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Feminism began with goals that were both laudable and achievable, and it achieved them: women are today the legal equals of men. For decades now, since legal equality was achieved, feminism has been harmful to women.
Feminism has always had its destructive aspect, its misguided insistence that women adopt male practices that, for reasons of simple biology, work against women. The sexual realities for women are different, completely and ineluctably different, from those for men. Encouraging women to disregard those realities harms women. Women aren’t men, and they can’t act with the casual disregard for responsibility and consequences that nature has gifted to men as an unfortunately viable option.
There is another, more subtly corrosive quality to feminism: in an era when people talk of “safe spaces” and worry about “micro-aggression,” feminism has unwittingly removed the cultural safeguards that made it possible for women to comfortably coexist with men in public spaces. The quotidian gestures of male chivalry: opening and holding doors, walking on the street side of the sidewalk and the down-side of the stair, refraining from vulgarity and profanity in mixed company, etc., have long been resented and denigrated by feminists as lesser examples of toxic masculinity. That’s a mistake, and one with consequences: these gestures serve as an assurance to women that men are aware of the differences in physical power between the sexes, and choose to harness that power in token acts of protection.
Has feminism made women safe from men? No, as the “me too” refrains make clear, it has not. Human nature in the realm of sex is deeply wired and impossible to change quickly, if at all. What is possible is the accretion of social patterns of behavior that create safeguards for women, patterns that encourage safe behavior by both men and women. Feminism, having achieved its legitimate legal goals, has left as its only purpose the destruction of femininity and, along with it, the social safeguards that protected women.
It’s time for the feminist movement to accept victory and go home.