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Zombie Feminism

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Nursing Clio is honored to have Andrea Lowgren as a guest author today. Andrea is a full-time faculty member at Portland Community College where she teaches history and women’s studies. When she’s not teaching, her most obsessive hobbies include road biking, vegetarian cooking, and competitive same-sex ballroom dancing.

The news media love to ask the question: is feminism dead?  A quick google search finds literally millions of hits for the phrase. Yet despite the supposed death of feminism, gender equality has become strangely mainstream even while misogyny continues. Today’s sexism is sneaky and overt; while violence against women continues and people still ask female presidential candidates for cookie recipes, one is also hard-pressed to find someone respectable who will go on record arguing that women should not be given equal pay or have the right to run for office.

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Honestly, feminism has an image problem.  Though many people agree with its tenets, relatively few embrace the label and the identity. The conservative Washington Times recently reported that “among women, 38 percent consider themselves feminists.” Many women who reject the label primarily oppose two related characteristics associated with feminism:  man-hating and unattractiveness. These fears are not surprising.  Since girls and women are socialized to believe that their worth lies primarily in their beauty and their motherhood, it takes a certain amount of audacity to insist on women’s value regardless of their relation to men.  In doing so, women encounter significant risk – accusations of lesbianism.  Not surprisingly, homophobia fuels feminist-bashing.

I find that when I talk frankly with people about the actual definition of feminism, few are able to rationally disagree.  Feminism is simply “an intellectual commitment and a political movement that seeks justice for women and the end of sexism in all forms.”[1]  Is that so hard to embrace?  If so, try this one from Carol Gilligan: “I see feminism as one of the great liberation movements in human history. It is the downloadmovement to free democracy from patriarchy.”[2] Part of the problem is that despite simple dictionary definitions and ones that appeal to American patriotism, there are many versions of feminism.  Honestly, is this really a problem? As lauded poet Adrienne Rich wrote, “How shall we ever make the world intelligent of our movement? I do not think that the answer lies in trying to render feminism easy, popular, and instantly gratifying. To conjure with the passive culture and adapt to its rules is to degrade and deny the fullness of our meaning and intention.”[3]  And yet, there is a new movement afoot to attempt that very idea to make feminism popular, but, in a satisfying paradox, meaningful also.

In 2012 16 students at Duke University, as part of their final assignment in a class  titled Women in the Public Sphere, started an online activism project called “Who Needs Feminism?” in which young people post photos of themselves holding signs that explain the continued applicability of feminism in their lives. In other words, despite the media’s continual denial of the relevance of feminism, young women and men are finding ample reason to embrace the supposedly antiquated social justice movement that is feminism.  In the era of social media, this campaign has gone viral; there is now a website, a Facebook page, many YouTube videos, and a Tumblr page.  Despite, or perhaps because of its popularity, the campaign has also inspired vandalism and even an anti-feminist website mocking the movement.

Ridiculing feminism is nothing new.  In the 19th century, suffragists, women working for the right to participate in democracy, were mocked as suffragettes.  When –ette  (from the French) is added to the end of the word it makes it small, and feminine, e.g. bachelorette, Rockette, Smurfette. Political cartoons from the period made fun of women’s suffrage by scaring the public with the potential of emasculated men. What’s the worst thing you could do to a man?  Make him do “women’s work.” The link between man-hating and feminism has a long history.

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When activist women in the 1960s started to argue for women to be added to the paradigm of liberation, critics called them “Women’s Libbers” to belittle the Women’s Liberation Movement.   One of the most famous feminist epithets comes from this era: the bra-burning feminist.  The real story behind that phrase comes from a protest against the 1968 Miss America Pageant. Female participants in various anti-war and civil rights movements decided to refocus their efforts to address sexism.  A group called New York Radical Women organized a demonstration against what they called the “degrading Mindless-Boob-Girlie Symbol.” They held signs comparing women’s bodies to cuts of beef and crowned a live sheep to make the comparison to livestock auctions. Part of the demonstration included a Freedom Trash Can, in which they threw mops, pots and pans, magazines, false eyelashes, high-heeled shoes, curlers, hairspray, makeup, and girdles — all items the protestors called “instruments of female torture.”[4] The Untitledprotestors intended to set the trashcan on fire, but were prohibited from doing so by a police department order.  Nevertheless, a news story by Lindsay van Gelder in the New York Post carried the headline “Bra Burners and Miss America,” which, of course, embedded the image permanently into the American consciousness.[5]  In reality, many women find their bras useful instruments of exercise rather than tools of oppression, but that subtlety seems to have evaded popular culture.

The ridicule didn’t end there.  In the 1980s and 90s a backlash against feminism took the U.S. by storm.  Conservative icon Rush Limbaugh popularized the word “feminazi” in the early 1990s to further insult the movement.  Honestly, what better way to smear your opponent than to associate them with the Nazis?  It worked.  Feminazi entered popular vocabulary.  Limbaugh went even further, proclaiming that “feminism was established to allow unattractive women easier access to the mainstream,” thus smearing feminism as merely the revenge of ugly women.[6]  Similar statements from fellow religious right spokesman, Pat Robertson, failed to achieve the popularity of feminazi but nevertheless illustrate the derision of feminism in certain corners of American culture: “The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.”[7] Who would voluntarily associate themselves with such a movement?

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Many, it turns out.  Despite pundits arguing in the late 1990s about post-feminism — the idea that gender equality had been achieved so feminism was no longer necessary —  new generations continue to reject popular culture and identify as feminists.  These young people sometimes argue with their elder feminists and reorganize priorities, but they still find the feminist identity useful.  In addition to the “Who Needs Feminism?” campaign, there are “This is what a feminist looks like” t-shirts, popular blogs for young women like Feministing, and several books trying to make feminism hip, young and modern.[8]  Try Full Frontal Feminism by Jessica Valenti. I’ve also heard many arguments that women ought to let go of the word feminist and embrace humanism in order to find equality, but it appears that the realities of misogyny are tangible enough that feminism continues to rise from the dead.  Maybe with the current popularity of zombie movies women can capitalize on feminism’s resilience.  Zombie Feminism anyone?

Brains! We have . . . brains!

We have . . . brains!

To me, one of the most unfortunate aspects of popular culture’s derision of feminism is in overshadowing legitimate critique.  For example, many women of color associate feminism as a white woman’s movement, and indeed, feminism has a history of racism and colorblindness.[9]  At the same time, active anti-racism has been practiced by feminist organizations, women’s studies classes, and feminist scholarship for decades.  And dismissing feminism as lily white also effectively mutes myriads of smart, vocal feminists of color like bell hooks, Gloria Anzaldúa, Rebecca Walker, and Paula Allen Gunn, just to name a few.   This complicated relationship between gender and race oppression should be the topic of feminist discussion, instead of defense against angry, hairy, man-hating stereotypes.

UntitledArguably feminism also needs more feminist role models in mainstream culture instead of academia.  Gloria Steinem should not be the only name that comes to mind when asked to name a famous feminist.  Part of the problem is that many strong, smart celebrities aren’t willing to associate themselves with the word.  Most of them sort of take on the I’m not a feminist, but I believe in gender equality trope. Just a couple of examples: Katy Perry, Penelope Cruz, Carrie Underwood, Susan Sarandon, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Beyonce, Madonna and Sandra Day O’Connor. But, the ranks of the self-identified feminist celebrities are growing; Amy Poehler, Queen Latifah, Sheryl Sandberg, Salma Hayek, Lena Dunham, Ellen Page, Geena Davis, Toni Collette, Julianne Moore, Keira Knightly, Zooey Deschanel, Ruth Bader Ginsberg, Sonya Sotomayor, and Meryl Streep are all self-identified feminists. That a few big names are missing (Michelle Obama, Ellen Degeneres, Oprah Winfrey) is disappointing, but ultimately feminism is a grassroots movement.  As these student groups embrace feminism personally, specifically, and courageously, they yet again resurrect feminism from its supposed demise and in doing so, give us all hope for a world of equality and justice.

Who needs feminism?  I do.

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[1] Sally Haslanger, Nancy Tuana, and Peg O’Connor, “Topics in Feminism” The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

[2] Carol Gilligan, “The Sixties and the 2008 presidential election,” The Sixties: A Journal of History, Politics and Culture 2:1 (2009).

[3] Adrienne Rich, On Lies, Secrets, and Silences (New York: Norton, 1995).

[4] Robin Morgan. “No More Miss America” Redstockings. 22 Aug. 1968.

[5] Lindsay Van Gelder, “The truth about bra-burners,” Ms. (September/October 1992),  80–81.

[6] Rush Limbaugh, in “35 Undeniable Truths of Life,” Sacramento Union (1988)

[7] 1992 Iowa fundraising letter opposing a state equal-rights amendment. “Equal Rights Initiative in Iowa Attacked”, Washington Post, 23 August 1992.

[9]  Sharin N. Elkholy gives a good overview of this complex history in “Feminism and Race in the United States” from the Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, including an extensive reading list.

25 Comments Post a comment
  1. Tiffany K. Wayne #

    An excellent overview! I love how you tied the current assumptions and critiques into this longer history. It is at once heartening and frustrating that we have to keep going over and justifying and restating these goals. Your final photo/sign sums it all up, though!

    July 29, 2013
  2. “In the 19th century, suffragists, women working for the right to participate in democracy, were mocked as suffragettes.”

    A large number of political and religious labels begin as derisory insults — Levellers, Tories, Whigs; Quakers, Methodists. They can be embraced and subversively appropriated. This is what happened in Britain with “suffragette”.

    It was quickly adopted as the name of the more radical and militant arm of the women’s suffrage movement. It was a thousand suffragettes who were imprisoned, many of them going on hunger strike, not the more mild-mannered constitutional suffragists, who deplored the radical actions of the suffragettes, many or most of whom were socialists. I think it was the suffragettes who were the first political prisoners to be subjected to force feeding.

    The conflict was focused on the difference between the Women’s Social and Political Union (Suffragettes, socialists) and the National Union of Women’s Suffrage Societies (Suffragists, liberals). The one was associated with working-class activism, with lawbreaking, with guilt free lesbianism and promiscuity, as in the case of the Pankhurst familty. The other with respectable attempts to persuade the Liberal Party, as in the case of Millicent Fawcett.

    Here is a webpage for British schoolchildren which includes archived letters by the leaders of constitutional suffragism condeming the militant suffragettes.

    http://www.nationalarchives.gov.uk/education/britain1906to1918/g4/cs3/g4cs3.htm

    July 29, 2013
  3. ” active anti-racism has been practiced by feminist organizations, women’s studies classes, and feminist scholarship for decades”

    But is this enough? Did standpoint epistemology of feminists really embrace all the oppressed, any more than that of the Frankfurt School did? And integrate their viewpoints?

    July 29, 2013
  4. Reblogged this on raff111's Blog and commented:
    WE ALL NEED A Zombie Feminism

    July 31, 2013
  5. Reblogged this on dyingtodeviate and commented:
    In insightful article which inspired me to participate in the Who Needs Feminism campaign:
    fd573f21-89b5-4575-8687-8f9c570cb9e8_zps28c6c13e.jpg

    August 9, 2013
  6. “Honestly, feminism has an image problem. Though many people agree with its tenets, relatively few embrace the label and the identity.”

    So many of the achievements of earlier generations of committed men and women have been taken as part of the natural order, by those who are not involved with the history of women. That is excellent in some respects. However, it undermines the understanding of feminism as both a continuing struggle, involving contrasting views and priorities, around a wide and changing range of issues and feminism as a heuristic position for understanding the lives of both men and women, both privileged and disadvantaged,

    Who today would argue for the repeal of Married Women’s Property Acts and the return of coverture? Who recalls the work of the 19th-century freethinkers, such as the writings of Harriet Taylor and John Stuart Mill, or the agitation of Fanny Wright and Robert Dale Owen’s changing of Indiana’s divorce laws? Who remembers the agonized letters from young married women to Marie Stopes, appealing for help with their ignorance about sex? Apart from a few eccentric conservatives, who today would reject women’s suffrage or their right to attend university?

    Even the achievements of the second wave have mostly become naturalized and the struggles forgotten. Until the current dominance of the Republican Party by extreme radicals, the debates about abortion, contraception and women’s sexuality seemed old news to middle-class young women. They thought they they were going to graduate onto a more or less level playing field and, to some extent, they were, if one ignored the condition of the poor women whom most of them had never knowingly met. Child marriage, honor killings and FGM were faraway problems for someone else to address.

    If the good name of feminism is to be recovered, it will surely be making strong but not hyperbolistic links, between seemingly individual issues in the US and the other rich countries which reach through to lives of all women, issues that affect milions of poor women, and issues that are endemic in some other parts of the world. The personal, the national and the global have to be tied together once more, in more sophisticated and thus less easily mocked ways than they were before. The semi-slavery of women in Chinese factories making shoes of iPhones is intimately linked to the lack of healthcare of poor women in Wal-Mart stores, for example, and the impoverishment of entire areas.

    August 9, 2013
    • Dan #

      Except it is not simply poor women making products or being underpaid workers.

      December 5, 2013
  7. Nate #

    Feminism does have a Image problem, but having some movie stars and singers will not help the cause. The problem is that for what 40 years feminists have been waging a war on men. They are using there political movement to hurt men. Think about what has happened with Title IX . Title IX has been used to discipline students in schools , and Colleges. Because of Title IX Colleges don’t need 100% proof that a crime has been committed . All they need is the word of the woman. Look what happened at Duke University to the Men on the Lacrosse team. A woman said she was raped by these men, and every feminists on campus signed a petition claiming they were guilty before the facts were even known. This is happening all the time, on many campuses !! Feminism discriminates against men and boys. They again used there political power to pass the VAWA . Are men not victims of abuse?? But yet there is no place for abused men and boys to turn too. On College campuses every college has a Women’s study center, a queer resource center, but yet there is nothing for men. The scholarships on college campuses has scholarships for women, minorities, and gays , and lesbians !!! There is not one single scholarship for men through the colleges. There maybe scholarships for men, but the schools will never tell you about them. As long as there are women getting there PHD’s and writing distortions on how men have ruined the world , and this kind of stuff then feminism will have a image problem. Feminism is suppose to be about getting women equal rights as men , but it has turned in to much more then that. Instead of empowering women to be better women feminism has made women in to victims, and man hating women. There are women out there that believe that women are discriminated against just for being women, and oppressed for being women !! As long as there are women’s studies classes taught where every bad thing that has happened to a woman is because of men, as long as the rape culture exists that says men are evil just for being men, and that every man that has a dick has/ will hurt a woman. This is the same type of attitude that people had in the 60’s twords African Americans!! The Jim Crow laws said that African Americans were bad/ evil people just because they were black. This is basically how feminists view men. Some people have argued that there are two types of feminists. There are your gender feminists , and there equal opportunity feminists. Gender feminists are the hard core feminists the ones that give all feminists a bad name . They are ones that believe in the rape culture , they believe men are out there discriminating against women just because they are women. which is false.Until this stops feminism will continue to decline , and people will eventually get sick of it and the government will stop funding it !!

    December 2, 2013
    • There are far too many misunderstandings and distortions, clearly taken from right-wing websites rather than observation, for it to be worthwhile dissecting them all.

      However, before you go to college, you ought to learn the difference between (a) their, (b) there, and (c) they’re. It’s solecisms such as that which are apt to set the teeth of conservative professors on edge.

      December 3, 2013
      • Nate #

        David ,

        Maybe you are right , but you get the jest of what i am saying !! Having famous people claiming to be feminists will not help improve their image. As long as they continue to get laws passed that hurt men/ boys, and won’t stand up and stop the hate speech the hardcore feminists are writing about and teaching women in colleges!! Feminism is a political movement based on the hatred of men. Feminism is not better than the KKK. They KKK at one time was embedded in our society, and our government, until one day people woke up.

        December 3, 2013
      • Dan #

        Not really. Those are exactly the abuses that are occuring in the name of feminism today. There are the occasional feminist voices that express their horror at what is going on, but the vocal mainstream is no longer about freedom and equal rights.

        December 5, 2013
      • Nate — ” Having famous people claiming to be feminists will not help improve their image.”

        The Republican Party’s attempts to gag its candidates, to avoid outraging women voters, will not improve their image.

        “As long as they continue to get laws passed that hurt men/ boys,”

        What laws would those be? The only relevant new laws that I have noticed are intended to restrict the rights of women.

        “and won’t stand up and stop the hate speech the hardcore feminists are writing about and teaching women in colleges!!”

        I am far from sure what you have in mind, or what college courses these might be. However, how would you compare such speech, criticism or analysis with the kinds of speech which demeans women that we see in the media, pop culture and on the Internet, either in quantity or in virulence?

        “Feminism is a political movement based on the hatred of men.”

        As most feminists, overwhelmingly, are heterosexuals, with beloved sons, husbands, fathers and boyfriends, this seems hard to credit. I can see that some might see the position of radical lesbian separatists in such terms, but that can hardly be taken as a representative position. The predominant position among US feminists seems to be moderately liberal. In Europe, it would be social democratic.

        “Feminism is not better than the KKK.”

        Would this be the first, second or third KKK? Presumably the second, of the interwar years. I have yet to hear of feminist groups engaged in lynching or whatever the equivalent of crossburning would be. Feminists don’t seem to have taken over any states, as the KKK did in Indiana, for example. They fought pitched battles on the streets of South Bend, when they tried to invade the University of Notre Dame, as part of their campaign to intimidate Catholics. I don’t recall feminists fighting in the streets of any university towns.

        December 10, 2013
  8. Dan #

    The attacks on free speech, demands to do away with due process, calls for women to essentially be treated as incapable of deciding things for themselves and taking responsibility for their own poor choices, men as guilty until proven innocent and general opposition to personal freedom are things that give feminism a bad name. Women need to speak strongly against these things otherwise and take back feminism as the idea that they’re entitled to equal opportunity and that women should be treated as adults.

    December 5, 2013
    • That is both non-specific and repetitive. Broadbrush generalities tend to sound paranoid.

      I fail to see any campaign by feminists on anything like the scale of the current anti-feminist campaign being carried on by sectors of the Religious Right and the Republican Party.

      You feel oppressed by propaganda? How do you think the Girl Guides feel? You feel that the law is being used against you? How about the staff and patients of all the clinics that are being closed down? I could go on. All day.

      December 10, 2013
  9. I don’t think anyone has a problem with the Women’s Rights Movement, particularly as it was envisaged by Betty Friedan. But people do have a problem with feminism, however. And quite rightly, as feminism does at times morph into some kind of weird, quasi-mystical, superstitious, goddess-worship. It’s also anti-science and anti-scholarship, which is the disinterested pursuit of knowledge.

    December 6, 2013
    • David Harley #

      The complexities of early second-wave feminism are too convoluted for discussion here. However, it is certainly not the case that even the basic project of Friedan and NOW is now no longer opposed.

      A case in point is the continuing opposition to the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, support for which had been part of the Republican party platform from 1940 until it was removed in 1980. It stalled, three states short of ratification.

      The original 1923 version read “Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.” The 1943 version read “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

      Two key Supreme Court decisions, Griswold v. Connecticut, 381 U.S. 479 (1965) and Roe v. Wade, 410 U.S. 113 (1973), which established rights to contraception and abortion, were decided by 7-2 majorities. The justices are now denounced as activist liberals and their argument, based on a right to privacy, is denounced as fraudulent. Many Republicans across the US are working hard to roll back both abortion and contraception.

      “feminism does at times morph into some kind of weird, quasi-mystical, superstitious, goddess-worship.”

      Neo-paganism has no necessary connection with feminism. Some groups are dualistic, others postulate only a goddess. However, they treat their myths as metaphors, not as ultimate truths and not in conflict with science, and they do not seek to enforce their beliefs through legislation. In such respects, they are markedly different from the far more numerous groups of the Religious Right.

      “It’s also anti-science and anti-scholarship, which is the disinterested pursuit of knowledge.”

      Feminism is not necessarily anti-science or anti-scholarship. Feminist perspectives have proved valuable in many disciplines. The study of biology, psychology or economics is no more value-free than is the study of history or literature.

      There is no disinterested pursuit of knowledge, whether or not we see the influences of language, politics, religion, social structure, and so on. We have nowhere to stand to see the world as if we were not part of it. We bring our interests to bear on the subjects which we have chosen, following our interests and directed by them.

      If we are scrupulous, we test our ideas against those of others and we scrutinize the ways in which our interests are shaping our use of data. There is no theory or ideology, whether external or internal to their field of study, which does not have partisans unable to engage in such discipline, because longstanding assumptions are often unchallenged until some new perspective is brought to bear.

      December 9, 2013
  10. Nate #

    Even in some of the most conservative states like Utah , Wyoming. People are all for women getting the same pay as men if they do the same job as a man, and equal protection for women as men. The things they are against is the special rights , and entitlements that women think they need. If women really want to be equal to men, and gain there respect then they need to take there licks just like men do !! There are only a handful of women out there that people would consider to be fem-Nazi’s, but these women give everyone a bad name. Some people think that feminists are broken into two categories. Equality feminists, and gender feminists. Equality feminists are the normal everyday women that want equal pay , and equal protection just like men get. Gender feminists are the bad ones they are the hard core feminists. The fem-Natzi’s . They believe that women are oppressed by men just for being women. They are the kind of women that don’t shave their legs to protest looking good for women. These are the women that give the feminists movement a bad name .Until the stereo types of the man hating , no shaving image of feminists the public , and the media will not get on board . Most people when they think of feminists they think of lesbians with short hair, and hairy legs and arm pits !! Feminist need to stop waging war on men, and learn to understand men , and try to get men on board. Men are not the enemy of women. Women have done this too them self’s. If women were not writing dissertations on how men have ruined the world , as long as women keep there victim mentality , and use words like patriarchy . Feminism will continue to decline !! Feminists are no better then the racists in the south in the 1960’s that said African Americans are bad/ evil people just because they were African Americans. This is the same way Feminists view men. Men are bad/ evil for being men.

    December 9, 2013
    • Meghan #

      So, Nate, given the difficulty understanding a post as completely devoid of acknowledgment of basic grammar and spelling as yours, here’s what I think your message is (or “jest [sic]“, as you called it in an earlier comment):

      Women aren’t acknowledging my unearned privilege like they used to. This makes me sad.

      That about it? If not, I suggest reviewing the conventions of writing and laying off the talk radio.

      December 10, 2013
    • ” People are all for women getting the same pay as men if they do the same job”

      This would be good, especially if it were actually the case. However, we have not heard the end of managers telling women that they don’t need as much pay as a married man (ignoring households where the main or only breadwinner is a woman and also unmarried men). Of even wider significance than such judgements is the way that “female occupations,” such as nursing or primary teaching, are paid less than equivalent “male jobs,” even if they require less training.

      “the special rights , and entitlements that women think they need.”

      What would those be? Women’s toilets? Paid maternity leave is normal in other countries, and paternity leave is not unusual. Child care facilities are not just women’s business. Nor, for that matter, are abortion and contraceptives.

      “Gender feminists are the bad ones they are the hard core feminists. The fem-Natzi’s . They believe that women are oppressed by men just for being women. They are the kind of women that don’t shave their legs to protest looking good for women. These are the women that give the feminists movement a bad name .”

      The bad ones? According to whom? The fem-Natzis? According to Rush Limbaugh, on a day when he forgets how to spell.

      Don’t shave their legs to protest looking good for women? I would have thought that it was looking good in the eyes of some men that was the issue, but how does this affect you? The shaving of parts of women’s bodies was unknown, except among prostitutes, until the early days of Hollywood.

      How does not shaving one’s legs give anyone a bad name? Or shaving them, as male cyclists, swimmers and bodybuilders do?

      I’m too bored with this to carry on. Try to meet some feminists on a friendly basis, instead of attacking feminists on the basis of nothing but the stereotypes of talk radio,

      December 10, 2013
  11. As a feminist philosopher and proud feminist for over twenty-five years, nothing pleases me more than being told what I must do with my thinking, perceiving, and acting, instead of any effort at collaboration and meaningful, productive, respectful discourse. Who needs that anyway? Please note the sarcasm font. I agree that patriarchy is a worldwide, pervasive cultural problem. Indeed, as a feminist theorist, it is the lens through which I examine human nature. Patriarchy is a blight and a corruption that prevents humans from realizing their best selves and living the best life. This ruin extends into ethics, epistemology, metaphysics, medical science, literature and art, psychology, love and sex, commerce, philanthropy, justice, diplomacy, politics, conflict resolution, even the scientific method and how we view God, salvation, redemption and mercy.

    The central criticism seems to be that some feminists are a bit too ardent for some and the perception, and in some cases, the reality, is that individual men are losing their share of rights, responsibilities, and privileges, such as the example of young men on college campuses, like those at Duke who were wrongly accused of a sex crime and were, in fact, innocent. Despite repeated current reports about Title IX violations at various colleges that covered up and ignored sex crimes and even institutionalized women who reported sex crimes, it doesn’t look much better for college women than it does for men. I have tremendous compassion for those suffering under false accusations, but swift wrong-headed reactions and the desire for revenge before courts can react is an abhorrent deep-rooted human behavior. Can anyone not recall any case when this has ever occurred? I do not brush off this life-wrecking and traumatic experience but emphasize that it is not limited to only accusations of sex crimes. However, in our society, sex crimes are among the most difficult to prove, prosecute, and survivors typically experience little support. On campuses, there exist problems of sensitivity with victims and their accused perpetrators; evidence-gathering, due process, and procedural conflict between I institutions versus law enforcement further muddy thing up. But the heart of the problem seems to be the fear that a woman can cry wolf and an offender has little to no protection. Well, no more nor no less than any other crime these days under the law and its problems. Personally, the single time I’ve been involved in a campus situation of this sort, it was as an advocate for an accused male student. So much for the man-hating stereotype. I’d like to add that I’m a rape survivor as well.

    As for scholarships, every institution lists their general and dedicated scholarships on their websites or at their financial aid office. Here’s the thing about scholarship endowments: donors make them. And if a donor wishes to endow a fat scholarship designated with narrow terms, say, only for Korean-Canadian women who double major in Restoration Literature of the Caribbean and Biomechanical Engineering, the development office will attempt to persuade the donor to make a more reasonable gift, but not at the risk of losing the money. Because someday, that student will grace their institution and meanwhile, that money grows and grows, enhancing the endowment. So, it’s unfair and misleading to blame ardent feminists on the lack of funding available to men. However, there exists a wonderful database at the Foundation Center for grants for individuals. For a reasonable fee, any man may research it for legit educational funding.

    As far as curriculum goes, there is a thriving area of scholarship called Men’s Studies. It has been around for at least thirty years. Also, Women’s & Gender Studies doesn’t teach hatred. It provides perspective. I found it fascinating in addition to my philosophy degrees. Like Disability Studies, American Studies, African-American and Black Studies, Women’s Studies as a pedagogy is a tool of the humanities that reaches into all areas of human inquiry. I’ll let someone else address this issue. But no student leaves an inter-disciplinary course without a nimbler mind, better research skills, and an enhanced perspective: all things we wish to gain with a degree in higher education.

    I’m not going to censure my feminist sisters as a whole. I may not always agree with how individual feminists go about their aims, but I have enormous problems with how many people, organizations, institutions and governments conducts their business under a veneer of humanitarian action. I do not, however, advocate for violence or assault in any form against a person and their body, this includes protest action. What a protestor feels is necessary as long as they do not harm others is their own informed decision. In this, I remember those fine, brave women who endured hunger strikes and forced feedings in prisons that helped win the vote for British and American women. Although my response is lengthy, it’s a shame it had to be.

    December 10, 2013
  12. Nate #

    Feminism has a Image problem,and having some good role models that say they are feminists will simply not help give feminists a better image. As long some of the most prominent feminists and famous women make openly hateful anti-male statements, and the mainstream feminist organizations say and do nothing to distance themselves from such public statements, then it’s clear that the hatred of men has an accepted place in mainstream feminism.

    One of the main problems with “feminism” is that it exploits the legitimate claims of equal rights as a cloak to usher in its divisive, hateful and neurotic interests. Interests that are plainly anti-male and not at all about equal rights.

    Here are a couple examples made by some famous feminists.

    “I feel that ‘man-hating’ is an honorable and viable political act, that the oppressed have a right to class-hatred against the class that is oppressing them.” – Robin Morgan, Ms. Magazine Editor

    “To call a man an animal is to flatter him; he’s a machine, a walking dildo.” -– Valerie Solanas

    “I want to see a man beaten to a bloody pulp with a high-heel shoved in his mouth, like an apple in the mouth of a pig.” — Andrea Dworkin

    “Rape is nothing more or less than a conscious process of intimidation by which all men keep all women in a state of fear” — Susan Brownmiller

    “In a patriarchal society, all heterosexual intercourse is rape because women, as a group, are not strong enough to give meaningful consent.” — Catherine MacKinnon

    As long as these kinds of statements are made by feminists, than feminism is never going to be excepted , and will always have a image problem.

    December 10, 2013
    • “One of the main problems with “feminism” is that it exploits the legitimate claims of equal rights as a cloak to usher in its divisive, hateful and neurotic interests. Interests that are plainly anti-male and not at all about equal rights.”

      Good role models…neurotic…feminism in quotes, denoting what, exactly? Mundane discourse thrives just fine while making disgusting comments, judgements, actions and violations against women for, let’s just confine it to the history of our current society, which is roughly a bit over 300 years. Do I think the late Mary Daly (venerable for many reasons even aside from her feminist thought) was going to rally a national moment and recruit millions of women to live in fabulous, lesbian, unshaven, intellectual utopia? Certainly not because those were not her goals–well not so much that she acted on them. The examples you mention utilize free speech, however shocking: speech, not acts. And, it’s a pretty piece of rhetoric to attempt to force an argument that in order for feminism to bring others into its fold, it must shun some of its adherents by providing a few quotes out of context. And, it’s a poor blind to pull the conversation away from over a century of hard work–so yet incomplete to gain equal rights, responsibilities, and privileges for everyone. Wai Chi Dimock points out in Residues of Justice something that few like to hear, and I summarize: when someone gains a right it inevitably diminishes another’s.

      This is what I see going on in the struggles to gain equality and even special protections, which, of course, some argue ought not exist until a situation happens that requires it, for either men or women. To level the field in rights, it will require a balancing, and the outcry among certain populations when rights seem diminished bear out Dimcock’s observations. People are less interested in justice when personal interests are at stake.

      And as far as branding goes, feminism isn’t a political party like the GOP that has a problem and struggles with distancing itself from its more radical elements in order to take political control of the country. I, and many, many feminists, have no wish to alienate women. Some do and are content to leave diplomacy to others. If I concede to Nate’s Vision Of How Feminists Ought To Behave, then I’m trapped in a limited, sadly merely egalitarian ideology that lacks creative political vision or an elastic sense of justice and compassion, and furthermore, forces me to call other women neurotic and badly behaved (the latter isn’t really an insult to many but in a certain context it’s laughable), creating a hierarchy of whose values and opinions are better. The thing is, arguing about feminism and feminist theory with a strict patriarchal framework doesn’t jive well. At what point do you expect me to agree with you? You aren’t offering anything up for negotiation. It’s all mandate.

      December 11, 2013
  13. Nate #

    David ,

    What laws would those be? “The only relevant new laws that I have noticed are intended to restrict the rights of women”. Well lets see how about Title IX . Under the current rules for title IX schools/ colleges no longer need 100% proof that a man has committed a crime all they need is the word of the woman. They only need 50.01% and the man is doomed , and will get thrown in the dungeon for 100 years , because a woman as mad a accusation against a man. This is how the lacrosse players at Duke university got into trouble. Not one single faculty member stood up for the men, and all the feminists on campus started a petition that they all signed proclaiming there guilt. This kind of thing ruins men’s lives even if they are found innocent. Some people will always say they are guilty. Just recently at Montana State over 30 fraternity members were suspended from the college , because of allegations of rape against two fraternity members !! There are numerous other cases on college campuses were men have been accused of rape, and sexual assault. Even before there has been proof of a crime the police or the campus men are being kicked out of school. Just recently at ND state university a football player was accused of rape. The police found him innocent, and the woman skipped town afterwards. The student was never admitted back in to the college, and he never returned to college. Title has been very bad for men. Instead of finding the proof and the facts . It has turned in to a she said he said .

    December 12, 2013

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