Friday, June 12, 2015

Why Feminism Jumped the Shark

Let's play a fun little game. Warning: It's going to cause the vast majority of you some degree of discomfort. For some, it may even cause you to <gasp> reevaluate your thought process. All I ask is that you hold off on the venomous emails until you've read the entire post. 

Anyway, read the following passage taken from a KKK website. As you read through the list, carefully analyze your physiological state. Notice your mood. Pay attention to how you feel. After reading the passage, close your eyes and really savor your visceral reaction.


Ten Ways Black People Can Become Better White Allies to the White Power Movement

  • Understand that white people are leading the way and affirm their capable leadership. Don’t assert yourself at the forefront.
  • When it comes to issues that directly pertain to white experiences, be quiet and listen.
  • Back people don’t get to determine if they are “allies” to the white movement. White people do.
  • Take responsibility for addressing black people's issues with other black people, rather than expecting white people in the white supremacy movement to do all of the work.
  • Use your black privilege to encourage other black people to work towards racial equality under white people's leadership.
  • Don’t use the label of ‘white ally’ as a way to try to get white people to like you — that’s disingenuous and counterproductive.
  • When given opportunities to execute professional tasks related to white supremacy issues, consider referring other white people instead.
  • Educate yourself about the history of white supremacy and how white people of different backgrounds have approached the movement.
  • Acknowledge that sometimes, white people need opportunities to discuss white supremacy issues without the presence of black people. And that’s okay.
  • When white people criticize your involvement in white supremacy, don’t talk over them or talk down to them. Actively listen and be accountable.
Take a moment before reading on. 

Close your eyes and process how you feel right now.

Got it?

Okay, let's move on. Based on the title of this post, you probably realized this game by the second or third item on the list. It's not produced by the KKK to instruct "white allies"; it's a modified list written by a feminist to male allies to the feminist movement. Here's the actual list if you don't want to follow the link:

  • Understand that women are leading the way and affirm their capable leadership. Don’t assert yourself at the forefront.
  • When it comes to issues that directly pertain to women’s bodies and experiences, be quiet and listen.
  • Men don’t get to determine if they are “allies” to the feminist movement. Women do.
  • Take responsibility for addressing men’s issues with other men, rather than expecting women in feminism to do all of the work.
  • Use your male privilege to encourage other men to work towards gender equality under women’s leadership.
  • Don’t use the label of ‘feminist’ as a way to try to get women to like you — that’s disingenuous and counterproductive.
  • When given opportunities to execute professional tasks related to feminist issues, consider referring other women instead.
  • Educate yourself about the history of feminism and how women of different backgrounds have approached the movement.
  • Acknowledge that sometimes, women need opportunities to discuss feminist issues without the presence of men. And that’s okay.
  • When women criticize your involvement in feminism, don’t talk over them or talk down to them. Actively listen and be accountable.
I've been spending a great deal of time studying sex and gender over the last few months starting with the writing of No Bone Zone, writing posts on the nature of women, "Nice Guys", and beta males, right up to the development of the San Diego Man Camp (still consisting of just a Facebook group.) During that time, I've interacted with a lot of individuals and couples. I've also read extensively on the current understanding of the nature of gender roles, including "The Red Pill" communities and blogs. 

One thing became abundantly clear - there are a whole lotta people out there that really do not like feminists. Assuming this was just a matter of bias in my research (I focused on couples that were in trouble, people that had recently ended relationships, and men that had some reason to not trust women), I largely ignored the anti-feminist sentiment. Really, I just found it hard to believe so many people were opposed to the goals of feminism.

Back in the day, I had a lot of great feminist thinkers as mentors that helped shape my ideas of social justice. The first lesson I learned was the idea that everyone should have equal opportunity and equal responsibility. The second lesson I learned (what is essentially referred to as "Queer theory" these days) is that sex, gender, and sexual orientation all occur on a spectrum and we should have the freedom to fall anywhere along those spectrums. There is no justification for a gay African American transsexual female to face any other institutional barriers than me, a straight white cis-gendered male. 

To this day, this philosophy is a foundation for pretty much every one of my ideas and opinions about anything and everything from my teaching methods to parenting to how my relationships work. Hell, the entire premise of No Bone Zone is essentially derived from ideas postulated by the modern-day sex positive feminists. Needless to say, I'm intimately familiar with feminism. I didn't get why so many people seemed to hate a movement, especially since everyone I asked supported the idea of gender equality. I dug around for some research to persuade myself this was just a fluke. Unfortunately, it wasn't. This poll pretty much summed up what I had observed, and this study gave a little insight.

Back in my more activist-ish days, I was used to most people reacting negatively to the more extreme versions of feminism (like Dworkin or MacKinnon), but nothing on this scale. Curiosity led me to investigate more. What I found was both surprising and disappointing. The new-found widespread disdain for feminism seems to result from a confluence of issues.  Some is related to a few of the second and third wave feminists' failed ideas (like feminizing men, convincing women they could put off having kids in favor of a career without negative consequences, and the destruction of male-only spaces.)

Most of the disdain, however, is directly related to the perception that feminists hate men. It doesn't matter if it's real or imagined, the vast majority of men AND women do not like that narrative because it directly contradicts the supposed goal of feminism - gender equality. The problem with modern feminism, especially the newest "4th wave", is that feminists have seemingly lost sight of the fact that our society is pretty damn equal and continually attacking stupid shit (can anyone say "mansplaining" or "manspereading"?) or important shit related to flirting, dating, and relationships ("We need to stop men from approaching women in bars!") is going to turn off almost everyone. Which is exactly what's happening.

Remember the exercise from the beginning of this post? The first passage dealing with race was probably horribly offensive to anyone and everyone except this guy. But what about the second? It was written by a feminist on a site that also featured several articles explaining why feminists don't hate men. I've found far too many feminists are completely clueless that they're actually spewing out pretty hateful shit and they rationalize it away under the virtuous umbrella of "social justice." Hate is hate is hate.

I hypothesize many young feminists have come of age in a society where the vast majority of the population supports gender equality, yet they're fed a steady diet of "women are victims of patriarchy" messages. This leads them to call out (a wonderful byproduct of social media </sarcasm>) men for every imagined sleight they perceive. For example - slut-shaming. Slut-shaming isn't a male construct. It's a female construct. Women do it to disqualify potential competitors for male attention. Yet men are still blamed for it. 

Modern feminism has other issues, too. It doesn't help that far too many have conflated Marxist ideals with third-wave feminist ideals, which is never a popular message in a blended, democratic economy. Feminists' tendency to shame women for their decisions certainly doesn't help (see "mommy wars".) The rest of the population, females especially, see that for what it is - really, really stupid behavior. The net effect is to simply write feminists off as crazy activists with too much time on their hands.

I personally have a problem with this because a) we still have pockets of our society where gender equality is NOT the norm (I'm talking to you, STEM industry), and b) there are parts of the world where women are brutalized and actually need advocates. Instead, we have feminists fighting for people to think they're presentable even if they're not wearing makeup, fighting battles that were won decades ago, fighting to stop others from making judgments about them, or fighting to stop guys from being interested in dating them

In other words, people don't like feminism because it's become a ridiculous, laughable caricature of what it once was. Sadly, the same fundamentals of ruthlessly fighting for legal and institutional equality IS still needed in places today, but the entire movement has moved itself into the realm of irrelevant. I would like to be optimistic and think someone somewhere will come along and right the ship, but I don't think that'll happen. The entire fourth wave of feminism is doomed because they don't understand the things they're fighting against have nothing to do with patriarchy, and in most cases, have nothing to do with men or oppression. Worse, they're blinded to the fact that their perceived hatred of men is going to keep them marginalized by the masses that have a more accurate view of reality. People are smart. They see through bullshit, even when it's done in the name of gender equality.


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