The internet is weird sometimes. These days, I try to keep my online activity to a minimum. I generally stick to academic articles, the Beyoncé version of 2048, and pictures of food on Yelp.
But every so often, I’ll see something that I find so ridiculous that the little flame in my belly — usually set on simmer — heats up to high.
The most recent arsonist is a Tumblr called Women against Feminism which I first saw featured on Buzzfeed. The website, as the name suggests, is an antifeminist site that suggests that feminists wish to be victimized and that rape culture is a myth.
On the site, there are many photos of women holding up cards explaining why they don’t support what they see as an unnecessary, misandrist (man-hating) revolution.
But did these posters ever think to look up the actual definition of feminism?
Just a reminder to the lovely ladies whose portraits are featured on the site, feminism is the belief that people of all genders are equal, and should be treated thusly.
If you don’t trust me, the Oxford dictionary provides a more thorough definition: “The advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men.”
On much of the site, many posters express that they have never been victims of oppression. Under a heading like “Why I am against feminism,” the author ties her grievances to the applications of feminism that they currently see in society. She might write that women and men already have equal rights and that feminists are always trying to “punish” men and give themselves “special privileges.”
By “special privileges,” does the author mean being able to speak out about sexual harassment in the workplace without fear? And by “punishment,” does the author mean stricter legal action about rape on college campuses?
Another bullet point explains that the patriarchy does not exist. If it did, the author writes, then women would not be able to “vote, divorce, go to college, have a career, etc.”
This is flawed thinking. While in the U.S. and much of the “Western” world, women are not legally barred from any of these things, many women across the world do not have access to these things. Thus, the author’s issues with feminism clearly lie in the Western world, and can’t be applied across the board.
On the site, the authors don’t provide any statistical evidence or data to back up their findings. Perhaps if a little research was done about the recent Hobby Lobby decision that allows companies to restrict women’s access to birth control based on religious reasons, the ongoing debate over abortion, and the startling number of sexual assault cases where the perpetrator is allowed to walk free, they might reconsider their claims that we live in an already equal society.
Instead, it seems that the majority of posts seem to come from interactions and subsequent disagreement with Tumblr feminists. And it seems that the posters take issue most with the way feminism has played out in the Western world, a place that they believe protects the rights of both men and women equally.
As a self-proclaimed feminist, I cannot help but see the flaws in their logic. The patriarchy is alive and well, and it is a double-edged sword.
It may restrict women from freedoms in some places and not others. Patriarchal mindsets affect not just women but also men. It creates a culture of insecure and anxious people who constantly feel the need to defend and prove themselves, their actions, the ways they chose to live life.
These women may claim that they don’t need feminism, but the rest of us know we do — and I’ll politely add that I think these women are mistaken.
We live in a culture where we applaud men for “teaching” women they’re pretty in popular songs, where a person’s integrity is questioned if they report being raped, where women of color and transwomen are more likely to be murdered than any other group in the United States. These are good enough selling points for me.
What about you? Do you need feminism?
Leave a comment to start a friendly debate.