Feminism reportedly dead

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Every so often, like clockwork, someone announces that feminism is over, that it has achieved its goals, that it needs to stop burning its bras and screaming, "DIE, ALL MEN, DIE! DESTROY THE PATRIARCHY!" -- which, as everyone knows, is all feminism does.

Invariably feminists get a little baffled by this and say, "But I am not doing that now. It is possible I never did that. I recognize that women have made great progress. These days, I limit myself to pointing out obstacles still confronting women in the workforce and elsewhere."

Hanna Rosin, at Slate, is the latest to suggest that the patriarchy is dead and that feminists need to accept it. In a deftly written piece that frames all dissent as an "irrational attachment to the concept of unfair," she suggests that the big fight is over, feminism now confines itself to picking petty fights and seeing oppression everywhere, and we need to, well, get over it. Which, when you put it that way, is hard to argue with, lest you be branded as some sort of whiny feminist with an irrational attachment to the concept of unfair.

Susan B. Anthony didn't die fighting in the snows of Mount Rushmore so you can complain about being whistled at on the way to work in your Important Job, where you have yet to encounter any glass ceilings whatsoever! Look at you, achieving things! Feminism complains that it has no shoes, but remember, it used to have no feet!

Fair. But now it has no shoes. This is still a problem.

I don't think so little of today's feminism as to assume that if the problems it confronts went away, it would continue to find ever-more-specific and tinier things to complain about. I think it would heave a sigh of relief and get back to its, er, whatever the opposite of knitting is.


Alexandra Petri writes the ComPost blog for The Washington Post.


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