Whoo, Boy. Let’s Talk About Feminism.

Here, in no chronological order, is a list of things that happened to me today.

One: While I was walking along Sansom street this afternoon, a man leaned out of his car window and addressed me. “Hey, girl, you got a great set of fenders.” As he drove away, I could hear a laugh and the sound that two palms slapping together makes, the shadow of the high-five barely visible in the windshield.

Two: While I was walking down Eighteenth Street at approximately 9:30 pm, a man with a milk crate strapped around his shoulders and a grizzled grey beard came very physically close to me, walking alongside me as I headed south. I was wearing my favorite pair of thick brown leather riding boots, a thrift store purchase for fourteen dollars, which I love because their solid heels make a satisfying thwack against the pavement as I travel. “Girl, lemme at them boots. I’ll shine your shoes so pretty. I’ve seen you around, you in those boots.” My shoulders began to rise upwards and curl inwards, my chin tucking towards my chest, my arms clutching my purse a little tighter. I murmured, no, thank you. “Girl, I ain’t gonna bite you. I ain’t got no teeth!” No, ha ha, but – no thank you. He shook his head.

“You have a good night now. Bitch.”

Three: As I sat at an old-timey diner counter at seven p.m., a woman and her male companion – presumably, her boyfriend or her husband– sat down across from me. The woman asked the waitress behind the counter if they had any green apples. The waitress apologized, no, they did not. Red apples? No. What kinds of fruits do you have? Watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew, maybe some canned pineapple in the back.  “She’s on a diet,” her boyfriend explained. The boyfriend left for about five minutes, while the woman sat at the diner counter, looking around, checking her phone. The restaurant was filled with the smells of meaty grease, the college kids in the corner booth drinking milkshakes and flicking the paper bits of the straw wrappers at one another. When her boyfriend returned, producing a green apple, the waitress brought her a plate, upon the woman carefully sliced the apple into eight sections. She removed a small jar of organic peanut butter from her purse and used the diner knife to spread the peanut butter onto the apple. She ate in tiny, deliberate bites. Her boyfriend had a salad and a chicken sandwich.

I am thirty-seven pages into Caitlin Moran’s bestselling book How To Be a Woman, and I mention this because it is the book I was reading while I was at the diner, eating a grilled cheese sandwich with bacon and tomato and nursing a cup of decaf coffee. I had been reading Ms. Moran’s explanation of why it is important, from a feminist standpoint, to talk about things like Brazilian waxes and pornography and stupid bachelorette parties and Lady Gaga. This is the passage I was reading at the moment when the woman and I met eyes, only once and briefly, across the diner counter:

Traditional feminism would tell you that we should concentrate on the big stuff like pay inequality, female circumcision in the Third World, and domestic abuse. And they are, obviously, pressing and disgusting and wrong, and the world cannot look itself squarely in the eye until they’re stopped.

But all these littler, stupider, more obvious day-to-day problems with being a woman are, in many ways, just as deleterious to women’s peace of mind. It is the “Broken Windows” philosophy, transferred to female inequality. In the Broken Windows theory, if a single broken window on an empty building is ignored and not repaired, the tendency is for vandals to break a few more windows. Eventually, they may break into the building and light fires, or become squatters.

Similarly, if we live in a climate where female pubic hair is considered distasteful, or famous and powerful women are constantly pilloried for being too fat or too thin, or badly dressed, then eventually, people start breaking into women, and lighting fires in them. Women will get squatters.

I bring up the first two examples because they are prime examples of little, stupid, obvious day-to-day problems with being a woman, and they were both deleterious to my peace of mind. My windows were broken. Those men squatted in my consciousness today, and I didn’t like it.

I bring up the third example because it’s more complicated, and I don’t know if I have the right words to talk about it. Mostly because I am not that woman sitting across the diner counter, and I can’t presume to speak for her. I don’t know her personal history. I have no idea if she had, in fact, had a large meal beforehand and just wanted to eat a light snack so her boyfriend did not feel alone. I have no idea if she has a medical condition, or complicated dietary restrictions. I have no idea how she feels about her choice to eat an apple dotted with half-teaspoons of peanut butter while enveloped by that particular smell unique to greasy spoons, the air almost humming with fried onions and butter and coffee and fat.

What I know is that for one moment, I looked up from my book and she looked me in the eyes, and I felt a tiny flash of hostility. I felt that she was angry, and that her anger was directed my way.

I know. I know. I have no idea if this is true. I have no idea if I’m projecting this on her. Maybe I am. This woman was a stranger, and I will never know what, if anything, she felt in that moment. I’m second-guessing the logic of this scenario in my head as I type this, even now. I still feel compelled to keep telling the story, though. Even if what I imagined to be true is an extrapolation, a fiction, there’s enough truth in the imagined stuff to feel real.

In that moment, I felt hostility. I believe this to be true.

What’s complicated is that before we made eye contact, I had been enjoying my sandwich immensely, and afterwards, I felt ashamed. I felt guilty.

What’s complicated is that if I want to examine her potential reasons for being angry, there are a few possibilities.  She could be angry because she was jealous of my sandwich filled with bacon and cheese, stuff that’s bad for me but delicious and fulfilling in a guilty-pleasure kind of way. She could be angry because she perceived I was judging her for her choice of the apple.

Here’s what I fear. She could be angry because I am a younger and smaller woman than she. I wanted to reach across the booth and say, “It’s okay. I think thoughts like this all the time. It’s okay.”

I don’t like to admit it, but it’s true. I found myself irrationally furious with a slim teenaged girl wearing a crop top, standing in line with me at my favorite donut place several weeks earlier, the ugly thought bubbling to the brink of my consciousness before I suppressed it, recognized it for the nastiness that it is. I bet that bitch can still eat whatever she wants. Enjoy those gorgeous seventeen-year-old abs while they last. You won’t be eating donuts forever. I have had those thoughts watching models get out of taxis at Old City clubs, watching tiny, beautiful women totter in high heels on their way to the bars on a Saturday night.

What’s complicated is that even though I don’t know that she was thinking that particular thought about my body and me in that miniscule moment, I do feel pretty certain that, if nothing else, both of us felt kinda lousy about ourselves for a few minutes there.

And I beg, for all of us, women of the world: this shit has gotta stop.

I don’t know how. I don’t have a good answer for that.

Look, I am not glorifying dying young because I ate too much bacon and drank too much Jack Daniels and stayed out too late and added cheese to my sandwich too often.

I am also not glorifying starving yourself.

And there is especially no glory in comparing yourself to other women, fat-shaming and thin-shaming and bitch-calling. It never makes anyone feel better.

I feel like a world of true feminist equality would be one in which I could genuinely dislike other women on the basis of their character alone. Let me give you the reasons why I genuinely dislike, say, Quin Woodward Pu, although I haven’t met her personally. (Have you followed this shit on the internet? I went down a crazy online spiral with her story the other day). After reading that excerpt from her first book, I think her lack of compassion towards her fellow man is ugly. I think her personal code of morality is troubling at best. I think that she is casually racist, casually sexist, and casually prejudiced in ways that shock me to my core.

A lot of people on the internet feel similarly. I wish they could say that in a way that didn’t resort to mocking her weight, appearance, and ethnic background.

I don’t know how to fix this. This is a big problem, this “Broken Windows” idea, and we’re not gonna come up with the answers overnight. But I can sit back, and I can force myself to write about it, to admit that I have totally been guilty of thinking nasty shit about other women based on their appearance, and that it sucks, and I need to stop doing that. That shaming other women, even if only in my mind, is incredibly ugly of me, and I need to be more proactive about accepting myself in a way that does not compare my body to the bodies of others. I can try to catch myself when those ugly thoughts bubble up. I can examine them. I can try to correct that behavior for the future.

And maybe you can help me by doing the same.

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44 thoughts on “Whoo, Boy. Let’s Talk About Feminism.

  1. Sign me up. I’m similarly guilty of thinking unkind, (read “jealous”) thoughts about other women’s, bodies, and unforgiving things about my own. My current mantra is “I’m so grateful that I’m healthy, that my body allows me to do whatever I need to every day, and those bikini’s look uncomfortable anyway.”
    Thank you for your beautifully worded, nicely timed, butt kicking. I’m with ya!

  2. It is absolutely ridiculous how the women who suffer most from sexist behavior and the unhealthy “ideals” held up to us are usually also those spewing the most hateful trash at others. Women starving themselves to the size of prepubescent boys, fully knowing that it is unhealthy and in therapy for exact this behavior, trashing famous women for showing their baby bump or stretch marks in public or for saying, “I don’t mind my curves.” How are we ever going to change a thing if we continue bashing others to make ourselves feel better???

    It is especially crazy how people – even family – will try to make you feel like a failure because you start showing wrinkles at the age of 30, gained weight and have not shaved your legs. (You are wearing pants.) All the while you are the only person with a university degree in the room, have successfully published a series of stories, won a price for lictional writing and just been promoted to manager of your department, also at the age of 30. (And yes, that was a huge part of my weekend conversation with my motehr and older sister.)

  3. I’m totally with you on this one and TOTALLY guilty of it too. Recently I’ve tried to turn thinking on its head, instead of hating on these other girls for what they in bitter jealously, I’m trying to take inspiration from them instead and thinking the best of them.

    “Golly aren’t her abs delicious, I bet she worked dead hard for them. I’ll try harder at my workout later”

    Its hard to write it without sounding sarcastic, but you get my drift…

  4. I’m trying to clean up my inbox and I considered unsubscribing from your blog. Then I read this post. What the $%&* was I thinking? I must keep reading! For my sanity, for my sense of humour. Onward!

    And yeah, I’m totally guilty of the same thing. Another great blogger I love, James Altucher, likes to look at people who have what he wants as inspiring instead of feeling sick with envy. Much like photoclare said. Some days it’s tough but I’m gonna give it a shot.

  5. As a guy, I have always been baffled by how women judge each other this way. Guys just don’t do it. If we see another guy in great shape, we feel happy for him and wonder how we might be able to accomplish hrs same thing. We do get a bit envious when we see guys who have been much more financially successful than us but not to the point of judging or wish ill will on them. We just want the same.

    And just for the record, there are a lot of us guys that do not believe in cat calls and other annoying behavior to women. Many if us fully respect women as individuals and are extremely happy for their success.

    Just my 2 cents (probably worth about that). Great writing, keep it up!

  6. Wow! i share similar thoughts. Its ironical how situations & circumstances with women are alike all over the world. Its up to us to change that mentality and thought process all together. Great thoughts! Keep writing 🙂

  7. Susan J. Douglas wrote a book called “The Rise of Enlightened Sexism: How Pop Culture Took us from Girl Power to Girls Gone Wild.” Her irreverent, insightful reflections on media-created fantasies of female power, and the impact of these contradictory, mixed messages on women is terrific, and incredibly funny.

  8. Wow, I found this very sad. As a middle aged white male I had hoped to see a day when men and women were truly equal. Based on this post that day is a long way off. As a person with a disability (I use a wheelchair) I can relate to the grind of daily seemingly small insults. I think of this as a social death via thousands of cuts that undermine one’s confidence. Thanks for making me think.

  9. First off, wonderful post. Secondly, I also adored Caitlin Moran’s book and it also gave me quite a bit of food for thought. I agree that women can be each other’s worst critics and that it’s something everyone can work on improving.

    Now that I’m raising two girls, I also think a lot about just making sure I’m a positive role model – eg: they aren’t going to remember a mother who spent their childhood obsessed with dieting or her own – or their own – body image. I hope they remember a mother who focussed on helping them have the ability to run around and excel at whatever they wanted to do – be it sports, arts, writing, whatever. And a mother who was confident about her own successes without pushing for an unachievable perfection and who was able to celebrate or applaud the successes of others rather than put them down out of some fear that she somehow didn’t measure up or lacked value.

    Enjoyed your post – thanks.

  10. Well said. I love the sentiment here. We ARE so incredibly harsh to each other, and I know the men in my family don’t notice or appreciate how often my activities have been dictated by trying to ‘stay safe.’ Socially, physically, emotionally.

  11. Love this post. Very thoughtful ideas. As women we need to stop apologizing for the way we look, how we eat, what number we display on the scale. We need to just enjoy life as we please, and we need to do so free to judgement. Once we feel better about ourselves, the less hostile we will be towards others.

  12. So what is your specific objection to the behaviour of those men in the car and what has it got to do with feminism – as opposed to just ‘the behaviour of people in general’? I mean, it’s not as if men are immune from having annoying things shouted at them by women (and men) – including compliments/ ridicule about their physical appearance / sexual attractiveness.

    However annoying these men might have been, they were still paying you a compliment (of sorts!) and they were hardly harassing you. If a man was treated that way would you expect him to have an ‘issue’ with it, or be particularly upset (rather than just annoyed), or over analyse it and blame it on gender inequality? Or would you just expect him to be rational and acknowledge they were just being jerks before getting on with his day?

    Is there a danger that by making it into such a gender specific (ie feminist) issue you are implying women are somehow inferior to men when it comes to handling everyday issues such as jerks in society, and in doing that you are actually helping to justify the so called ‘patriarchy’ which is based on the inferiority of women in these kinds of issues (“women and children first” and all that stuff)?

    To be clear, I’m NOT suggesting being annoyed by jerks (or worse) is not an issue, I’m just saying it’s not a *feminist* issue……. unless, that is, you actually believe women are inferior and therefore require extra special consideration.

    As an aside, statistically speaking far more men are victims of violent assault in public than women, yet far more of society’s resources are allocated towards protecting women and helping women victims than are allocated towards men, even though men are by far the greater victims. This is one of the many aspects of the so called ‘patriarchy’ which feminists rarely discuss, let alone reject even hough it is blatantly sexist.

    Also, one has to wonder…. if these young men have (as it would seem) grown up to view women as objects to be judged in public based on their physical attributes, who’s fault is that!? We know that social behaviour of that kind is almost exclusively the product of childhood upbringing. So the question is: who brought up these young men and gave them their value system and social etiquette? In today’s post-feminist society boys are often brought up almost exclusively by WOMEN…. often by single mums, her female friends, female daycare workers and primary school teachers…. etc.

    When you hear a feminist complain about the behaviour of a man have you ever heard her link that behaviour back to his primary caregivers ie the women that raised him to be that way?

    Studies show that 2/3 of mothers admit to still hitting their infants/ children. We no longer find it socially acceptable to hit our pets but apparently it’s still OK to hit our children! And on all those touchy-feely, female-orientated daytime TV shows the subject of hitting your children is still ‘debated’ – as if there was any debate to be had!!!!

    I mean, can you imagine a male-orientated daytime TV show where men sat around a table and debated whether hitting your girlfriend was “the right approach for you” or not?!

    And yet an adult hitting a child is MANY times worse than a man hitting a woman because the imbalance of power, strength, size and dependency is so much greater between an adult and a child, than a man and a woman. Children have NOWHERE to go. Smacking on the bottom is humiliating as well as terrifying and traumatic. The bottom is also a sexual area, and so it is sexually humiliating as well.

    Hitting children teaches them the language of dominance, violence, sexual humiliation, aggression, irrationality, impulsiveness and general lack of respect, care, compassion and empathy. Brain scans show it literally lowers the IQ and causes long term brain damage. Is it any surprise that boys (and girls) who are damaged in this way and taught this language of humiliation and violence then go on to act it all out again in later life?

    I guarantee that the young men in that car – and men who treat women disrespectfully in general – had a violent and humiliating upbringing….. not least at the hands of their mothers.

    If we want a more civilised, compassionate, caring, moral society – we just need to stop hitting our babies! And this is one goal which is totally achievable, and totally within women’s collective powers to achieve.

    I don’t think I’ve ever heard a feminist raise this issue…… instead I hear them talking about their right to offload their babies onto perfect strangers so they can go straight back to their ‘fulfilling’ careers, working in some trendy office somewhere…. again, what kind of men (and women) is that going to produce? Compassionate, loyal, loving, responsible, empathetic….. somehow I don’t think so.

    Forgive long rant 🙂

    • Dear Sir Abandon TV,

      I completely understand why you would respond with such a condescending and, well, epic comment that dominates more space than Katherine’s blog. You feel the need to take that space back. That is usually the kind of reaction that happens when someone feels threatened. Your power is threatened if women are equal to you. Your power is threatened if all the ladies take your jobs and leave you to launder your own clothes and cook your own dinner and raise your own kids. You feel threatened by the idea that women should not be there to emotionally caretake you and make you feel good about yourself. I get it. I feel a little defensive, too, when I feel my power threatened.
      Which is every day. By guys like you.

      I’m not going to take you by the hand and gently guide you through every single reason why your above arguments are unoriginal and frankly exhausting regurgitation of non-truths that date generations back. Because I think if I busted out the actual real statistics and actual real studies about violence and abuse against women that you would not be stable enough to grasp them at this time. I completely respect that.

      I’m not writing here to change your mind, or “dialogue” with you. You want to keep your power. I get it. I just wanted to call you out on your bullshit.

      Sincerely,
      Unapologetic Feminista

      • Whether or not you agree with what I wrote or not, I can only stress that my arguments and observations were made with honesty, sincerity and without a hint of aggression or condescension.

        I take these issues seriously, which means I try to get to the root of them. Digging down to the root of ANY social issue usually means you uncover uncomfortable and challenging truths (often about ourselves). Who cares, we’ll all be dead soon! History shows us that it’s only when enough people are prepared to explore uncomfortable and challenging truths that society is able to move forward to the next level 🙂

        You characterised what I wrote as if it was some kind of ‘battle’ to take back space or oppress women in some way. That seems a little unfair when I even apologised for the length of my comment at the end (and with a smiley too!). It’s a huge and complex set of subjects, and it’s not always possible to (honestly) discuss these subjects in short snappy comments loaded with soundbites, wouldn’t you agree?

        I actually wanted to go on and comment on the food issue as well, but I cut myself short 😉

        It’s a shame you didn’t address anything I actually wrote and chose instead to hit me with a barrage of unfounded and emotionally triggering accusations (unfounded because you don’t even know me and emotionally triggering because all your accusations were are specifically anti-women in nature).

        You say…

        “…You feel threatened by the idea that women should not be there to emotionally caretake you and make you feel good about yourself..”

        I must ask, HOW ON EARTH did you pull that assumption out of what I wrote? (I could ask the same of all your other accusations, but I’ll stick to just that one). I mean, in all seriousness, are you able to quote the bit where I said that, or implied that….. or can you perhaps explain what your thought processes were which made you feel entitled to make that very specific accusation?

        If you can’t justify that accusation rationally (ie based on what I wrote) then we’ll have to agree you’re just projecting huge slabs of feminist dogma onto me, instead of discussing the points I actually made.

        I also noticed you addressed me in a formal way as (a) male and (b) ‘sir’. Again, this is neither an argument or an observation, and it is not a response to anything I wrote, which means it is not a conversation either. It comes across more like an attempt at psychological manipulation. By creating the imagery of me as a ‘man’ and even a ‘sir’ you were projecting the idea of privilege and importance onto me, even though I obviously have no more privilege or importance than you in reality. Nor was I attempting to assert any notion of importance or privilege onto you – in fact I’ve gone out of my way to be totally clear and objective, and to frame as much as possible in terms of a question or a proposition …. which is the complete OPPOSITE of trying to force an opinion, or belief, or argument onto someone else by force or by ‘authority’.

        I would suggest you projected ‘authority’, ‘maleness’ and ‘privilege’ onto me (perhaps unconsciously) because the feminist ‘victim narrative’ cannot withstand intelligent, assertive, self assured women criticising it, or exposing its irrational position and lack of supporting evidence. And so the feminist victim narrative MUST depict all thoughtful criticism levelled against it as an emotional attack .. and an attack by men… and an attack by insecure, privileged, misogynistic men at that! This allows you to dismiss it as ‘oppression’ rather than address what I actually wrote.

        FYI there are PLENTY of women who have deconstructed the feminist narrative and have found it to be completely contradictory to the historical facts and to reason AND demeaning and destructive towards women.

        You might find it interesting to hear what they have to say. In short, historically men AND women were BOTH oppressed by circumstance (ie lack of technology) and men were forced into their ‘oppressive’ roles (on the battle field, down mines, in wooden fishing boats etc) just as much as women were forced into theirs. They were BOTH ‘oppressed’ by the day to day struggle to survive, and reproduce, rather being oppressed by men. In such a struggle to survive the traditional roles were more like a partnership of mutual benefit – the best possible survival strategy for both men and women, given the tough environment they both faced.

        Sure, society was often backward, primitive, brutal and barbaric (as it still is in so many ways today), but the point is that *everyone* suffered and everyone was a ‘victim’ of one kind or another – men, women, children, animals… not just women.

        As technology liberated men, women, children and animals from their respective ‘prisons’, there was a brief period of rapid adjustment (with lots of passionate negotiation needed, for sure) and feminism did have an important role to play during that phase. But that phase is largely over now. Just as overt slavery of African Americans is over. These days feminism only has any legitimacy where it is fighting for *specific* female rights. Anything beyond that falls under the banner of ‘human rights’ or just ‘complex social issues’. When feminists attempt to take ownership of basic human rights or social issues, claiming them all to be ‘feminist’ issues this is inappropriate and ‘unhelpful’, at best….. just as it would be to label all social issues as ‘black emancipation’ issues, or ‘vegetarian’ issues.

        But it IS understandable why so many feminists are unwilling to give up ‘victim status’. The final stage in ANY fight for equality is to start viewing YOURSELF as equal to those around you, by finally letting go of your identity as an a victim by default. But the HUGE problem with declaring yourself to be free and equal to those around you is that you must (by definition) stop demanding special treatment and ‘free stuff’ from others, including the state (the ultimate alpha male!). It is the hardest stage of all, because you have to finally take ownership of all your own shit – and who wants to do that?!!! LOL 😉

        But the plus side of rejecting the feminist victim narrative is that it is enormously empowering. Many women have already made that final step and they always stand out a mile and they make other women look wretched by comparison. By ‘wretched’ I just mean trapped, neurotic, imprisoned, defensive, unstable, confused! Seriously, you should give it a go! Instead of fighting against this so called patriarchy, why not strive to fill the wide open spaces opened up by all the changes in the law over the last century 🙂

        Basically, if the aim of feminism (or any other movement) is not to make feminism redundant as soon as possible then, by definition, you’re not seeking equality – you’re seeking privilege, you’re seeking a short cut to POWER over others by perpetuating a false (or out of date) narrative to gain sympathy.

        Feminists are in serious danger of NOT achieving true freedom and equality, but instead merely transferring (and even increasing) their dependency from men to the state. This is a step backwards because the state uses violence and theft to obtain all the wealth it redistributes to society. Men, in general, EARN their wealth peacefully and by creating goods and services of value. The state creates no value whatsoever. It steals and borrows all the wealth it has, and only gives a fraction of it back to society…. just enough to make us dependent so we keep ‘voting’ to be violently ruled.

        Also rejecting men (fathers) and replacing them by the state and by corporations (daycare, schools, MTV, Hollywood etc) is catastrophic for children, and children are, as the saying goes, our future. Feminists who reject equal partnerships with men, and then replace them with unequal partnerships with the state (ie socialism) are arguably creating a far MORE patriarchal and violent society than has ever existed before.

        Any benefits (‘free stuff’) provided by the state are paid for by loans taken out in the names of the unborn. For example, subsidised ‘daycare’ is in effect paid for by the children themselves because the loans which paid for it will eventually be taken out of their wages when they are adults. And this ‘service’ is only provided by the state so women can go back to work as soon as possible and start paying taxes to fund the wars which slaughter men, women and children by the millions. Somebody please tell me how any of this can be called progress! It’s INSANE 😦

        I dunno…. perhaps all my points are totally flawed – but it would be nice if you could point out WHY you think they are flawed, if you think they are.

        If you want to have a stab at any of the questions I raised in my previous comment (and a few more off the back of your reply), please, go ahead. It’s a lot more interesting than just hurling unfounded insults and emotions about the place 🙂

        1. Are you suggesting it’s NOT think it’s a good idea to look at parenting when trying to understand why there are jerks in society?!

        2. Are you suggesting it’s somehow ‘anti women’ or ‘oppressive to women’ to look at motherhood in particular (and female teachers, daycare staff etc), seeing as how these women tend to be the primary caregivers who inevitably have the most influence in a child’s world view – not least in relation to attitudes to women?

        3. Are you disputing my observation that women far outnumber men when it comes to the raising of children – increasingly so in this post feminist society – with some boys (and girls) now hardly having any interaction with men from birth right through to teenagehood or even adulthood.

        4. Are you disputing the studies which show that the presence of, and interaction with, men is essential for a healthy upbringing (for boys and girls) particularly when it comes to the development of empathy, delayed gratification, personal responsibility etc? (all essential attributes if you down’t want your kids to grow up to be jerks).

        5. Feminists often depict raising a child as a kind of ‘lifestyle choice’ which can be outsourced to daycare, nannies etc so the mother can go back to work with no adverse affects on that child. They also claim a father figure is ‘optional’ and that raising a child can be done without a father on the scene (except at conception), also without damaging the child. Do you subscribe to these claims?

        6. Most feminists are quick to point out that giving up your full time career so you can be a full time mum instead for the first five years of your child’s life is going to have a negative affect on that career.

        Most feminists never point out that giving up being a full time mum for the first 5 years of your child’s life so you can have a full time career instead is going to have a negative affect on that child

        Do you think it’s fair to suggest that by putting a woman’s selfish desires before the NEEDS of a child, feminism is actually helping to destroy society by creating generations of increasingly damaged children – so damaged they now commonly have mental illnesses, try to commit suicide, self harm, starve themselves, go join gangs because they have no male role models, feel desperately unloved, feel rejected by their material/ status obsessed ‘Me, me, me” parents?

        7 a. Is criticising these aspects of feminism ‘anti women’? Is it ‘misogynistic’ to point out the negative effects of feminism on society – particularly on children?

        7 b. Or is it just annoying to have these things pointed out?

    • abandon guy,
      You should read bell hooks, who is an incredible radical feminist who was one of the first feminists to say “hitting women is not okay. and you know what? hitting children isn’t okay either.” i think you would really like her writing.

      Here is a link to a chapter from her book “Feminism is for Everybody” which is basically and introduction to feminism. She discusses hitting children. She discusses the misconception that a household headed by a single woman is a matriarchy. Give her a read, I think she addresses your concerns in an articulate way.

      http://caringlabor.wordpress.com/2010/11/22/bell-hooks-feminist-parenting/

      • Hey, thanks for the link. If a feminist (or anyone else) speaks out against child abuse (AKA spanking) that’s great.

        Would you say feminism in general is opposed to hitting children?

        Suppose I wanted to join a typical feminist group or forum or whatever but I admitted to hitting my children, would I be automatically disqualified and told to take a hike (like a KKK member trying to join Amnesty International)?

        My problem is with ANYBODY who supports or attempts to justify hitting infants or children. I really don’t care if they call themselves a feminist or anything else. It’s the violence and abuse which I object to.

        In my experience there are a lot women who call themselves feminists and they DO hit their children. And I don’t see ‘feminism’ as a movement condemning them or ostracising them.

        But correct me if I have got that wrong 🙂

        • Hi Abandon,
          Feminism, like everything else, has many different factions and subsets of belief systems. Those belief systems almost always include blind spots, but I wouldn’t say that it negates the mission of a movement like feminism. Feminism isn’t a codified organization like Amnesty International, and I certainly can’t speak for the hundreds/thousands of feminist groups out there.

          I would recommend reading the entirety of “Feminism is for Everybody.” Like I said, bell hooks is a brilliant radical thinker and does an incredible job not only of articulating why feminism really is for everybody, but also the complexities and challenges faced by a movement that is working to dismantle a patriarchal system that regularly abuses everyone it touches. She has many criticisms of different factions of feminism which sometimes ignore the poor, those of color, and children. She takes no prisoners.
          We are all fighting the good fight. The very complex system of society that we are a part of needs a lot of work and we all have lots of ideas about how to improve it.
          Yeah, I am just going to encourage you to read the entirety of “Feminism is for Everybody.”

    • Well, AbandonTV, I guess you win. You proved that the original post and all the other comments here are wrong, simply by stating that they’re wrong. And we have to accept your judgement on that, because penis. My only regret is that I can’t roll my eyes loud enough for you to hear.

      • As with some other comments, you’ve not responded to anything I actually wrote. Instead you’ve essentially labeled me as ‘a witch’ and used that to justify condemning me without discussing (let alone arguing against) any of the points I made or questions I posed.

        I refer you to my reply to ‘Feminsta’. Please feel free to have a stab at any of the questions I posed there 🙂

        “…You proved that the original post and all the other comments here are wrong, simply by stating that they’re wrong..”

        BTW I never said anybody was ‘wrong’. I am just trying to point out that complex social issues are… well complex. Hence my long comments (honestly – sometimes you just can’t win!)

        ‘Apparently’ complex social issues are actually not complex at all. And anybody who suggests they might be is a woman hater…

  13. Beautifully expressed. Thanks so much. I do not get nearly the number of cat calls I used to (getting older helps, which I suppose could be a different facet of the same issue), but I remember the burning shame and anxiety of being followed in crowds, around corners, around bars and cat-called or just targeted; and I never considered myself to be any kind of “natural beauty”. Its not about compliments or attraction; its an exercise of power, a flexing of muscles, and an implied threat. Its the low level of fear that women in our society are forced to live with on a daily basis. Also – there are compliments and there are cat calls. We women know the difference. We know when someone is being nice and paying us a compliment, and we know when we’re feeling targeted in a particularly nasty, threatening way. And that is not something we need to “get over” or should have to rationalize in order to be able to live with it. Its harassment, and its wrong. It needs to be called out and it needs to be discussed and brought to the light. Feminism is humanism. Thank you again for this post.

  14. It was really refreshing to read something about feminism that didn’t imply that all men were sexist pigs. Thank you for stating things in such a constructive manner.

    Lately, I’ve begun looking at people and working hard to find a non-sexual compliment to pay them. You know, “She’s well-spoken.” or “He looks friendly.” It can be about looks, but not about sex and I try to keep it always positive. I don’t necessarily say it, but I’m finding that, when I end up interacting with that person, I’m genuinely more open to experiencing their positive side.

    For me, the problem isn’t about men/women, white/black, American/Guy From Elsewhere, Christian/Muslim – It’s about simply treating people right. Yes, it’s a social issue, but it doesn’t start with nations, and organizations, and churches, and cliques. It starts with each person simply deciding to view himself/herself in a positive way. It’s not a pyramid with a huge foundation. It’s an inverted pyramid with a diamond point supporting an immense weight and it’s up to each of us to treat other people right.

    Of course – I could have just simplified that by quoting Wil Wheaton and saying, “Don’t be a dick.” But, I wanted to ramble on. 🙂

  15. Feminism. Heavy stuff. I have absolutely no grounds to make any insightful comments about this post beyond saying I enjoyed reading it. As someone who has never given feminism much of my attention, if nothing else, I will be much more self-aware in my feelings towards other women.

  16. I just wanted to chime in to let you know I read your blog regularly and delight that people my age are putting awesome stuff on the internet. Like, we’re finally old enough to have some wisdom and write (really well) about our youth like it was a long time ago. It’s a new and alien experience to read the thoughts of someone else from the same generational context. 🙂

  17. @Annie

    “..Feminism, like everything else, has many different factions and subsets of belief systems…”

    Yes I know, and that is what I find most problematic about feminism today. It is no longer defined by a clear mission statement or list of specific, concrete goals, or moral rules. Any movement which does not make these kinds of things crystal clear is EXTREMELY DANGEROUS… to men, to children and to women.

    I mean let’s start with some basics…. Does the feminist movement reject the initiation of force? (assault, coercion, kidnapping, murder etc). Well, obviously not if they don’t condemn hitting children. Does the feminist movement condemn theft? Well, obviously not if they demand wealth and resources be stolen from the population at gunpoint and directed towards themselves.

    Well that’s already two big reasons why I am not a feminist.

    To be a credible movement feminists really, really need to sort out a clear set of moral principles and concrete goals and then stick to them. But of course having well defined moral principles and clear goals means losing (or having to boot out) all those members who don’t agree with what you stand for. THAT is why feminism is so vague, they are more interested in building an army of feminists than actually standing for specific principles and goals. In other words feminism is just a mob on the rampage. To declare yourself a feminist just means you’ve joined the mob, it doesn’t mean you’ve aligned yourself with any clear set of principles or goals – because feminism does not really have any.

    “….a movement that is working to dismantle a patriarchal system that regularly abuses everyone it touches…..”

    I’m sorry but “dismantling the patriarchy” is a completely meaningless (and dangerous) phrase. I’ve never heard any feminist actually define the patriarchy in terms of FACTS or REASON. The claim that this patriarchy has oppressed (or ‘abused’) women for thousands of years is not supported by the evidence. In fact the evidence totally refutes this claim. What enslaved women AND men AND children AND animals into their respective roles was the circumstances of the time – the main one being a lack of technology. Primitive societies without decent technology placed huge pressures on EVERYONE just to survive. The traditional male/ female roles were joint strategies of survival in a hostile environment….. they had nothing to do with oppression by men.

    if a plane crashes onto a deserted island and three men and three women survive and two of the women are pregnant what is EVERYONE going to want? ANSWER: A division of labour (a collaborative effort) based on everyone’s strengths/ weaknesses and needs. If the man are bastards and say “Screw you, we’re not going to share our resources with you ladies” what will the women say? They will say “We need your help. It’s your duty to help us because we’re giving birth to the next generation”. Well there you go. Harsh environments tend to lead to patriarchy. It oppresses everyone, but also serves everyone’s survival needs – especially the needs of children, who are the most vulnerable. Without patriarchy are ancestors would not have dared get pregnant (no man willing to support them), and we wouldn’t be here! 😉

    The feminist narrative also makes no LOGICAL sense. If, as feminists claim, women have been oppressed by men for centuries and have only recently been able to break free from this enslavement with the aid of outside help (ie the state), then this implies women really are inferior to men. Despite giving birth to, and raising, every boy that ever lived women STILL could not stop these boys growing up to oppress women…. Er… is that what you really believe?!

    A far more logical (and less insulting) explanation is that the so called ‘patriarchy’ actually suited women quite well, given the circumstances (lack of technology etc) and that women were perfectly WILLING to sacrifice certain benefits (high social status, perceived importance in society, official (ie outward) positions of authority etc) in return for being provided for by men …. ie NOT having to work the fields by hand, fell forests, work down mines etc.

    it wasn’t men who decided to view women as ‘inferior’ to men, it was women who deliberately raised their boys to equate being the man-provider (the disposable sex) with being ‘superior’. In other words women raised their boys to view hard, dangerous manual labour (which the women did not want to do) as ‘manly’ activities and to view the desire for a comfortable, safe, largely indoor life as ‘feminine’ and somehow ‘beneath’ men.

    Women can control men simply by defining what it is they find desirable (or undesirable) in a man. In WW1 women gave a white feather to pacifists who refused to go and slaughter other young men and probably be slaughtered themselves . This sent the message to men “If you don’t go to war women will not sleep with you”. If women ever decided to close their legs en masse to the state’s contract assassins (AKA ‘soldiers’) then war would end overnight. Guaranteed. THAT is the power women have over men.

    And so anybody who believes women have been helpless victims of the patriarchy obviously don’t know (or don’t want to know) about women and the power they wield in society. Not like how man wield their power.. for all to see – like waving a sword (or a penis)… Women’s power is more subtle, and operates more behind the scenes – never in-your-face like a man’s power.

    Think about it… WHO does it benefit to have men view comfort, luxury, safety, security, protection and fragility as ‘silly feminine concerns’ which are ‘beneath’ them? It benefits WOMEN (and children). The whole concept of femininity as inferior is basically a psychological tactic used by women to encourage their men to eschew their feminine side, and to go out and work themselves to the bone in a hostile environment to put food on the table AND TO FEEL GOOD ABOUT IT …… ie “women will respect me now and therefore want to sleep with me”

    Most men throughout history lived tough, gnarly lives doing hard manual labour because that was their duty, as a man. This unforgiving lifestyle made them feel worthy of ‘manhood’ because they had been taught (not least by women) from an early age that to seek a less brutal lifestyle (ie the life led by most women) was ‘beneath him’. As a consequence of this women had to live by THEIR OWN propaganda, and live as inferior creatures – but that sure beat having to work down mines! LOL

    It’s the same basic principle as the ‘trophy wife’ who CHOOSES (perhaps due to bad circumstances with other prospects) to give up certain freedoms and status in return for protection and material things. Of course the women of history were not trophy wives, they worked damn hard, and their partnership with men was a true partnership of shared labour. But the fact remains women encouraged the patriarchal system at least as much as men, out of a need to survive and to reproduce successfully.

    Society *as a whole* was incredibly invested in ensuring the young men WANTED to to go out and work themselves to the bone, and the best motivator at the time was this feeling of ‘duty’ and ‘importance’ and ‘high social status’ and therefore ‘high social obligation’.

    As technology came along it allowed more and more men AND women to earn a living in nice, safe, comfortable, heated offices (even factories became nice and safe) and as a result this whole concept of ‘man as important provider’ has started to crumble. It is no longer necessary. Even if a man is supporting a stay-at-home wife the chances are he does it without breaking into a sweat or getting his hands dirty or even chipping his man-icured nails! 😉

    What SHOULD have happened with feminism is that women should have realised the so called ‘patriarchy’ was not invented to oppress women (implying women really are inferior), but was actually invented BY women to a large extent (because women are actually quite clever like that). But that today such psychological manipulation is no longer necessary or desirable and we can all live as equal PEOPLE, now that we have cool technology to make earning a living easier for everyone.

    But unfortunately what has happened instead is that the state has indoctrinated women with this myth about ‘male-oppresion’ in order to turned women against men, because the state is trying to take on the role of alpha male to ALL women….. thus PERPETUATING and PERVERTING the patriarchal system in the form of big government and socialism.

    The state wants to make women AND men its wives, but (unlike the previous patriarchy) it wants both men and women to be out there working ourselves to the bone, while it sits on its big fat ass and spends all day long stockpiling weapons, waging wars and indoctrinating our children to worship the state, to worship war, to worship violence and to view a dumbed down, narcissistic, consumer, debt based lifestyle as ‘freedom’.

    This is why feminism has been turned into a ‘belief system’ as you say, or a set of them (take your pick!). It has become an ‘identity’ like a cult or a political party or just a bunch of slogans (“girl power” etc). A lack of CLEAR and CONCRETE goals and moral rules is precisely what has allowed feminism be so thoroughly infiltrated and hijacked by the state (going right back to the 60’s) in order to steer the movement away from freedom and (dare I say it) femininity …. and in the direction of socialism and jack-boots-in-the-face big government instead. (See also: ‘environmentalism’).

    That is why instead of achieving true liberation, women now just find themselves equal to men in their enslavement to the state.

    Most women are so enslaved these days they are literally FORCED to hand over their babies to perfect strangers so they can work to pay the bills, pay the rent and pay taxes to fund genocidal wars. Is that the kind of equality envisioned by the first feminists? I don’t think so!

    Why don’t feminists object to their wealth being taken away from them in this way, so they are too poor to even look after their offspring?

    It’s hard to imagine a movement being more subverted than feminism has been. Sad but true. I would also suggest THAT is the reason why so many feminists are so angry and quick to hate when someone (like me!) holds an honest mirror up to the movement. Deep down they KNOW it’s all gone terribly wrong – not in every way, of course, but in so many really important ways…..

    Being literally forced to hand over your baby to strangers so you can go back to work to pay the bills is NOT the sign of a functional, healthy, sane society! Nor is the depression, anxiety, insecurities, eating disorders, self harm and other mental health issues which now afflict both children and adults. These are all signs that SOMETHING HAS GONE VERY, VERY WRONG.

    The state will tell you (via the hijacked feminist movement) to blame all the world’s ills on MEN, and to not examine your own life or attempt to influence the world directly (such as by parenting better), but instead to just give more power, money and support to the state so it can grow bigger and interfere even more in our lives….. that will sort everything out and make life nice for everyone! (promise!).

    I suggest something different. I suggest we ALL start deconstructing the attitudes, behaviour, policies and social movements which got us to this place.

    Obviously you cannot win against government, because they have all the guns in the world… but what we can do is to raise our children peacefully so that future generations simply won’t understand the language of violence and ‘authority’ (mob rule). And that takes us back to mothers who still hit their children…

    It is absolutely insane for feminists to reject and condemn domestic violence against themselves from men, and yet NOT reject and condemn domestic violence by them against their own children – who are far more weak, dependent and vulnerable than they ever could be in relation to a man.

    For feminists to NOT outright condemn domestic violence inflicted against children by their mothers (and fathers), is as hypocritical and absurd as a black rights organisation allowing its members to own slaves.

    It’s well established that our basic personality is formed very early on. If you damage a two year old or a four year old or a six year old you damage them for life. If enough of us treat our children as human beings, and afford them the rights of a human being – by negotiating with them peacefully and rationally, and not resorting to violence – then that generation will grow up to NOT be jerks, abusers, psychopaths, bullies and cruel bastards. And that’s the kind of word we all want, right?

    It’s very simple, and I don’t know why feminists can’t just embrace this concept – seeing as how it would solve 99% of things they point out are wrong with other people.

    if you don’t speak Mandarin to your kids and they won’t grow up speaking Mandarin….. and if you don’t act like a jerk to your kids and they won’t grow up to be jerks ether 🙂

    (Apologies again for long comment… I’m terrible I know!)

    • Hi Abandon,
      Thanks for your thoughts.
      First, I’d like to summarize Katherine’s blog post:
      She starts by reviewing two separate times in the same day that she received comments from men that were based solely on the fact that she was a woman, including name-calling. She began it to point out the external forces of misogyny in the world. She could have stopped there, and simply finished the blog with “men suck.” She did not, because she is a smart woman. She continued to describe an experience that allowed her to notice her own internalized misogyny. She then continued to say that she was going to stop that kind of thinking because it perpetuates misogyny. Then she wrote a blog post, so that everyone who read it could examine their own internalized thinking about women. She raised the consciousness of most people who read the post. She did not blame men for anything.
      When you say:
      “I suggest something different. I suggest we ALL start deconstructing the attitudes, behaviour, policies and social movements which got us to this place.” That is exactly what she did by writing this blog post. She explained how she chose to change her OWN thinking about other women. She then made a call to WOMEN to change their thinking about other WOMEN.

      This is a great thing. It makes me sad that you choose to take issue with the great swath of feminism based on this post in particular, because this post is fighting the good fight, Abandon.

      You are both on the same side.

      And I will go ahead and say that though you consciously don’t identify as a feminist, you are in fact, a feminist. A radical feminist, to be exact.

      You have a lot of ideas that are way, way, totally off the mark. But honestly, some of your ideas that really hit the nail on the head. And I think that you both totally miss the point and also totally nail it is that you are ONLY familiar with the feminist narrative of white, middle-class, educated women. It makes sense, as that is the dominant narrative and people who don’t educate themselves further are only engaging with that one, which is problematic.

      I think that if you took the time to educate yourself about radical feminism, and starting by reading “Feminism is for Everybody,” I think you will find bell hooks VERY clearly articulates VERY CLEAR GOALS for the feminist movement, and articulates VERY clearly how “mainstream” feminism (dominated by white, middle-class, educated women) has failed to meet those goals.

      I would LOVE to continue this conversation after you’ve read the writing of bell hooks. I honestly predict that you will agree with a lot of what she says. You might not, but I think at the very least that education will help you articulate your issues with feminism in a more lucid and nuanced manner.

      I also want to point out, once again, that although Katherine is white and educated (middle-class I can’t speak to), she is NOT falling into the stereotypical narrative of the white, middle-class, educated woman. Which is again, why I’m disappointed that you chose to take issue with it, but I guess also grateful that it afforded us a chance to have this conversation.

      Here’s a link to the book on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Feminism-Is-Everybody-Passionate-Politics/dp/0896086283/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1380749583&sr=8-1&keywords=feminism+is+for+everybody

      If you can’t afford the book or can’t wait for it to ship, you can read it here:
      http://excoradfeminisms.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/bell_hooks-feminism_is_for_everybody.pdf

      Hope you’re well, and happy reading!

      • “…She starts by reviewing two separate times in the same day that she received comments from men that were based solely on the fact that she was a woman…’

        That’s an assumption. Don’t forget, she IS a woman and is therefore more likely to get female (rather than male) gendered comments or insults thrown at her for that reason. If she was a robot they’d probably have said, “Hey guys, check out the bearings on that piece of machinery!”

        When jerks decide to be jerks and start throwing ‘unhelpful’ comments around they will usually pick the most obvious things to comment on….. your appearance, your body, your clothes etc. And if you happen to be a woman that will inevitably mean things related to you as a woman.

        I mean, do you expect jerks to make unisex insults for fear of being labelled a misogynist or a misandrist? LOL

        To suggest or imply this is a feminist issue / an example of misogyny implies these men are NOT jerks except when it comes to women. And I doubt that very much. They sound like they would be jerks to men as well, but obviously in a different way. They are probably jerks to cats and dogs too, but again, in a different way.

        If those jerks had robbed her apartment (let’s assume she lives alone) and they stole all her jewellery, would you say they were stealing her stuff “based solely on the fact that she is a woman”? Would you define it as a misogynistic act because they were stealing women’s things? …. or is it once again, just an example of jerks being jerks?

        If you’re a black person and you get cut up by some white dude, does that mean it’s because you are black? Is it automatically a racial issue? Or is it more likely that the driver is an asshole to everyone else on the road and not just black people?

        These things are as much about perception and psychology as anything else. There is (as I have explained at length) a great deal of incentive to portray jerky behaviour against women in terms of misogyny in order to justify the feminist victim narrative about ‘oppression from men’ which in turn helps the feminist movement recruit more members and therefore gain more POWER which can then be used (like a club) to get special treatment and ‘free stuff’ – often by force, and often using the state as your violent thugs/ thieves (ie as the ultimate alpha males).

        This, of course, make feminism a perfect example of the violent patriarchal system it says it despises (ie mob rule, hierarchy and oppression using violence).

        I felt Katherine was hinting at that distinction in her post – ie that grey area of ambiguity between *genuine* misogyny ….. and ordinary jerks who view or treat people, who happen to be women, negatively due entirely to their own jerkiness.

        I was just trying to explore that point a bit more. When I did explore that subject I got a couple of comments which accused me of all sorts of terrible things – none of which had any relevance to me or what I actually wrote.

        If you are a woman, then obviously 100% of your personal experiences of jerkiness, hate, harassment, abuse and violence directed against you will be against women, BECAUSE YOU ARE A WOMAN. That is why we must only draw conclusions based on hard facts… and not (as so many feminists do) based on their own personal experiences and personal feelings as women….. and not on consensus of experiences and feelings shared by other women either.

        Consensus is not objective reality or truth – even though it often FEELS like it is. If all black car drivers who had been cut up by white drivers got together and formed a ‘movement’ they could easily convince each other that they were being oppressed by white drivers. But that wouldn’t mean there was any truth to their narrative, even though each one of them could confirm that the narrative really did fit their own experience. See what I mean?

        That is also why in my first comment I pointed out the statistics (ie facts, objective reality) that more men are violently attacked in public than women. If society (or just men) was misogynistic you’d expect more women to be attacked than men and for nobody to really care about it (ie not make the news, no resources available for women victims, no charities and shelters for women etc etc).

        Personally, I hate having to compare ‘male victims’ vs ‘female victims’ in this way…. I prefer to look at ways to *solve* social problems at their root (such as non violent parenting) rather than by pointing fingers and trying to find excuses to blame other people and justify being the ‘best victim’ in society.

        “…Then she wrote a blog post, so that everyone who read it could examine their own internalized thinking about women. …”

        And it was a fascinating read. If I thought she was just a one dimensional ‘man hater’ I wouldn’t have bothered commenting (or reading to the end). I only commented because she seemed like an intelligent and insightful person.. and she got me thinking about the idea that the jerks she encountered examples of jerks, and not necessarily examples of misogyny in action. That’s why I questioned whether her experiences were really examples of a *feminist* issue at all.

        “…It makes me sad that you choose to take issue with the great swath of feminism based on this post in particular,..”

        I take issue with feminism (the movement) because of very specific issues… and NOT because of what Katherine wrote.

        My issues with (and objection to) the feminist movement include the following..

        1. Feminism is based on a factually incorrect and logically flawed narrative
        2. Feminism completely rewrites history and makes a mockery of the huge struggle, sacrifices and resourcefulness AND COLLABORATIVE EFFORT of both men and women who lived in much tougher times than we do.
        3. Feminism is not based on any clearly defined principles, moral rules etc
        4. Feminism does not condemn violence, and in fact REQUIRES violence whenever it demands ‘free stuff’ from the state.
        5. Feminism does not focus nearly enough on positive pro-active CURES to the social problems it highlights like proper parenting, and instead tends to point the blame at others. This makes it demoralising and disempowering to women. And useless.
        6. Feminism promotes the idea that parenting can be outsourced to strangers without damaging the child and that men are not necessary for a healthy upbringing and can be discarded and replaced by state support.
        7. By encouraging the break up of the family and fatherless upbringing feminism actually promotes crime and social dysfunction in society (fatherless homes lead to gang culture in boys) – which feminists then blame on men, thus adding more ballast to their ‘movement’.
        8. Feminism promotes the idea of women becoming like men and being ‘successful’ in the political/ corporate sphere – areas which are defined by violence and which are the leading causes of social dysfunction and social/ economic/ environmental destruction in the world today. In other words feminism promotes a ‘if you can’t beat them join them’ mentality.
        9. Feminism attempts to turn every issue into a ‘feminist’ issue, and everyone into a ‘feminist’ (come join our mob!) whether they object to feminism or not.
        10. Feminism is essentially a political movement, given that it is so heavily involved in campaigning to affect political policy. Feminism is basically socialism. And socialism is not based on principles, it is based on the initiation of force and theft (ie the violent redistribution of wealth). I am opposed to both theft and violence committed by anyone – regardless of whether they are wearing a special costume or not.

        “….And I will go ahead and say that though you consciously don’t identify as a feminist, you are in fact, a feminist. A radical feminist, to be exact….”

        No, I am NOT a feminist! 😉

        The fact that I object to violence towards children, but feminism does not, is already enough of a reason for me not to identify as or support the feminist movement. But there are dozens of other massive reasons (see the list above for a start).

        The fact is I don’t support or fund ANY movement. I think ‘movements’ are terribly dangerous things. Just look at history. I think it’s extremely creepy the way a person (particularly a young person) only has to express the slightest sympathy towards certain things (basic equality, human rights, civilised attitudes towards women etc) and immediately you’re being told “A-ha! That proves you must be a feminist”.

        It’s no different to being sympathetic towards the possibility of aliens existing and being told “A-Ha! That proves you must be a Scientologist”.

        Or expressing the feeling that there might be a divine creator and being told “A-Ha! That proves you must be a Roman Catholic”

        These are ALL examples of cults – feminism included. They are ALL about recruiting (typically young, naive, vulnerable) people to join their movement, using any excuse they can, so they can then use the power of the mob to impose their own political/ social policies onto society, by mob rule.

        I am not a feminist, nor can I logically be one, because I support PRINCIPLES, rather than consensus beliefs and mob rule.

        Principles cannot be hijacked and subverted… for example, the ‘non aggression principle’ (it’s wrong to initiate force against other people) cannot be turned into something it is not. It cannot be subverted. You cannot start initiating force (assault, murder, coercion, torture, kidnapping etc) and simultaneously claim to support the non aggression principle.

        But ‘movements’ can be (and always are) hijacked and subverted. You can claim to be a feminist right now, while doing pretty much whatever the hell you like in your life, because feminism really doesn’t have any rules (principles) which must be adhered to in order to ‘be a feminist’. Wanting to ‘be a feminist’ (or being told you already are a feminist) is all that is required!

        That is why movements like feminism are so dangerous. Without a solid basis of clearly defined principles movements will alway lead to a kind of mob rule of the most destructive kind.

        Always. Just look at history.

        Sorry, but the feminist movement is not some magical exception.

        • What did you think of bell hooks? Or do you already know everything about feminism that you want to know? If the latter, you shouldn’t be surprised if people don’t want to have a discussion with someone who refuses to educate himself.

  18. Ok, last thought here:
    patriarchy is a term often misused to denote that all men oppress all women all the time. I didn’t realize that til I did a little internet research. It makes no sense, so I can understand why you take issue with it if that’s what you thought I was saying.
    I used it in this context here to mean those at the top of the power structure in society are, by and large, men. I suspect you live in the UK so things break down differently, but all US presidents and vice presidents have been men. Here’s the gender breakdown of Congress: In the House, there are currently 362 men and 76 women. In the Senate, there are 83 men and 17 women. This is of 2011, I think, so it might have shifted since then. Those at the head of the state are men.

    Those are hard numbers-FACTS, if you will. Those who are the decision-makers in the US are disproportionately male considering that the slight majority of the population is female. We can certainly have another conversation another time about the amount of decision-making power the state has, but that’s way beside the point.

    This is to explain what I mean when I say patriarchy.
    Take care!

  19. Katherine, I do hope you won’t let the extreme trolling deter you from writing future posts like this. A number of friends with whom I’ve shared this post have said that they found it thought-provoking, a fresh take on the topic. I’d hate to have your voice drowned out by screeds posing as comments. I value your voice.

  20. Wow. So I kind of skipped the Abandon posts because I think my two cents will probably be unrelated. Actually, my two cents is specifically related to the first part of the post dealing with relations between men and women. I’ve been travelling rather a lot this year and have encountered attitudes towards me, based on the fact that I’m a woman, that are noticeable because they are foreign. I’ve had to change the way I dress to respect local culture, in some places I’ve felt awkward going to the market because I got 10-20 catcalls and hisses per block. This didn’t happen to the men. Generally, I’ve become a lot more aware of the sexism that permeates each of the cultures I’ve been in. One of the unexpected side effects is that noticing casual and almost expected sexism around the world has made me look back and notice the same in my own country. A country that I previously viewed as liberal and not particularly sexist. And maybe sexist isn’t the right word here, but I’m referring to negative behaviour that targets me on the basis that I am a woman, whether that is catcalls or assuming that I am a victim. I didn’t notice it, or maybe I just excused it in my own country because I view it as the norm, I’m used to it, but travelling has made me reassess. I’m not sure why I’m telling you this, maybe because I think you might be interested in the perspective. In any case, I’ll stop now, with just two more points. To all of the people who have spoken to me in the last 9 months: yes, I travelled alone, as a woman, for months and through various countries. No, I did not get raped or die. Yes, I hitchhiked with a female friend for a month. No neither of us got raped or killed. For some reason there is an idea that women cannot travel safely alone.

  21. @CassandraToday

    “…What did you think of bell hooks?…”

    Give me a chance! – I’m far too busy writing long comments here! 🙂

    But I have saved the pdf and started reading … In return here’s a very well presented talk (on youtube) explaining why feminism is based on a completely flawed narrative, and why feminism has been subverted into SUPPORTING the very violent hierarchy (patriarchy) it claims to object to. LINKThe speaker (it’s on her youtube channel) is also a very eloquent blogger/ vlogger and she’s well worth checking out…

    “…Or do you already know everything about feminism that you want to know?…”

    That’s a very interesting question!

    Like most people (including most feminists in the world) my knowledge of feminist theory, feminist politics and the feminist narrative which underpins it all has come largely from PEOPLE WHO DEFINE THEMSELVES AS FEMINISTS. That includes everyone from prominent spokespeople for feminism (well known feminist authors, column writers, activists etc) all the way to ordinary bloggers and commenters, such as yourself and others here on this post……. We’re talking literally hundreds of feminists! 🙂

    If, as you seem to be implying, all these people have misinformed me about what feminist theory really is (and that only a few select authors can educate me on what ‘real’ feminism is) then you must be agreeing with one of my main criticisms of the feminist movement ….. that the feminist movement (the one we actually experience it in society, in politics, in the media, on the interweb, on youtube, on the bus, in relationships etc) is NOT based on a clearly defined set of principles, rules or ‘philosophy’ ….. and is therefore just a ‘free for all’ (a cult, an unruly mob etc)

    Instead of being based on clear cut principles and rules, feminism seems to be based on the following:

    a) a set of incredibly vague and questionable premises (most notably a factually incorrect and incomplete narrative about historical and contemporary oppression from men)
    b) a set of objectives so vague and ever-shifting they defy categorisation
    c) the willingness to declare oneself ‘a feminist’ (whatever that means)

    This really begs the question “what is feminism?” …. “what is a feminist? .. and “what makes an issue a feminist issue?” Nobody seems to know.

    In this very comment thread I have been told I *am* a feminist (and a radical one too!), but apparently I just don’t know it yet. By stark contrast, you seem to think I know nothing about feminism and presumably you don’t think I am a feminist at all. How can I be both of those extremes at once?

    Can you imagine vegetarians or pacifists or jazz enthusiasts being as contradictory and unsure when it comes to what defines someone as a vegetarian, a pacifist or a jazz enthusiast? Of course not. All of those groups have strict entry requirements (you must not eat meat, you must abstain from fighting in wars, and you must be fan of jazz). Feminism is different in that is has no clearly defined entry requirements except being willing to declare yourself ‘a feminist’ (again, without properly defining what that means).

    Can a woman who can well afford to stay at home for five years to raise her newborn child, but who *chooses* to hand that child over to strangers instead so she can go back to her ‘fulfilling’ career, be a feminist? Apparently so.

    Can a woman who climbs to the very top of the political/ corporate hierarchy (which some might refer to as the male dominated ‘patriarchy’) and uses that position to wield violence against the masses, exploit the poor, commit genocide, steal from the unborn etc be a feminist? Apparently so.

    Can a woman who assaults her children be a feminist? Apparently so.

    Can a woman who kicks out her boyfriend/ husband and then supports the use of violence and intimidation against me to force me to help pay for her childcare costs call herself a feminist? Apparently so.

    When looked at objectively there really is no underlying moral or philosophical basis underpinning feminism. It appears to be a mass movement who attempt to use their numbers (social pressure, voting etc) to collectively impose their own individual selfish desires onto society. And that is fine – that is absolutely fine – but I just wish feminists were honest enough to admit that that is what their movement is about, instead of pretending it is about principles or virtue or wholesomeness or justice or whatever.

    It is PAINFULLY obvious that feminism is only about principles or virtue or justice or equality things when those things HAPPEN ALIGN WITH THE SELFISH DESIRES OF FEMINISTS. The most blatant example of this is violence which is a horrific abuse of power when a man hits a woman, but is perfectly acceptable when a woman (or a man) hits a child. Such utter hypocrisy!

    And sure, while there may be *some* people who call themselves ‘feminists’ who do oppose violence towards children, there is nothing about ‘feminism’ per se which opposes violence BECAUSE as I keep pointing out feminism is NOT based on principles or rules (such as “we oppose the use of violence”).

    And I wish those feminists who DO posses some shred of moral/ philosophical/ empathetic consistency distanced themselves from ‘the mob’ which make up the majority of feminists in the real world…… and perhaps even called them out on their hypocrisy, lack of reason, and lack of compassion!

    Here’s a quote from that book you want me to read….

    “…..I have wanted them to have this simple definition to read again and again so they know: “Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression.” I love this definition, which I first offered more than 10 years ago in my book Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center…..”

    If this definition of feminism were actually true the we’d see feminists campaigning to end sexism against men just as often as we see them campaigning to end sexism against women.

    For example we’d see feminists campaigning for equality between the sexes when it comes to crime convictions and prison sentences which currently gives men far harsher sentences than women. (which in turn removes fathers from society, perhaps just for being caught with the wrong kind of herb in their pocket, which in turn means thousands of children grow up without fathers, and end up in gangs and turn to crime etc etc etc).

    Or we’d see feminists campaigning for false rape accusations to be punished as severely as rape convictions because being convicted of rape and sentenced to prison (where you will likely get raped repeatedly) is far worse a prospect than actually being raped. And so false rape accusation (like when a woman regrets getting drunk and having sex with some douche, and so she claims it was rape) is arguably far worse than rape itself.

    Or we’d see women campaigning for divorce/ separation / custody laws which weren’t a legacy from the dark ages and didn’t make men vulnerable to losing everything – including access to their children.

    Or we might even see feminists campaigning for children to be treated as full human beings (imagine that!) ie it’s no longer OK to hit them or force them to attend state run prison camps where they are segregated by age (and often by sex too) and force fed propaganda for six hours a day from the age of four. Again, ending the violent, oppressive and humiliating regime of state schooling (based as it is on the Prussian system designed to break people) would mean a much healthier society with far less crime, victimisation, oppression and general jerkiness.

    But sadly, for the most part, we only see feminists campaigning for things which benefit women specifically, and in the very short term. And again, that is not my main criticism. What I find so offensive is this insistence that feminism is about equality for ALL when it is so obviously not. That claim is as absurd and as arrogant as vegetarians claiming every social issue falls under the banner of vegetarianism (with the implication that vegetarianism is the only group you need to join, and the only cause society needs to pay attention to and fund).

    As I have already said, I fully support campaigning for *specific* named issues, and fighting for *specific* rights (as feminism originally did). But that is very different to what feminism has now become in the 21st century…. ie a kind of cult, which claims to be fighting for everyone’s rights and everyone’s equality (in order to gain as many members as possible). Very dangerous stuff indeed.

    You (and others) have accused me of being a troll and of being wrong, or somehow anti-women for questioning the feminist narrative and various other feminist claims …. and yet nobody has been considerate enough to quote anything I’ve written and kindly explain to me WHY what I’ve said is wrong.

    Unless you take issue with something *specific* which I have said (and provide counter evidence or a counter argument), then I cannot be corrected if I am wrong, nor can I argue my position if I believe I am still right.

      • That’s the fourth comment you’ve written where you don’t actually discuss, take issue with, or passionately argue against anything I wrote ….. nor do you even offer a different perspective.

        Instead of engaging in a real grown up conversation or debate with me (ie the person you are replying to) you just keep acting out this ‘harassed reader’ routine…… and not to me, but to the ‘jury’, as it were (other readers).

        In other words, you keep contriving a negative emotional reaction to my comments to justify not engaging in any real conversation or debate ….. and to pursued other readers to view what I’ve written as automatically invalid (ie no further thought necessary).

        If we were all discussing this face to face in a town hall you could achieve a similar effect by letting me make my points, and when I’ve finished suddenly clutching your nose, bending over and crying out “Owww that really hurt! …. OK, OK…. you win….have it your way.. I give up!….anything for peace….” before shuffling off the stage like a victim …… while the audience gasps and looks at me like I was a the devil. The result? – you’d win the debate of course…. and without having to provide a single counter-argument or fact.

        What you’re doing (whether you are aware of it or not) is just passive-aggressive emotional manipulation.

        “…OK, whatever you say. Peace be with you. Shaking the dust off my feet as I leave….”

        And it suggests to me you have no interest in examining feminism itself, much less confronting its twisting of historical facts, its focus on selfish (usually material) gains at the expense of others (including children) and its blatant moral hypocrisy (see my last comment).

        If what I wrote is a load of rubbish – great! Please put me right. I’d *love* nothing more than to be proved wrong about these things because it would mean the world is not as messed up as it appears to be 🙂

  22. thank you for being honest. a lot of the ugly thoughts I have about women claiming they are feminists are about how self righteous they are. Like they don’t ever feel badly about themselves and that I am somehow less because those problems still plague me I. still ACHE to be skinny, which I now get to feel guilty about. Anyway, thank you.

  23. “I feel like a world of true feminist equality would be one in which I could genuinely dislike other women on the basis of their character alone. ” Haha completely agree, and I try to follow that “rule” myself.

    On another note, never heard of this Quin Woodward Pu woman until now and she is indeed the perfect example haha.

  24. Pingback: 5 Things Women Need to Stop Saying to Each Other Immediately | My Other Blog

  25. Pingback: Why, Thank You, Sir. I Do Have Great Tits. | I Am Begging My Mother Not To Read This Blog

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