"Patriarchy is dead, and feminists need to accept it," writes Hanna Rosin in a new epilogue to her controverisal 2012 book, The End of Men, excerpted in Slate on Wednesday.
As a feminist, the recipient of a degree in women and gender studies, a human who just read this disturbing article, and a woman generally beleaguered by sexist bullshit every day, this certainly surprised me.
In the excerpt, Rosin writes that the United States is seeing rising rates of female political and economic power; that young women are more empowered in their sexual choices than ever before; and that women are generally living in a new era of "female dominance." In turn, today's feminists, Rosin argues, continue to cling to an "irrational attachment to the concept of unfair" and have an "outdated compulsion" to believe that sexism is everywhere.
Rosin's claims aren't all wrong — clearly, there is a lot of progress for women to celebrate. The past 50 years have seen stunning shifts in the distribution of economic, political, and social power across gender lines. But it is clear that the end of patriarchy is nowhere in sight as long as we have widespread abortion restrictions, a gender wage gap, pervasive slut-shaming, and the likes of Miley Cyrus using black women as props.
I'm an immigrant and a woman of color who has heard too many wealthy, white, middle-class woman tell other women how to think about and respond to their place in society.
Somewhere, Audre Lorde is throwing up.
Feminists, academics, and the internet have hit Rosin hard. The New Republic's Nora Caplan-Baker goes so far as to accuse her of "mansplaining," while The Nation deconstructs her warped and simplistic idea of the goals of the feminist movement. Meanwhile, Stephanie Coontz in the New York Times details how far we still have to go to achieve gender equality and Jezebel nails it: "Patriarchy is Dead if You're a Rich White Lady."
My question for Ms. Rosin: If patriarchy is dead, why is there a young feminist movement?
Young feminists today are thriving, changing, and growing ever more intersectional. Rosin claims that "in the early days of the feminist movement, every small victory was celebrated" but then claims that to celebrate victories now "counts as betrayal." I think she's out of touch. Feminist victories are rejoiced in everyday — along with a determination to keep on keeping on, knowing we have so much farther to go.
But don't take my word for it. I asked other millennial feminists to share their thoughts on why patriarchy is, unfortunately, alive and kicking:
Natalie Smith, 22:
"I'm a feminist because in 2012 there were 43 new laws passed regulating my uterus but none regulating penises. If patriarchy is dead, how come the majority of people still living below the poverty line are women? One in six American women will be raped or have rape attempted on her in her lifetime, 9 in 10 victims are female; and every day Republicans are making it harder to avoid getting pregnant and harder to take care of the kids you have when you do. Which means, at the end of the day,women aren't in control of their own destinies."
Kyle Howard-Rose, 21:
"To say that patriarchy is dead is to turn a blind eye to the multiple atrocities that are a symptom of the disease of patriarchy that affect people of all classes, races, religions, and gender identities. If patriarchy is dead, then why did I have to quit my job this past summer because of sexual harassment from my boss? If patriarchy is dead then why is access to safe, legal abortion being controlled across the country by men in public office? If patriarchy is dead then why are women often shunned for the same sexual practices that men partake in? If patriarchy is dead then why are the racial disparities between white women and women of color in the workforce so drastic in terms of visibility, accessibility, and pay?"
Lauren Casey, 21:
"The ability of a privileged some to succeed in a society dictated by globalized capitalism does not reflect an ultimate attainment of justice for any. Because of this, there is and will be a young feminist movement. But unlike the idea of an angry, gender-essentialist feminism, this movement is building and sustaining intersectionaly. Not defined by the number of female CEOs — but instead by bridging the roads between immigrant rights, abolitionism, reproductive justice, economic justice, LGBTQQA issues and others — we create a web to achieve not justice for one half of a binary, but beyond. So, as the young,white, college-educated woman I am, I am not just running up this mountain called success with those that look like me, kicking rocks down on those behind us."
Women like Rosin who are able to claim that "patriarchy is dead" are only able to do so because of their unwillingness to recognize their privilege. Thankfully, I'm certain that we are living in an age of thoughtful, politically conscious young people who are interested in dissecting issues of race and class. We are the ones standing at the forefront of the feminist movement; where patriarchy is not dead, but we are eager to take the next steps in fighting it.