The New Misogynistic Wave to Denounce Women as “Attention-Seekers”

Updated September 15, 2022

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The New Misogynistic Wave to Denounce Women as “Attention-Seekers” essay

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In the last one-hundred years of United States history, the progress and innovation that has been made is astounding. Life expectancy has increased by nearly thirty years for Americans (“1900-2000: Changes…”) due to advancements in medicine, technology, and hygiene. The U.S. can celebrate achievements of civil rights and marriage equality for heterosexual and homosexual couples, and cell phones, laptops, and the internet are no longer things of fantasy. However, nearly one-hundred years after the Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution declared women’s right to vote, women in America are still fighting for their equality in society and the workplace. The new fourth-wave feminism has invoked much backlash and criticism as it pursues its goal of gender equality. The Political Studies Association, the leading political science organization of the United Kingdom, published an article discussing how fourth-wave feminism arose with the increasing presence of social networking sites on the internet that allowed denouncing of “sexism or misogyny” on a public stage (Munro). The culture of blame that has accompanied this new feminism has not encouraged a united front to progress women’s rights. Many groups perceive feminism in a negative light and hold cynical views toward the movement as a whole. The American Psychological Association (APA), the largest scientific organization of psychologist in the U.S., wrote a report about feminism and gender equality in the field of psychology. The APA highlighted the weakness of the feminist movement due to its “relative absence of men, minorities and members younger than 30” (Law). As support and opposition continue to increase the intensity of their battle against each other, feminism continues to lose support and lose sight of their original goal: gender equality, and the need for an economical, political, and societal shift to promote women’s equality has proven itself as no easy feat.

For the majority of women fighting for the feminist’s cause, their message is clear: equal rights for men and women. One of the main battles is on the wage gap. This blatant display of sexism in the workplace has had women angry for decades. In the 2016 presidential election, Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton, was a fierce advocate for closing the pay gap. She reported that “equal pay was just one part of her larger agenda of economic equality for women workers, including paid leave and access to quality, affordable childcare” (Alter). To spread to word on the reality of the pay gap, Clinton used data collected by Glassdoor, a website used to anonymously rate employers and companies by employees. Glassdoor had compiled “more than 505,000 salaries shared by full-time U.S. employees” (Chamberlain) to investigate the wage gap. Glassdoor found that, “men earn 24.1 percent higher base pay than women on average,” but when factors such as “age, education and years of experience” along with “job title, employer and location” were accounted for, Glassdoor saw the wage gap decrease to only five percent (Chamberlain). Glassdoor’s data analysis led them to the conclusion that in the United States the average adjusted wage gap between men and women is not the widely publicized twenty-five percent but actually only five percent. Although this seems to be an improvement, Glassdoor still proved that there is a wage gap even after common factors were removed, which leaves women making five percent less than men solely because they are women. However, even with reliable statistics and political recognition of the pay gap problem, not all Americans are sold on the concept. Mainly younger, working Americans have not experienced this pay disparity and thus do not agree with the idea of a gender-based pay gap. Glassdoor data revealed that, “workers under 24 faced only a 2% adjusted wage gap, while workers over 55 saw more than a 10% gap” (Alter). Younger female employees are earning nearly the same amount as their male counterparts. This initial equality disproves the existence of a wage gap for many young adults, so they perceive feminism as an outdated concept that does not apply to their lives.

Young adults’ lack of experience with the wage gap is not the only factor that makes them one of the smallest groups of feminist support. This younger generation is the most tech-savvy of all the generations and spends the most time on different media applications. The “fake news” epidemic that has plagued popular media has not ignored feminism nor has it ignored young adults. In an article published by Feminist Formations, a peer-reviewed academic journal with a focus on women’s studies, the author, Debra Baker Beck, connected the mainstream media’s labels on feminists to the lack of support from “younger heterosexual women” (143). The media coined the term “bra-burners” to describe feminists after a few protesters at the 1968 Miss America Pageant threw their bras into a garbage bin. However, this occurrence was over publicized and blown out of proportion (Beck 142). Feminists are also commonly criticized as being “man-haters out to destroy ‘family values,’” “radical,” “hairy,” and “lesbians” (Beck 143). This constant ignorant and sexist slander of powerful women has effectively scared many people away from joining the feminist movement. Even when the majority of women support what the feminist cause is fighting for, most women will not associate themselves with feminism.

Men of all ages are also very resistant to support the feminist movement. This comes as no surprise when one of the most common terms the media associates with feminists is “man-haters” (Beck 143). The popular #MeToo movement and controversial instatement of Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court has increased the media’s depiction of feminists as radical and ruthless women out for revenge against men. Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., a highly regarded historian and American intellect, wrote in his article,“The Historian as Participant,” about the perception of historic events throughout time. Schlesinger quoted Lionel Trilling, an American literary critic, about the disparity of facts of an event as time passes, “‘The long view’ is the falsest historical view of all, and indeed the insistence on the length of perspective is intended precisely to overcome sensitivity” (351-352).

A TIME magazine article reported that supporters of Kavanaugh capitalized on the continual degradation of eyewitness history to discredit Dr. Ford’s testimony of sexual harassment that had allegedly been committed “some 36 years ago” (Edwards 22). Many Republicans who argued against the validity of Ford’s recollection of events “dismissed her ‘mixed up’ memories in fiery public remarks” (Edwards 24). Ford’s testimony was seen as inadequate to remove Kavanaugh’s nomination for the Supreme Court because the time that had elapsed erased specific details of the attack. Schlesinger also warned against the common process for viewers of past events “to reject the testimony of men and women as to the significance of their own actions and lives” (352). This perceived superiority over first hand witnesses “[denies] our forebears their essential humanity” (Schlesinger 352). The thought that those analyzing an event from afar have better judgement of motives and truth than the people involved was used in the denial of the Dr. Ford’s testimony.

The New York Times debunked several rumors about Dr. Ford that had been circulating Facebook after “internet investigators [combed] her past for clues about possible motives” (Roose). They spread untrue allegations that her parents’ home was foreclosed by Kavanaugh’s mother, Dr. Ford’s brother had worked for a company in the Russia investigation, and Dr. Ford herself had donated large sums of money to Democratic campaigns (Roose), and used these conspiracies to formulate Dr. Ford’s “real” motive for accusing Kavanaugh of sexual assault, insinuating that Dr. Ford had a personal grudge against Kavanaugh’s family or his political party. Ford is not the only woman that has been subject to harsh backlash after she publicly accused a man of sexual assault; many of the #MeToo women received similar recreations of their stories to make it look like the sexual harassment was their fault or to make the audience sympathetic with the attacker’s plight. Schlesinger discussed how the women and very few men who were victims of the attack “[tend] to preserve the felt texture of the events and to recognize the role of such elements as confusion, ignorance, chance, and sheer stupidity” (354). The people coming forward to detail their experience know just how much their confusion played into the situation, but supporters of the attackers will over play these “elements” to discredit the victims story.

Many women have been accused of being too confused to actually know who their attacker was, or they have been accused of leading on the man that they are accusing. Lindsay Lohan, a defender of Harvey Weinstein, vocalized to Vox the popular opinions used to try to discredit #MeToo survivors. Lohan and many others have criticized the women speaking out as “weak” and claiming that their accusations are solely for attention (Han). Lohan stated that, “If it happens at that moment, you discuss it at that moment…You make it a real thing by making it a police report” (Han). She, like many others who have never experienced this type of trauma, is trying to blame the survivors of sexual harassment for their part in being harassed and discredit their story by saying that if it really happened, they would have gone to the police.

This new misogynistic wave to denounce women as “attention-seekers” erases any truth that the women share and instead continues on the popular shaming of rape and sexual harassment victims. Dr. Ford’s testimony and the #MeToo Movement has finally given oppressed women a chance to condemn their attackers, but they have also increased the polarization of the feminist movement where men and women feel like they are on opposing sides of the battle.

The New Misogynistic Wave to Denounce Women as “Attention-Seekers” essay

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The New Misogynistic Wave to Denounce Women as “Attention-Seekers”. (2022, Sep 08). Retrieved from https://samploon.com/the-new-misogynistic-wave-to-denounce-women-as-attention-seekers/

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