Thursday, August 11, 2011

Feminism is Obsolete

Now that I have your attention…

Women have a long way to go before they are treated as equals in America. They don’t get paid enough, most maternity leave policies in this country are a joke, date-rape is actually winked at by most in law enforcement, abortion is under legitimate attack in many states, and the list goes on. The problem is, feminism has run its course, and it is time to retire it so we can usher in a movement that can finish the job.

There are two glaring problems with feminism, one linguistic and one cultural.

The name “feminism” is not very inviting to men, and that’s putting it politely. I can proudly wear a dress in public in front of people I know, but I cringe a little at calling myself a feminist from time to time. I agree with feminist goals, but the name is just not doing it for me.

I remember the first time I would say I was ideologically exposed to feminism. It was in a Junior year English class in my high school, and the teacher was explaining feminism in literature. She spent a good length of time fielding increasingly hostile questions from male students, most of whom took issue with her definition of feminism. I raised my hand and asked something to the effect of, “Does it have to be called feminism? Why not gender equality?”

I think by that point she was just sort of tired, so I got a smirk and a nod, and some flippant comment about how that might be more fair. Seeing her basically get bullied just trying to explain feminism sort of cemented my empathy for the movement from then on.

In fact, I married a feminist, a bona fide, professional feminist. I mean, she’s a professor of sociology, but I like to think of her as a professional feminist, though I still don’t like feminism as a whole.

And really, what does it matter?

'Tis but thy name that is my enemy;
Thou art thyself, though not a [feminist].
What's [feminism]? it is nor hand, nor foot,
Nor arm, nor face, nor any other part
Belonging to a [wo]man. O, be some other name!
What's in a name? that which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet […]

If it was name alone, I would say that men should just sack up and climb on board the feminist-train to Equality. The problem is… a few feminists are sometimes really annoying cunts. And I mean that in the crudest possible way.

Seriously, I have slagged off plenty of individual feminists for being absolutely repugnant human beings. Some women in feminist communities are just man-haters, and if you have a Y chromosome, they treat you like you’re Rush Limbaugh. There is no pleasing some of them, and the small minority who engage in this sort of behavior make feminism a very hostile setting for men (thus ruining the reputation of feminism unfairly). No guy wants to fight for the rights of someone who is accusing him of flaunting his privilege every five minutes.

Yes, I get it. I have a dick and I’m white. I honestly had nothing to do with it. I’m not sure what you want me to do about it, but you should know that while you were barking that lecture at me on the “evils” of my gender, you started developing some foam around your mouth. I’d get it for you, but I don’t want you to think I’m trying to rape you, since that seems to be the only thing on your mind.

There just isn’t any self-policing in the feminist community, and why should they? They are facing tough odds, and the last thing you do when outnumbered is start kicking people out. The problem is, from a long-term perspective, it would be better to shed the extremists in favor of wooing men into the cause.

So, I think feminism should be relegated to the status of an archaic social movement that is kept alive by whackjob extremists. We’ll call it a success and just acknowledge it’s time to move on.

My wife likes the term, “Equalitarian,” and I am inclined to agree, but I don’t think the specific name is as important as the goals. As long as no male or female designation is attached, I’m sure it will be fine.

As for what needs to be done in this “new” movement (I guess academics might see it as another wave of feminism, so be it), I think the primary aim needs to be including men in the gender debate, and for women to make a few concessions.

First of all, men have been butted out of feminism, so they’re bound to be rough around the edges. Don’t misinterpret ignorance for hostility.

Second, you need to stop shaming men for their gender. You won’t hurt our feelings (our egos are way too big for that to be possible), but you will drive some of the less patient among us to pontificate at great, boring length… and no one wants to deal with that.

Third, women need to give up some of their privilege. Women should have to register for the draft, and if a boat is going down, I want an equal chance on the life raft. Prostate cancer research funding should at least equal breast cancer research funding, and if we can figure out how, I think women should give men some extra years on our life-expectancy… I’m being told that the last one is impossible, but frankly, that’s just how I negotiate.

Basically, I don’t think there are many advantages women have to give up, but maybe putting a few on the table would drum up some support for what are more meaningful measures in the other direction.

Ultimately, women have done their part. With the support of men, I think it's possible to see an end to systematic gender discrimination in America, then it will be down to individuals. It’s really up to men to catch up at this point.

Ladies… please… *wheezing* slow down. I’m so out of shape… no wonder you live longer…

11 comments:

  1. This was the most entertaining thing I have read in a long time. I am also a big supporter of gender equality and I also do not think this has to equate to man-hating.

    Some people think if they are for women's equality, then they must be against the male. Those people are not for equality at all. The male is not your enemy.

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  2. Your wife sounds like a very wise woman :-)

    I've been on the "feminism" train for a long time without realizing the connotations that exist with that word--and you're right, for better or for worse, they do.

    Gender equality ... or even just "equality" in general ... is the way to go.

    But people are stupid ...

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  3. I'm all for changing the name just so we can stop having this conversation.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Jezebel had a post about just this thing today! Yes their content pretty much sucks nowadays, but I thought it was amusing.

    http://jezebel.com/5828798/

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  5. I'm all for changing the name just so we can stop having this conversation.

    Alana, for you, I promise to never mention it again. I think you must have read that same irrelevant point three times now in different posts. No one deserves that. Seriously, it is retired and now owns a Toyota dealership, and it's doing quite well for itself.

    I'm glad my wife caught it before anyone mentioned it in the comments, but I originally had "X chromosome" instead of "Y chromosome" as defining sex. I have really embarrassed my biology and genetics professors. Also, some changes to wording to more accurately portray fewer feminists as cunts (I think only a few are cunts sometimes, and none are cunts all of the time, so the wording had to get quite nuanced).

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  6. This reminds me of the whole "atheism is so horrible, let's not call ourselves that anymore" discussions. It only exists to create debate where there is none in order to distract from the issues at hand. I don't give a fuck what you call yourself or my movement, as long as you're on board with the goals that matter.

    I'm personally tired of people saying "dear god what about the menz?" and the response being "this is about women, yo!" The reason being, I'm neither. I'm not a man. I'm not a woman. I don't even exist to most people, and yet here I am, me and my gender, and I want gender equality too.

    So I don't care what you call it, as long as you spend your time doing something about it for people like me instead of sitting around wringing your hands over what to call it.

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  7. I don't give a fuck what you call yourself or my movement, as long as you're on board with the goals that matter.

    I agree, but you and I don't represent the general population, and we certainly don't echo the shallow view of most men who oppose feminism for frivolous reasons.

    So I don't care what you call it, as long as you spend your time doing something about it for people like me instead of sitting around wringing your hands over what to call it.

    I honestly don't care if it was called "Man-hating," I would still support things like equal rights for all people, regardless of what gender they choose to identify with. But again, that cosmetic change is something I recommend (and I already promised Alena, this is the last time I mention it) not for those already on board, but for those who are needlessly turned off by the name "feminism," when feminism has empirically benefited all genders, and continues to do so.

    And I will make an effort to include transgender and intersex individuals in my future discussions, because I support your struggle as well, but I am guilty of forgetting to include everyone explicitly.

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  8. I enjoyed that post alena shared. "Vagitarian", hehe.

    Thanks for your efforts to be more inclusive. I rage against the collective, not you in particular, though I have to say it was reading Beyonces comment earlier this week that really tipped me off. *facepalm*

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  9. I rage against the collective

    Those who are excluded have that tendency. I can't even imagine being a straight white male and all, but I am an atheist, so I get the tiniest inkling.

    And don't worry, I never feel insulted.

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