or laws."

I can't be a feminist, because that would mean that I would have to believe (1) the original Constitution is a sexist document, (2) the foundations of feminism and the 19th Amendment were necessary, and moreover I would have to ignore (3) that feminism established the dangerous precedent that the Federal government should step when the going gets tough. When I need free birth control and tampons, or more abortion clinics, or funding for women crisis centers, I just need to protest the Federal government and they are obligated to help me. Feminism; the radical idea that in-group bias is the perfect means for equality and fairness.

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