I recently wrote a blog satirising the #WomenAgainstFeminism movement, and unsurprisingly received responses from the movement. I was presented information, statistics, videos and opinions.
Whenever you get new information you can either ignore it, which is a version of confirmation bias where you are only lying to yourself, or you can assimilate it and adjust your beliefs and perspectives based on it. I have chosen the latter; some of the information was a sort of propaganda, but there were also a number of good points which made me understand why the #WomenAgainstFeminism movement exists.
To be a feminist, in reality, is quite easy and also on the surface quite commendable; ‘I stand for women’s rights’ you’re saying. To oppose such a group takes a sort of courage and it takes a larger step, intellectually. It involves engaging with law, critically analysing statistics and not just taking things at face value, and not being biased by stories of individual cases but looking at a wider picture.
Some of the information I was presented with concerned laws that potentially discriminated unjustly against men; some of this may be only opinion but some of it also looks very reasonable, which suggests that at times feminists can go a step to far, beyond fairness. This is something that I agree on, and any law should strive for fairness to all, and should not be coloured by a strength of voice in favour of it nor a lack of opposition (from men, potentially, here). Does this though diminish the role of feminism? For me, no, or at least not fully. It says that someone who is supporting the rights of women should be ensuring that they are doing so through the perspective of fairness for both genders.
One of the main questions, here then, and one that was posed to me is; does gender inequality towards women exist? Some from #WomenAgainstFeminism tell me the answer here is no. My firs counter argument here is that I find it odd that they will concede that gender inequality against males exist (such as in the example of laws above) but that a different inequality does not exist for females. For me, it seems reasonable to say that gender inequality is suffered by both genders in different ways and at different times. Therefore I propose that a feminist movement is not unreasonable, but again it should be through the lens of considering both genders.
The next argument that was proposed to me at this point is ‘Well if we are thinking about both genders then we should just be fighting for gender equality broadly’. Which I agree with but I disagree on method of work. For me, if you look throughout history incremental changes towards inequality of all kinds has come through concerted efforts focussing on specific issues. Fighting for a cause impacting on a sector of society, whether race, gender, religion, sexuality etc. is not in itself a bad thing as this is how change is made. A generalised movement of human equality is good but at some point it would have to focus on a specific issue at which point it will be labelled. And the label is not necessarily a bad thing, as it will help create change with a banner which people want to unite under. As long as specific movements are acting with logic, compassion and in a way that is caring for all humans, irrespective of background it will do good work.
This leads nicely on to another argument I encountered; a very reasonable one too! Many feminists present with ‘Misandry’; the hatred or dislike of men. This often comes with words or actions of violence and verbal abuse. I have been shown quotes of feminists saying they wish to castrate men (literally, not metaphorically) and cause harm to men for inexplicable reasons. A movement against people who say this seems perfectly reasonable but I think the hashtag should then be #WomenAgainstViolentAbusiveFeminists as they otherwise run the risk of overgeneralising a group that is surely also filled with as many articulate, intelligent people as their own #WomenAganistFeminism movement has. Linking back to my previous paragraph, the answer here is identifying people and groups who are not acting compassionately and with care towards all humans and support them to change, working with them rather than against them in a way that creates lines in the sand and a mentality of ‘us’ and ‘them’. Violence and abuse should not be tolerated against any human but how we counteract this should be through methods that we ourselves espouse; logic and compassion.
The final point that I wished to discuss is that the feminist agenda often focusses too much on a white, middle class female who receives verbal abuse and actions that are demeaning, and that one by focussing on this it can lead to victimisation instead of empowerment, and two it neglects the women who receive the worst treatment in other countries and sectors of society. I think that these are both very good points. I spoke to an Elizabeth Hobson about my satire; she is from the #WomenAgainstFeminism movement and she said that she wasn’t offended at the satire as she is big enough to laugh at herself and not be offended. For me that was the most brilliant response that I had received. There will always be people who treat others poorly, again irrespective of any individual characteristic, and the ability to be able to rise above, laugh at the slight and show strength is something that I would espouse to everyone! Pointing and laughing at the ignorant actions of others is one of the best medicines in the world, in my opinion, and of the main reasons I usually stick to satire.
But also, a group with a specific agenda is not a bad thing, and they may have a point, it might be helpful to support such groups to develop a script of empowerment and not victimisation, though this does not mean changing what the issue which the group is focussing on. Also, we as a people need to ensure that all sectors of society are being represented, so my advice would be for people to identify issues where people are being prejudiced, where others are not being treated with kindness and compassion and campaign to change this, using a script of kindness, compassion and laughter. In this way we can fight together, under different banners, to bring together human equality, and genuine positive change for all sectors of society.
I hope that this makes sense, and I will warmly receive any feedback.