Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Feminism R.I.P.

[UPDATE: since writing the post below, I've encountered a number of women on Twitter who are proud, outspoken feminists but who reject the misandrist, all-women-are-helpless-victims feminism I wrote about in this post. I would mention in particular @KelsTheSecular and @AtheistMel among others. This is very encouraging.]

First of all, be sure to read Katie's take on feminism, which is long but well worth reading.

Up to a few years ago, if you asked me if I was a feminist, I would have answered without hesitation: "Of course. Isn't every decent person?" At that stage I bought into the idea that feminism was simply about equality for women, and nothing more. I would have been startled to learn that no man can ever be a feminist, and he should just shut up and listen to women instead of mansplaining. I had yet to be exposed to "Schrödinger's Rapist", Patriarchy theory, male privilege theory and what not.

For me, the red pill moment was when Elevatorgate hit the fan. Wading through the comments in PZ Myers' infamous "Always name names!" post on Pharyngula, I was simply stunned by the sheer mouth-foaming hatred against men - all men. And things went rapidly downhill from there.

Now, I'm aware that there are different schools of feminism. But by far the loudest (if not the largest) is a virulent, doctrinaire, dogmatic strain that has been festering away in the ivory towers of womyn's studies departments for years, nourished by Dworkinesque misandry and dedicated to the radical notion that all men are rapists and that maleness itself is "toxic".

Some extreme radical feminists even call for the elimination of all men, or at least for their numbers to be drastically reduced and the survivors to be made "manageable" somehow. I know such feminists are outliers, but the fact that they get away with openly calling for "gendercide" against men is extremely troubling. Obviously if the genders were reversed, they would be condemned as dangerous lunatics and dealt with.

I'm also seeing more and more women who are alienated by the ideology that all women are eternal helpless victims who are lacking in agency and should be relieved of all responsibility for their actions - "slut walks" being an obvious example. In a nutshell, radical feminism criminalizes men, infantilizes women, and harms and insults both.

When this is the public face of feminism today, it's no wonder that 70% of women decline to label themselves feminists. We can't use the "No True Feminist" gambit - there is no "true" feminism, just (as in any other social movement) different memes that evolve, interact, and grow and shrink in popularity. Right now I would have to say that feminism's brand has been irreparably damaged by the excesses of the radfems.

If you're male and you are sympathetic to equality for women, but you get screamed at that you're a rapist and a privileged oppressor simply because of your genitalia, it's hard to maintain your level of sympathy. And if you're female but you don't march in 100% lockstep with the party line, then of course you're a gender traitor. I regularly see women being dogpiled on by the radfems because they want to be homemakers or sex workers, or they enjoy PIV sex or straight sex in general, or they make some other personal choice that isn't ideologically approved. When did feminism become all about controlling and restricting other women's choices?

I remain firmly committed to equal rights, respect and responsibilities for women, and for all human beings, but I can no longer call myself a feminist. If feminism is just about gender equality, why does it have a gender-specific name? I understand the historical reasons for this, but I'm increasingly uneasy with the us-vs.-them, single issue, zero-sum implications of the name. This is why I'd rather call myself a humanist or an egalitarian than a feminist.

Also, I am even more adamant about treating people as individuals, and I reject the repellant collectivism and reductionism of the atheism-plus-style feminists who treat people as nothing more than categories - male, female, straight, gay, cis, whatever. The idea that a homeless man sleeping in the gutter is more privileged than the queen of England is simply laughable. It seems to me that the overwhelming majority of cases of "male privilege" are actually wealth privilege that hurts men as often as women.

Feminism has had its day. It did great things in its time and had some very impressive and courageous women among its ranks. But now it is being rendered toxic by the extremism of the radfems who refuse to acknowledge that any progress has been made at all, even as they make things more and more unfair for men in certain areas (child custody disputes, rape accusations at some colleges, and so on).

Rest in peace, feminism. Now let's see men and women of goodwill working together to protect everyone's rights. Forward to the future: Humanism!


  1. 'the overwhelming majority of cases of "male privilege" are actually wealth privilege'

    Seems so painfully obvious. Is there any line of reasoning you can engage, not a radfem but perhaps a sympathizer, to get this point across?

  2. " If feminism is just about gender equality, why does it have a gender-specific name? " Exactly! It's feminism (an inherently feminine word) pitted against patriarchy (an inherently masculine concept).