Being Told What I Think: A Response to Some Feminists

I’m on a roll! And by that I mean I’m procrastinating on studying for final exams! Yeah.

So here’s this video that has been sitting in my drafts for weeks now, ripe for criticizing. Why don’t we do that?

It’s a video called What Saying ‘I’m not A Feminist’ Really Means by the Huffington Post, which is like Buzzfeed at this point, only without stupidly fun pop culture quizzes banking off of 90s nostalgia to make its existence tolerable. If Buzzfeed didn’t make this video, you knew HuffPost would.

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“Feminism has become something of a dirty word in certain circles.”

Okay, this is an odd trend in feminist circles that needs to stop. Feminism is not just a word. It’s not just the word that people have an issue with. Yes, you get the question, “Why is it called feminism when it’s supposed to be about all genders?”, but have you ever noticed that that isn’t the only criticism the movement gets? It’s not like everyone is peachy keen with everything the feminist movement does, but, oh, it’s just the word feminism that they don’t like. It has gained a negative connotation for a reason, ladies. Words don’t all of a sudden just become bad words out of the blue, with no cause to be seen.

It has gained a negative connotation because of the actions and ideas it has become associated with. It’s become “a dirty word” because people used it to justify defaming and driving to tears a scientist who made history. It’s become a dirty word because people used it to justify #KillAllMen and just being okay with false rape accusations because whether or not they’re true doesn’t matter. It’s become a dirty word because feminists bloggers went to the UN and made complete and utter fools of themselves. Stop acting like the only thing people don’t like about feminism is its name and only its name. That’s clearly not the case.

“Lately, a lot of high-profile women like Shailene Woodley, MerylStreep, and Marion Cotillard have gone on record saying that they are not feminists.”

So? They’re high-profile women doing more to advance women’s rights than any of you are just by virtue of being high-profile women. Practice what you preach and everything. All of them have also said that they’re for equal rights for the genders. So why is them not lumping themselves in with feminism such a big deal? The picture they used of Cotillard was a magazine article called Marion Cotillard has Lost her Mind, with that title referring to her not claiming to be a feminist. Is it just the label that matters? It doesn’t matter that they’re representing women in Hollywood and kicking ass at doing that, it doesn’t matter that they’re for equal rights. They don’t call themselves something, so they’re in the wrong? The label is the most important thing? Perpetuating feminism and feminism specifically is what needs to happen? That feminist brand-loyalty is strong. Just a hint, guys: It’s this ‘you need to give yourself this label, I don’t care what you think’ mentality that makes people hate the word feminism as well as its actions.

“There’s even a group called Women Against Feminism.”

Oh, no. It’s almost like feminism and women aren’t synonymous terms or something.

“But what are these women really saying when they declare that they aren’t feminists?”

It’s not like we could ask them or anything. I look forward to you telling me what my opinions are, HuffPost. I’m sure you’ll be accurate.

“What they think they’re saying is, ‘I don’t hate men. I love men.’ ‘I don’t think women are better than men.’ ‘I’m not that kind of woman. You know, the crazy, bra-burning femi-Nazi kind.’ ‘I’m a cool woman.’ ‘I don’t want to put women above men.'”

Has it ever occurred to you that maybe you should wonder why people think these things about feminists? These ideas didn’t just come out of the ether. Also, I love how you’re totally comfortable speaking for people who you clearly disagree with and telling them what they think. You do realize how insulting this is, right?

Why would people think that feminists hate men? Oh, I don’t know, maybe the KillAllMen hashtag that feminists justified by saying that it’s okay for women to be angry and mean towards men (totally ignoring the hypocrisy since I doubt they’d be okay with a KillAllWomen hashtag). How about the prominent feminists who straight-up admit that they think misandry is okay? Are Andrea Dworkin and Jessica Valenti No True Scottsmen now?

And what about those times that feminist movements outright spat on men’s issues? Like the college that canceled a men’s rights panel on International Men’s Day because one talk about men’s rights degraded and derailed women’s issues? How about the feminists who were mad when rape statistics came out showing that men are victims of rape just as often as, if not more than women, once prison rape was accounted for? How about the feminists who thought that men should be required to take consent courses but women didn’t?

How about feminists conveniently forgetting to mention gender pay gaps that favor women (clinical psychology, for instance). Or how about feminists conveniently forgetting to mention that women have the advantage in schooling over men in the West? How about feminists just not addressing men’s issues in general, sometimes going so far as to paint gender-neutral hardships as hardships that women deal with but not men, like online harassment or domestic violence?

But nope, those ideas just came out of nowhere. Feminism has done nothing to warrant this negative connotation at all. Of course.

“For anyone who needs a refresher, this is what feminism means at its core: Feminist- a person who believes in the social, political, and economic equality of the sexes.”

Communism. Noun. “A theory or system of social organization based on the holding of all property in common, actual ownership being ascribed to the community as a whole or to the state.”

Well, that sounds perfectly okay. Why do people not like Communism, guys? Why has it become a dirty word? It sounds like a perfectly nice system of government.

“Hating men and being a feminist are actually not connected at all. Not even a little bit.”

I will simply refer you to the paragraphs above.

“What feminism is about is the equality of the sexes. But right now, one sex has a lot more power than the other.”

What do you mean by power? I believe I talked about this before, but ‘power’ is really vague and can mean anything. Are you referring to women not being in politics as much as men? Well, they’re certainly not stopped from doing that, to the point where a woman is being sold as the dead-ringer to be our next president. Plus, women vote more than men in America, so women are actually more represented by politicians than men are. Women are vastly more educated than men in America, to the point where male literacy isn’t just stagnating but going down. I kind of just don’t know what you’re referring to when you say “power.”

“Power” seems pretty evenly distributed depending on what you’re talking about. No, women historically have not been the ones in positions of leadership, but they have historically been the ones who everyone cared about. You’ve created a false paradigm by insisting that “power” is the default thing, the good thing, the thing that everyone should have. You can easily look at it from the perspective that “power” sucks and the women had it better. Neither one of those ideas is more right than the other, and it was discriminatory when women were actively not allowed to have positions of authority. But they are now.

What do I mean by this? Here’s an example: Basic workplace safety standards were not implemented until women started working in hard-labor jobs like factories and whatnot. For hundreds of years, men did the majority of the dangerous physical labor and no one gave half a fuck if they got hurt or died doing it. This was doubled during the Industrial Revolution. But, hey, wouldn’t you know it, as soon as word got out that lots of women were hurt in their factory jobs, people started demanding safety standards because women getting hurt was unacceptable. You can make an argument for both sides of this situation: You can say men had it better because they were able to have those jobs when women weren’t, and you can also say that women had it better because people cared infinitely more about their well-being both before and after they were allowed to work those jobs.

But if you were to go by feminist logic, the guys had it good all the time and the women always had it bad, and there’s no discussion to be had.

“Men are not systematically oppressed based on their gender. And that’s a fact. But women are. And that’s a fact too.”

Your skills in argumentation are staggering. I’m not going to sit here and say that there aren’t some systematic barriers that negatively affect women. But, really? Men have no systematic issues based around their gender? All of that goes to women? It’s a 1/0 situation?

How about the draft? That is specifically gender based, and women don’t have to do it. This is made more messed up once you realize that the majority of male voters at the time could only vote because they signed up for the draft, so women were given the right to vote without the responsibility of shouldering a war that gave most men the ability to vote. Also, if men now, in 2015, don’t sign up for the draft by the time they’re 18, they become a borderline 2nd-class-citizen unable to receive any government aid.

How about reproductive rights? I’m the first to point out that I think America’s current abortion policy is sub-par at best and damaging at worst. But, even allowing for that legitimate issue, women still have more reproductive rights than men do. That’s not helped by people consistently framing reproductive rights as an exclusively female issue that men shouldn’t even be involved in talking about. A woman can opt out of parenthood with no repercussions–assuming that abortion is an option, she can choose whether or not she keeps that baby. The father’s opinion on the matter is apparently worthless. She can get rid of the baby even if the dad wants to keep it (even without abortion, women are allowed to leave newborns at specific places to be put up for adoption without getting in trouble), or she can keep it when the dad doesn’t want to, roping that guy into paying child support for a child he acknowledges he doesn’t want and can’t take care of, and if he doesn’t pay child support, he goes to jail. Men can’t opt out like women can.

How about domestic violence shelters? Some don’t even take men, some even going to the point of viewing men as the constant perpetrators of abuse by default, with call lines for women who need help and a separate one for men who think they’re abusive. The ones that do take men often don’t know what to do with them while they’re there and can’t provide proper help. And whenever anyone tries to build a men’s shelter for male victims of domestic abuse, they tend to get protested by women’s rights activists and receive no government funding, unlike women’s shelters, which receive all the government funding they want.

There’s the legal system, which comes down much harsher on men than it does for women even if they commit identical crimes. Female pedophiles get off lightly while male pedophiles are viewed as horrible. A woman can kill a man and claim domestic abuse to the sympathy of the jury and the judge, where claims of domestic abuse generally do nothing to help men who kill their wives. There’s the issue of no one taking rape seriously if it happens to a man, and especially if it happens to a man in prison, whereas rape against women is viewed as abhorrent. Men are often counted as enemy combatants by default when looking a war deaths–so mowing down civilian men sometimes isn’t even acknowledged as a problem even though women are always counted among civilian casualties. Men commit suicide more than women. Men are less educated than women, with this hitting them doubly as hard once it’s made apparent that women, despite being the majority in colleges, are the ones given gender-specific scholarships, with the some of the only specialized scholarships widely available for men being ones that require them to fight in the army.

But none of those things matter, I guess. There are no systematic issues here.

“So if you believe any of the following: reproductive rights; equal pay for equal work; seeing diverse bodies, ethnicities, and gender expressions on TV and in magazines; providing education to 62 million girls who don’t have access to it; ending sexual violence; having women in government; having women CEOS. You know, basic gender equality. Surprise! You’re probably a feminist.”

1.) I already talked about how I think reproductive rights are an issue for women at the moment, but also an issue for men, with them being ignored when said rights are discussed.

2.) Well, women don’t do equal work, so them not getting equal pay makes sense. Yay, accomplishing our goals, technically. In all seriousness, though, the pay gap is a myth. When other factors besides gender and ultimate earnings are taken into account, the pay gap shrinks to vanishing. There is about 5 cents left that is unaccounted for which may actually be due to sexism, but the key word here is may. Researchers actually don’t know, so automatically blaming it on sexism is a bit disingenuous. And even if it is caused by sexism, 5 cents definitely isn’t the three quarters to a dollar line you’ve been saying. In fact, 5 cents is the same as the pay gap in Sweden that favors women.

3.) Is this what intersectionality brings? Bitching about TV? You guys are accomplishing so much. You realize that people aren’t just their appearance right? You can have a black trans-sexual woman in a wheelchair, but if she’s a pundit for Fox News, she’s not going to be bringing diversity to a panel discussion with only conservatives.

4.) I’m all for providing education to people who need it. But you do realize that the majority of those 62 million girls come from counties where boys don’t have much access to education either, right? It’s like saying that women’s rights are violated in Saudi Arabia. Yeah, they are. But it’s Saudi Arabia: the men aren’t walking around free and happy and carefree. It’s a false paradigm again. I don’t know why educating girls and girls specifically has caught on as an idea–what did “children” not get you enough sympathy points?

5.) You will never end sexual violence. This is not a goal. It’s a happy idea, and that’s about it. You might as well just say you want to end crime.

6.) We do have women in government and we do have women CEOs. Do you ever actually bother to see why the demographics are the way they are, or do you just see the disproportionate ratio and immediately blame the patriarchy? When you look at college stats, women don’t tend to be economics or poli. sci. majors–the two majors most likely leading to a career in politics. Being a CEO takes time and the majority of women in business eventually take time off to raise a family at home, taking a very large chunk out of the time it takes to be a CEO. Having a 50/50 split of everything is not basic gender equality, it’s enforced gender quotas. If you want to take names and pictures off of resumes and have people’s gender kept a secret until their skills are made apparent, fine. That actually does mitigate gender biases when it comes to job hiring. But you’re not asking for that. You’re asking for people to know the gender, take it into account, and start favoring women over men because it’s about time we have more chicks. That doesn’t help.

“Feel free to identify or not identify any way you want. But if you say you’re not a feminist, at least know what the term actually means. And if you think you’re a humanist–we don’t have time for this today . . .”

Yeah, fuck literally every other movement that is perfectly acceptable but doesn’t have the label I want. Feminist brand loyalty strikes again.

Also, it’s okay if you don’t identify as feminist! That’s why we made an entire video belittling people who don’t identify as feminists, calling them crazy, telling them what they think, and accusing them of being sexist. It’s okay to not be a feminist, I guess, I just thought you wanted to be a good person. But whatever.

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