So I guess this is kind of the topic that started it all. I posted about anti-feminism once on my facebook page and I lost friends over it.
I’m going to preface this by saying that, in general, people don’t really get what feminism really is and my motive for starting this series was to give people an idea of who feminists are and what we want. Feminism is about equality for everyone. It benefits not only women, but the GLBTAQ community, people of color, people of different religious beliefs. The idea is to even out the playing field for everyone and to do that involves ending the Patriarchy so that women are given an equal voice in the government and in business, giving women equal healthcare so their not punished for having a vagina, ending rape culture so that women can walk around without fear of being raped and the injustice that commonly follows rape, desexualizing women’s bodies so that women can be recognized as actual people. By doing this for women, it opens doors for everyone else who isn’t a white male so that eventually the way we are born will have no say in how we get through life. At least that’s the jist.
Anti-Feminism is a lot of things. I should also clarify that there is a big difference between not being a feminist and being an anti-feminist. The Anti-Feminist movement is what it sounds like, a movement opposing the ideals and goals of feminism, which is where is loses me because what kind of people say they’re opposed to equality, am I right?
I searched for main themes of anti-feminism and here are the main things that came up:
Denial of the Patriarchy: Not surprisingly, Anti-Feminists either deny that the Patriarchy exists, deny the power and influence it has on society, or firmly trusts that the Patriarchy is doing a damn fine job of running America. When asked why there aren’t more women in powerful positions, the most common response I saw was that women just don’t work as hard as men or that no one would respect a female leader.
Denial of Rape (Culture): I put “culture” in parenthesis because in addition to Rape Culture, it kind of seems like a lot of anti-feminists don’t really think rape happens. Most common (by far) is the example that when a girl under the influence is drunk at a party and sleeps with someone then it is absolutely her fault. Also common is the “just because you regret it doesn’t make it rape” thing and that all just makes me really sad. It’s blaming the victim all over again, but this time aggressively. Also, I saw a few things about the denial of spousal rape and the opinion that consenting to marriage is consenting to sex all the time and that was really heartbreaking because then it says that before you’re married you have some rights and after you get married you hardly qualify as a person.
“Feminists just want to act like victims”: This argument basically says that feminists just want something to complain about. It really just fits into everything else on here.
Men’s Rights Activists: This is a whole new thing. It doesn’t surprise me that there is a big part of Men’s Right’s Activism is anti-feminist, but they basically ignore all of women’s issues and complain that men are oppressed by women because they are held to standards that are different than women. I saw this far too often: “If women want equality, why can’t I hit/rape them? They can do it to me!” Clarification: It is never okay to abuse anyone in any way.This accusation suggest that women can get away with acting as an abuser because she is expected to be weak and docile.They use examples of misandry to counter examples of misogyny without recognizing that misogyny is far more prevalent and common in our society and most places in the world. MRA is a whole thing that’s going to come up later so keep an eye out.
Reaffirmation of Gender Roles: Anti-feminism puts a lot of emphasis into returning to “traditional” gender roles i.e the male breadwinner and the housewife. Feminism is about redefining the modern family so that people can do whatever works for them without shaming a particular gender for not working/working/ etc. This includes the idea that “A woman’s place is in the home/behind her husband.” Google Phyllis Schlafly to find out more. Anti-Feminists argue that the end of the “Traditional Home” has contributed to the “downfall of America”
Feminism is “Against Human Nature”: I think this one is kind of funny because many anthropologists agree that before the Neolithic Revolution, most human tribes were matriarchal and that women were valued as the most important individuals because of the baby thing and then after the Neolithic Revolution women lost their value because men could farm enough so that women didn’t have to do anything except take care of the kids and that’s how it all happened. I think the idea that women cannot be independent, strong, assertive etc is so messed up because most of the traits we consider to be feminine are societal constructs. Yes, women have the equipment to deliver and feed babies which men do not have, but that equipment doesn’t mean I’m a natural mother nor does it mean that a man cannot be a nurturer. And just so we’re clear, there is no problem with wanting to be a mother and having kids and staying home to take care of them just as there is no problem with being a stay at home dad.
Most of the posts and articles I read were all about belittling feminists, using radical examples about “what feminists do,” I’ve also seen a lot of posts and heard a lot of people complaining about how some feminists have “lost the real meaning” of feminism and I don’t even know what that means. Anti-feminists also say things like “things aren’t as bad as the way they make it seem” and that steams my broccoli because if you’re reading into the issues and keeping up with current events then you see it. Or maybe I just see it with me Fem-Specs and they’re seeing it through Delusion-Specs. They like to attack by making generalizations and try to support their arguments with their own experiences, however if you come from a place of privilege then you probably haven’t faced the type of adversity that would allow your experiences to be valid evidence.
Personally, I’m a white, middle class cis woman with a high school degree and am 2 years away from my Bachelor’s with aspirations of grad school. I understand my privilege gives me opportunities denied to others, but I do try to do my best to understand issues for others so that I may use my privilege to help others.
Bottom line: Anti-Feminism is really negative. It’s a movement designed to bring women down, whereas feminism exists to help women up so that we might someday live in equality. Our society teaches women to be ashamed of ourselves (“keep your knees together, cover up, hide your brastraps”) and tells women that we deserve worse treatment because we have innies instead of outies. It tells women that marriage is the best thing that can happen to them while telling men that it’s the worst. Feminism wants to change all these things, Anti- Feminism is set on things staying the same or regressing.