Hating on Feminism? I get that.

apple cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese

“21st century feminism means being offered either a box of cupcakes or an apple and always choosing the apple.”

I believe in equality, but I’m not a feminist.  I’m an empowered woman, but not a feminist.  Women and men should both have rights, but seriously?  Feminism is stupid and antiquated.  The goals of feminism have been accomplished, what’s the big deal?  Feminism is causing high divorce rates.  It’s depressing women and de-motivating men.  Why can’t we just get along??  I’m so mad!  I hate feminists these days!  They are so selfish and deluded and they get angry about everything!  I swear, they need to just shut up and relax!

I read these complaints nearly every day I’m on the internet, and certainly every day I blog.  You would have to be living under a rock not to see it.  For every feminist talking it seems like there are a dozen anti-feminists screaming at them.

I completely understand why so many people hate feminism these days.  Feminism sucks now, because generally it means looking at the world and seeing a big fat problem nearly everywhere you turn.  Nobody enjoys that.  This might come as a surprise, but feminists aren’t having a grand ole’ time.  They’re not self-indulgent like people seem to think, or only concerned about whining and asking for more; they have made the difficult choice to accept and live with awful truths and dedicate themselves to fighting an almost impenetrable force.

A day on which I wake up and think, “Fuckin’ yeah!! Today I get to fight the patriarchy! Wooo hoooo!”  is a very special day.  Days like that are nice.  But that’s not every day.  Usually I think, “Ugh.  Fuck the damn world.  I have to fight the patriarchy.  This sucks.”  Because it’s hard, and I’d rather live in a perfect world and not have to worry about it.  So I completely identify with the temptation to deny the thing exists.

Feminism has always faced serious opposition; it’s never been easy.  During the women’s suffrage movement, men certainly weren’t jumping up and down about it.  They were all, “get out of our voting booths and stop making a stink!”  But look at what happened.  They passed women’s suffrage because it became too hard to ignore.  The law was obvious and staring them in the face.  You can only see inequality written on paper and turn the other cheek for so long before you have to admit it’s right there in front of you.

That’s the main difference between historical feminism (which people usually support) and today’s feminism (which people usually reject).  The first wave of feminism (1848-1920) focused mostly on getting women the right to vote and the right to own property, among a myriad of other legalities.  The second wave (1960’s-80’s) focused on abortion rights, coverture, and giving housewives the option of leaving the kitchen, among other social agendas.  The way we remember these movements is that they worked mostly on concrete problems with finite solutions.  Most of them had start and end dates.  Feminists could look at their to-do list and see the light at the end of the tunnel burning brighter with every rally and protest they held.  Success had a name and a face, and you could high-five it after bursting through the finish line.

Now look at the words modern feminists use all the time:  patriarchy, male entitlement, rape culture, social scripts, expectations.  What the hell are those?  Compare these concepts with words like suffrage, abortion, and employment, and they might as well be dust blowing in the wind, or sand washing into the ocean, or rain falling from the sky.  What do they mean?  How do we fix it?  What is there to be done?  Hell if I know.  Feminists today (i.e. Third Wave feminists) have to first defend the existence of the problems they fight.

Hating on feminism makes a lot of sense.  It’s much more comfortable to look at a terrifying concept like “patriarchy” and laugh as if it’s ridiculous; to hear horrifying talk about “rape culture” and brush it off as radical; to talk about “male entitlement” by casting it aside as extremism.  It’s even tempting to get mad at feminists for having these terrible ideas in the first place.   People and movements are much easier to hate than concepts and patterns.  You can see people and shake your fist; you can discredit movements and place blame.  Concepts and patterns will always slip through your grasp.

Choosing feminism is even harder for boys and men, because they have less to gain immediately from the choice.

Choosing feminism is even harder for boys and men, because they have less to gain immediately from the choice.

 

Being a feminist in the 21st century is hard.  It means being offered either a box of cupcakes or an apple and always choosing the apple, because you know deep down that it’s healthier and will make you feel better in the long-term, even though right now all you really want is that delicious looking chocolate icing with the rainbow sprinkles and the gooey candy on top.  Yum, yum, “women are already equal to men.”  Mmmmm mmmm, “feminism is over; we made it.”  It tastes good.  It feels good.  I like it.  Sometimes I just want to curl up on the couch with a cupcake and say, “Hey, guys!  You’re awesome!  Sorry for the misunderstanding!  I know it seemed like I was mad, but I’m not anymore, so you can stop throwing things!”

But I know that I can’t.  Talking about patriarchy and social scripts might be hard, especially because it brings up extremely uncomfortable and sometimes horrifying truths about the world and about ourselves, but I know that if I reject and deny them, they will only get worse.  Bringing feminist analysis into daily life can be so frustrating and stressful, because it means taking the energy to think about things a little harder.  It also means recognizing how deeply ingrained the problems are and taking some kind of responsibility for my contribution to their continuing.  It’s easy to feel hopeless, helpless, and depressed.   Sometimes I leave my Women’s Studies class with a knot of anger in my stomach that I could really do without.

But I also realize that recognizing and talking about these things doesn’t have to diminish the joy and pleasure we take from experiences, if we don’t let it.  Being conscientious and drawing difficult issues out into the open when we see them can become a habit as normal as any other.  And it can help us feel confident and optimistic that we are helping the cause, rather than hurting it. Just think: if we talk about these issues enough that everybody becomes conscientious, then we will eventually have fewer and fewer issues we need to talk about, and in the long-term, all of our lives will be easier and more painless.

That is the goal of 21st century feminism, the “third wave,” and that is why it’s worth the struggle and the pain.  Some feminists may go about things in an unproductive way, but try to separate the people from the cause.  Resistance to such elusive problems will always manifest in unpredictable and inconsistent ways, by nature, but that does not make the intentions any less sound.  Resist the urge to hate on feminism, and you will indirectly help eradicate the problems feminists hate.

 

Advertisements

41 responses to “Hating on Feminism? I get that.

  1. Your analysis strikes me as an echo of Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs” wherein he describes people as needing to address the basic human needs of food, shelter, safety etc before they can begin to even think about issues or needs beyond that most basic scope. Once those needs are met humans move up the “ladder” to deal with broader range things like social needs, educational needs, etc etc. Eventually the time comes when more and more basic needs are met and people can actually participate in government and more “icing” things like appreciating the arts or philanthropy, etc etc.
    Your description of “first wave” feminists were those who petitioned and fought for the right for women to even have their own thoughts and the opportunity to express them, to be their own entity rather than someone else’s property, etc. etc. “Second Wave” feminists would then be addressing more of the basic needs of control over their bodies, the ability to make non-traditional choices, etc etc as you describe. Now comes the time when it seems the rally cry is for more “abstract” thinking, broader systemic issues, the spirituality of women’s role and relationships with men, symbolism, etc etc. I hope you can see what I mean.
    Thanks for talking about this because as more of a “second wave” feminist I appreciate delving into these underlying issues that are the challenges of this generation of feminists. Very insightful.

  2. In relation to feminism and the rejection of that specific title (“Oh no, I’m not a feminist…”), where would you place Womanism and Queer theory? I know they’re sometimes lumped into the category of “third wave,” but I think in a lot of ways they’re a rejection of (or at least a deliberate separation from) feminism. Don’t you think there’s a lot more to choosing not to identify as a feminist than the rewards of complying with the patriarchy or the unpleasantness of having to face difficult issues?
    There are plenty of legitimate reasons for a social justice minded person to reject feminism. Like the fact that feminism has historically, and in many ways, continues to essentialize the the experiences and interests of “women,” when the interests and experiences it advocates for are often only those of middle and upper class american/anglo-european women. Those who don’t fit into this definition of a “woman” have been and continue to be marginalized even further. What I mean is, you need to hate on feminism sometimes. If we’re not critical of feminism we run the risk of becoming dogmatic and perpetuating, even exacerbating systems of oppression.

    *Also, I think it’s important to note the strategic ways in which the media and mainstream america conflate feminism and super radical, “outlandish” examples of feminism (i.e. the scum manifesto) in order to scare people away from the word/write off those who identify with it, and ultimately thwart mobilization/meaning action.

    • You are completely right, and I would not argue against criticizing feminism for these reasons. In fact, one of the related articles linked (“The F Word”) addresses reasons why people may not identify as feminist for various reasons, and I support that. However, the people I addressed in this post are not criticizing feminism from a social justice standpoint; they are using anger and frustration to fuel hateful comments about women and men who identify as feminists because their actions are inconvenient and uncomfortable. I didn’t mean to imply that there is never a reason to criticism feminist movements or to look at their goals critically, but the complaints about feminism that I see daily are not from “social justice minded” people who don’t like the lack of attention feminist movements often pay to intersectionality or other important issues, but from people who honestly believe that no social justice work of any kind is necessary for women at all. That is what I don’t like.

  3. Thank you so much for the second photo/caption. It’s refreshing and heartening to hear that.

  4. Reblogged this on The Great Wandering C-Bear and commented:
    I have been trying and trying for ages to think of a way to express my thoughts on the world’s reception of feminism. It’s hard for me to hear my fellow women say “I’m not a feminist, but…” or “what women’s issues? We can vote.” Here this amazing blogger has said it better than I could. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, or you disagree with me, keep an open mind and read this. It might help you understand us feminists better.

  5. maybe if feminists acted as if things were already different and stopped being so contrary and letting so many little things get to them they would realize life is beautiful and just because some ugly things that happen are made into prominent news doesnt mean you have to hate on all men. Because most aren’t really like that. I’d like to think its just because so many women enforce that image. Basically, all I’m saying, is inequality goes both ways.

    • Inequality goes both ways, yes. But I’d much rather have the inequality that men face than the stuff that women face. I’d love to look at the political climate and see mostly people of my own sex…because men still dominate the world. Maybe you personally don’t dominate the women around you, but overall, it’s what happens. Very few women exist in positions of real power anywhere, be it government, CEOS of corporations, hollywood….

      Feminists aren’t just bothered by that 1 in 3 women are raped (and so we probably will be too). We’re upset that, no matter how smart or good we are at what we do, we will receive 30% less money than our male co workers….and that we have very little representation in government.

      In the face of this, what inequality do you face that women do not?

  6. I have been butting heads with feminists online. Women who tell men their rape experiences don’t matter because the problem is worse for women. For women who say only men are violent and refuse to acknowledge Intimate Partner Violence in same sex relationships. Women who outright call fro the destruction of men. This is what makes it hard for me to deal with some aspects of feminism, the alienation of potential male allies and the lack of acknowledgement that the sexist standards of the current patriarchy hurts all genders. I find these things steps backwards from equality and only reinforce the misinformation that feminism is about man hating.

    • It is definitely discouraging to see people acting horribly in the name of feminism, which is why I have been trying to clarify its goals and make the more moderate and realistic face of feminism be seen. It is frustrating to see nearly everything get labeled “radical” simply because some extremists do exist, but if we focus on making our non-radical voices heard more, maybe people will start to realize that the man-haters are the outliers and most feminists are more reasonable than that.

  7. I am not a feminist. I am a humanist. I am human. I am male. I am not ashamed. I would first like to applaud you for being ballsy and coming out and admitting that there is something wrong with modern Feminism. I couldn’t agree more. However, let me offer a bit of a counter proposal.

    The original feminist movements are based on concrete things. Men may not LIKE the things they were based on, but we *get it*. Men like concrete problems. Things that can be acted upon. Things that can actually be fixed. Believe it or not, MOST men do not sit around thinking of ways to keep women down. To be honest, MOST of us are actually kind of happy that you are out and doing things. MOST of us happen to LIKE women, and even RESPECT them. MOST of us would rather beat someone to death then let them rape a woman or molest a child. We are pretty practical like that. A dead man can’t rape or molest.

    What MOST of us DON’T like, whether in individual relationships or larger social constructs, are complaints about intangible things that can’t be fixed. This is a fundamental difference in the way men and women think. Learn to deal with it because we will never change that.

    Most of us, and I would think most people in general, also do not like being demonized, slandered, called rapist, and told that everything we do, think, or feel is wrong. We don’t like being told we should have none of the freedom but all of the responsibility while women should have all of the freedom and none of the responsibility. That is not gender equality, that is slavery.

    MOST of us also don’t like it when people change the rules on a daily basis. If you want to have a debate in the English language, don’t presume to change the definition of the words to fit your argument. It is lazy and intellectually dishonest. Also, if equality is indeed the goal, then the rules must apply equally to everyone. That means that no, you are no longer special nor deserving of special treatment. You are equals and deserve equal treatment. For better or for worse, it is what you asked for, so don’t complain if you get exactly that. If we treat you like one of the guys, just remember why.

    I am a firm believer in human equality, regardless of gender, race, religion, nationality, or creed. I will treat feminist with every bit of contempt and scorn that I am treated with by feminist. After all, it is all about equal treatment, right? Treat others how you want to be treated. If I’m to be slandered, falsely accused, stereotyped, demonized, and have my work and efforts torn down by feminist propaganda, what motivation do I have to treat them with respect? Let’s not even discuss how they treat women who have not made the same life choices they have…

    • To clarify, feminism and misandry are not the same thing. Feminists are not treating you with contempt and scorn. Further, the author is not complaining about “intangible things that can’t be fixed.” The author is discussing systems of inequality and oppression so deeply rooted in our society that they are no longer visible to the untrained eye. Stop being so accusatory, and stop fabricating the opinions of the author, feminists, and men you generalize with statements like “most of us.” But hey, thanks for trying to “*get it*” how very patronizing of you.

      • Perhaps you should read more feminist literature. Andrea Dworkins, Catherine MacKinnon, Marylin French, Robyn Morgan, etc.

        One of my personal favorites:

        “Let me tell you sisters, all men are disgusting animals, PIGS! Every time a man sees a woman, he undresses her in his mind, and that is the first offense. It’s the precursor to rape; he is premeditating rape. Even if he doesn’t go through with it, he has the mind of a rapist. It’s no different from a man pointing a gun at you. He shows intent even if he fails to pull the trigger. Don’t be fooled.” ~ http://thefemministfatale.wordpress.com/2012/12/04/all-men-are-rapists/

        Robyn Morgan
        “Let’s run it on down. White males are most responsible for the destruction of human life and environment on the planet today.”
        “Goodbye to All That”, 1970 in Going Too Far: The Personal Chronicle of a Feminist, p 123.

        “I feel that ‘man-hating’ is an honorable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them.”
        – Robin Morgan: civil rights, antiwar and radical feminist activist, writer, poet, and editor of Ms. Magazine

        Still going to try and convince me that there is a difference, or are you trying to convince yourself?

    • Do you think this “fundamental difference in the way men and women think” (which I vehemently disagree with) is biologically determined? or socially constructed? if the answer if biological (e.g. the hormonal or anatomical difference renders everyone you consider a women to be overly analytical and less practical/rational), I think that’s ridiculous and overtly oppressive. If you’re answer is that it’s socially constructed.. then “learn to deal with it because we will never change that” seems inaccurate.

      Also, language doesn’t have fixed meaning (duh). There’s this guy named Derrida. Wikipedia him. Or any postmodern/poststructuralist feminist theory, really.

      When most contemporary feminists use the word equality, they don’t mean “treat me like one of the guys” or “hold me to the patriarchal standards that were constructed by men for men.” They generally mean treat me equitably. That special treatment argument is tired, man.

      Ugh.. I bet you troll blogs to argue with people of color that you’re a victim of reverse racism too.

    • “Treat others how you want to be treated” does not mean treat others how they have already treated you. Also, by treating ALL feminists with disrespect because SOME feminists have treated you with disrespect is the exact same behavior you hate about some feminists. “Hating” all men because of how some men have treated you. I know this is an old comment, but I just read it again and felt the need to respond.

      • Treating all femenist with disrespect? I have been having a respectful discussions with feminists on your blog and on others. I dislike the ideology, not necessarily the people that buy into it. Hate the actions, not the person.

        • In this case, I was merely responding to your own words: “I will treat feminist with every bit of contempt and scorn that I am treated with by feminist. After all, it is all about equal treatment, right? Treat others how you want to be treated.”

          • Poor choice of words on my part, admittedly. It was intended to be understood on a 1:1 basis. When I first started posting here, I treated you with respect, even though I disagreed with you. You have treated me with respect in turn, and I have returned the courtesy. It’s mutual and productive. Kylen(above) on the other hand, for example, resorted to the same old tired name calling and and irrational arguments that I have come to expect from many who debate this topic. Should I show respect for that type of conduct or treat it with the scorn and contempt that it deserves? Kylen may in fact be a great person, so, I am not going to bash on him/her personally. I have not, at any point, attacked anyone personally, and have actively tried to avoid even the appearance of doing so. I have criticized an ideology that I think is damaging for a great number of reasons that we have covered elsewhere, and I freely criticize the mindset that swallows it hook, line, and sinker irregardless of the facts. As I said, hate the actions, not the person. (We are not really disagreeing here.. more like a delayed conversation 🙂 )

    • Humanism doesn’t mean equal rights for all humans. You can’t just take words that already have a meaning and a movement behind it then try to warp it to your desires. Humanism refers more to secularism than anything else. Humanism: the denial of any power or moral value superior to that of humanity; the rejection of religion in favour of a belief in the advancement of humanity by its own efforts. I’m totally for humanism, but it’s not related to or much focused on equal rights between genders. I consider myself both a humanist and a feminist. They’re not mutually exclusive and one can’t replace the other.

  8. But don’t take my word for it:

    Spreading Misandry: The Teaching of Contempt for Men in Popular Culture
    By Paul Nathanson, Katherine K. Young

  9. Pingback: The difference between and egalitarian and a Feminist from mrMary’s Point of View | ASpoonfulofSuga·

  10. Pingback: Patriarchy is not your fault, but it is your responsibility. | Queer Guess Code·

  11. Pingback: Feminism, Women’s Studies and Education | theravenwine·

  12. Pingback: The Descent of Men? Really? (Post-Radical Feminism) | The Art of Polemics·

  13. Pingback: Another Funky, Fantastic Link Round-Up! | Temperance·

  14. “Because it’s hard, and I’d rather live in a perfect world and not have to worry about it. So I completely identify with the temptation to deny the thing exists.”

    You’re not getting it. People really do have a different world view. There’s not a ‘temptation’ – many people really don’t buy into the privelege / patriarchy / rape-culture way of viewing life.

  15. Pingback: Feminism: What it is, and what it isn’t | Knoblaugger·

  16. Pingback: The Feminist Factor | Feminism: What it is, and what it isn’t·

  17. Really interesting perspective. I think part of what makes modern feminism difficult for people is that the problem is not as big as it used to be. Women can vote, they have the same legal rights as men, and there are a number of scholarships, programs, and organizations advocating for women in schools and in the workplace. My mother is the primary breadwinner of my family and she has always made more than her male colleagues because she was better at her job. I also attend an engineering school which tries to recruit female students and is especially generous with scholarships. My point here is that I haven’t been exposed to the sexist, patriarchal world that some feminists preach about. Without a clear explanation of the problems feminism is trying to solve, it can often come across as a feminine supremacist movement. To complicate things, feminism is a far to generic term for the range of problems it is trying to solve, but that’s a problem for someone smarter than I.

    I also think that a mindset of “fight the patriarchy” doesn’t help. While patriarchy is a social construct, I think it’s important to remember that it exists in the minds of people. Specifically, it exists in the minds of the members of the patriarchy. Maybe I am being too picky about verbiage, but I think that the emphasis should instead be on changing how people think. A few months ago I wouldn’t have considered myself a feminist, but on a week-long camping trip my feminist friend he pointed things out that I never would have thought about. He asked how I would feel about my daughter having to put up with the double standards I took for granted. This was so much more effective than reading about how men are oppressing women and hearing how I am the bad guy. I think saying “fight the patriarchy” makes men the enemy, when really we should be trying to bring everyone to one side.

    • Well thank you very much for that link mr. ravanaught. I have never seen more anti male propaganda and hate. Really can you tell me what those people want? No sex, no children, no family?

  18. Pingback: Steven Pinker or according to him how evolutionary psychology “explains” the gender gap in science | biomolbioandco·

Share your thoughts!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s