Why I’m Not a Feminist
Nota Bene: Since writing this post, I have reconsidered the position outlined here. I’ve considered deleting this post, as it is really more an outburst of pained emotionalism than anything else, but have decided to leave it as part of a record of my intellectual development. See my calmer reassessment here.
So, I’ve been investigating feminism recently, as my last blog post, at least, shows. After reading quite a bit about it online, and in a couple books I picked up, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s not a political movement that I can support, and in fact, should oppose.
I don’t say that lightly. As I intimated in my last post, I’ve begun to see how pervasive and institutional sexism is. Even that statement is too simple. The only way I know how to describe my distress over the past couple of days is to compare it to Neo in the (first) Matrix. When Neo, after seeing the truth of the Matrix and his own rule in a system that dehumanizes every person he’d ever known, violently rejects it and begins to vomit, his reaction is a parallel to intense emotional pain I’ve been in for the last couple days. I haven’t been vomiting, but I have been tearing up several times a day. Not quite crying, though; so perhaps I’m not at the vomiting stage yet, but just before.
I presumed that feminists would be eager to help a man through this experience, and help him reconstruct his identity along anti-sexist lines. Unfortunately, I was wrong. Consider this quote from Feminism 101: “What it boils down to is this: Men, not women, need to be the ones creating the spaces to discuss men’s issues.” Surely it’s obvious that that idea promotes gendered thinking? Contrary to feminist rhetoric, it is, in fact, not a movement about ending sexism, but only about ending social barriers to women. And where does that leave a man whose whole identity has been stripped, forced to see how everything that he thought was good and just and true isn’t, if not gasping on the floor, calling for help, and watching the very women who led him into this state of affairs, walk on by, with no comment other than, “How do you like it?”
But the fact that feminism echoes the language of the supposed patriarchy to men by saying, “Be tough and deal with it yourself”, is only the tip of the movement’s sexism. Consider this statement by Tia: “Your opinion, as a man, about the extent and nature of the problem is not valuable when the specific problem pertains to women’s experience.” Experience is the only thing that matters to feminists. And not just experience, but women’s experience. Men literally do not matter. But Tia goes further. She also explains to men that our experiences, even if they did matter, are already known and, presumably, accommodated by women. “When you tell us about the male perspective on the issue…consider that we already understand.” Is it possible that some men also know the female perspective? Not according to feminism. “Simply because minority groups, coming from an insider perspective, are in a position to understand their issues in a way that privileged groups, as outsiders, never can.” This is clearly discrimination, this assumption that gender equals knowledge and insight, but discrimination against men, feminists say, is less important, perhaps even okay. “The same power dynamics that create privilege have created a hierarchy of prejudice so that discrimination against a privileged group is not the same as discrimination against a minority group.” This is, I suspect, the justification for preventing men to sue under anti-discrimination laws; it’s okay for men to be fired because of their sex, because our privilege is what allowed us to get work in the first place. This is a thought articulated by Michael Rosenfield, attempting to defend the injustice of Affirmative Action: “[R]emedial affirmative action does not take away from innocent white males anything that they have rightfully earned or that they should be entitled to keep.” The assumption behind this statement is that no white male could have earned anything without privilege. That is, white men are by nature inferior to women and minorities, and only an unjust social system keeps them from their rightful, subordinate place. Little wonder feminism has spawned a white supremacist backlash.
All of this conspires to create a situation where a woman speaking to a man can never be wrong. If he agrees with her, he’s a model of understanding; if he dares to disagree, she will quickly remind him of his place by saying the familiar refrain: “You’re a white male, and can’t understand.”
But in the real world, among people of genuine goodwill, sexism is sexism, regardless of the subject. In the case of feminist sexism towards men, it leads to post after post along these lines. Note how it is the woman who teaches the man about the nature of things, despite the title. One wonders what she learned from him. Perhaps how to reason a man into obedience to his subservience. Too strong? Consider this line from a pro-feminist paper on engaging men in feminist issues(note that this link is to a Word file):” This work must be done in partnership with, and even be accountable to, women and women’s groups.” Imagine what the reaction would be if we turned that statement around: “Feminism must be done in partnership with, and even be accountable to, men and men’s groups.” The fact that there is no doubt about the tone the reaction would take makes the sexism underlying the original statement clear.
It’s unfortunate that when I sought to reorganize my identity along more anti-sexist lines, feminists turned away. Unfortunate because it didn’t have to be this way; feminists do not have so many male supporters that the loss of one more is a trivial matter. But by being so intentional about hanging a “girls only” sign above the door to gender equality, they have marginalized themselves. This is probably for the best, considering the ways they have betrayed their own stated ideals.