Just a bit about myself. I’m a gender queer, bisexual woman in my thirties. My politics are mostly progressive (although I do have a libertarian bent). I was raised by a feminist mother who later denounced her membership in feminism due to conflicts with feminist radicals who considered grammar to be ‘patriarchal’. (How they know that grammar was invented by men is a mystery.)
I am the prime demographic to call myself a feminist. And yet, I don’t.
Let’s start with the Dictionary Definition of Feminism.
Noun: The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social and economic equality to men.
Sounds fairly benign right? But unless you also believe the following, you can’t really call yourself a feminist:
1) Men are more to blame for society.
2) Women are hurt more by society.
3) Since men are more to blame for society and women are more hurt by society, we can dismiss many issues of men as either less important or part of a backlash to women’s gains.
I generally get referred to as an ‘anti-feminist’ for not holding the above beliefs. I will refer to them as corollaries to feminism’s primary stated belief.
So here’s a short list of why I don’t call myself a feminist.
- I care about men.
In the past I have felt bad for caring about men’s rights. Our society makes it very difficult to care about the pain of men, the vulnerability of men or the concerns of men. It does so by minimizing, ignoring, or outright obscuring the harms done to men and shaming anyone who brings attention to them.
Recently I realized it’s not bad to care about men. It’s, in fact, a good thing to care about men. I care about men, and I’m not going to apologize for it.
I will always bring attention to the problems men face and defend their issues. I’m pretty tenacious in this regard. I don’t want to be part of a movement that interferes with my ability to see and advocate for the issues of men.
- I don’t want to be part of a movement that can’t be criticized.
Feminists have a tendency to shut down any criticism of their behavior or beliefs with the word ‘misogyny.’
I believe that shaming is a form of abuse. It’s no less abusive then shutting someone up with your fists. We are a social species, being part of the group is very important to us—we draw our sense of self, our strength, our well-being, and in the deep recesses of our little primate brains, our sense of possible survival from our connection to others. Shame is violence; violence directed towards our “social bodies” as pack animals.
And any movement that meets criticism with violence is not one I want to be associated with.
- I don’t want to self-identify as anything other then human.
This is the same problem I have with identifying as an MRA. I find that once you start to appropriate an identity for yourself, you start to engage in tribalism and the world falls into Us versus Them. You start whitewashing your own group and black washing the out group.
One other thing that makes me leery of identifying with MRAs is the strong strain of seeing women as universally benefiting by our current state of affairs and seeing women as willfully engaging in oppressing men. I disagree with both propositions, although I don’t think either of them have solidified to the point where they’ve become corollaries to the Men’s Rights Movement’s belief system.
I will always advocate for men’s rights and I won’t dismiss harms done to men, but neither will I support any belief system that blames one gender for the ills of the world.
We’re all equally to blame and equally innocent.
- Self-identified feminists have done awful things in the name of feminism’s corollaries.
There are those feminists who seem to put more of an emphasis on the dictionary definition of feminism. And then there are those who put a lot more emphasis on the feminist correlaries that I identified.
The second type of feminist is more active in the world, creating and maintaining inequalities that hurt men. Here’s a short list:
- Obscuring the truth about domestic violence
- Gendering Domestic Violence by framing it as ‘patriarchal violence’
- Getting DV quotas in place that marginalize male victims of domestic violence
- Ignoring male victims of wartime rape
- Promoting Female-only lenience in sentencing and imprisonment
- Opposing Shared Parenting initiatives
- Opposing Anonymity for the Accused
- Opposing initiatives that allow for male rape victims to be counted
Because I care about men, these behaviors concern me. Because these behaviors concern me, I can’t, in good conscience, call myself a feminist.
- Feminists frame their efforts in terms of what society owes women but not what women owe society.
As a woman I want to understand my obligations to the society I live in. Understanding these obligations and responsibilities are part of developing an identity based in strength rather then weakness. With great responsibility comes great power.
- Every change championed by a feminist requires changing men rather then women changing themselves.
Most feminism is about petitioning men to change. Not only does this put an unfair burden on men, particularly in situations where men don’t actually have any power to enact the changes demanded, it also means that feminist advocacy shifts the focus from women’s agency (what they can change to meet the world) to men’s agency (what men must do to change the world.)
- I care about women.
The biggest issue facing women in the West is their socialization to see themselves as acted upon rather than actors in their lives. As I outline in ‘Women Do Not Benefit: The Science’, this socialization is directly responsible for women’s lack of achievement now and historically. If we want equal numbers of female CEOs, female politicians, female inventors, female anything, then we need to change how we divide the human race into acted upon (women) and actors (men).
And a movement that’s focused like a laser on how women are acted upon (victims) is doing the opposite of liberating women.
It isn’t much of a surprise to me that feminism, as it’s practiced, has become essentially a form of covert patriarchy, teaching women that their primary feature is how they’re acted upon. There is benefit to that, particularly to those people who benefit financially and politically (and in some cases emotionally) by turning women into “class victims” who then require someone to manage their issues and save them from danger. And there is also the huge benefit in that it ties maintaining age-old gender roles with feeling progressive and new. That way we never really change at all.
For women themselves, victimhood allows them to wield shame in their personal relationships, which can be satisfying even as it’s self-limiting. Which leads to a bizarre solipsism, blaming men for something that’s a result of women’s socialization to see themselves as victims of men.
Finally, and likely most importantly, it is also a great boon to overt patriarchy, because when the fad of women’s rights passes, the fact that women never claimed their agency in the greater society means it will be a trivial matter to remove their rights. Without a belief in their agency, women will always be controlled by fear more then freedom.
So the final reason why I don’t call myself a feminist? Because feminism is just repackaged female dependency. Feminism, as it’s practiced now, is the mechanism by which covert patriarchy is transformed into overt patriarchy given a few generations time.
 I’ll be covering the taxonomy of overt and covert patriarchy further in a future post. Stay tuned! Same GendErratic time! Same GendErratic channel!