For conservative feminist Christina Hoff Sommers Ph.D. ’79, discrimination based on gender is not just a women’s issue. Men, too, face sexism in the workplace, especially in education. Sommers, a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think-tank, spoke about her perspective on feminism at an event sponsored by Brandeis Conservatives and the Young America Foundation on April 17.
According to Hoff Summers, as first wave feminism and second wave feminism have evolved into diverse modern movements, many feminists have taken far too radical points of view. Hoff
Sommers argued the brand of feminism prevalent in college gender studies departments is not based in fact and does not recognize the positive strides American woman have made. Partially to blame are politically-motivated studies which either misrepresent or miscount statistics to portray women as victims, according to Hoff Sommers. She cited statistics about sexual assault on college campuses, arguing that while women are more likely than men to be victims of sexual assault, men are far more likely to be victims of a violent crime in general.
In higher education, Hoff Sommers argued, women are privileged over men, with women attending college at higher rates than men. She pointed to statistics like the U.S. Department of Education’s estimate that by 2026, women will constitute 57 percent of American college students. Though Hoff Sommers sees these statistics as evidence of feminism’s positive impact on society, she said they are also cause for concern. “Why are we doing so much better with the girls than the boys?” she asked.
Hoff Sommers expressed that American values and the values of her school of thought, which she calls equity feminism, are universal, saying “The right to vote, the right to be educated, the right to enter a marriage as equals, to pursue a career, the right to flourish, these are not special problems of white, middle-class women, or American women or western women.” She also acknowledged that first and second wave feminism were not adequately inclusive of women of color or disabled women, but argued the movement is “by any reasonable measure… a great success story.”
“Just look around,” Hoff Sommers urged the audience. “American women are perhaps the freest, most self-determined human beings in history. In many ways we are not merely equals to men, we are surpassing them.”
Brandeis Conservatives told students before the event they would not be permitted to bring bags, bottles, signs or banners to the event, which was closed to the general public. Students were asked to show Brandeis ID to receive a ticket, and Brandeis police and BEMCo were stationed outside the door to the Schwartz Auditorium. The Brandeis Conservatives club received $7,000 from the Allocations Board to bring Hoff Sommers to campus and an additional $900 to provide security.