Text 12 Mar 135 notes Losing Feminist Faith

I may lose friends and followers for this essay, but it’s one I’ve wanted to write for many years and I no longer can’t write it: I am not a feminist. Though I have no particular interest in gender studies, extreme instances of sexism have disturbed my life, and I know I’m not unique, nor are my experiences simply “a few bad ones.” I’d like to share some things… then get back to playing with toys.

I am not a feminist because, historically, feminism has not been for equality. Most feminists say, many in good faith, that this is what they’re upholding, but women’s rights isn’t the same thing as feminism, an ideology which isn’t even for equality in theory; how can it be when the bias is in the name? From feminism’s early leaders to the second wave taught as critical theory in university women’s studies and sexuality classes, all action has been to further women at men’s expense. A thoroughly gendered movement, it promotes racism and fosters hateful divides; never has equality looked so unbalanced:

"The prejudice against color, of which we hear so much, is no stronger than that against sex. It is produced by the same cause, and manifested very much in the same way. The negro’s skin and the woman’s sex are both prima facie evidence that they were intended to be in subjection to the white Saxon man." Elizabeth Cady Stanton, activist and suffragette, from a speech before the New York Legislature, (1860)

"We are, as a sex, infinitely superior to men, and if we were free and developed, healthy in body and mind, as we should be under natural conditions, our motherhood would be our glory. That function gives women such wisdom and power as no male can possess." Elizabeth Cady Stanton, from her diary, (1890)

"[Rape] is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear." Susan Brownmiller, author and activist, from Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape, (1975)

"Under patriarchy, every woman’s son is her potential betrayer and also the inevitable rapist or exploiter of another woman." Andrea Dworkin, radical feminist and anti-pornographer, from Our Blood, (1976)

"And let’s put one lie to rest for all time: the lie that men are oppressed, too, by sexism—the lie that there can be such a thing as ‘men’s liberation groups.’ Oppression is something that one group of people commits against another group specifically because of a ‘threatening’ characteristic shared by the latter group—skin color or sex or age, etc. The oppressors are indeed fucked up by being masters (racism hurts whites, sexual stereotypes are harmful to men) but those masters are not oppressed. Any master has the alternative of divesting himself of sexism or racism—the oppressed have no alternative—for they have no power—but to fight. In the long run, Women’s Liberation will of course free men—but in the short run it’s going to cost men a lot of privilege, which no one gives up willingly or easily. Sexism is not the fault of women—kill your fathers, not your mothers.” Robin Morgan, editor of Ms. Magazine, from Going Too Far: The Personal Chronicle of a Feminist, (1977)

"I feel that ‘man-hating’ is an honorable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them." Robin Morgan, from Going Too Far: The Personal Chronicle of a Feminist, (1977)

"Perhaps the wrong of rape has proven so difficult to articulate because the unquestionable starting point has been that rape is definable as distinct from intercourse, when for women it is difficult to distinguish them under conditions of male dominance." Catherine MacKinnon, lawyer, teacher, and activist, from "Feminism, Marxism, Method, and the State: Toward Feminist Jurisprudence", (1983)

"Intercourse is the pure, sterile, formal expression of contempt for women’s bodies." Andrea Dworkin, from Intercourse, (1987)

"The simple fact is that every woman must be willing to be identified as a lesbian to be fully feminist." Sheila Cronan, activist, from National Organization for Women Times, (1988)

"If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males." Mary Daly, former professor at Boston College and theologian, from an interview with What Is Enlightenment magazine, (2001)

Current feminism on Twitter and Tumblr skewers men, their issues, and anyone who supports egalitarian discussion, relying on straw man arguments and arbitrarily redefining “patriarchy”, “misogyny”, and “oppression” at will. Some feminists claim that others don’t accurately represent the movement, but no one can really say who is and isn’t a True Believer. So we can’t ignore sarcastic accusations of being an MRA in response to legitimate complaints or feminists who refer to circumcision as “just a flap of skin.”

Additionally feminism creates scare tactics like calling Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” rape culture while ignoring real rape subcultures in places like correctional facilities. “Rape culture” implies that rapists are just wandering around looking for victims when nearly 75% of reported rapes in the U.S. are committed by someone known to the victim (BJS 2003). Contextually-gendered words like “cunt” or “bitch” are also not rape culture; a word is not a physical assault. The most common thing my molester said to me over the years was “I love you.” Should we ban the Ramones’ “Baby, I love you”? It’s one of my favourites.

Because of mixed messages from family, friends, school, and media, as a young feminist I believed I had the right to strike males without recourse, and I’m extremely ashamed to admit that I have, on several occasions. Only once was I reprimanded and the punishment was pathetic; the other assaults took place at school and I was congratulated. As a young feminist I also believed almost everything was sexist; I went to great lengths to prove sexism in both the classroom and socially—many times I failed, looking and feeling foolish while fiercely trying to deny reality. Part of my family reality was that feminists in the women’s studies centre at a well-known Canadian university had held down my sister and chopped off over a foot of her hair; she had managed to stop them from shaving it completely. Some older feminists (and lesbians) whom I hung out with later as a teenager openly criticized me and another girl whenever we wore makeup or any feminine clothing. After disengaging myself from this group—who, in my small town, also slept with gay underage youth as a means of “showing them the way”—I realized labels had little use, especially since the ideology rarely matched the actions. However, at another well-known Canadian university, the mere suggestion that I not label myself—literally, just beginning to say, “I don’t like to call myself feminist—”—caused my world-renowned, tenured feminist professor to advocate violence against me. I wasn’t allowed to say anything else. Most importantly to mention, for me, is that female-perpetuated emotional and sexual abuse was as normalized as male in my family, and I myself have been abused by both men and women. Women are not immune to being antagonists and men also deserve our love; I see no other way of life.

I don’t need feminism because feminism isn’t what has given me rights; a growing understanding of the world through science and secular society planted seeds of respect for others. I don’t need to follow an ideology in order to believe people deserve equal rights and treatment. Losing faith is scary, but if you believe in equality, you’re doing feminism wrong, just as if you believe in peace, you’re doing religion wrong. Upon discovering that an ideology isn’t what you believed it was, that its theories and followers don’t actually embody your personal morals and values, it becomes your responsibility to abandon the dogma and create something better.

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