Anyone who reads this blog can catch on fairly quickly that I am fond of looking at things from a rational and realistic standpoint. I try to base my beliefs on the information available to me and the knowledge I have as opposed to just how I feel about something. I’m not going to pretend that I’m the most objective person ever. The amount of sarcasm I inject into my criticisms makes it immediately apparent that I am a very opinionated person. I realize that complete objectivity is an impossible goal: It’s just not something our brains are made to do. I try to be as objective as I possibly can be. It has less to do with being smart and more to do with trying to be level-headed. It’s difficult to have a discussion when you’re seething with subjective anger over something, after all, and I value the power of actual discussion enough to try to keep that in check. Talking about my opinions in an echo chamber is fun in the beginning, but that quickly gets boring. What’s there to be said when everyone agrees with you?
In all of my posts about feminism, I have tried to keep my critiques objective, baring the end where I sum up my personal feelings. I’ve tried to point out logical flaws and irrational rhetoric or flawed paradigms in the theories because those are the things that will remain despite how anyone feels about them. The problems are there, opinion be damned. And my essay on why I’m not a feminist still holds perfectly true, but I neglected a large part of my reasoning for the sake of being rational–the emotional part. (OMG the Vulcan has emotions, whaaaa?) I was going to bypass talking about it, but the more I write, the more apparent it is that emotional arguments affect the feminist crowd more than anything else.
So this is just going to be a post about four of my personal reasons for being an anti-feminist, to paint a fuller picture, perhaps.
1.) I don’t feel oppressed–not even a little.
I was born in the mid-1990s. (Dear god, I was born in another century . . . I’m going to sound so old later in life.) As a little girl I liked fancy dresses and pig-tail braids and Power Rangers and Pokemon. I was too terrible at sports to be considered a tomboy, but I couldn’t be described as girly either. I don’t remember my parents (my mother and my grandmother) enforcing very many gender roles. I know that happens to other girls in more traditional families, but that wasn’t the case for me. I always hated the color pink, and my parents respected that hatred. Now, my mom occasionally jokes about how she’s sad that I’m not into wearing dresses, my parents joke about my lack of an interest in marriage and kids, and my godfather occasionally comments on how I’ll make a good wife one day whenever I make him food. Those are really the most overtly gender-role-centric things I’ve had to deal with, and I don’t mind it.
I don’t recall feeling down-and-out because of my gender back then. Everyone talks about how little girls are discouraged from doing certain things in school. They’re encouraged to be nice instead of leaders, and they’re told that they shouldn’t do math. I suck at math, but that wasn’t because I was told “Math’s just not for you.” like all little girls are apparently told. One of my most inspirational, determined-to-make-sure-I-got-the-material-no-matter-what teachers I’ve ever had was a math teacher. Out of the go-getters in my elementary, middle, and high school class most of them were girls, and no one had anything to say about it. Those were just the people who got shit done, gender being a non-issue. Magazine ads never really bothered me, and Kim Possible was one of my favorite cartoons. The strongest person I know is my grandmother, who is pretty much my second mom, and she was alive and kicking when the American patriarchy was actually a thing.
I just don’t see this prevalent cultural environment of sexism that feminists insist permeates everything. Being a woman actually helps me in academia, and people seem more inclined to help me out when I need it in general because I’m a woman, which is not something that I’m going to complain about. It’s not like I never noticed any gendered things around me, but it never cut me to my core and made me feel bad about myself. Frankly, the only thing that makes me feel bad about myself is feminism. I never felt downtrodden or insecure about my gender until I learned about feminism. Feminism taught me that I was oppressed, that my gender would always hold me back because of institutionalized sexism, that there was sexism stacked against me in most everything, that I wasn’t truly respected by the men around me because they only liked me for my body, that I should be afraid because women were constantly abused and taken advantage of, that women weren’t strong. How’s that for empowerment?
2.) I don’t feel alienated because of my gender.
I’m an introvert. I find it difficult to make friends, to talk to people who I don’t know. Perhaps that’s why I never felt this gender-based alienation that I’m supposed to feel in environments where the demographics are uneven: I already felt alienated from other people anyway. Yay? Apparently I’m supposed to find it difficult being a woman among mostly men. When I go to work in a lab with mostly white guys I’m supposed to feel out of place and alone because there aren’t any people there who I can relate to, because no one there understands me. I find it more interesting than anything else.
I’m the oldest of seven children and also the only girl. That’s definitely interesting. It also means that I don’t have to share anything, which is awesome. And while boys come with their own set of problems, I never find myself wishing that my brothers were girls, I just find myself wishing that they were less obnoxious boys. I never felt all that alienated from boys, and being around more of them at home or at school didn’t make me feel any different than usual. I felt alienated from people in a much more general sense.
So when I find people who I like being around, gender doesn’t matter to me. And when I’m uncomfortable in a social situation, you can bet that being the only girl isn’t the reason. I’m in college now, and almost every single one of my closest friends are men. Out of all of the professors I’ve had, my favorite ones are men. Both of my artistic mentors are men. It’s not like I did that on purpose. It’s just that I found kindred spirits in the people around me. I found people who I can talk to and genuinely relate to on a level that’s not as utterly superficial as “Both of us are girls! We can ask each other for emergency tampons and stuff!”–people who like me for who I am and who I like back for the same reasons. Maybe other women feel alienated when they’re not around other women, but I don’t have the luxury of gender demographic-specific alienation. I very much support the notion that human beings relate to each other with ideas, that individual personality and the content of someone’s character is more important than how they outwardly appear or the labels given to them either by themself or by society. I would feel much more alienated at a feminist conference of all women than anywhere that just didn’t have very many people with vaginas.
3.) I don’t feel the need to belittle other people to empower myself.
Feminists will insist that modern feminism totally doesn’t engage in this line of thinking, but this is the prevalent sentiment throughout the movement that actually made me stop calling myself a feminist a few years ago. You cannot tell me that this isn’t how it works. I’ve been there. I’ve attended conferences and lectures and workshops where this sentiment was parroted around, back and forth through the duration of the meeting like it was a good thing, and it made me vastly uncomfortable even then. If this wasn’t an actual issue, I’d probably still be a feminist.
I once found a list on the internet–as you do–that had the Top 100 Fiction Writers. Like most lists, it was subjective. The person who wrote the Top 100 Fiction Writers list was stating an opinion–they hadn’t read every fiction book ever, they didn’t speak multiple languages and therefore didn’t know very many foreign writers. They were not claiming to make the definitive list of people who were inarguably and objectively the best. That’s how lists work. And I liked it. It had many of my favorite writers and it introduced me to some new ones who I greatly enjoy. Lo and behold, though, what’s the first comment I read about it? “This list is almost entirely white men. So bad.”
And that is the sentiment, explained in two hardy sentences, that turned me away from feminism. It completely and utterly disrespects and belittles good, talented, worthwhile people for no other reason than “They have a penis, and that means whatever they do is less impressive and shouldn’t be regarded as highly as anything made by a woman because women had more problems.” Fuck George Orwell and Hunter S. Thompson and Oscar Wilde. They were white guys–there are books by women that are so much better that we should be reading instead, and the fact that we aren’t means that our society is sexist because it doesn’t appreciate female authors. Maybe we can continue to read Dorian Grey and acknowledge that it’s a good book, but only because Wilde was gay, which almost makes up for him being a man. Almost. It’s utterly disrespectful of people’s accomplishments and cultural/societal importance based upon nothing but arbitrary qualifications and the idea that men have “said enough” so we need to pay attention to women now. Has it ever occurred to these people that we should pay attention to the people who it’s worth paying attention to, race and gender be damned?
And that’s totally disregarding the fact that feminism constantly groups all men together with the likes of mass murderers and wife beaters because it’s of course all men that perpetuate these things in society thanks to the patriarchy and rape culture. All men should feel bad about it. All men should know how sexist they’ve been being. All men should shoulder the burden. Why does this movement feel the need to not only climb up the ladder but then break the rungs behind them and throw the person who went up before them off the roof? Why is it so accepted that the empowerment of women has to come at the expensive of belittling and demonizing men? You don’t have to do that! You don’t have to put people down in order to build yourself up. How is drawing the line between men and women even darker with separatist Us vs Them rhetoric helping anything? How is it bringing us together? You’re fighting fire by bringing out flame throwers of your very own, and when you’re done you go out and preach about how it’s dangerous to play with matches. You can’t do that.
4.) I’m just too laid back for this shit.
I know that after my rant up there (sorry about that), that this seems like a pretty weak closing point. But, yeah. I’m too laid back to muster up the righteous indignation that’s oftentimes necessary in a social justice warrior. I guess I just got righteously indignant about not respecting people’s accomplishments, but I don’t think there’s a movement for that other than the movement of basic human decency. The best way I can describe it is an anecdote.
One day I was browsing Buzzfeed and stumbled across this article of Ridiculously Sexist Ads from back in the olden days. You should follow that link. It’s actually a pretty interesting list, especially if you’re oddly interested in vintage advertisement design like I am. And “ridiculously sexist” is a fairly accurate description of them. So on that day, I looked over the ads and thought it was interesting then had the bad idea of reading the comments. Most of them were from angry feminists, the words “disgusting” and “terrible” and “horrible” and “misogynistic” and the phrase “made me want to be vomit” being fairly common among them, with many of them lamenting that the world isn’t any better for women now.
It actually provided me with a very nice source of self reflection, because the first word that came to my mind after looking over the ads was “hilarious.” Because seriously, that’s how people thought back then? I would give anything to be a fly on the wall during one of those marketing meetings when they came up with those ad designs.
To be said in the stereotypical old time radio voice: “I know! We can advertise this new tie by having a firm jawed businessman walking through the front door of an elegant home and chastising his wife for not having dinner ready yet! It will show that men who wear our ties are so competent and manly that they get home from the office early. It’ll appeal to men for obvious reasons of pencil tie fashion, and it’ll appeal to women by showing a nice strong man providing for his wife and encouraging her to do her best at home just as he did his best at work! It’s perfect! Brilliant–get someone to draw that up immediately! Where do I think of these ideas? I just get people so well it scares me sometimes.”
I’m very happy that that’s not how things are now from a societal standpoint, but I actually kind of regret that the ads still aren’t still like that as some weird 50s hold over. I would have a subscription to every magazine ever. Those things are comedy gold. Plus, the artwork is very nice across the board. It’s not like lame Confederate propaganda where all of the caricatured black people were drawn horribly. You guys had the entire South, and you couldn’t find one racist cartoonist who could draw a black person to look like a monkey and have it not look like shit? No wonder slavery got abolished, if even your propagandists couldn’t be racist with anything resembling competency. Now Andrew Jackson–that man knew how to be a competent racist.
I feel like this tangent has gone on long enough.
So there were my emotions. Savor them. That’s strictly my personal experience, and I don’t expect anyone to have exact same viewpoint. But for myself, those were the less-than-logical, very ranty reasons that I turned away from feminism. Think of this as a companion piece to my first blog. Is old school feminism to thank for letting me have this mentality? Is it to thank for setting things up so that by the time I was born, I could choose not to wear dresses and have female classmates go on to be class president? Yes. Of course, yes.
I appreciate that. But that says nothing about what I feel like I need right now. I don’t much appreciate someone telling me that I absolutely need something that I find unnecessary. I don’t appreciate them telling me the grievous problems that I apparently have. I don’t need the Kwik-Chop 2000 because of all those forgotten times that I’ve slice off my fingers trying to cut bread, and I don’t need feminism either. Both of those things are only useful in a world that’s black-and-white.