I find myself bewildered by Kristen Wright’s faulty explication of the distinction between so-called “equity” and “gender” feminists (“Challenge the status quo,” 11/6/08). I wonder why Wright felt that it was appropriate, not to mention factually correct, to discredit the goals of both second-wave and contemporary feminism by writing that “ ‘gender feminists’ do not seek to abolish gender roles. They just want women to thrive in a social and political environment that often breeds hostility.”
Actually, this is exactly what “gender feminists” do not want. Their goal is not simply to achieve a degree of professional or political success in the world as it is and to call it a day. Their goal is to reconsider — and by reconsidering, to eradicate — the gender-determined structures that condone and perpetuate “hostility” (read: discrimination, violence and sexual abuse) perpetrated against women as women in our society. That Wright summarizes this complex and powerful idea as being “angry at men” completely misses the point.
To say that the feminist thinkers whose ideas Wright claims to represent never wished to abolish gender roles is worse than misrepresentative. It is a dangerous, and unjustifiable, perversion of their legacy.
The writer is a senior in Saybrook College, a former columnist for the News and editor in chief of Manifesta, Yale’s feminist magazine.