Updated: April 16, 2017 at 5:54 p.m.
Christina Hoff Sommers, a conservative critic of third wave feminism and host of the YouTube talk show “The Factual Feminist” spoke at a Young America’s Foundation event Wednesday night.
Members of YAF said that they invited Sommers to talk about a different kind of feminism because they wanted to start a debate on the topic among students on campus.
“We find that the best questions and the best discussions happen when we disagree,” YAF Co-President Brandon Whitehill said. “The way we promoted the event provoked those kinds of reactions. We love when those sorts of people who disagree come to our events.”
Sommers talked to students about the definition of equity feminism, a kind of feminism that has roots in the European Enlightenment and refers to the “moral, social and legal equality of the sexes.”
“I am a strong supporter of equity feminism: the freedom of women and men,” she said. “What we need is a style of feminism that doesn’t drive people away, and that doesn’t drive its followers over the edge.”
Sommers said some intersectional feminists dismiss equity feminism as being obsolete and harmful and refer to it as “white feminism.” Sommers said that equity feminism fights for the rights of all women, even if it is viewed as representing only the white middle class women of America.
“Intersectional feminism is taking the U.S. in the wrong direction,” she said. “Intersectionals are on a mission to dismantle the lethal system of oppression.”
Sommers said the main issue with intersectional feminism is the spread of false information because she believes that group of feminists base their arguments off of dubious theories or statistics. She said that, for example, in many studies of sexual assault, the questions are vague and the sample of students is unrepresentative of the population, a process that can lead to inaccurate and inflated statistics of rape.
“The majority of the women did not describe it as rape, but described it as miscommunication. They had sex because they were drunk,” she said.
Sommers also responded to questions about rape and consent by saying that many surveys interpret answers about bad sex or having sex while intoxicated as rape. This prompted a dialogue between Sommers and audience members regarding the definition of rape, consent and victim blaming. The University’s code of conduct’s definition of sexual assault includes cases when an individual is unable to give consent because of the “use of alcohol or other drugs.”
“There are bad people out there. You’re not going to get rid of every predator, but you can increase your chances of being safe. That’s a practical solution,” Sommers said.
Sam Cosme, a member of YAF’s executive board, said the event showed students another side of feminism and the argument for equality.
“I’m just glad with the turnout tonight,” she said. “Hopefully we will be able to bring more conservative speakers to campus in the future.”
This post was updated to reflect the following correction:
The Hatchet incorrectly identified Young America’s Foundation as Young Americans Foundation. We regret this error.