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Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Why I am not a feminist

"Civilized men are more discourteous than savages because they know they can be impolite without having their skulls split" - Robert E. Howard


Gabriel Seah's answer to Feminism: Why are you not a feminist? - Quora

"I believe in gender equality, but I am not a feminist. Primarily, this is because feminism (not in theory, but in practice) is not about gender equality.

Many people agree with me, which is why a 2013 poll found that "just 20 percent of Americans -- including 23 percent of women and 16 percent of men -- consider themselves feminists... asked if they believe that "men and women should be social, political, and economic equals," 82 percent of the survey respondents said they did, and just 9 percent said they did not" (Poll: Don't Call Me This (Even If It's True))

Camille Paglia sums up this apparently contradiction well: "You go out in the street, most women on the street have contempt for feminists. Why? It's because of the excesses of feminism"

Feminism is extremely problematic, but here are my main beefs with it (of course there're many sorts of feminists, but this is the general flavour of the contemporary movement that I've encountered, from those who openly and loudly identify as feminist; this also applies mainly to feminism in developed countries).

In summary,

1) Feminism is anti-male
2) Much of the feminist agenda is based on false facts
3) Feminism disrespects women
4) Feminism is obsessed about trivialities
5) Feminists are rude and unable to disagree gracefully

In detail:

1) Feminism is anti-male

Sure, feminists always say that what they are against is patriarchy, and not men. However, just as gay activists point out that "hate the sin, love the sinner" is problematic with respect to homosexuality (since there is an inevitable identification of the homosexual with homosexuality), men are inevitably associated with patriarchy.

Feminism loves to look at men at the top of society (politicians, CEOs, top earners etc) but ignore the men at the bottom (e.g. criminals, those who die early, successful suicides; at most ascribing their problems - like everything else wrong with the world - to 'patriarchy'). It seems to me that a group being over-represented at the bottom is a much worse problem than one being over-represented at the top (indeed, the over-representation of blacks in prison is taken as evidence of 'racism', even if the over-representation of men there is not considered sexism), yet feminists steadfastly only look at the latter (despite most claiming to believe in gender equality[1]).

[1] - Of course, a few feminists see no problem with this, saying that feminists should only fight for women's rights (one such I used to know proclaimed that it was problematic for a man to lecture a woman about feminism), but this seems unfashionable nowadays and most feminists pay at least lip service to gender equality for both sexes.

As a male, I inevitably get the term 'male privilege' thrown at me whenever I point out problems with feminism; the mere fact that I am a male means any disagreements I have with feminism are invalid. This is similar to how the Victorians considered women to be incapable of reason (albeit in a usually more limited domain - gender issues). This way of dismissing anything I might have to say is both disrespectful of me as a person and men as a whole, while also being intellectually dishonest, which is yet another problem with feminism - its lack of reflexivity (self-interrogation and questioning of assumptions); basically feminists have an air of infallibility.

Perhaps the most harmful manifestation of feminism's anti-male bias is seen in war. 97% of international NGOs studied didn't even mention male rape in war and some actively campaign to silence discussion of the issue, for fear that it could hurt women[The rape of men] and the deaths of male civilians in war is ignored, because everyone is focusing on women and children[Innocent Women And Children: Gender, Norms And the Protection of Civilians (Gender in a Global/Local World)].

We also have the White Ribbon Campaign which urges men to end violence against women - ignoring the fact that almost half of domestic violence victims are men[More than 40% of domestic violence victims are male, report reveals]. The campaign is symptomatic of a wider attitude which views women as victims and men as offenders (which is ironically itself anti-woman).

In November 2013, the feminist group in Singapore, AWARE, was proud that it got the Singapore Armed Forces to ban the lyrics of a popular marching song[SAF stopping the singing of ‘misogynist’ lyrics from marching song: AWARE]:

Booking out, see my girlfriend
Saw her with another man
Kill the man, rape my girlfriend
With my rifle and my buddy and me

They described their concern that soldiers "were bonding over misogynist lyrics about committing sexual violence against women". Note what they ignored: the fact that the man is killed (which I think is worse than being raped). So apparently it's okay to bond over violent lyrics about killing men - just not over those about raping women.

2) Much of the feminist agenda is based on false facts

One of feminists' favourite topics is the gender wage gap. However, they usually use the headline figure and then complain about discrimination, whereas more careful analysis reveals that when you compensate for various factors, the gap becomes small[Gender Wage Gap May Be Much Smaller Than Most Think]. In light of this, the designation of April 17 as "Equal Pay Day"[On Equal Pay Day, NOW Calls For Closing of Gender Wage Gap] (the day when women have to work until to earn as much as a man in the previous year) is deeply misguided at best and pernicious misinformation at worst.

Feminists claim that only 2% of rape accusations are false, but this is a dodgy figure with no reliable basis[The Truth behind Legal Dominance Feminism's Two Percent False Rape Claim].

Sometimes, there is deliberate lying. In the UK, it became common wisdom that the conviction rate for rape was six per cent, but this was misrepresentation of the statistics by treating rape differently from all other crimes (Rape conviction rate figures 'misleading').

It is telling that talking about facts can be considered a Bad Thing - a so-called "Derailing Tactic"(Derail Using Intellectualism - Derailing For Dummies).

3) Feminism disrespects women

This is primarily seen with pornography and prostitution, where most feminists deem that women are unable to consent to those activities. Some feminists also look down on homemakers[I Choose My Choice!] despite feminism supposedly being about choice. Women who disagree with feminism are also accused of false consciousness, of internalising the dominant paradigm (though usually not in those words)

It is telling that feminists hate Sarah Palin, Margaret Thatcher and other conservative women so much. Feminism claims to be about gender equality, but it only supports women who push a feminist agenda. Otherwise, you are viewed as a traitor to the cause. It is one thing to say that we need women in power (for equity reasons, to bring diversity into decision making etc.). It is another to say that we need people in power to push the feminist agenda. And wanting women in power to push the feminist agenda is even worse.

4) Feminism is obsessed about trivialities

In the developed world, feminists love to dig up trivial issues and pretend that they are major problems.

Besides being factually wrong (or at least questionable) assertions, these divert energy from real problems and are insulting to those who actually have real problems.

As Hanna Rosin puts it, "The closer women get to real power, the more they cling to the idea that they are powerless" (Feminists, Accept It. The Patriarchy Is Dead).

The AWARE triumph mentioned above is a good example. When feminists spend their time going after inconsequential matters such as song lyrics, you know that feminism is irrelevant. One is also inclined to ask: using the same logic, don't violent video games lead to violent crime? Not many people seriously argue this nowadays, and the moral panic about video game violence has ebbed (unless you are Jack Thompson).

As with the boy who cried wolf, the ruckus kicked up over trivialities just discredits feminism in the eyes of most, as we can see from the numbers supporting gender equality who do not call themselves feminist.

5) Feminists are rude and unable to disagree gracefully

As a final minor point, feminists like to call names and hurl accusations at those they disagree with, block them or censor them (Why has feminism become obsessed with censoring 'the enemy'?  - Telegraph).

This doesn't reflect well on them and the movement.


In conclusion, there are some valid points that feminists have, but they are overshadowed by the baggage and irrelevancies of the whole movement.

Two wrongs don't make a right.

If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail."
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