Here’s Why I Don’t Give A Damn That You’re Frustrated With Feminism

Screen Shot 2014-07-01 at 10.00.21 PM

Questioning someone’s methods of advocacy does not give you the right to question someone’s dedication to equality. The irony of calling entire groups of people “social media feminists” — through a social media website — is laughable.

Your first mistake is daring to ally your frustrations with all of “feminism”—touting it as a singular and stable category.

To be “frustrated with feminism,” but also say “I want equality more than anything” is proof that you haven’t bothered to understand what the very word feminism means. Are you frustrated by the belief that men and women should have equal rights and equal opportunities? Or are you frustrated that there are feminists whose mode of advancement disrupts your theory that feminists should be part of a homogenous sisterhood?

“These women, who have heavy online presence, claim to be feminists but are only on the attack.” If being on the attack has suddenly come to mean a direct rejection of your feminist name-badge then it turns out I’ve been seriously confused about my feminist role models. Look Susan B. Anthony, I know you “claimed” to be a feminist, but being on the attack against slavery and abusive men was really not the way to go. In fact, in order to accurately claim feminism, it’s best to simmer-down and stop making men feel alienated.

There is certainly merit to creating an environment where people feel comfortable discussing their opinions, even if they’re hard to hear. I support dialogues that give people a forum for tough topics, topics that not everyone has the same amount of knowledge about. What I won’t stand for, however, is the notion that being on the attack and soliciting productive change are mutually exclusive. Rage is necessary and vital. The day people stop being angry is the day things stop moving forward.

“I read a Thought Catalog article about what kind of woman a man wants to date and it mentioned “a girl who doesn’t open her legs for everyone.” I don’t think this is ridiculous standard.”

If your first thought about the phrase “a girl who doesn’t open her legs for everyone” was that yes, this is a reasonable standard, then misogynist language has become part of your vocabulary and you should be terrified by that complacency. Your argument that this sentence simply conveys that men and women prefer partners with less exposure, or that it signifies the importance of educating youth on the number of partners they have, is, to put it nicely, lacking nuance. There’s so much wrong with that phrase that I don’t even know where to begin. I’ll limit myself to a basic close reading: to use the word girl instead of woman is to infantilize women who are sexually autonomous beings. Using the image of a woman opening her legs metaphorically implicates her as some type of gate-keeper—which not only creates an unequal power dynamic between women and men in sex, but which demonizes sex acts as a decision in moral failing.

You call attention to the fact the commenters protesting that phrase are ignoring the other “valid” points that the author makes. Here’s a newsflash: there’s no tally of misogynist to non-misogynist points in a piece that can somehow even it out. Having valid and relevant sentences doesn’t mean other sentences aren’t demeaning.

“Sisterhood”

You seem very concerned with this idea of “sisterhood,” and your fear that women are destroying it is palpable. Playing along with this idea for a second, you mention that women who criticize people for wanting to get married and have children are disrupting this fantastical camaraderie. So, how exactly then does demonizing women who are “on the attack,” or who choose to advocate for things through media sources “create sisterhood”? Your words are the very epitome of what you chastise other women for doing. By your definition, my response piece is also eroding the sisterhood. But guess what? I don’t give a damn. If critical engagement is a bad thing then I sure don’t mind being bad.

You know what else? There. Is. No. Sisterhood. You are not my sister. Our battles are not the same.

No two women face identical hardship, identical privilege, or identical discrimination. There are very real pervasive systemic forces working against large groups of people, but to even call “women” a fixed and analogous group is to obfuscate the variation that defines our human experience.

If you say you want to empower women, then stop calling them your sisters. Stop claiming moral authority on which issues are worthwhile. Stop trying to tell women that their fight is the wrong fight. And more than anything, stop saying you’re frustrated with feminism. TC mark

Related

More From Thought Catalog

blog comments powered by Disqus