Modern feminism, with its incessant whining and complaining and victim proclamations has quite rightly come under increasing fire not only from sites like AVfM, but in the mainstream media, too. The recent brouhaha surrounding Jezebel placing a $10,000 bounty on Lena Dunham’s head, demanding to see the unretouched photos from her recent Vogue shoot, serves as an illustration of just how far feminism has strayed from its original roots. In a fit of mean-girl spite to make Regina George herself blush, Jezebel was absolutely positive that Vogue had grossly retouched Dunham, because there is no way she is actually that pretty. Lena is ugly! Let’s prove how ugly that bitch is! Someone get me the unretouched photos, stat! Here’s $10,000 for the favor.
Charming. Turns out Vogue hadn’t retouched Lena all that much, and Jezebel ended up looking like exactly the group of bitter, jealous bitches they are. And “good, it’s about time” is all I can say to that.
With feminism seeming to be on a self-destruct cycle all of its own, I thought this might be a good time to reflect on the good things feminism has accomplished and then ponder just why it is that feminism doesn’t want those gains to be extended to everyone? Could it be that feminism isn’t about equality at all, but more about power and dominance? Let’s investigate.
1. The right to reproductive freedom
Margaret Sanger and Otto Bobsein are credited with coining the term “birth control” and were early proponents of the wide spread adoption of family planning.
By the 1960s the birth control pill was available for women and unleashed a social revolution that broke the bonds between sex and reproduction. The ability to choose motherhood yet still have sex offered women a freedom that had never been possible for all of human history, and women took full advantage of that freedom. Freedom given to them by mostly male scientists, by the way.
Women had the children they wanted, when they wanted them.
The 1973 Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court Decision further solidified women’s reproductive rights, allowing them to abort children they did not want before they were born.
Recent attacks on abortion rights are rightly seen as an affront to womankind itself. The right to choose parenthood is absolutely essential if women are to realize their full human potential.
That is not a statement that is contested with any vigor by feminists. Planned parenthood–there can be no other way.
Curious, then, that the push to make parenthood a choice for all humans is resisted by feminists specifically. Amanda Marcotte, writing for The Raw Story is completely dismissive of that half of humanity which would also like the right to choose parenthood.
There are absolutely writers who question why feminism appears to be concerned only with women’s choice, but few will venture further than curiosity.
What is it about feminism that insists women must have the right to summarily confiscate male assets while retaining the absolute right to choose for themselves whether they will dedicate any resources at all to parenthood?
Equality seems to have gone missing from the argument.
2. The right to have rape taken seriously
Caveat: let’s keep in mind that raping white women, or even the allegation of having done so, was always a serious crime when the defendant happened to be a black man. It was generally punishable by death.
In 1793, 17-year-old Lanah Sawyer was pushed into a brothel and raped by a seemingly respectable man who had taken her for a walk in the streets of New York. In court, her assailant’s attorney said she had basically consented to sex when she agreed to go walking with him, and warned the jury against placing “the life of a citizen in the hands of a woman.” The man was acquitted.
By the 1970s, the National Organization for Women was busy drawing attention to the leniency most rapists received and the brutal questioning victims were forced to endure.
The Oscar-winning film The Accused, starring Jody Foster as a drunk woman who was gang-raped on a pool table as bar patrons watched was a watershed moment that convinced Americans that rape was a serious crime and that perpetrators deserved to punished.
The subsequent rape-hysteria of contemporary feminism is not the topic of this post, but I will remind readers that rape hysteria is utterly out of control. As if you needed such a reminder, right?
What I am interested in is the curious phenomena of feminists dismissing male rape statistics and willfully ignoring the fact that boys are raped more often than girls. Not to mention giggling over actual cases of male rape.
Feminism succeeded in making rape a serious crime. When the victim is a woman.
Why then is feminism so reluctant to extend the same sympathy and legal protections to male victims that are afforded female victims? And just to be clear, I don’t mean sympathy extended by the courts or the general public. I mean sympathy extended by feminists, who insist that every woman who claims she has been raped must be believed, no matter how fanciful or spurious the claim.
What is that about? Again, it doesn’t look much like equality from where I sit.
3. The right to have mental health issues taken seriously
Anxiety, depression, despair, hopelessness, traumatic responses to events long passed, anorexia and suicidal thoughts were often thought to be the product of women’s innate hysteria, often relieved through the thoughtful (ahem) application of vibrating machines (double ahem) applied to a woman’s genitals (holy ahem!).
Feminists worked hard to demonstrate that women’s mental health issues were linked inextricably to their life circumstances, and rightly so. Simply dismissing the despair of some women as inherent to women was grossly insulting and reductionist.
Interestingly enough, our modern feminist sisters have no problem claiming that men’s mental health issues are inherent to men and masculinity: it is the very concept of “manhood” that creates mental illness. Describing men as “emotionless dickbots”, Anna North proposes that all masculinity needs is a good dose of shame.
But do men need, in addition, “a positive, masculine gender identity?” It’s something of a strange concept — few feminists would ever say that women needed “a positive, feminine gender identity.” While plenty of women take pride in being female, “femininity” is so loaded with patriarchal expectation that, for feminists, it’s kind of a dirty word. This may not be a bad thing — in fact, I’d argue that “masculine” should go the same way.
What is going on here? Women have genuine, human emotional problems that are most certainly not the simple result of being women, but mental health problems in men is proof of “toxic masculinity”?
4. The right to NOT be assumed natural caregivers
Feminists have long railed against the stereotype that women are “naturally more loving” than men, and therefore better suited to be caregivers for small children.
Of course, these very same women hire other women to care for their children when they are occupied with something more important, and are reluctant to even contemplate hiring an occasional babysitter who is male, but we’ll ignore the inconsistency for the moment.
If women have no innate advantage over men when it comes to caring for small children, why then are feminist organizations so opposed to shared parenting and automatic joint custody when parental relationships fail?
What’s up with that? Are men and women equally suited to be providers of care, or are they not?
5. The right to genital integrity
Feminism has worked hard to lift the veil on the grotesquely cruel practice of genital mutilation, but only if the genitals in question are of the female variety.
Indeed, some feminist websites openly mock men for being anti-circumcision, claiming the “intactivist” movement arises because men feel the “world revolves around their dicks”.
As opposed to all those mutilated girls who probably think the world revolves around their vaginas?
Circumcision: only cruel when it’s done to girls.
What are we to make of this curious state of modern feminism?
Reproductive rights, but only for women.
Rape awareness, but only when women are victims.
Mental health awareness, but only when women are affected.
Assumption of natural caregiving ability, but only when the option is to have a man care for children.
Genital integrity, but only for girls.
How can anyone possibly see feminism as a movement to achieve equality between men and women when feminist organizations and individuals actively work to ensure that the hard fought rights their older feminist sisters won apply to women, and women only?
I personally think it’s important to separate modern feminists from their historical counterparts. When we critique feminism, I think we should make it clear that we are critiquing modern feminism. Some might argue that the current state of affairs is not a bug of the feminist system, but a feature: that feminism intended to end up exactly where we are. I’m not convinced that is a productive conversation to have.
I think we can celebrate the triumphs of feminism while being wholly and deeply critical of the limitations. There is no room left to maneuver in modern feminism.
The rights women have gained for women now need to be extended to everyone. Reproductive freedom, the right to make rape accusations and be given a fair trial, the right to have mental health issues taken seriously, the right to be assumed a loving caregiver and the right to genital integrity.
You won’t find those issues championed at NOW or Ms. or feministing or Jezebel or any other mainstream feminist media site.
But you will find them championed here.
Feminists have completed their work and now have nothing to do but circle their wagons and try to keep others from achieving the same rights.
Well, when they’re not busy calling other women ugly and paying $10 000 for proof of just how ugly.
Fuck feminism. It’s over. The game is now ours. And we will fight for every last right.
Lots of love,