Christina Hoff Sommers is an American philosopher, writer and social personality who is known for her strong views on ‘Equity Feminism’ as opposed to ‘Gender Feminism’. She did her PhD in philosophy from Brandeis University and went on to lecture at the Clarks University as an associate professor. She has made several appearances at various forums where she has expressed her view on feminism, with a twist, to specify that men and women should be given equal opportunities without any prejudice. She is of the view that men and women may have different natural abilities but that should not be a criteria for the opportunity to pursue a career of ones choice. Though she is a feminist, she is opposed to any type of reservation at the cost of men. At the same time, she is against women being treated differently and losing out in society. In order to propagate her views, she has appeared on television talk shows and produced videos that have been posted on You Tube to reach out to a cross section of society. She has also written and edited several books in which she has been vocal about her views. Today she is a respected personality and activist who has been a member of the Board of Advisors of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and the National Advisory Board of the Independent Women’s Forum.
Childhood & Early Life
Christina Marie Hoff was born on 28 September 1950 in Petaluma, California, USA to Dolores and Kenneth Hoff. She is Jewish by decent.
She did her Bachelor of Arts degree from New York University where she graduated ‘Phi Beta Kappa’ in 1971 and went on to do her PhD in philosophy from Brandeis University, which she completed in 1979. During her PhD she was also an instructor at the University of Massachusetts at Boston.
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After her PhD she became an assistant professor of philosophy at Clark University in 1980 and was subsequently promoted to associate professor in 1986, where she specialised in moral theory. She continued to teach at Clark University till 1997.
In 1997, she became the WH Brady fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). She is a member of the Board of Advisors of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) that focuses on civil liberties in the academia of USA.
Christina Sommers has appeared in a number of television shows including ‘Nightline’, ‘60 Minutes’, ‘The Oprah Winfrey Show’ and Comedy Central’s ‘The Daily Show’. She has also delivered lectures and taken part in debates at various colleges and institutions.
She has served on the National Advisory Board of the Independent Women’s Forum and at the Centre of the American Experiment that has been credited with playing a major role in empowering conservatives in Minnesota.
She has written several articles in leading journals including the ‘Time’ magazine, ‘Huffington Post’ and ‘The Atlantic’, to name a few. She also runs a video blog and has created many short videos for the educational website called ‘Prager University’. Her video series called ‘The Factual Feminist’ has been posted on You Tube, which has received over two million views.
She has written a number of books focusing on gender equality that have received mixed reviews because of her views that appear to be anti feminist to some. She has advocated giving women an opportunity to compete with men on the same platform as opposed to other feminist views.
She was the first person to coin the phrases ‘Equity Feminism’ and ‘Gender Feminism’. The former believe in women competing with men on a level playing field while the latter perceive men as a constant threat and enemy.
She is of the view that the National Organization for Women (NOW) had created a situation where boys are resented and considered an obstacle in the path to gender justice for girls, which is not the case.
She has drawn a difference between equity feminist, victim feminist and gender feminist arguing that modern feminist thought often contains an irrational hostility to men and possesses an inability to consider that the sexes are equal but yet different.
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Her books include ‘Who Stole Feminism? : How Women Have Betrayed Women’ (1994), ‘The War Against Boys’ (2000), ‘The Science on Women in Science’ (2009) and ‘Freedom Feminism : Its Surprising History and Why it Matters Today’ (2013).
Her articles that have had a major impact on society are ‘Should the Academy Support Academic Feminism?’ published in the Public Affairs Quarterly in 1988, ‘The Feminist Revelation’ that appeared in the Social Philosophy and Policy in 1990 and ‘Do These Feminists Like Women’ that was published in the Journal of Social Philosophy 1990.
She has also done editorial work including ‘Vice & Virtue in Everyday Life : Introductory Readings in Ethics’, co-edited with Robert J Fogelin in 1984 and ‘Right and Wrong : Basic Readings in Ethics’, again co-edited with Robert J Fogelin’.
Awards & Achievements
She was awarded the 2013 ‘Exceptional Merit in Media Award’ by the National Women’s Political Caucus for her New York Times article ‘The Boys at the Back’.
Personal Life & Legacy
She married Fred Sommers in 1981, who was the Harry A Wolfson Chair in Philosophy at Brandeis University. They have two sons named Tamler and David.
She lived with her family in Chevy Chase. Her husband died in 2014 at the age of 91.
Sommers claims to be a registered Democrat with Libertarian leanings. She characterises gender feminist as having transcended the liberalism of early feminist so that they view society through the sexist’s prism rather than focusing on equal rights.
She was against Women’s Studies departments in universities and advocated equal opportunities for both men and women without any biases.
She said that men were usually found at the extremes of the spectrum of life. A few of them did exceptionally well, while majority of them were struggling for survival. She did not advocate education and opportunities for women at the cost of men.
Sommers gained an anti women reputation amongst some feminist groups and was branded as pro men. However, she stuck to her views and beckoned women groups to open their outlook and recognise the plight of men.
She believed that the sexes are equal yet different. She agreed with the fact that boys and girls may be better suited for different professions but advocated that it be accepted as a reality of life and not a criteria against men or women.
She recognised the responsibilities of a mother as the biggest challenge for a woman’s career and supports abortion rights for women on need basis; but does not promote abortion as a norm. She also supported legally recognising same sex marriages.