based on this lovely exchange which is also not the first incidence of some feminists taking it upon themselves to mock and devalue the groups of people they are supposedly in support of
but thats how (tumblr grade, 3rd wave) feminism works right
I want to bring this up to have a little talk about respect.
I at the very least used to be a feminist, and I still something think I am, deep down inside. I agree with a lot of the tenets of traditional feminism and I do still believe there is a glimmer of people who want to do what it originally set out to do - make things equal for everyone. People who recognize the disadvantages men have, who recognize a kind and diplomatic approach to these things. But where does that faint hint of doubt, that faint thought that says I don’t want to call myself a feminist come from?
It comes from some of the new wave of feminists. I’m not even just talking about the ones on Tumblr who call to kill all men etc. My problem with the new wave of feminism is it is frequently not about women. Prior to this most recent wave, it has been unavoidably about women. About our wages, our jobs, our votes, our bodies. Nowadays though, it seems to be more about men. Not about HELPING men of course. But about BLAMING men. The new wave appears to be a wave of “teach men not to rape” and “men need to stop being abusers” and “men need to do this” and “men need to do that”. It’s also been a wave of fear. Everywhere I go, I’m told I should feel “victimized”. That I should constantly fear being raped. That I should fear men, in general.
And I hate that. By taking away the focus on the needs of women and instilling FEAR into the movement, you remove the entire purpose of traditional feminism - the empowerment of women. Not the superiority of women or the act of only caring about women, the EMPOWERMENT of women. Women for the longest time in the United States were told to keep their head down, to stay in the background. To stay in the home. This was a general expectation, and while some women broke the mold, those were far and few between. Feminism arose out of a need to engage women on a political spectrum - to give them a right to a legal voice, and a spirit to be involved and active in it. That is the purpose of feminism - to teach and enable women to enact change in their communities, not just for the benefit of women but men, children, and everyone. It was a philosophy that when we work together to better our world, we all succeed more. When we all have rights, when we are on equal footing, we all benefit, regardless of gender or sex.
Newer waves of feminism lack this, significantly. There is no longer a focus on empowering women, but instead on making women victims. There is no longer a focus on broad issues, but rather minuscule and often insignificant issues. There is a greater focus on what men do wrong than on what women do right. There is an incredibly frequent and shameless stealing of credit and spotlight from OTHER groups, especially LGBT and racial minorities. And there is things like this.
If you claim to be a feminist, but then shame a woman for her opinion, ANY opinion, then you have failed in the one major philosophy of feminism. Shame is the opposite of empowerment. I am very pro-choice, but while I’ll never agree with a pro-life woman, I am not going to tell her that her opinion does not matter. I’m not going to tell her she’s a terrible woman or that she’s being brainwashed. I’m not going to insinuate that she made her decision based on anything but her own agency, because that in itself is a form of brainwashing and abuse. Shame is used in emotionally abusive relationships to convince a partner to stay with them, that they need them, that any ideas of leaving are wrong. That isn’t healthy and that ISN’T going to turn any women into feminists.
I’m also sick of those who try to force the label of feminist onto women, claiming “if you support equality then you’re a feminist”. Even if that simplistic definition held water, it still doesn’t change the fact that you can’t force a label on someone. You can’t force someone to say they are a feminist, if they don’t want to wear it. And then you need to think about why they DON’T want to wear it.
Feminism needs a make-over. The people who should be the most critical of radicals and those who paint the movement in a bad light are those within the movement. And yet for some reason we instead just glance over it, or just try to say “Well they aren’t REALLY feminists” but the fact is, they are. They wear the label feminism. And just dismissing them to our dissenters isn’t going to make them go away and it isn’t going to make people stop doubting it. Action needs to be more precise, and we need to spend just as much time telling THOSE “bad feminists” why they’re wrong as we spend telling people who point them out to use what “real feminism” is.
Otherwise…what’s the point? There is none. If we can’t fix the problem within the movement, then eventually there will be nothing but radicals, and the movement will fade as just another extremist movement.
Never ignore the bad seeds in your community by trying to pretend they’re not there.
- Mod Dawes Sr.