Responding to Rebecca Brink: Because Someone Had to Use Actual Arguments

Alright, guys–here we go again. I’m once again diving back down into the shark pit to point out the obvious. Now, I already talked about the Women Against Feminism movement that’s been getting more support and backlash over the past couple weeks. To summarize: I was wary as to whether or not the women in the group were being helpful to the cause or just counterproductively simple-minded, but I still gave the general idea my support. I also mentioned that the the overall feminist response to it should have been called out for the shallow, non-analytical, condescending drivel that it was even though it probably would not, given feminism’s often untouchable nature.

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but I was right. I was right because something like this can be posted and actually be seen as a good thing, as something smart and satirical. That link leads to a few pictures by a feminist named Rebecca Brink whose “critiques” of Women Against Feminism have picked up some steam as of late. You can call it satire all you want, but Stephen Colbert she ain’t.

Even though I’ve already addressed the topic, I wanted to look at this one response specifically just because I think it embodies everything wrong with the current American feminist movement in a way that I couldn’t explain all by myself. So thank you, Ms. Brink, for helping me in my quest to point out why people like you aren’t helping.

Let’s begin, shall we? I have pictures this time, because this is a big budget blog and stuff.


 

First up:

Brink posed in photos as a series of different women holding notes scrawled with sarcastic anti-feminist rhetoric.

I believe that I’ve spent a good deal of time discussing the condescending and self-important air taken on by many a feminist. “The only way anyone could disagree with me is if they’re misinformed and ignorant or just downright stupid. If they knew any better, they’d be on my side.” I don’t agree with libertarians and, quite frankly, think their ideas on economics are terrible, but I can at least acknowledge that they used reasoning skills to get to that conclusion. I may not agree with it, but I don’t call them idiots who just don’t think no good. This is an incredibly childish way arguing against a point. It’s one step above calling someone a stoopid doo doo head.
And apparently we’re just supposed to be okay with aggressive feminist rhetoric (because everyone knows that using war and violence language in your movement works out and causes no problems ever). Also, this is a blatant use of what I like to call the Victim Card. “You pulled the Victim Card! All other players pay $200 and go back to Start.” She’s essentially saying that you can’t criticize feminism as a theory or feminism as a movement because women have had it tough and now we should be able to do what we feel like because the world owes us its undivided attention after jipping us. You owe us, world, for how badly our gender has been treated in the past–reparations are due!
This is something feminist say a lot: “Well in the context of our historically patriarchal society . . .” but that means nothing when what you’re justifying with “context” is something dumb and/or harmful. If you wanted to make a point to these anti-feminist women, you’d try to actually explain how feminism isn’t dumb and/or harmful like they believe it is, not just assume that everyone already knows except the lost cause idiots you’re satirizing. But instead of explaining, you just cry HISTORY and expect it to be enough to justify your behavior now. I can justify black-instigated race riots by invoking historical context, but that doesn’t make rioting okay and that doesn’t make the rioters mere victims of circumstance. You can’t justify every little thing you do, good or bad, with historical context. Sometimes, you’ve just got to own up, and that’s something that feminism very rarely does.
And seeing as how violence is not a gendered issue, I do not and have never understood why touting the phrase “violence against women” has ever done any good. More men meet violent ends than women. Some women are killed by men, but that doesn’t automatically indicate sexist, misogynistic reasoning for each and every case of it. Yeah, a woman is more likely to be killed by a man, but a man is more likely to be killed by a man too, and that situation is infinitely more probable. This isn’t an issue you can treat like an issue of women’s rights. I’m not saying that violence against women is okay–I’m saying that violence against any innocent party is wrong. I don’t have to mention that men are generally viewed as far more expendable than women even today (even though I just did . . .). But apparently, it’s only the historical mistreatment of women that matters–fuck all those guys who died because women got to file into the lifeboats of the Titanic first. It’s only women who got the short end of the historical stick.
History has a habit of screwing everyone over, hon, not just women.

Next:

The photos show Brink wearing different wigs.

I don’t even get this post. Satire doesn’t justify not making any sense. So is she saying that I need feminism because . . . someone else does? My immediate reaction is to ask what the hell American feminism is doing for women in other countries. It seems pretty America-centric, which is fine seeing as how that’s where you live, but why act like it’s more extensive than it is? There are a handful of prominent feminists who go to other countries and do stuff but that’s by no means what most of them do. I fully support women’s rights movements in places that need them, admire the men and women–American or otherwise–who are willing to go to actively fight for women’s suffrage in those places, and don’t mind them calling themselves feminists. There are many countries that could legitimately benefit from some old school feminism and I’ll be the first to acknowledge that, but what does that have to do with feminism how it is in my own country? It doesn’t mean I don’t care about women in other countries, it means I wonder why the women in my country apparently need it.
Starving kidnapped African child soldiers need extensive therapy, and child abuse has been a historically relevant problem in most places since the beginning of recorded human behavior, but that doesn’t mean middle class American kids from the Wisconsin suburbs need extensive deprogramming therapy too. Something being necessary in one context doesn’t mean that it’s necessary in another context just because the people involved are similar in some way. The fact that women in Saudi Arabia are lacking in human rights has no bearing on the status of women in any other country besides Saudi Arabia. And, no offense, but besides the handful of women’s rights activists truly willing to make the commitment to fight for disenfranchised people on foreign soil, I don’t see what the average fourth wave feminist is going to do for a Saudi woman. That’s mainly because modern feminism seems fairly ill-equipped at dealing with actual problems, other than just fostering “discussions” where everyone has to agree with you about how bad the problems are and about how people should really do something about it eventually maybe.
I’m not saying that women in America don’t face problems, but acting like being a woman in America is commensurate to being in a war zone of sexism and gendered assault and harassment doesn’t do much to deal with those problems since it’s such an unrealistic viewpoint. Feminism, in that way, seems unnecessary simply because it doesn’t seem to operate in reality and therefore isn’t helpful at contending with reality. That’s what anti-feminists mean when they say that America doesn’t need feminism anymore.

Next:

She states on her website that it is satire, and that she is "critiquing rhetoric, not shitting on women" the way many other Women Against Feminism responses have been accused of doing.

I find it very ironic that Brink apparently went out of her way to avoid “shitting on other women” and instead only went after their harmful and ignorant rhetoric. Isn’t she shitting on other women in this piece of “satire” simply because those women don’t agree with her? Her first photo was essentially calling them all idiots who don’t know any better. Yeah, no shitting on other women there.
And she is equating “feminism” with “women,” like bad-talking feminism is the same thing as being a sexist women hater. The mere existence of Women Against Feminism proves that feminism isn’t a movement that speaks for all women as it claims to. Shouldn’t Brink be supporting this group with all her heart seeing as how it shows that women have just as much free speech as men–that they live in a world where their voice can be heard, even if their opinion is one she disagrees with? The existence of this counter movement was caused by women being fed up with a movement that constantly claimed to speak for them and support them and their views when it didn’t. I wouldn’t want someone who I disagreed with speaking for me and claiming that they had my best interest at heart when I didn’t even want to associate with them. “Feminism” isn’t “women,” and equating the two is one of the easiest ways to shut down actual conversation. Because anyone who disagrees with a feminist is a woman hater by default, using this logic.
As for the pandering to the status quo thing–I don’t get it. Is she talking about gender roles? I’ve already pointed out that you don’t have to be traditional in order to be anti-feminist, so that’s not it. I just don’t understand what implication she’s even trying to make, so I can’t really debunk it.
Next:
I’m from the South, a place notorious for that harmful line of thinking, and, to be honest, I never got “the talk” from my mother and my high school sex education class didn’t teach abstinence mainly because it didn’t teach anything at all. That being said, I never got the impression from my family or other people around me that having sex before marriage made me a slut. I didn’t do the whole church thing, which probably played a large part in that. I’m not saying that this mentality doesn’t exist–I’m sure plenty of anti-feminist women are anti-feminist for reasons of tradition and comfortable gender roles. But this traditionalism definitely isn’t the driving force behind the entire counter movement just like being a wanna-be anarchist isn’t the driving force behind feminism.
Anecdote time: The first time I had sex, I freaked out because it wasn’t the most thought-out decision ever and had to ask my mother to drive me to a clinic to get a Plan B pill. Clearly, I wasn’t married at the time. She and my decidedly more conservative grandmother were proud of me for being responsible and brave enough to ask for help in the situation. I was not in an environment that taught me that I was a whore for having pre-marital sex. I am not afraid of my own body, and frankly, I don’t understand how feminism would apparently help me if I was. Feminism seems utterly ambivalent as far as women’s bodies and sexuality goes. If I was a feminist, I’d probably be far more insecure about my body just because feminism constantly talks about how my body is the only thing about me that the world cares about because sexism and that any expression of my sexuality has to be in a tightly controlled environment otherwise I’m being treated like an object. How am I the one afraid of my own body again?

Next:

Brink said that when she first saw the anti-feminist posts, she rolled her eyes at the "old, tired clichés about women's proper roles and about feminism being in one way or another bad".

This is an ad hominem attack. It’s so obviously an ad hominem attack that I don’t even want to address it, but I feel that I have to. “All anti-feminist are rape culture-enabling, rape supporting bad people who hate rape victims and just want them to shut up because they’re probably lying anyway.” No bias there. It’s a perfectly sound argument. Like the picture above, it creates a dynamic where disagreement is impossible because any detractors are bad people. That’s not a mentality that fosters conversation, like feminist are so fond of promoting.
As for the rape statistic thing: many rape statistics used are skewed, and it wouldn’t be prudent to go on denying that. When feminists use statistics, they go for things that shock, not things that paint an accurate picture. Rape statistics are often generalized sexual assault statistics, for example: rape is sexual assault, of course, but so is unwanted ass groping at a party and everything in between. To group all of those together and then treat the statistics like they pertain specifically to rape is wrong. Other statistics incorporate rape that happens in multiple countries yet conveniently manages to leave that out of the description because if people think that all those rapes are happening specifically in their country alone, it’ll it ’em harder. That is wrong. And even if they were totally accurate statistics, the nature of rape as a violent crime calls for a solution a little more nuanced than what feminists seem interested in pursuing.
Rape is a terrible, horrendous crime that should be treated with the utmost level of gravity. Even with the skewed statistics we have, I think the numbers are vastly undershot, especially for men. There are just too many people who don’t report, which is their decision and they shouldn’t be blamed or cast negatively for it. But if someone claims that they have been raped, the claim should be taken seriously and the fact that there are some people out there who don’t take it seriously is horrible. Any man or women who feigns being a victim of rape is also a horrible human being. It’s a serious matter. I would never in a thousand years tell someone who experienced that trauma to shut up. And her implying that that’s how I feel about the topic is not only insulting to me, but it reflects badly on her. Rape is horrible, but feminists often want to leave the “discussion” at that, but there’s more to be talked about. Acknowledging that there’s more to be talked about than “Rape is bad, right? Why don’t we teach guys not to do it?” doesn’t mean that I don’t care about rape victims but it does turn me off of feminism.
(Give me points for refraining from calling her a bitch here, guys.)

Next:

But on reflection, she felt hurt that the anti-feminist women said that feminists "wanted to be victims".

I already talked in-depth about how the “history” argument falls flat under scrutiny. America needed feminism once. Why do we need it now? What is happening right here, right now that would justify the over-the-top rhetoric of the current feminist movement?

Next:

She told BuzzFeed: "It is very hard to publicly call yourself a victim. No one wants to be a victim. No one celebrates being a victim."

“It is very hard to publicly call yourself a victim. No one wants to be a victim. No one celebrates being a victim.” — Ms. Brink.
Actually, it’s very easy to call yourself a victim, there are plenty of people who want to be victims, and there are people who celebrate being victims. It’s called having a victim complex. It’s like a hero complex, but switched around. Victim complexes can be a sign of multiple psychological issues, though it can also be a simple trait of a culture or of an individual personality. Examples: The black guy who gives no fucks about school and actively makes fun of people for being smart who then goes on to not get a good job because he has bad grades and not even a community college qualification blaming his lack of success on racism has a victim complex. The cheerleader who says terrible things about people behind their backs then runs crying to the school guidance counselor about how everyone is so mean to her when she never did anything bad to anyone has a victim complex. The feminist who gets cat-called by a douchebag occasionally who then goes on to act like those single instances of tactless irritation are blows against her very soul that make her feel like less of a human being has a victim complex.
People do indeed celebrate being a victim. Victims are underdogs! We love those! We love supporting them and we love being them, especially if we’re in an entire group of victims because then we can make that part of our very identity and be even more impressive and inspirationally trodden upon by The Man. Real victims can’t be seen in protest pictures smiling and waving and having a grand old time spitting in the face of those who oppress them because being a victim isn’t supposed to be something that helps you make a statement. People say feminists have a victim complex because public indignation seems to be their end goal, not change. There’s a reason that women in China don’t complain about ad campaigns they don’t like–because they have actual problems. Making people aware of how much it sucks to be a woman is the end goal, not actually trying to make it better to be a woman. That’s a trademark quality of having a victim complex–it’s all bark and no bite, all perpetuation and no solution.
I do not equate surviving trauma with being weak. I’m guessing this also has something to do with rape victims, about how I’m disrespecting their feelings about what they’ve been through because them being afraid makes them weak. What do I actually think, though?
First, being strong shouldn’t even have to be a requirement. If you go through a traumatizing experience, I don’t expect you to be strong–acting like you’re traumatized when you actually are traumatized isn’t a fault against you. I mentioned above that having a victim complex is a symptom of some mental issues, though: I mentioned that because it’s one of the common after effects of post-traumatic stress disorder. If someone has PTSD, they will be more inclined to feel personally victimized in situations that wouldn’t logically warrant that reaction. It’s an explanation for that behavior in many feminists who have experienced some kind of assault to their person, but it’s not a justification.
As someone who studies psychology, the usual feminist diatribe on this issue is actually something I fucking hate because, like rape culture, I think it’s overtly harmful. Like the girl who wrote about privilege, feminists are all about being nice and safeguarding feelings, and not at all about actually being helpful. Holding the hand of someone with PTSD and insisting that they should come across nothing that triggers them ever and anything that does trigger them, no matter how objectively harmless it is, should be gotten rid of because it disrespects rape victims, doesn’t help rape victims. It perpetuates their trauma because it affirms it. It makes their trauma worse because they never have to actually confront it, because the harmless things that trigger them afterwards are treated like the problem to be dealt with and not their still present trauma itself. I don’t treat victims like fragile flowers because I actually care about helping them. Once again, the insinuation that I’m just some sociopath who doesn’t care about the pain of other human beings because I personally haven’t experienced it is starting to piss me off.
 
Next:
Brink says she'd be happy to take submissions, but she just isn't interested in making attacks on the women as people.

Yeah, I’m a teenager. I’m almost 20, but I get how that’s still really young. I can’t even rent a car yet. So what about all of the feminists out there who are under the big Two-O? Are they just being dumb little girls and boys who haven’t experienced enough to really get it yet? Are you going to be this critical of them too? Oh, wait, they’re the ones who are wise beyond their years because they’re smart enough to agree with you. Their young age is a tribute to their empathy and intelligence and insight into the human condition, whereas my young age is a tribute to how much I still have to learn in order to know what I’m talking about. I get it. You can’t use the age argument if you’re not going to apply it to everyone. If I’m too young to know what I’m talking about, so are the nineteen-year-old girls who agree with you. I doubt you’ll be getting on your website to tell all of them that they need to vastly rethink their belief systems any time soon.
Actually, I have been in the workforce. I never really experienced any sexism as far as I know. I’ve been promoted while others haven’t. Others have been promoted while I wasn’t. Actually, since I’m in college, being a woman actually gets me more perks and job/internship opportunities than the average white guy on campus who may or may not be more qualified than me. I take the advantages (Could they be called privileges, maybe? Nah, only white guys have those.) where I can get them, and being a woman is definitely an advantage where I live and work. I play my tokenism up in applications because it helps. I know it’s not that way in every field there is and that plenty of women have experienced sexism from their bosses and coworkers, but saying that my being a woman makes me inherently disadvantaged in the workforce is just untrue. Like most other things, it all just depends.
Everyone has issues that could potentially hold them back that they have to deal with to progress in life. Women have issues specific to them. Men have issues specific to them. Some issues are generalized, spread across the genders with no preference for any. Everyone has problems and hardships, stigmas and conventions applied to them for whatever reason (even white guys have a stigma against them now, mainly because all the social justice stuff that’s happened). The fact that women have different ones than men is irrelevant. What is relevant is that the problems aren’t disproportionate, and the idea that women in America, in this day and age, are still facing disproportionately overwhelming cultural trials across the goddamn board isn’t realistic. And when you fight against that, you’re fighting against a fantasy straw man. Women are no longer barred from entering certain jobs that are only for the boys. Of course there are going to be sexist jerk-offs in the world, and they’ll probably always be in the world, and some of them will invariably be in charge of hiring, but that’s not a picture of the entire job market in any career field. And any time those sexist jerk-offs are found out, they’ll be given quite more than a slap on the wrist in this day and age.
You can say that there’s still a huge problem because women aren’t generally expected to do certain jobs. But if cultural expectations are the biggest of your worries, you’re life is pretty damn good, especially in America where cultural expectations mean fuck all to the typical American individualistic mindset (that I proudly boast having, thank you very much). Men have expectations placed upon them as well by society. Societal expectations are placed on everyone, and not everyone will go along with them, and the mere existence of those expectations doesn’t automatically indicate oppression, “historical context” or not. They’re not even inherently bad. Not being a criminal is a societal expectation, after all, just like getting married before you’re “too old” is. You’re never going to get rid of people expecting stuff from you for whatever reason, gender or something else, and if that’s your end goal, you should greatly rethink it. And maybe society does need to change–it’s not like we’re fucking perfect–but the change you’re asking for seems to have less to do with equality and more to do with sticking it to the man (the literal man, in this case). Social change shouldn’t be born from vindictiveness or the idea that you and your ilk are owed something. It shouldn’t be born from negativity at all, which is what feminism is intent on doing, extenuating the negative in order to make a point–have you ever seen Inception? A positive idea is infinitely stronger than a negative one.
 
Next:

 

Well, good news! There’s a lovely fella who I neglected to provide the image of because it’s so insipid who is under the impression that feminists put out more, so you can subscribe to the ideology and get laid! Everybody’s happy!


 

This is dumb. It’s full of ad hominem attacks against her targets (despite her insistence that she’s only focusing on their ideas). According to this woman, I’m a semi-illiterate, ignorant, wanna-be housewife, rape-enabler who has never read a history book and hates rape victims and loves gender roles. Because fighting against a straw man is the best way to prove how smart you are. And making it seem like everyone who disagrees with you is an evil idiot is the best way to foster conversation.

Many of the women in Women Against Feminism used the popularity of the movement to try to genuinely get across why they thought feminism was wrong. They tried to get across ideas that had been relegated to the sidelines, and this is the response they got. This condescending, tsk tsking pat on the head by the big girls who know better. And according to Buzzfeed, that is some spot-on and hilarious satire. Awesome. I can think of better anti-feminist satire, and I’m an anti-feminist!

How about: “I don’t need feminism because . . . I only hate rich men (when they don’t share their $$$ with me)!

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9 thoughts on “Responding to Rebecca Brink: Because Someone Had to Use Actual Arguments

  1. I’m an old school feminist, old enough to find this “nu-wave up my own ass” feminism bloody annoying! Thanks for a really well written piece that exposes the, dare I say it, bitchy, element of the new cliquey expression of “women’s rights” which I find alienating in the extreme. We’re all victims now, apparently, not what I’ve striven for in the past 25 years!

  2. Haylii says:

    This is interesting. I became a feminist when I was younger because I wasn’t into some of the traditional gender role stuff. (I am of Asian-American background, and there is some old-fashionedism in my family.) I have always been more career-oriented than family oriented, and wasn’t into fashion or things like that. I don’t consider myself a victim or anything. I always tell off street harassers and if the situation becomes violent, I will call the cops. To be honest, though, I don’t follow politics and it is sad that feminists nowadays have a victim complex. Feminism was originally meant to empower, not create victims!

  3. Bravo!
    I especially liked this,
    “I find it very ironic that Brink apparently went out of her way to avoid “shitting on other women” and instead only went after their harmful and ignorant rhetoric”

    It absolutely astounds me how insulting, shaming, and demeaning feminists can be towards other women. If you’re ever looking for some genuine misogyny, scratch the surface of feminism and you’ll find a whole pocket of it. It’s especially insidious because it’s so passive/aggressive, so subtle and psychologically abusive…towards women!

  4. PlainOldTruth says:

    Index: Female Serial Killers

    – google it. Scroll it. No need to read much of it. Just do a quick scroll. You’ll get the picture.

  5. Jay says:

    I’m a man in my 50s and often think all people under 30 are morons.

    But I have two teenage daughters who help remind me that when I was in High School and learning about civics (and yes, even feminism), we actually were pretty well informed, aware of what was going on, and made some pretty decent arguments. And they are clearly more informed than I was on any issue (thank you Internet).

    To repeat your point

    As a society, we think young people (teenagers in High School and College) can

    + drive
    + fight in wars
    + vote
    + sign contracts
    + determine which parent they wish to live with
    + work
    + travel

    and in general do not need more than a high school education to function in society as a peer

    Feminists insist women 14 or younger can

    + have sex
    + have abortions without parental consent, often without even the consent of a judge
    + understand and become feminists (as you point out)

    But Feminists including many columnists also insist

    + women against feminism are dumb, stupid, ignorant and mostly little girls

    So who hates women more than feminists? And if these girls are so stupid, what does that say about feminists who also say these girls abilities to make decisions about their bodies by themselves without parental consent?

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