So a writer for the Irish Times engaged in a most heinous act of crimethink by daring to criticise feminism in an article he wrote. It wasn’t very well written, but the general point he made was that it might make more sense for feminists to engage more with good men to solve problems they face, rather than alienating us by treating us all like we’re potential rapists and misogynists.
Luckily a brave feminist has decided to stand up against this misogyny, by writing a response (as is her right). I have decided to write a response of my own to her response.
Having managed to injure myself by falling off a pavement, I’ve been confined to my couch for several days (and secretly delighted). To allay cabin fever I’ve been reading a lot, and today I finished Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s eloquently-argued essay “We Should All Be Feminists.”
It’s a short, simple but enlightening piece, adapted from a TEDx talk, where she points out that anyone, male or female, “who believes in the social, political and economic equality of the sexes” is by definition a feminist. It’s really that simple.
Imagine if the Pope was to say that anyone who believes that Jesus Christ was the son of God is a Catholic by definition. I bet that would piss of a lot of Protestants who don’t want anything to do with Catholicism. They may agree with the core issue, but there’s a lot of other baggage that comes with Catholicism beyond that core issue that need to be considered. It’s the same with feminism. A person can believe in equality for the sexes, but that doesn’t mean they’re feminists because they might not necessarily agree with other aspects of feminism as an ideology. Feminism does not that have a monopoly on belief in the concept of “Gender Equality” anymore than Catholicism has a monopoly on Christianity.
So how has a word that basically means you believe in fairness become so loaded?
Might have something to do with the actions and words of self proclaimed feminists. I mean lets just look at these quotes from three very famous leading feminist theorists.
These aren’t just random nobodies. Dworkin, Solonas, and Gearhart are all highly influential and respected figures in feminist history. Beyond these quotes, lets consider some of actions committed under the banner of feminism.
- They’ve given us the Duluth Model for dealing with domestic violence, which automatically assumes that the man is the guilty party.
- They’ve given us college kangaroo courts which ignore the very presumption of “innocence until proven guilty” for male students accused of sexual assault.
- They’ve campaigned so that men charged with rape (not convicted, just charged) can have their name publicised and therefore ruined, even though they might not even be guilty yet.
- They’ve actively stood in the way of father’s having access to their children.
- They’ve argued that women shouldn’t go to prison for crimes.
- They’ve fought against economic stimuli for men who’ve lost jobs in industries they’ve dominated, because it doesn’t benefit women, who were in industries that weren’t as badly effected with job losses.
- They’ve sent death threats to other women who say things that they disagree with. For example, these women who dared to say that women can be as violent as men too. So much for caring about the well-being of women. Say something they don’t like, and they’ll come after you.
- They’ve literally fought to close down abuse shelters for men, because men apparently don’t deserve safe spaces.
And those are just a few examples. The reason why feminism has gotten such a bad reputation is obviously because of the actions of people who call themselves feminists. Look I’m not saying that every single person who calls themselves a feminist engages in behaviour like this. But can you honestly blame people for not wanting to associate with the term after seeing things like this?
“How dare that man have an opinion that I don’t approve of. I mean come on, hasn’t he ever read a dictionary?”
His article was a response to journalist Rosemary Mac Cabe sharing her experiences of harassment in a manner he perceived as accusing all men of being sexual predators (even though she clearly closes her thread by saying “It might not be all men, but it’s more than enough men”.)
In it he implores feminists – who he helpfully compares to “angry chickens armed with machine guns” – not to tar all men with the same brush. But for an article that calls for an end to sweeping generalisations, a title like “Feminists busy shooting themselves in the foot” seems pretty hypocritical, not to mention inflammatory.
The difference between his generalisation and hers is that feminism is an ideology that people choose to hold. Being a man is something you’re born as. Can you really not tell the difference? Here, I’ll make it easier by giving an example of how it works.
It would be wrong to generalise all German people from the 1930s and 40s as anti-semites just because anti-semitism was big in Germany at the time, as they didn’t choose to be born as Germans, any more than men choose to be born male. However, it would be perfectly appropriate to generalise all Nazis in Germany as anti-semites, because they willingly adopted the ideology . Even if they weren’t personally involved in persecuting the Jews, they still showed their support for the persecution, by adopting an ideology which was clearly anti-semitic.
There are so many things about this article that make me genuinely worry about the lack of understanding of what feminism actually is.
I always love this argument the most. They must really think we’re stupid, or just aren’t paying attention. No, it isn’t that we don’t understand. We’re constantly told about how “feminism is equality” and that we should just read the dictionary. There’s no way that we couldn’t understand, because we hear it all time. We just don’t believe you. That’s what it really is.
What’s especially worrying is the constant use of the word angry as an insult. For a time it seemed like the word feminism itself had come to mean “angry woman”, an image so laden with negative cultural connotations that ill-informed celebrities like Kaley Cuoco started to disassociate themselves from it.
Yes and then feminists got angry with her for having the audacity to not endorse their cult, to the point where she had to issue a grovelling apology for her comments.
As well as labelling “angry” feminists, this article is scathing of “loud feminists” throughout, with apparently no awareness that the obvious implication that a women being loud is somehow inherently negative might possibly be part of what those very feminists are angry about.
Yes because nobody ever looks at loud men or loud non-feminist women negatively. It’s just feminists who are looked at in a negative manner for being loud.
The inference is that women shouldn’t be angry. Even if we’re told we have a nice arse by our 50 year old boss at our first real job, as I was at 19.
That’s a good reason to be angry, I’ll admit. I would however suggest that if such a thing happens, you should stand up for yourselves by politely tell him that you don’t feel comfortable with such comments. If he apologises and doesn’t do it again, then great, problem solved. If not, then maybe take further actions such as making formal complaints of sexual harassment. Ideally, you shouldn’t have to endure such treatment at all, but unfortunately there are some assholes in the world and sometimes certain actions are necessary.
Even if we’re harassed or assaulted.
Another good reason to be angry. However harassment and assault are not exclusive to one sex. Men get harassed and assaulted too, sometimes even by women. Even The Guardian (yes, that paper I despise) recognises this.
Even if we’re slut-shamed.
It’s usually other women who slut shame, rather than men. That’s not to say that men don’t look down on promiscuous women too. Of course that can and most likely does happen. However they’re less likely to actually tell them this, because it’s not in their interest to shame them from having sex.
Even if we’re paid less for doing the same job.
You’ve already long since won that battle. If a woman is being paid less than a man for the same job without other variables such as hours worked per week, overtime, leave of absence (such as parental leave), years of experience etc., being taken into account, then that’s illegal. Instead of complaining about it, do something.
Even if we’re dramatically underrepresented within the systems that govern our bodies, our lives and our societies.
There’s nothing stopping women from running for public office, nor is there anything stopping other women from voting for them. There are no barriers preventing women from having representation in public office in the Western world. If you believe there are, then why not explain how exactly women are being kept out of government unfairly?
The reality is, that there are simply a lower number of women than men who are interested in putting themselves forward for election on average. Then, many of the women who do put themselves forward aren’t getting elected because he electorate, 50% of whom are women, aren’t convinced that they’re worth voting for. Obviously there are some women who not only are interested, but who are more than competent enough to serve, as evident by the handful of women who do indeed represent us in elected capacity.
Most ordinary women from the electorate however have enough sense to vote for a candidate based on merit, rather than their genitalia. Should we just start forcing more women into politics against their will, and automatically vote for them, just because they’re women?
Well actually, that is essentially Hillary’s entire campaign. “Vote for me because I’m a woman”.
The fact that no one at The Irish Times thought any of this language was offensive boggles my mind.
“I personally find this offensive. Therefore it shouldn’t be published. Only views and opinions which I agree with should be allowed.”
Some people genuinely feel like they don’t experience inequality on a day-to-day basis, and that’s fine. We’re all entitled to our opinions.
And yet you’re whining about this guy expressing his opinions.
But there are opinions and then there are facts. It’s a fact that research shows that one in 12 female students in Irish colleges are victims of rape or attempted rape. That’s something we should all be angry about, “ardent feminist” or not.
Here’s the actual study that these statistics came from. Look, in case I haven’t made it obvious from previous posts I’ve made, I’ll say it again right here. Rape is a crime that disgusts me, and I feel nothing but sympathy for anyone who experiences it. As far as I’m concerned, even one rape is too high a number.
However, from looking at the results, there are two issues that immediately stand out. One is the vague language about “unwanted sexual experiences”. What exactly is the definition of unwanted sexual experiences?
The other issue, is that of 4181 copies of the survey distributed, about 1400 weren’t completed. A previous study in America which came to the conclusion that 1 in 5 college women were sexual assault victims had a similar problem, and it has been suggested that this may have skewed the results because victims were more motivated to complete the survey than non-victims.
Another problem which has come up in previous studies is unfairly broadening what constitutes as rape. For example, there are some people who think having sex when drunk is rape because they “don’t have the capacity to consent to sex”, or just simply regretting it afterwards, despite giving affirmative consent at the time.
Situations like this, where a woman consents to sex but later regrets it, or willingly gets drunk, sleeps with someone, then decides the next morning to claim they were raped, are an insult to women who are genuine victims of this crime. I’m not saying that this is what happened in this study (it’s really too vague to tell either way), but I do think that 1 in 12 is a highly suspicious number. That would be an epidemic. Sweden, the country with the second highest rape statistics in the world, currently has a 1 in 4 figure allegedly. I’m just skeptical that we could really be have a figure as high as 1/3 as bad as that.
But according to this writer, rather than being angry, the best course of action for feminists is to quieten down, so that men might be more comfortable with us and make the world better for us. He suggests, “You want the word about unwanted harassment* to be heard by men? Then do it through other men.” We should demurely ask for a safe environment in which to get an education and the same opportunities as men, instead of demanding them.
Just a genuine question here, but what opportunities do men have in the first world that women don’t? Genuinely, I would like to know. If there really are opportunities that we have, but women don’t, then tell us what they are so we can work on fixing the issue.
The subtext is that no one is going to listen to an angry (one notch below “hysterical”) woman. Excuse me while my head explodes.
Anger is one thing. Whining is another. Nobody likes to listen to whining.
During my couch-based weekend I also watched The Hunting Ground, a chilling documentary on Netflix about not only the prevalence of campus rape at American universities, but the extent to which those universities have gone to to cover up sexual assaults in order to preserve their reputations. I would suggest that anyone seeking to question “the veracity of the concept of rape culture” – as this article does – watch it. Or read the TIME article about military sexual assault victims in the US being dishonourably discharged after filing complaints.
And yet feminists are still silent about the “rape culture” that is actually coming in to Europe as we speak.
And as for the “The Hunting Ground” there is a lot of controversy surrounding in it regards to how accurate it really is.
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie closes her essay with a paragraph about “the best feminist she knows”, her brother Kene. There are a lot of wonderful male feminists. Obama is one. My boyfriend is one. My brother is one. My Dad is one – he bought me this book.
I feel like the idea that complaining about experiences of harassment openly and often might be the equivalent of “man-hating” is just harmful and dated at this point. Obviously not at all men are rapists. Can we just take that for granted and talk about what actually matters?
Yes, lets talk about what actually matters… the truth. Not hysteria and lies. Nothing but the truth.
Adichie ends by saying that “All of us, women and men, must do better”. And I can’t possibly say it any better than that.
If by “do better” you mean “blindly assume that every single thing that feminists say is true”, then I disagree. If you actually care about working towards a society in which men and women alike are treated as equals and given the respect they deserve, then I agree.