Modern American feminism is an embarrassment

Elizabeth Warren cannot simultaneously claim to fight for women’s rights while advocating to endanger women in prison.


Earlier this week, while campaigning in Marshalltown, IA, Sen. Elizabeth Warren was asked a question by a woman who explained her “passion is serving crime victims and those who have experienced trauma.” The woman went on to express concern about funding for the Crime Victims Fund through the Victim of Crimes Act, asking Warren how she will ensure those funds stay solvent, then asking how Warren will “make sure the Violence Against Women Act gets reauthorized that maintains the protections for our tribal nations and our LGBT community and closes the boyfriend gun loophole.”

Warren, literally hopping with eagerness, responded:

“Yes, we need to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, but it’s not ok to reauthorize just any Violence Against Women Act. We have to acknowledge the risks women face in our tribal nations and we need to give our tribal nations the resources and authority they need to fight back. That is also true of our LGBTQ community. We have to protect all of our people… We were talking earlier about criminal justice — one of the things we have to think about as a nation: we have to stop putting transwomen who are incarcerated into prisons with men where they are at risk. It is our responsibility.”

Warren does not utter a single word about women in response to a question about the Violence Against Women Act, nor does she say anything about “the boyfriend loophole,” which, under the current law, still allows men convicted of domestic abuse to possess guns if they don’t fit within the categories prohibited: abusers who live with their victim, have a child with them, are a parent or guardian, or are (or were once) married to them. This leaves out, for example, boyfriends, stalkers, and former partners.

Not only does she fail to discuss the victims of male violence (women), but she insists that violent males be housed with women in prison, despite the fact that women have already been sexually harassed and assaulted as a result of men being transferred to female prisons. In other words, she took the opportunity to speak about the Violence Against Women Act, to commit to defending men, and to putting women in danger in order to “protect” men who identify as transgender from male violence.

Warren is widely considered to be and sells herself as a feminist candidate. “Nevertheless she persisted” became a battle cry of sorts in 2017, after Republican Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell accused Warren of violating Senate Rule 19, as she spoke against Jeff Sessions’s nomination for attorney general. “Senator Warren was giving a lengthy speech,” McConnell said. “She had appeared to violate the rule. She was warned. She was given an explanation. Nevertheless, she persisted.”

While Warren is happy to challenge “sexism” so long as it bolsters support (which is not to say I don’t believe she genuinely supports things like abortion rights, but that is an expected and uncontroversial position for any Democrat), she is unwilling to actually stand for women’s rights, and protect some of the most vulnerable among us: that is to say, women in prison, women in transition houses, and women in shelters. As we know, it is the most marginalized women in North America who are overrepresented in prison: Indigenous women, poor women, women with histories of trauma and abuse, women struggling with mental health issues and addiction.

At the same time, we see the Women’s March rebranded as the March for Our Human Rights, set to take place this weekend, on January 18th. An emailed press release explains that “millions of women and allies will take to the streets to protest the rollback of women’s human rights across the world.” The email explains that, “given the United States’ decision to join 19 nations, including Saudi Arabia, Iraq, and Libya, in declaring that women have no international right to abortion,” the “theme of this year’s march is bodily autonomy, which is the right to self-governance over one’s own body without coercion or external pressures.”

It is not just ironic, but offensive, that modern American feminists will claim to fight for women’s reproductive rights, while simultaneously pretending not to understand what a woman is, and why women have rights in the first place.

Patriarchy came to exist, way back when, as men wanted to control the means of reproduction. In order to ensure their bloodline, men had to ensure a level of control over women and women’s bodies. Gender roles and efforts to keep women from living their lives autonomously extended from this. Now that the feminist movement has achieved so much, in terms of women’s access to positions of power, education, political participation, rights in the workplace, and financial independence, it seems those claiming leadership roles in the movement have completely forgotten their purpose and roots.

At the 2017 Women’s March on Boston, Warren said it was important “as we enter a new political era” to ensure the “voices of the people be heard.” She insisted that, in light of Donald’s Trump’s election, “We fight harder, we fight tougher, and we fight more passionately that ever.” Yet, one thing is clear. Support for trans activism and the prioritizing of male voices, desires, and feelings over women’s rights and safety in favour of so-called “trans rights” achieves the very opposite. It is not only cowardly, but it silences women — especially women who already have no voice and few rights, such as female inmates.

We do indeed need to fight harder, but American feminists are doing the opposite, groveling to bullies who are doing everything in their power to destroy centuries of feminist gains.

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including The Spectator, UnHerd, the CBC, New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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