Friday, July 3, 2009

"Anti-feminist Bingo."

This is "anti-feminist bingo." When having a feminist conversation with someone who "just doesn't get it," or in other words does not agree with the author, you are supposed to whip out this card and check off all the statements that your opponent has said. It is my opinion that precisely this author's attitude that leads towards a lot of the statements on the anti-feminist bingo card. Let's take a gander:

Before we even get to the Bingo card, the author says: "If you're a man trying not to be an arsehole in feminist conversations, but you seem to find yourself floundering and can't figure out why, you might like to scrutinise your comments critically to see if some of these messages are inadvertently coming across."

Clearly only men can be arseholes in a feminist conversation, because women are imbued with a natural inclination towards being good feminists. We're all just so supportive of our sisters, always! This is why women in the office do much better when they don't have a female boss, and why female directors in the theater biz are so much harsher on women playwrights than male directors. Women bosses are more likely to advance men over women than men bosses are. What the hell.

I count nine out of twenty-five statements that are not in fact "anti-feminist" in any way:

"But I like my women feminine!" Yes, everyone is entitled to an opinion about what traits they find attractive. Women spend a lot of time saying that they like their men some way or another, and feminists do not give them shit for it.
"Feminists have got it all wrong. I'm an equalist." In a lot of ways, I agree with this. "Feminism," theoretically, is the system of beliefs that women should have equal rights as men. That's not what the feminist movement is about anymore: now Western feminists are concerned with equal social treatment of women and the removal of social stigma surrounding women, which is- I'm just going to come right out and say it- not sufficient to remove sexism, genderism, or what have you. I see precious few feminists (but bless the precious few) who actually make a fuss about men being portrayed as big stupid lugs in the media, but I fail to see how that is any less important than women being portrayed as sex objects for the ultimate end goal of eradicating sexism.
"It's your job to teach me about feminism. Now do it." If you are having a conversation with someone about feminist issues, you are taking an authority position, and you are claiming that they "do not get it," then you have put yourself in a teaching position. You might notice that your "student" is not willing to learn, and that might be because you're refusing to talk to them on the level, probably claiming that as a woman you have a monopoly on gender issues and that he is being an "arsehole."
"Patriarchy hurts men too." It does. This is a common bone that feminists throw to men's rights activists and equalists who frequent the feminist blogosphere when they try to bring up men as victims of gender discrimination.
"Women just can't be objective about gender issues." NO, they can't! No one can! So, how does it make sense to give women the monopoly on gender issues, if they only represent one gender?
"You give feminists a bad name." Yes, author of this article, you do. You really, really do.
"You feminists all hate men!" While I would not put this on this list normally, after reading this post (particularly the quoted sentence at the top o' the page and the sexist assumption later down that only women can be raped and that only men can be rapists), I can definitely see where someone would get that idea after talking with you.
"I'll tell you what's wrong with feminism..." You know, it's possible, sometimes, for you to be wrong, author of this article. Please, instead of being frustrated that someone "does not get it," listen to them. They might be saying something that you've never thought of before.
"But I want to talk about this. Listen to me!" Isn't that exactly what you're saying? Yes. I thought so.

I wish people thought a little bit more about what they were saying sometimes.


  1. Not to make too big a deal of this, but your singling out the comment at the top is no lesser an act of "nitpicking" than my supposed crime in pointing out the Swedish woman's misrepresentation of Second Wave feminist figures the other day. Not that that makes it any less valid a criticism.

    Now, I'd like to respond to a few of your individual points.

    1. "But I like my women feminine!" Having a preference for a way others may act is no excuse for expecting to act that way. People are perfectly entitled to prefer or express preferences for the way others act, but they are not entitled to demand it of them. Thus, the motives for saying this must be questioned.
    2. "Feminists have got it all wrong. I'm an equalist." I have never met a feminist who claimed that feminism was the answer to perfect gender equality--just one side of it. It is not the responsibility of a feminist to spend exactly half their time to advocate for the others, as this and other frequent criticisms imply. There is nothing wrong with MRAs (or whatever you want to call them) advocating for men. What is wrong is the implication that feminists are not arguing for equality, because isn't that exactly what they want? Would you demand that an advocate for LGBT, black or any other subjectively oppressed group spend exactly half their time fighting for other sides? And, mind you, this is not even taking into account the fact that many of the issues feminists have are really just different subjective effects of the same underlying forces (e.g. women are stereotyped as child caregivers, and men are stereotyped as the reverse, causing their motives to be unfairly questioned around children).
    3. "Patriarchy hurts men too." This is not just "a bone they throw", it's an acknowledgement that many of the issues people of both genders have are the same ones! Would you simultaneously attack feminists for focusing only on women and deny them the right to state the opposite?
    4. "Women just can't be objective about gender issues." The veracity of this statement is not in question. The motives for stating it are: it implies that while women can't be objective about gender issues, men can. This is obviously no more true, for the same reasons that you mentioned.

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