When asked, "Are you a feminist?" most American women say no. Feminist activists blame the media for feminism's poor image, but I believe the activists themselves have turned the women's movement into a caricature. Within living memory, the American feminist movement was a vibrant, broad-based vehicle for social equality that had achieved momentous victories and enjoyed richly deserved prestige for its valor and success.
But today the movement has been taken over by aggrieved eccentrics. Marching under the banner of feminism, the current activists are fighting a gender war that few women support or understand. The potential for harm is enormous. Mainstream women are going to have to rescue feminism from the feminists.
We badly need a responsible, reality-based women's movement. Women in many parts of the developing world are still struggling for their basic rights. The classical style of feminism that made American women among the most liberated in the world offers a tried-and-true road map to emancipation. Even in the West, there are still unresolved equity issues.
Who needs feminism? We do. The world does. But not the feminism that prevails in the typical college "womyn's center."
Christina Hoff Sommers is a resident scholar at AEI.