What the “Women Against Feminism” Get Wrong About Feminism


I finally responded to that Women Against Feminism Tumblr in a Daily Dot piece.

It’s not news to anyone when men oppose feminism. When women, do, though, it goes viral. Call it the man-bites-dog of political news.

The Women Against Feminism Tumblr is a fascinating catalogue of grievances that largely argue against a feminism that few women (if any) actually profess. Now, I won’t claim that every woman who claims to be “against feminism” just doesn’t know what it is; there are obviously people of all genders who accurately understand feminism and still oppose it.

For instance, you may be a genuine non-feminist if you think that there is no sexism anymore, that catcalling should be taken as a compliment, that the only women who get raped somehow deserved it (and men just don’t get raped, I guess, or they deserved it too?), and that there are circumstances in which people owe each other sex.

Congratulations! If you believe any of the above, you are probably not a feminist. But your beliefs are still wrong.

Others, however, clearly misunderstand it. Many of the posts on the Women Against Feminism Tumblr parrot silly myths like “feminists hate men,” “feminists think that women and men are exactly alike in every way,” “feminists won’t let me be a stay-at-home mom,” and “feminists think it’s wrong that I ask my husband to open jars for me.” In fact, a Vice article by Allegra Ringo has pointed out how many submitters to WAF seem to think that opening jars is the ultimate feminist litmus test.

There is no One True Feminism, and I can’t speak for anyone but myself. There are feminists who hate men and feminists who think that men and women are exactly alike in every way, sure. There are all sorts of people in the world with all sorts of beliefs that may or may not be based on empirical evidence.

But the feminism that the women of WAF are rejecting doesn’t sound like any I’ve encountered. Here’s what they miss.

1. Feminism is not about who opens the jar.

It is not about who pays for the date. It is not about who moves the couch. It is not about who kills the bugs. It is not about who cooks the dinner. It’s not even about who stays home with the kids, as long as the decision was made together, after thinking carefully about your situation and coming to an agreement that makes sense for your particular marriage and family.

It is about making sure that nobody ever has to do anything by “default” because of their gender. The stronger person should move the couch. The person who enjoys cooking more, has more time for it, and/or is better at it should do the cooking. Sometimes the stronger person is male, sometimes not. Sometimes the person who is best suited for cooking is female, sometimes not. You should do what works.

But it is also about letting people know that it is okay to change. If you’re a woman who wants to become stronger, that’s great. If you’re a man who wants to learn how to cook, that’s also great. You might start out with a relationship where the guy opens all the jars and the girl cooks all the meals, but you might find that you want to try something else. So try it.

Read the rest here.

Disclaimer, for the curious: I do not title my Daily Dot pieces.

Comments

  1. says

    I open the jars. My husband puts things on the top shelves. I vacuum. He mows the lawn. I do laundry. He does dishes.

    It’s… almost like we are equal partners or something….

  2. says

    I feel like Egon in Ghostbusters, except with the comment thread there:

    “Okay, I’m opening the comments, don’t look directly at the comments!”
    “I looked at the comments, Ray!”

    • Tessa says

      I looked directly at the comments too… I wish I’d been warned beforehand (not actually asking for warnings or anything, just in an amused “what did I just see?” kinda thing). I want to respond to every single one in an angry ranty voice. They always say these views are sooo common in the feminist movement and that they’re “holding the reins” but they never show where these prominent feminists are.

      The straw feminists are the dark matter of the feminist movement. They apparently make up most of the movement, but nobody ever sees or interacts with them. But they must exist because there’s so much hatred for them.

  3. ceesays says

    i think somebody should have told me that I’m breaking a fundamental law of the universe because I open my own jars. seriously what is with women who are anti feminist and their obsession with who opens the jars?

  4. says

    I’m sorry I keep opening jars by myself, but what am I supposed to do if himself isn’t around? Wait to make my lunch until he gets home from work?

    What sad, silly people the anti-feminists are. And no, I’m not going to read the comments over there either, my blood pressure is high enough already.

  5. smrnda says

    I have no idea where they got the models for these straw-feminists. Could their disdain for feminism be that these are authoritarians who can only imagine two scenarios :

    1. The man MUST pay for the date.
    2. The man must NEVER pay for the date.

    It’s like they don’t understand the idea of supporting choice.

  6. says

    Sooo, since I’m a lesbian, and I open the jars in the house most of the time, does this mean I am forced to be a feminist because I don’t let a guy open the jars for me?

    Here I thought I was a feminist all this time because I think men and women should be treated equally.

  7. jambonpomplemouse says

    I get the impression that a lot of the stay at home moms who are also vocal anti-feminists have a lot of insecurity about their status, and so they lash out at woman who work outside the home, as though feminists and working (out of the house) women are the ones that have been devaluing “women’s work” ever since it was designated as such. The blame for the belief that all of the work done in the home should be an expected duty not worthy of praise or compensation lies with capitalism and patriarchy. When a man cooks, cleans, manages a home, etc, that’s a job. When women do it, it’s just what she is supposed to do.

    The few stay at home moms I know also happen to be feminists. They are proud of what they do, because being a full time parent is as important as any other job. They chose this role because it is what worked best for their families, and they see no conflict in being homemakers and feminists. That being said, I have always thought simply calling it a choice was a little misleading. Not everyone who wants to be a stay at home parent gets to make that choice, and people who choses to work aren’t doing a disservice to their children. I worry that it contributes to the idea that women just get jobs for fun and spending cash, but men need jobs to support themselves and their families.

    I also feel it is obligatory to point out that the 50’s/60’s housewife model was not at all the norm for women for most of human history. Woman held many industrial/secretarial/housekeeping jobs during the industrial revolution, and before that women worked alongside their husbands as farmers/craftsmen/etc. It was only after the economy picked up after WWII that most families could suddenly survive on a single income.

    • smrnda says

      On another blog, one such traditional woman had this argument : her take was that since many women (if not most) preferred to work outside of the home, and that the dual income family is getting to be more the norm, that it was decreasing her odds of finding a man who wants to be the sole breadwinner while she was a home-maker with lots of kids.

      That seemed absurd to me. When it comes to partners, we all have preferences. The world can’t be said to owe anyone a perfect match.

  8. thecowardinme says

    so again I feel the need to thank you.

    -that the only women who get raped somehow deserved it (and men just don’t get raped, I guess, or they deserved it too?)- YES that is exactly what they think. Even the MRAs who love to claim they care about women raping boys, their response is always “why didn’t you just hit her” they are full of victim blaming…

    Suppose I should say, I was assigned male (I identify as non-binary now), and have been raped, molested, abused physically and verbally by women. I have been on the receiving end of violence from both genders, but sexual has only been from women, and while I only knew of the gender binary and what I was assigned to identify as, so essentially thinking, I am a male, so “this can’t be happening to me because I am male” is what went through my head, and what people told me for years. Yet… most would say I am a feminist, and plenty of people attack me for it that… I do not claim that title though, because well… I still look like a dude… no matter what I identify as, that is what people will see… and leaves me feeling I have no right to call myself something that women have fought, bleed, sweated, and died for the right to call themselves… Also many women have not reacted well to me telling my story “you deserve it” “good, finally one of you getting to feel it” “good for her, taking from you what your kind takes from us” has been thrown at me by other survivors who are women… and I totally understand… from my own experience, I understand the feelings that come after… I just never resented women… if anything, I resented men even more… because I saw, I saw the rape culture, I saw how it was because I was feminized by what happened in the eyes of those who fell in line with the white cis patriarchy, thus I was a bad thing… but it seemed… even worse than a woman who was, because they expect that, I was a monstrous freak that flew in the face of what they believed… but it also leads me to being hurt by a lot of feminist writing that says things like for example on one “male privilege checklist” it said ‘men raped, especially by women happened at numbers so low as to make such incidents negligible’ and well… when you see yourself called “negligible” your experience as a survivor of sexual assault as “so small or unimportant as to be not worth considering; insignificant.”.. that is kind of beyond painful… so it does lead me to question some feminist writers, as they talk about fighting against victim erasure, and treating victims with respect, but then call male victims insignificant. But then the majority of the time, it is pretty obvious they themselves are not survivors, as those who write such, tend to only use the word “victim” which… well when it comes to someone who survived sexual violence… calling them a victim… is kind of just victimizing them all over again… so not understanding that, I can see how they wind up saying what they do about male survivors. I will admit, I think a big part of it is the patriarchy and rape culture that leads to the numbers being so low, as rape is a self report action, and with how boys/men have it beat into them that men cannot be raped because they always want it, so it is impossible for a woman to rape (well and there was some second wave feminists who did say exactly that) a male, or that if it was a man who did it to a male, that it makes them less of a man… so taking into account what they are taught by society as it is now… I truly feel there are more out there like me. Just as there are female survivors who rationalize away what happened for their own survival, with what society teaches males… I feel there are likely many survivors out there, who have rationalized that it is not what happened, that they did want it, because it is the only option they often have, if they tell anyone, chances are if it is another male, they will get high fived and told how cool it was and that they should be happy, or simply told that it is impossible (like I was) and so come to the conclusion that the feeling of it being wrong, is wrong, and so it must have been something else. Could just me thinking I can’t be alone… especially the more I have talked about it in adult hood, the more who have then said to me… “I said no, but she just kept going, and my body reacted, so I must have wanted it, and went along with it… but…”… so even if because of my thought on that I cannot be a feminist, I totally 100% say feminism is needed, because it is the same enemy. And also, I see the catcalls, I see the friendzone BS, the “nice guy” bull… and well… as a survivor… I can;t help but call out men on it, because I see the same look those who took from me had in their eyes… the same words about “them owing” and “they know they want it”… the same words that where said to me… even if the gender of who said it was different, it was still an act that is socially masculine, it was taking that masculine power… and well… as masculine power is what is held up as the ideal, while feminine is put down, of course even women would want it. But in feminism, I see them fighting that…

    Wow I got off topic… I could delete all that… but… I think I will leave it… They are thoughts that have been going through my head for a while as I look deeper into feminism… and the patriarchy, and rape culture… and I see it being the same thing… but then… from the majority of feminist writing I have come across… this idea would seem to be against it… that I think the numbers are closer, it is just a matter of understanding and rationalization… I could be wrong… but the only way to ever know, is to help feminism win and tear apart the patriarchy, then other gender binary issues can be dealt with…

    anyway, my point was, again thank you. You are a writer who constantly does acknowledge the male victim. And that means a lot… to this coward… No one EVER DESERVES IT AND IT IS NEVER THEIR FAULT!

    Oh another thank you… your writing here is even anti-ableist! “The stronger person should move the couch.” Chronic pain, fused vertebra, etc etc etc… bascially disabled in invisible ways… One of the ways feminism is for the disabled, is it says that just as a woman who is strong is not less of a woman, a man who is physically “weak” is not less of a man (or human as if you look like a big strong man, but then are not, you are just plain less of human to many)! (Also, cooking is an awesome art form I love) “Sometimes the stronger person is male, sometimes not. Sometimes the person who is best suited for cooking is female, sometimes not. You should do what works.” means soooooo much to read.

    Your words are always put together in such an amazing way… nothing but empowerment behind them for those others seem to deem as less… but then I fall into the gender-queer/trans spectrum, and also am a person with disabilities… so I do fall into other categories you point out as also dealing with violence and injustice at higher levels… but not all writers seem to want to remember that. But in your writing, I have never felt that. Your words never feel ableist, you never actually feel to be erasing anyone… just…

    Thank you for being awesome…

    And I am sorry you have to deal with some of the kinds of comments your articles wind up with… I was foolish and read the hate filled comments filling the full articles comment section… that was frightening…

    I hope beyond hope…. this is only seen as positive, and none of it offends… I am always so scared to offend, upset, or trigger people… I am not really the assertive type… so I am beyond sorry if I do anything that upsets anyone… if i do, please other call me out on it, or just delete my comment… and I will get the message…

  9. says

    sparky_ca, I’m guessing the jar obsessed folks would want to know if you’re the “man” in your relationships, or something equally silly, before deciding if you can be a feminist and open jars.

  10. nrdo says

    Yeah, I tend to think that if you’re generically in favor of freedom and freedom of thought, then feminism flows naturally from that.

  11. Robert, not Bob says

    I’ve said this elsewhere, that a major problem is people allowing misogynists to define the word “feminism”. Letting your enemies define your terms is extremely foolish. It’s especially frustrating to see this in people who are clearly feminists themselves.

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