Wendy Davis, Texas state senator and candidate for governor, became a feminist hero in 2013 after standing for 11 hours in defense of late-term abortion, but her particular brand of feminism obfuscates the real plight of women around the world.
Davis was recently accused of “blurring” the facts surrounding her life, and while she did struggle as a child — working at 14 to help support her mother — what she has since come to stand for undermines what women around the world are fighting for.
Davis is of course a very bright woman. She received an academic scholarship to attend Texas Christian University and was accepted to Harvard Law School. That’s no small feat, and she certainly should get feminist credibility for that.
But what came to light in the Dallas Morning News on Sunday was that after Davis’ husband finished paying for her Harvard education, she left him, and he was granted parental custody of their 14-year-old daughter.
“She said, ‘I think you’re right; you’ll make a good, nurturing father. While I’ve been a good mother, it’s not a good time for me right now,’” Davis’ ex-husband, Jeff Davis, said.
Not a good time to be a mother? This wasn’t even during a pregnancy. Jeff Davis wasn’t talking about their conversation over a potential abortion. This was a conversation about child custody.
A former colleague of Davis’ told the Dallas Morning News that the gubernatorial candidate’s ambition played a role in the custody ruling.
“Wendy is tremendously ambitious,” he said. “She’s not going to let family or raising children or anything else get in her way.”
Is that feminism? The ability to shirk one’s responsibilities in order to get ahead in life?
But what Davis has really become a hero for was her filibuster against an abortion bill in Texas that would have outlawed abortions after 20 weeks (that's about five months, well into the second trimester) and would have mandated abortion clinics meet the same safety standards as other surgical centers. How heroic of her to fight to abort a fetus more than halfway through the pregnancy and a lower standard of care for women seeking an abortion!
Feminism is supposed to be about equal rights, but in America, where women have the freedom to pursue their own desires, the movement has become more about access to abortion and less about equality.
Visit the homepage of the National Organization for Women, the largest feminist group in America, and the top issue is abortion. Oh, and furthering the myth that there is massive income inequality among genders.
And in countries where women have fewer rights, the punishment for doing something as simple as going to school or work (if they're allowed to hold a job) or for leaving an abusive husband is brutality.
These are two very different types of feminism. And while the feminism that Wendy Davis represents gets far more attention in the American media, real feminists around the world are fighting for basic rights against actual oppression.