Richard Dawkins: you’re wrong. Deeply, profoundly, fundamentally wrong. Your understanding of feminism is flawed and misinformed, and further, you keep returning to the same poisonous wells of misinformation. It’s like watching creationists try to rebut evolution by citing Kent Hovind; do you not understand that that is not a trustworthy source? It’s a form of motivated reasoning, in which you keep returning to those who provide the comfortable reassurances that your biases are actually correct, rather than challenging yourself with new perspectives.
Just for your information, Christina Hoff Sommers is an anti-feminist. She’s spent her entire career inventing false distinctions and spinning fairy tales about feminism. That whole “gender feminist” vs. “equity feminist” thing? It’s like microevolution vs. macroevolution. It’s an allusion to a real distinction, mangled into an unrecognizable mess, and presented as a rhetorical tool to permit attacks on the whole idea: “Oh, I believe in X, but not Y”. Doesn’t this sound at all familiar to you? It’s the whole standard creationist set of tropes, repackaged to support a dogmatic status quo!
And yet you persist in presenting these anti-feminist caricatures as reasonable. You say you are a feminist, and even find feminism an undeniable virtue, but at the same time you parrot absurd anti-feminist remarks. Like this one, for example:
.@MhaskarChief With a certain kind of feminist, of course. Not with feminists who truly respect women instead of patronising them as victims
— Richard Dawkins (@RichardDawkins) September 12, 2014
With a certain kind of feminist, of course. Not with feminists who truly respect women instead of patronising them as victims
Who are these mysterious patronizing feminists? They don’t actually exist. You are echoing a strategy of denial: you approve of feminists, but not the ones who actually point out sexist problems in our culture, or fight against discrimination, or point out that they’ve been raped, or abused, or cheated in the workplace, or any of the other realities of a sexist culture. This is what anti-feminists say: be quiet about the problems. If you mention the problems, you are perpetuating the sisterhood of oppression, you are playing the martyr, you are being a pathetic victim who must be treated with contempt.
But if no woman speaks out about the problems, how will we ever know to correct them? If we shame every victim for being a victim and daring to reveal her victimhood, it becomes very easy to pretend that there is no oppression.
I know. I’ve been there. At every revelation of the hardships women face, I’ve said “No! I’ve never seen that!”, at first. And then the evidence pours in. Women’s names on papers reduces their chances of publication. Women drop out of the science pipeline at a greater rate than men, and are underrepresented in the higher ranks of the professoriate. Conferences are held with all-male or mostly male speakers, and organizers say that they just couldn’t find qualified or interesting women to speak…sometimes right to the faces of qualified, interesting women.
And over time, “No! I’ve never seen that!” has slowly transformed into “How could I be so blind?” and eventually, “What can we do to change this?” My consciousness was raised. I started to realize that pretending the problem doesn’t exist perpetuates it, and that if I want to change the culture, I can’t do it by wallowing in the delusion that equality exists already. You have to confront it. You have to demand change. You have to stand up for a cause and speak out.
You know this. That’s the attitude that drove your outspoken atheism. I only hope that someday you wake up to this same need within feminism, and a day in which you don’t feel the need to qualify what kind of feminist you’ll support with a false claim that there are these weird radical feminists who don’t respect women.
And perhaps someday you’ll stop retweeting people who perpetuate that myth, that there are unsupportable “radical feminists” who must be ostracized because of some unspecified horror in their ideas.
— Miranda Celeste Hale (@mirandachale) September 12, 2014
— Dörte Faatz (@Bitch2410) September 12, 2014
— Sophie Reddy (@sophie_reddy) September 12, 2014
— Zee Mhaskar (@MhaskarChief) September 12, 2014
Think about all the times you’ve been called a “radical atheist” or “radical” or “revolutionary” or “militant” evolutionist over the years. Did you ever stop and think, “Oh, my, I must have gone too far; perhaps I should be less outspoken in defense of my ideas.”? Do you even know what a “radical evolutionist” could be? Perhaps someone who actually thinks that no deity is required to explain the history of life on earth, and finds natural mechanisms enthralling and fascinating. Which is what you are.
It’s pretty much the same feeling I get when someone denounces me or my friends as “radical feminists”. It’s an attempt to tar a standard, rational position with an emotional word that has lost all meaning, other than to declare that the writer doesn’t like this feminism stuff, no sir, it’s too extreme.
Just a suggestion: read Amanda Marcotte’s take on “radical feminism”.
There is no such thing as a “radical feminist” anymore.
Don’t get me wrong! There was. In the 60s and 70s, there were radical feminists who were distinguishing themselves from liberal feminists. Radical feminists agreed with liberal feminists that we should change the laws to recognize women’s equality, but they also believed that we needed to change the culture. It was not enough to pass the ERA or legalize abortion, they believed, but we should also talk about cultural issues, such as misogyny, objectification, rape, and domestic violence.
In other words, what was once “radical” feminism is now mainstream feminism.
Read that second paragraph carefully. Is there anything you disagree with in that? If not, then welcome, you’re a radical feminist, too. And could you please stop supporting reactionary anti-feminists? Thanks.