I don’t need feminism because… oh. Wait. I do.

29 Jul

Several months ago, a friend sent me a link to the blog “Women Against Feminism,” figuring I’d appreciate its ridiculousness. I followed them for a while, even attempting to reblog and respond to several of the posts, before the overwhelming exasperation and rage I experienced every time one came up on my dash was just too much, and I had to unfollow them.

At the time, I thought about blogging about the posts, but never got around to it. However, the blog has now been discovered by Buzzfeed and is getting some online attention, so I figured now is as good a time as any to weigh in!

I'm going to argue that if you're unironically using the phrase "hysterical hipster whore", then you probably need feminism.

I’m going to argue that if you’re unironically using the phrase “hysterical hipster whore”, then you probably need feminism.

It doesn’t take long to get infuriated by the blog.

Some of their points are just lame. “I’m not a feminist because I love men”? We’ve been over that.

“I’m not a feminist because I believe in the equality of all people”? Yeah, well, that’s kind of what feminism is about.

“I like it when men hold doors for me and give up their seats for me on the Tube”? May I introduce you to benevolent sexism?

“The wage gap is a myth”? Nope.

victimresponsible One of the big complaints made by these anti-feminist women is that feminism encourages women to be victims instead of empowered. Obviously it’s hard to totally understand what they mean from just a whiteboard – I assume that they are referring to the ways in which feminism points out things like street harassment and rape culture. Their assessment is simply wrong. Feminism doesn’t point out these things in order to make women feel like victims: quite the opposite, in fact. We call attention to these situations so that any woman who does feel like she’s been victimized by catcalling or misogyny realizes that her experience did not occur because she did something to deserve it, but is part of a larger pattern.

This brings me to the second point. A lot of the women in this post talk about taking responsibility for their own actions, as if women who are feminists attempt to avoid taking responsibility for theirs. Unfortunately, the first kind of situation that I could think they might be referring to is rape. There’s a big perception in the anti-feminist movement that women will have sex, regret it, and then claim that they were raped in order to avoid taking responsibility for their actions. This claim is ridiculous, stupid, misinformed, dangerous, and a whole host of other negative words. Women are not raped because of something they did. Women are raped because men rape.

One woman’s response to women against feminism.

Once my rage cooled down, I decided that the most productive way to approach this topic would be to try to think about why these women would go to the trouble of declaring publicly, to a blog, that they are anti-feminist. I mean, it’s illogical at best – many things that these women take for granted, like wearing jeans, voting, and not being used as property to be traded from a father to a husband are all the results of feminist actions.

Do I look oppressed?

“Do I look oppressed?”

Part of it is probably just ignorance. An overwhelming majority of the women featured in the Women Against Feminism tumblr are young and white. They have benefited from feminism, but they are also benefiting from their privilege. I know that when I was growing up as a white, middle-class girl in the suburbs, I didn’t really encounter much that would have struck me as systematic inequality. I mean, I was encouraged to take high-level academic classes just as much as boys were, my school’s women’s athletic teams were as accomplished as the men’s, and I’d lived my whole life being told that I could be anything I wanted to be. Privilege can, and does, blind you.

You tell 'em, Ellen.

You tell ‘em, Ellen.

And I’ll be honest – not all feminists are perfect (you know, kind of like not all people are perfect). There are feminists who will speak negatively about choosing to be a stay-at-home mom, feminists who demonize men, and feminists who bully others. But given that these exceptions are not the ones who have a growing voice in the media and in our society, and that those kinds of views and behaviors tend to be frowned upon by a majority of feminists, focusing on them seems kind of pointless.

The reason that various feminist and anti-racist groups have used whiteboard campaigns is because people feel threatened. Threatened by racism, by rape culture, by a society that assumes that girls can do less and be less.

Well, ok. The cat has a point.

Well, ok. The cat has a point.

I have to wonder why these people feel so threatened by feminism. I mean, I’m assuming they feel threatened – otherwise why would they bother to go online with these signs?

I realized that the thing that bothered me the most about these posts is that they are incredibly self-centered. The women posting them are assuming that their experiences are universal. That because they feel confident and safe enough to tell a harasser to “fuck off,” that everyone should, even though we know that’s not the case. That because they don’t feel like they’ve ever been coerced into sex, that nobody has.

And I wonder if that’s where the threat of feminism lies for these women. Because admitting that you need feminism means admitting that you might be raped. That you might experience domestic violence. That you might make less money than a male counterpart. That you are less likely to see yourself represented in government. That in our society your body is often seen as public property for cat-callers and street harassers.

Whatever their personal reasons may be, when some of the posts say things like “I don’t need feminism: I need a man who will respect me,” well… I’d say we still need feminism.

manrespect

8 Responses to “I don’t need feminism because… oh. Wait. I do.”

  1. Tallulah Alice Mae (@Luvagoo) August 3, 2014 at 4:43 am #

    Super great article that articulated everything I couldn’t. You hit the nail on the head:”the thing that bothered me the most about these posts is that they’re very self centred.” Exactly – the photo of the white girl saying, “do I look oppressed?” The only thing I can say in response is, are you fucking serious? ARE YOU FUCKING SERIOUS?!! Ugggghhh.

    Like

  2. Rebecca Griffin August 3, 2014 at 5:07 pm #

    I’m often in such a bubble talking to people who understand and identify with feminism, so it’s fascinating (and scary) to see that there are people out there who really believe in this twisted version of it.

    Like

  3. ianironwood August 25, 2014 at 4:26 pm #

    You are not getting it.

    These women are pissed off at feminism for what it has done to our culture and their own lives. They and plenty of men. It has nothing to do with education – many of these women know more about feminism than you do. You can get angry at them and rage at them, but they aren’t wrong. For all of its triumphs, feminism has made its progress over an awful lot of bodies.

    Want to know what’s wrong with feminism? Here’s a hint: http://theredpillroom.blogspot.com/2014/07/dear-feminists-this-is-why-you-are-in.html

    Like

  4. allthedots August 27, 2014 at 8:04 pm #

    I believe people are entitled to their own opinions, but I did get really pissed off when the WAF’s insisted that speaking out against street/sexual harassment indicated a victim complex. For me, I got harassed very frequently (since I was a teen) for years before I even learned the word “street harassment”. Up until then, I constantly felt humiliated and threatened every time it happened. I actually started getting paranoid and re-routing my commutes to minimize chances of getting harassed/creeped on. I have had men follow me down the street, try to touch me and grab me, and yell at me. When I finally learned just two years ago that there were actual widespread campaigns against street harassment, I actually felt a sense of support. Like you mentioned in your article, the campaigns reminded me that I wasn’t the only one experiencing it (it certainly felt that way) and that the problem was something we shouldn’t accept.

    In fact, the campaigns and activism actually helped me gain enough confidence to actually speak against street harassers whenever I feel it is safe to do so. I also take self-defense classes. Being called someone with a victim complex just because I get bothered by people who disrespect me is very insulting…and disrespectful.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I was a high school feminist September 8, 2014 at 7:44 pm #

      Hey – sorry it took me so long to reply.

      I’m sorry you’ve had such crappy street harassment experiences. I’m really encouraged by the work that various groups are doing to raise awareness of street harassment and to bring the responsibility back to the harasser and to support the harassed.

      It INFURIATES me that this is one of the areas that women against feminism focus on (did you see there was recently a column by a woman about how harassment is really just compliments and we should enjoy it? VOMIT).

      But I’m really glad you’ve found support and confidence through these avenues (and that you’re speaking out about the idiots who want to say that feminism is “victimizing you”).

      Thank you for sharing!

      Like

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Finding Feminism: A Personal Reflection | Eclectic Alli - August 5, 2014

    […] I don’t need feminism because… oh. Wait. I do. […]

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