Feminism is a trending topic in my eyes, what with Rebecca Watson/Skepchick’s elevator fiasco, to Freethoughtblogs’ drama (the ejection of Thunderf00t) over professionalism that ostensibly arose indirectly from the growing rift between feminists and anti-feminists. If there ever was a topic to polarise atheists, it’s feminism.
Feminism has pretty much pushed itself to the forefront of the freethinking minds and drowned out any other topic or issue with a deceptive guise. PZ Myers himself states “supporting the equality of women and other under-represented groups [...] it’s right there at the core of our principles.” (source (10:42.))
What is feminism? Feminism has a fairly long history and can be divided into many groups. You have the first-wave feminists of the 19th and early 20th century who fought for things like women’s suffrage, second-wave feminism focusing on, for example, overturning legal obstacles to gender equality. Third-wave feminism began in the 1980s. You can read more about it on Wikipedia, which knows loads more about the history than I do.
I hold no contention with any gender-equality aspects of feminism except first-world modern-day feminism, which is not in fact about true equality. There is nothing wrong with feminism ipso facto, except in reality it is a gynocentric movement. It is gender narcissism, and it works by exploiting the same conditioned gender roles it seeks to destroy. I will back up all of these claims later on in this piece. Also, pseudo-feminism is a less extreme form of feminism, generally non-activist proponents of the feminism movement who are more in touch with reality. The tumblr girls, if you like, of feminism. And don’t get me started on radical feminism, which is just an abhorrent violation of basic human rights.
If I was reading this, as my past self, not too long ago, I would probably have stopped reading by now. It seems 100% obvious that if you’re against feminism, “you’re just an asshole”. That’s where critical thinking steps in, because what’s obvious is not always what’s true. “Don’t dismiss the other side of the argument until you’ve heard it”, I’d say to my past self. Have the courage to have an open mind.
Feminism claims to be a movement for women’s rights to elevate them up to be equal with man. They superficially stand for gender equality. I am a strong supporter of women’s rights. In my opinion, because men and women are both human beings, we should be afforded equal rights, opportunities and freedoms. I think a lot of people agree. My stance on feminism doesn’t contradict this.
Feminism is all about dismantling “The Patriarchy”, an evil social stratification system controlled by men to subjugate women.
Patriarchy theory is a surprisingly easy blue pill to swallow. I was indeed guilty of uncritically accepting it, partly due to coercion, partly due to laziness. Society dictates that men are agents, who act upon or for others, and that women are objects, who are acted upon or for. Men are the protectors, and women are the innocent creatures requiring protection. This is the agent-object dichotomy. If we see a woman hitting a man in public, we naturally assume “he must have done something like cheated on her to deserve it” to preserve our internal gender narrative. If it were the other way around, and we’d lose our shit. Why? Because men in this situation are seen to be “abusing their power” but women, the “slaves” of society, are sticking up for themselves. It’s easy to extend this gender narrative to a much wider scale and put men in the equation as the source of all inequalities, sexism, and basically the problems in society. After all, men are the agents, right? And thus Patriarchy Theory was born. If you’re a man and you’re speaking against Patriarchy Theory, it just means you’re a bigot who seeks to maintain his ability to be an unquestioned asshole. If you’re a woman and you speak against Patriarchy Theory, you’ve been conned by the enemy. Either way, any and all criticisms against the tenets of modern feminism are framed in a very negative light, ripped down, silenced, ignored.
The fact that high profile atheists like PZ Myers, Matt Dillahunty et al. ostensibly accept this modern feminism uncritically (feel free to challenge me on this one, guys) is disheartening at best, because I would expect that they would have an attitude towards any issue that sounds more like “I will reserve judgment until I hear both (or more) sides of the argument,” rather than “I have heard sufficiently from the feminists that it seems the only reasonably thing is to support them, and I don’t see how anything on the other side would convince me otherwise.” I’ve also seen a TED talk on the ‘rise of women/end of men’. Watch it. When did this become acceptable?
Patriarchy theory is a nebulous term which is thrown around to encompass the evil, invisible forces that men control to subjugate women. It is the cornerstone of modern feminist theory and it is allegedly the root of all inequality issues, rape, sexual objectification, and all that other bad stuff. When an opponent of modern feminism tries to pin down criticisms of it, they claim that the theory is misunderstood or taken out of context. Not surprisingly, the opening line of Finally Feminism 101′s page on “Patriarchy as a conspiracy theory” states:
Patriarchy: one of the most misunderstood critical-theory concepts ever, often wilfully misunderstood.
(Emphasis mine.) You’ve got to be suspicious when someone tells you about this awesome concept that is wilfully misunderstood. To the best of my knowledge, nobody wilfully misunderstands things, only wilfully misrepresents … etc. The definition of patriarchy is intentionally vague. That is because it isn’t a concrete concept. It is interjected into sentences such as “…and those are the harmful effects of The Patriarchy.” Just like everyone “kinda knows” what a human soul is, like in “bless your soul,” pinning down a concrete description of it just doesn’t work, except in vague terms, or by defining it by what it causes. “Patriarchy causes social disparity.” Real outcomes do not imply that the hypothetical cause truly exists. This should raise alarm bells.
In addition to the agent-object dichotomy, there is another destructive view perpetuated by society: that a woman’s needs and emotions are inherently more important than a man’s. Being a “man” in society means ignoring physical and emotional pain or “sucking it up”, and we are taught this kind of stoicism from a very early on (more about this in section “The female privilege”.) This makes it very easy to ignore male victims of domestic violence (more than 40% of victims,) rape, etc. It makes them invisible to feminists because men who are not actively against feminism or working for it do not exist. Patriarchy theory dictates that women are always the victim, and can only be the victim, by definition; you would be hard pressed to find an example of modern feminists making even more than a cursory mention of male victims. This reluctance to acknowledge the suffering and hardships of male victims and absolution of women of their perpetrations is the core of feminism. They don’t want to mention male victims because they think it would lessen the impact of (or they’d too big a portion of donations from) the female victims, who are of course, more important. Taslima Nasreen’s blog on acid attacks is specifically focused on men as the perpetrators and women as the victim, ignoring the 30% of men and boys who are victims of acid attacks and the significant number of perpetrators who are women (source.)
This view that all men form a monolithic perpetrator collective and all women form a monolithic victim collective is (apart from being untrue) insulting, at the very least, and harmful for sure. Proponents of Patriarchy Theory are enslaved by the very hominid programming that it seeks to defeat.
The proliferation of this belief has led to the kinds of remarks like:
It is one step away from all out self-loathing for being born male:
This is what men are reduced to. “I’m sorry for being male. I’m ashamed.”
They’ve done a damn good job of demonising men.
All driven by the unchallenged and unpunished misandry concocted and perpetuated by feminism, which is justified by reiterating that women are the oppressed gender (end of story.)
If you don’t believe that this maps to reality, here is a recent story.
You’ve got to think to yourself: do I really buy this “Patriarchy Theory” or is it just a convenient explanation? What evidence can be gathered to support the existence of this “patriarchy”? More importantly, what evidence would be sufficient to disprove it? (Is it falsifiable?) Am I just being coerced into believing this because I’m afraid to take a contrarian position?
I reject “Patriarchy Theory”, and I know other men that do. Why? We just don’t see that it exists. We don’t sit around and think “How best to exploit and subjugate women today?” and we don’t see other guys doing it either. We don’t have that in-group bias that women do. (A 2004 study of gender differences in automatic in-group bias found that men lack a mechanism that bolsters automatic own-group preference.) Injustices against women exist, but jumping on the first explanation we can think up is not a good idea: actions based on invalid presumptions can be very harmful.
It’s all vagina
“Any vaginas in the house? Any vagina-friendly men in the house?”
“I’m going to tell you something, deep in my soul, in my heart, in my vagina, I know the women Spring is here.”
“[...] and you would maybe even worship their vaginas [...]”
This comes up after the controversy of Michigan State Rep. Lisa Brown being banned from speaking on the State House floor after she said “[...] And finally, Mr. Speaker, I’m flattered that you’re all so interested in my vagina, but no means no,” slamming her book. She was speaking on abortion rights. I don’t think she should have been banned from the floor, but consider the opposite scenario. When would you imagine “I’m flattered that all (of you women) are interested in my penis, but no means no,” (to be fair, let’s assume the topic is related to men’s reproductive rights in this case) be so vehemently defended? The double standard grows as women “empower” themselves. It would be sufficient to say “It is no concern of yours to dictate what I can and can’t do with my body,” without reducing it to immaturity. What she said was obviously said for shock value. And yet all of this is framed on the use of the word “vagina”. I simply don’t buy that the context is irrelevant.
- Female violence and hostility are non-existent, essentially harmless, or excusable.
- Men are powerful, threatening, and potentially dangerous.
- Women are the appropriate beneficiaries of society’s protection, help and support.
- Men are the appropriate objects for absorption of violence and harm.
Female violence and hostility are non-existent, essentially harmless, or excusable, men are powerful, threatening, and potentially dangerous.
Like where rape and acid attack perpetrators and violence in general are wholly depicted as male. Powerful males control “The Patriarchy”.
Women are the appropriate beneficiaries of society’s protection, help and support.
Females are the collective victim of society and not helping them means you’re a sexist pig.
Men are the appropriate objects for absorption of violence and harm.
It’s fine to condone violence against men, verbal, emotional and/or physical abuse, etc., because that’s their job. Hate speech is acceptable because they deserve it.
If you truly are working towards gender equality, then you need to stop exploiting the gender dynamic in order to do so.
The female privilege
What do we teach baby girls when we tend to their crying so quickly? We teach them to ask for help because their needs are important, we teach them to let us know when they’re afraid or pain because it’s important for us to know when they’re sick or in danger or hurt so we can do something about it. We teach them that when they’re sad or lonely to summon comfort and comfort will be there. We teach them that they’re important, their needs and well being, both emotional and physical, are important. Just because.
And what are we teaching baby boys when we leave them to cry? We teach them there’s not much point in seeking help because it will be grudgingly given if at all. We teach them that they should become self contained in their ability to deal with their emotions like fear, helplessness, loneliness, sadness, pain, distress. We teach them stoicism. We teach them to suck it up. We teach them that their fear and their pain are things that are best ignored. We teach them that their emotional and physical well being are just not as important as other things.
I mean, given all of that, is it any wonder it’s like pulling teeth to get a man to go to the doctor when he’s sick? What we’re teaching that baby boy is all the things a man needs to know and feel and believe about himself if he’s going to stand in front of a cabin with a rifle while his wife and kids hide inside. We’re preparing him for the day he has to fix a bayonette to a rifle and charge a hill under enemy fire. And we’re preparing him to make a decision to resign himself to an icy fate while women and children escape in the lifeboats. We are really teaching him to internalise his own disposability.
And baby girls. By attending to her crying so quickly, by letting her know she’s inherently important to us, we’re preparing her for the day she has to think of her own safety first. Even if it means the man she loves is left standing alone with a rifle in front of a cabin. We’re preparing her to take that seat in the lifeboat. We’re training her to not allow guilt or empathy or acknowledgement of a man’s humanity or any sense that he might just maybe deserve it more to convince her to give her seat to him. Because for millennia the human species absolutely depended on her feeling 100% entitled to that seat.
Feminism’s greatest victories have only reinforced in everyone that society still owes women provision, protection, help and support just because they’re women. In it’s collective dismissal and abandonment of male victims of domestic violence, it only reinforces in men that it’s pointless for them to ask for help because men’s needs are of no relevance and their fear and pain don’t mean anything to anyone. Feminism teaches us to put women’s needs at the forefront of every single issue, political or social. Whether that issue is domestic violence law, sexual assault law, institutional sexism, social safety net, education funding, homeless shelters, government funding for shovel ready jobs that didn’t stay shovel ready once feminism got wind of them. Everywhere you look. Everywhere you look. There are feminists pushing their way into the front of the line, demanding women’s “fair share” of all of the goodies, the good stuff, the loot, the booty, the cookies. Even if women don’t need it, even if women don’t deserve it and even if somebody else needs it and deserves it more. And they get it. Because we give it to them. Feminism has done nothing but exploit this dynamic of the expectation on men to put everybody else before themselves. Especially women. Women’s safety and support, women’s well being and women’s emotional needs always come first. This is the most stunning piece of of society wide manipulative psychology I think I have ever come across.
And really, the only difference I see between the traditional role and the new one for men, with respect to disposability, is that maleness, manhood, it used to be celebrated. It used to be admired and it used to be rewarded because it was really f**king necessary. And because the personal cost of it to individual men was so incredibly high. But now? Now we still expect men to put women first and we still expect society to put women first and we still expect men to not complain about coming in dead last every damned time. But men don’t even get our admiration anymore. All they get in return is to hear about what assholes they are. Is it any wonder they’re starting to get pissed off?
It’s debatable whether society’s expectation of putting women first is privilege or benevolent sexism. If you ask me, although I’m not the best person to offer the “average person’s” opinion, I have never felt or thought that females were inferior to males. Not even subconsciously, and yet I am still compelled to help them, and still expected to give whatever I can to them, if they want it. And not because I don’t think they can’t do it themselves! Maybe that is just me, though.
I’m not going to stop doing these things, but I am going to stop thinking it’s just naturally expected.
Like holding the door open for a woman. I hold the door open for people, thank you very much, because it is polite. I see nothing wrong with a woman doing the same for a man, and nobody without gender stereotypes does, either.
Rebecca Watson’s elevator incident sparked a controversy. I’d like to point out here (in case you didn’t read about the incident) that the guy was in the elevator with her at something like 4 AM. Creepy, yes. Out of line, maybe. Deplorable? I don’t think so. Illegal? You wish. What I’m talking about here is the implicit equivocation of “Hey, would you like to come over and have coffee with me?” with sexual assault.
To get that much of an uproar, a woman wouldn’t just have to make the man feel uncomfortable. Sexually predated on, even. She practically has to pull his pants down and chop off his penis…and would probably still be applauded:
Dawkins responded to this by comparing her complaints about being asked over for coffee to the genital mutilation of an imaginary Muslim woman. I thought it was rude, but it had to be said. He copped some backlash for this, including Watson’s public boycott of his books and lectures. This isn’t the only kind of trivialisation that’s going on here. There’s a campaign to loosen the definition of rape to basically anything that can possibly be seen as sexist towards women. I, for one, see this as terribly impractical and hugely insulting. Imagine how degrading that feels to a real rape victim, who has scars, both physical and psychological, but nobody gives a shit about him. (I can’t begin to.) Instead we’re all up in arms about men asking women if they’d like a coffee, as if that right there is the epitome of sexual objectification. And the support for this loose-definition-of-rape-therefore-every-man-is-a-rapist is.. well, here’s a quote.
Men who are unjustly accused of rape can sometimes gain from the experience.
– Catherine Comins
Not in any world I live in!
Are we really going to bend over backwards to suit the whims of what some women think they need and deserve even when others may need and deserve it more?
It pains me to have to write in such gender-binary terms. But I have to address this in a realistic manner. I’m not trying to make anyone feel ashamed here. We’re all human beings, and we all deserve equal treatment. I want to live in a world where the person inside is infinitely more important than whether they are a man or a woman, black or white, tall or short, able or otherwise, which, while still part of our outward identity, should not dictate unique rights and opportunities. I want to live in a world where everyone is happy, not one where we constantly have to fight against self-interested hate groups.
Also, I should put in a disclaimer that not all of this applies/fits/describes/is relevant to all groups and of course not all people.
Yes, misogyny exists. I don’t think anyone has a contention there. Misandry exists too. Using the term (and I saw this just the other day) “male sympathiser” in the same way you would use “criminal sympathiser” is misandrous. I don’t see one as unequivocally more deplorable than the other. If you do, you’re the sexist, not me. In fact, focusing solely on women’s issues as if men’s issues don’t exist (or are encompassed by women’s issues) is going to cause so much more friction than necessary for the betterment of society. Feminism perpetuates an imbalance in society and works to create inequalities (such as laws that are discriminatory against men) to fit to their idealistic gynocentric utopia.
The only thing oppressing (these) feminists is their own paranoid delusions. (This) feminism is inequality in the name of equality. It is paternalism in lipstick.
If you care about human rights at all, or even society not collapsing on itself, then don’t leap vagina-first into feminism. And just how long are we going to sit here and flagellate ourselves anyway?
Wake up, it’s not men against women, it’s men and women against inequality.