President Donald Trump's White House adviser Kellyanne Conway gave a confusing definition of feminism. During a speech at the Conservative Political Action Conference on Thursday, Conway said that classic feminism seems anti-male and pro-abortion. In an awesome response, Merriam-Webster tweeted the definition of feminism.
"For me, its difficult for me to call myself a feminist in the classic sense because it seems to be very anti-male and it certainly is very pro-abortion in this context," Conway said, according to a transcript on Fortune. Conway's confusing definition of feminism prompted Merriam-Webster dictionary to tweet out the actual definition of feminism, since searches for the term surged after her comments.
But the thing is, I know of a few women who would define feminism in a similar manner. I have friends who believe men and women are equal, but are hesitant to label themselves feminists because other people have negative associations with the term. One friend has religious beliefs that go against the pro-choice movement that many like Conway have associated with feminism.
"I'm an egalitarian," my friend said.
But nothing in the definition of feminism mentions being pro-abortion or hating men. As Merriam-Webster wrote on Twitter, feminism is "the belief that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities."
Someone who is anti-male is a misandrist, not a feminist. And feminism isn't always about abortion rights: a woman can believe women should be paid as much as men while being morally against abortion. It's when that moral choice for oneself extends to restricting another woman's choices that being anti-abortion becomes anti-feminist. There is no one standard way to be a feminist.
Conway also spoke about what she believes defines "conservative feminism," according to what she said at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
There's an individual feminism, if you will, that you make your own choices. I look at myself as a product of my choices, not a victim of my circumstances. And that's really clearly what conservatives, feminism, if you will, is all about.
Conway also spoke about feminism under the assumption that only women are feminists. But if being a feminist means being anti-male, that certainly doesn't explain why there are male feminists.
Conway also made remarks about the Women's March that were... confusing, at best.
At one point, Conway said that the marches talk about "what women look like or what they wear," according to the CPAC, which is pretty off the mark considering the Women's March was meant to stand in solidarity with LGBTQ, immigrant, religious, racial, and health rights.
She also said that those who participated in the marches presume that women in high positions are not as powerful as their male counterparts, and that it's "disappointing" that "a lot of women just have a problem with women in power," she said at the conference.
Um. Someone who identifies as a feminist probably wouldn't have a problem with a woman being in power. Even by Conway's incorrect definition, if a feminist is anti-male, she would support women in power.
But more importantly, feminism is just as much about advocating for women in low-paying jobs who don't have any power — and who are disproportionately impacted by the pay gap — as it is concerned for women who are CEOs or are in legislative office.
And women's rights are about a lot more than pay equity, including issues ranging from access to reproductive health care to ending sexual violence against women.
It's interesting that Conway herself won't embrace feminism when conservatives have pondered why Conway isn't considered a feminist hero, as the first female presidential campaign manager to succeed in getting her candidate in office.
Perhaps Conway feels she can't identify as a feminist because women have refused to embrace her, particularly after she spoke about the Bowling Green massacre, which never occurred.
“Everyone pretends there’s some power of the sisterhood, but I’m pro-life, so that’s no good for them," she said in a Fox News interview.
But since feminism is about believing that all people, regardless of gender, should have equal rights and should not be judged based upon their sex, defending Conway's mistake just because she's a woman wouldn't be very feminist now, would it?