Your Arguments Against Feminism: Debunked
With the recent trending of #WomenAgainstFeminism, I have heard many arguments against feminism that just plainly don’t make enough sense. Before I begin, I must preface this breakdown with the actual definition of feminism. The English language is a beautiful and unique beast whose strength is based on permanence. Part of this permanence lies in the fact that the definition of words rarely change, even if the masses largely ignore its meaning.
Actually, as anyone that knew anything about linguistics would tell you, the most beautiful thing about all languages (including English) is the way they constantly evolve and change: nothing is permanent or set in stone. Definitions, rather than being prescribed for use, are described by use. The masses decide upon the meanings of words, and while dictionaries often disagree with each other or fail to keep up with common usage, it’s generally quite clear what people mean by how they use the word.
Take a moment to learn a bit about how words actually work before trying to educate others on the topic. Otherwise, you might come off as ignorant and presumptuous.
So, lo and behold, the TRUE (and simple) definition of feminism:
Fem·i·nism: the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.
“Wow, that doesn’t sound all that bad.” No, intelligent reader, it doesn’t. Many of the arguments below are based on a false definition of feminism; and if ignoring these arguments that made little sense actually made them disappear, I would gladly do so.
Quite the contrary; you’re the one using a nonstandard definition, and you’re the one whose argument falls apart when it’s noticed that you’re doing nothing more than arguing by definition. The arguments below arise from people who use descriptive linguistics and define feminism in terms of what it actually does rather than what feminists like to say it does.
Because a movement has never previously succeeded that way, I will proceed in countering these arguments anyway.
“We don’t need feminism anymore”
Oh, wouldn’t it be nice if this statement were actually true? Apparently, if we can vote in a system that ideally allows us to run for public office – “Sarah Palin almost won the Vice Presidency” (yes, someone actually used that as an argument against feminism to me before) - we can celebrate with a huge pink cake and shovel it into the mouths we so desperately need to shut. “We’re all done now, right?” WRONG!
Sarah Palin was a horribly unqualified candidate who still came incredibly close to the second highest public office in the United States. She was taken entirely seriously as a candidate, and there is no evidence that her loss had anything to do with her gender.
The wage gap still exists. Many arguments have surfaced that claim the gap only exists because women usually choose careers that pay less, but this argument does not debunk the phenomenon. Even in the few fields where the wage gap has narrowed the most (pharmacy and computer programming) women still earn only approximately 90 percent of what their male-counterparts make. It’s important to note that that is the smallest wage gap and not the norm. In 2012, the average women’s wage was 80 percent of an average males’.
We have some thoughts about the wage gap here. While the actual wage gap does indeed represent a problem, we most likely disagree on the causes and potential solutions. Your own comment shows that the average gap of 20% can be cut literally in half simply by choosing the right field, so what do you think would happen if we started compensating for countless other factors like education, certifications, relocation, hours worked, continuous years with the employer, sabbaticals/leaves? The gap keeps right on shrinking.
According to the 2013 U.S. Census, women make up 50.8 percent of the population, however the representation of women in the U.S. government is currently under 20 percent. While some may claim that not enough qualified women have run, I still constantly hear people say things like, “I would never vote for a woman for President.” When searching “woman president” on Google, one of the top 8 related searches is “woman president jokes”, because, although 77 percent of Americans believe the U.S. will have a woman president in the next 10 years, the idea of having a woman president is still considered a joke. With this kind of – very public- attitude about female representation in government, it’s hard to argue that discrimination is not a part of the cause.
It’s hard to argue, but also turns out to be true: the current body of evidence firmly suggests female candidates for political office have very similar outcomes to similarly-situated male candidates. You can produce all the anecdotal evidence you want, but it doesn’t stand up to the ongoing work of legitimate political scientists. At the very least, the number of people who won’t vote for a candidate because she is a woman is counterbalanced by the number who will vote for a candidate purely because she is a woman.
Politics won’t provide your justification.
Regardless, none of this is really relevant to the argument at hand. We definitely agree that a push for gender equality is necessary. However, we do not think that feminism has to be the only one pushing, and while we think feminism has the potential to be a strong ally it is no more necessary than any of the other possible gender equality movements.
You can go ahead and fill that blank with any horrible name or adjective you can think of. Yes, we’ve all heard stories of bra-burning radicals and a few rallying cries of women who obviously have a vendetta. I never thought those viewpoints were all that boisterous and was often very thrown when other people thought those were average feminists. Unfortunately, I’ve recently discovered that there is another extremely scary movement with a bold stance growing on Tumblr. #Killallmen is a hashtag created by misandrous radicals claiming to be feminists. A quick view of related posts makes their deluded message quite clear: these women hate men and do not want equality. The problem is, those who are not educated on the true definition of feminism are letting these ladies redefine it.
Again, you still don’t understand how definitions or labels work. For you, what you’re saying may seem to be the case, because you view your prescriptive definition as both self-evident and unquestionable. For those of us who define things based on what they are, however, those people still influence what “feminism” means because they represent a portion of what people calling themselves feminists do. If you don’t want their behavior to reflect poorly on you, you have two choices: either drown them out effectively enough that they become a footnote, or directly oppose them and throw them out. Instead, you resolutely demand that the rest of us ignore the elephant in the room while you continue to feel it peanuts under the table.
You may catch more flies with honey but you get more attention if you’re wielding a knife - and these ladies know it. Since when do a few radical people become the sole representation of an entire movement? That’s like saying Al Qaida represents all Arabs or the Westborough Baptist Church-goers are a serious example of modern-day Christians. Just because these radical women exist, does not mean that they really represent all who are actually pushing for equality.
If your only excuse for not supporting feminism is that there are other people who support the cause you don’t like, then your arguments are flimsy at best. There’s no reason that a minority of crazy individuals should curb an entire movement. You can’t change the definition of feminism or those who affiliate themselves with it, but you can change YOUR attitude about it.
We’re not just judging feminism by its radicals, though; we’re judging it by its overall actions. Feminism has consistently failed to be intersectional, and has consistently made the problem of restrictive gender roles worse. Those radicals are just one small symptom of an enormous underlying problem.
This is the most important point. It’s not that people are using a minority of crazy individuals as an excuse for not supporting feminism - as if anyone needs an excuse - it’s that the movement does a great deal of harm, and people often do not want to identify with a movement that does a great deal of harm. Feminism is guilty of erasing male victims of violence and rape, supporting legal biases against men, hurting millions of people, and refuses to so much as admit to any wrongdoing even when it gets caught red-handed.
Want people to like your movement more? Fine. Fix it. Stop blaming others for disliking feminism, and work to make feminism more likable. It’s not their fault that your movement is so incredibly flawed, nor is it their responsibility to compensate for those flaws.
“Why aren’t we all just “humanists” or “egalitarians”?
That’s a beautiful suggestion and I FULLY SUPPORT IT! I think we should all support the equality and fairness for people of all shapes, sizes, creeds, colors, genders, orientations, religions, and lack-there-of. It’s none of my business what you identify as if you don’t want to share, but if you exist, you deserve to same right to life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness as anyone else.
The problem with this argument is that it is used AGAINST feminism. Over time it’s proven difficult to win the empathy of a group of people who have trouble connecting with you. Our society is built to divide us by the things that make us different. It’s too easy to ignore and misunderstand those we don’t align with.
The problem comes in when feminism actively attacks people for not being feminist, as you’re doing in this very post. Feminism constantly browbeats egalitarians, men’s rights activists, and others for not being feminists, even when those other groups are doing much to fight for gender equality. This is a problem, one that you seem entirely unwilling to acknowledge.
The importance of using words like “feminism”, “racialism”, and “LGBTQ rights” is the fact that they identify those being marginalized the most and the issues they face. With a specific movement that clearly identifies the problems at hand- the wage gap, the lack of representation of women in government, and the glass ceiling- we are more aptly able to show how women in today’s society still struggle in a patriarchal society. If we just lobby alone for “all people to be equal” the individual problems that each disenfranchised group struggles with get more clouded and our fight unfortunately becomes a stab in the dark. Focusing on the problems each marginalized group faces helps to enlighten those who haven’t experienced the struggle themselves.
If you agree that men and women should be given equal opportunities, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t be proud to support feminism. The biggest hurdle is teaching others. So, go out there and be the feminist you want to see in the world!
There’s no reason why anyone should be ashamed to be a feminist, as long as they understand exactly what feminism means. There’s no reason anyone should be ashamed of not being a feminist, either, which is the part you seem to be having trouble with.
Feminism has consistently failed at intersectionality, and often does more harm than good. By attempting to co-opt others and force them into your movement, you’re just making the problem worse. If you actually care about making the world better, stop being so single-minded about supporting your one movement and start looking at the bigger picture.