The Problem With Feminism

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Feminism has seen a huge rise in the last couple of decades, and I am no expert, but I think it was invented by the Spice Girls.  OK, that is not true, but as a youngster growing up It was the first time I actively and publicly saw a campaign giving women a voice. Naturally being a young whipper snapper I didn’t quite understand this ‘women have a voice’ and ‘Girl Power’ movement. Girls couldn’t speak before? Sally Withersmith in my class was a girl* and she talked all the time.

It would take a pretty big effort to go out of your way and disagree with the feminist ideology though, I mean there is simply no harmful indictment in it. Naturally if you are an insecure male authoritarian such as Milo Yiannopoulos, you may take a different view. But I would suggest being sceptical of anyone who has outlandish views for money, that includes Katie Hopkins. It is their job to stir controversy and ‘debate’. I use that term loosely, largely because it is a strange thing to debate against. Especially when you look at the definition of feminism.

It is fairly straight forward according to Mariam-Webster, it is; ‘the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes.’

Now when Sally Withersmith was chatting away behind the boys toilets I don’t think she was fighting for those things, but many women (and men) are. I also think even if you are not actively involved in the movement, the default position would be to be in favour of it. Otherwise you’re stood there with a placard that says ‘I don’t want political, economic and social equality for men and women’, which would be weird. Although ironically if they were granted unequal rights to protest, they would not be able to protest for more unequal rights.

Thankfully we are seeing change, albeit quite slow change. There have been two female Prime Minsters in the UK in the last 30 years and, if nothing else, that proved that some women are just as bad as some men at running the country. It is almost as if the gender of a person does not directly correlate with their ability to do something. People debating which sex is better at what, and where they were better in history, is the most arbitrary and meaningless activity going. Rather like Christians debating with Muslims who has persecuted more people. The real debate is regarding the underlying hate or disscontempt for the other.

Typically though the source of all hate can be tracked down to ignorance, and this is very often the case with feminism. The aggressive opposers, such as Milo, are just plain illiterate when you consider their primary arguments against it.  They just seem to get the words feminism and misandry mixed up daily. Misandry being the active hatred of men. Now, I’d never want to assume stupidity on someone else behalf but with a few taps on a keyboard and a click of a mouse, I managed to figure that out. I’d also never want to suggest they do this deliberately due to their vested interests, but it is either that or you are a potato.

So feminism is not misandry.

Feminism is not sexism either.

Sexism is certainly something which is fair game for debate – unlike feminism. You can debate whether someone has been discriminated against or not, but there should be no debate about whether we have equal rights or not. Whilst that may not be a revelation for some, to others they will have to go and correct a lot of tweets and blog posts, where they labeled someone a man hating feminist or sexist. When in actual fact they should of just called them a misandrist or a humanist, even then they would only be proving their own ignorance.

Humans seem to love ignorance, it keeps them happy and it allows them to perpetuate their own ideas without fear of ever being wrong. Naturally though this stupidity ceases upon the problem feminism has and that is, the PR problem. The reason it is often mistaken for misandry is simply because feminism looks a little bit like feminine and feminine is a middle England term for woman. It comes form the Latin word Femina, which means, you guessed it, woman. It kind of suggests that you’re goal is woman based.

Theres swathes of low attention span ignorant people who literally make that connection and then base a whole set of false belief upon it. I should probably also say at this point that, the subtext for this post is actually to see whether people who affiliate with either side just read the headline without the context or perspective, and make judgements based on that. That in essence is part of the problem. If you read it all and withheld judgement, give yourself a pat on the back and let me know in the comments. Ok, back to the solution bit.

Do not fear though, there is a solution for the feminism PR problem, and it doesn’t involve the burning of undergarments. It is purely in the terminology, the thing is there is no difference between fighting for equal rights and fighting for feminism, they want the same thing. Calling it equal rights and using the term equal rights will just avoid the terminological disaster.

Now don’t get me wrong, I fully understand that women have a lot more ground to make up in this equality battle. They have been the oppressed for centuries, and typically need to fight for significantly more rights than men. Ultimately though they’re fighting for equality and I think that word is good enough.

Mindfump.

*To my knowledge she is still a girl.

P.S I know this is not related to mental health directly but it is something I noticed and was intrigued to write about. More mental health stuff coming soon. 

 

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136 Comments

  1. I find it disgusting in this day an age there is not equality for all. It doesn’t matter age, race, gender, sexual preference, we are all equal. I literally don’t understand how people can’t see that. I worked in sales for years and a lot of men would not deal with me because I was a female and they wanted an other male. My feelings on it were good I don’t have to listen to this condescending sexist jerk. I am a female, just far more honest and care about the customer needs more than anyone else. I hope the sexist males enjoyed getting scammed into something they didn’t want, because they won’t do business with woman.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That is certainly a horrible experience – so sorry you had to, or even have to go through that. I agree with you and I hope the time when this isn’t the case is very soon.

      Like

  2. Throughly enjoyed your post and even more so, the extended debate in the comments.

    I would say that I am on the ‘keep the feminists’ side of the fence. Although essentially it is fighting for equal rights, I don’t think feminist have men rights in the forefront.

    I’m sorry but it is a mans world! Feminists are fighting for women not for men, since men have been getting most of the pie if not all from the year dot.

    Feminists are not fighting for men or against men but to be seen as on par with their counterparts. This can not be done by dismissing the feminist argument, as this would be ignoring the plight of centuries of work.

    Till we get to that utopian point, where women and men are seen as equals in rights, pay, status, skills, mental abilities, etc and few decades have past from that point; can we just call it equality with no gender associated with it.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! And I am very happy to see you contribute also 🙂 I think there in lies the point though, the PR problem is just that. Men see it as an attack on them – which it is not. But if they see it that way they will resist more, which doesn’t help bring equality, so if it doesn’t help bring equality quickly then why not just use another term that would? I don’t think there is any dismissing any previous work by changing the term, the goals are the same. Equal right are women’s rights. If we reached the point where everything is equal then no one needs to protest at all. So no term would be needed. Surely the goal is to get there as quickly as possible – and I think using the word feminism is counter productive. Although I am 100% behind the movement, and if we don’t agree on a name change, I am also a feminist 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

      1. O, be some other name!
        What’s in a name? that which we call a rose
        By any other name would smell as sweet;
        -Shakespeare

        I don’t think the name is a problem, it just identifies whose problem it is. There is a PR problem that I agree on, women are scared of calling themselves a feminist, for crying out loud 😂.
        But that should not be reason to cloud over the underlying movement, which I would assume, free thinking men and women would be able to decipher.

        The actual problem is the mindset of those who think particular people as inferior. So even if you put that dirty word feminist under the huge equal rights umbrella, it won’t make a difference to those who already posses this mindset, potato potato.

        Those who have their noses inch deep inside of our pies don’t care about equality otherwise they’d be feminists 😁. It would mean their power is gone, since they need someone to be subordinate, to have power over.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. I think you’re over estimating the thinking ability of a lot of people :p I don’t think the movement is in doubt, but also neither is human rights. Civil rights protesters don’t need a name and I don’t think women’s rights protesters do either. I also don’t think feminism is a dirty word, just a misunderstood word. Surely the purpose of a protest is clarity of voice, which I don’t think the word supports. I think if people are scared to label themselves as something whilst simultaneously agree with its beliefs there is a problem with the label. So just change it, because it is that simple… he says sarcastically haha.

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  3. I completely recognize where you’re coming from in your discussion of “avoiding the terminological disaster” through the term “equalism” or something like that. But let me raise one objection- feminists and feminist scholars have acted almost as their own school of thought, bringing the perspectives of many minority groups to fields such as sociology and science. Although feminism is undoutbtably promoted by many men today, is it okay to erase the origins of the movement, the females who fought so hard, by switching to such a term as “equalism”?

    Let me know what you think 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for joining in the discussion! So nice to have so many people talking about it. I see what you’re saying but I don’t know why or how the history of the movement would be wiped by changing the name. The history of racism and activities exists and they don’t have a name. It’s like having a movement called blackism to support black rights or mentalism to support the rights of people with mental illness. Those terms would be unnecessary and divisive, just like feminism. I suppose ultimately we don’t need a term at all.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks for the reply 🙂 Very good point, the history would not be wiped out simply because of a name change. However, I disagree that we dont need a term to talk about it. Language gives us power to discuss social problems and lets us have these very discussions! It’s just slightly reminiscent of those who counter the “black lives matter” movement with “all lives matter”…a name such as equalism probably does fit more closely with what feminism means today, but changing the name simply to eradicate the controversial “female” in “feminism” seems to be glossing over the larger problem at hand. If we used “equalism,” would it even be clear to which exact issue (gender equality) it refers?
        Things always get messy when vocabulary gets loaded!

        Liked by 2 people

        1. Black people went from slaves to president without a label. They just are just civil rights activists, civil rights covers all races including white, and it didn’t diminish their efforts. I think black lives matter has also seen the similar PR problems as feminism, the uneducated see it with their ignorant eyes and it causes division. So if there’s no disadvantage from the rebrand, and it helps more people understand then I don’t know what the point of keeping it would be. Surely the more people that understand the movement the better? Language is great though, I use mine everyday. It’s in my top 3 tools for success in life.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Haha, this convo has been great for me to pin down exactly what my problem with a rebrand is…I think my problem is that since feminism started with the name “feminism,” rather than a broader term such as civil rights, changing it would 1)take away from its founding purpose and 2) suggest a bit of a defeat for females. Feminism was called such because it wanted to give a voice to a specific minority: females. Since then, it has expanded to include many perspectives, just like rhe civil rights movement! Therefore, removing the “female” from a term for feminism suggests there is still a major societal bias towards females, and there is still a much needed purpose for giving women specifically a voice. There are so many things named after men and their discoveries, which are brilliant, but have been given the spotlight alongside many overlooked discoveries of the women of their time. I worry that suddenly changing the term from “feminism” would reinforce the notion of stigma around females and their opinions, the notion that there is something wrong with them.

            The debate is so much in the public eye that I don’t know if we could make clear enough the reasons for changing to a broader, less controversial term, without admitting a sort of defeat.

            Thanks for hearing me out!

            Liked by 1 person

          2. I certainly see where you are coming from. I think it could potentially detract from women’s struggle. Although I don’t think that happens in civil rights, I think the message would still be clear – if done correctly. I don’t see it as a defeat to make something more clear and pointed. I definitely understand if gives voice to women, but women would also have a voice in gender rights or whatever it would be called. Although certainly if it would be to have the effect you state then obviously a name change would not be beneficial. I just think I don’t believe that would be the response. Who knows though, maybe I wrong… which is quite normal for me hahah. Thank you for contributing!

            Liked by 1 person

  4. Nike has an ad campaign right now that states “If we can be equals in sport we can be equals everywhere”. This is a ridiculous statement. People are not equal in sport. You and LeBron James do not have the same skills when it comes to handling a basketball, and to pretend as if you do is foolishness. In the non sports world the most that can be done to make people equal is in the application of laws against discrimination, and, at this time in the west there are those laws in place. Sure, you could change people’s perceptions about other people, try to get them to respect others, or ‘do unto others as you would like done unto you’, but it will do nothing to improve that person’s skills or abilities, and it will definitely not make everyone ‘equal’.

    Liked by 1 person

        1. The right to equal pay, the right to the same jobs, the right to not be harassed at home, work, or in public., the right to have a baby, and not be a seen as a burden, the right to be treated as equal to men… ok the list for that one goes on and on as well. Whilst I hope you’re asking because you want to educate yourself, I suspect your subtext is one of perpetuation.

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          1. Equal pay in the US is already mandatory under the law. You only have the “right” to the same job if you qualify for it, and the employer wants to hire you. The right not to be harassed at home? By who, telemarketers? Or, do you mean domestic violence? That’s already against the law. Or, do you mean, the right not to be annoyed by your roommate and or neighbors? Not sure how you’re going to legislate those. The right to have a baby and not be seen as a burden? I think you mean the right to have a baby and be unable to provide for it and expect others to do it for you. Perhaps a little consideration of responsible choices could be a “right” as well. The “right” to be treated equal to men? Under what circumstances? Not everyone is equal. I can’t be pregnant. What should we do about that? I know people not being equal is difficult to accept, but, maybe with a little education you can do it.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. I think you’re mixing law with right. It is against the law to harass women (and men) yet it happens significantly more too women. As does unequal pay. The point is that women’s right is about fighting until they’re not discriminated against for being a certain gender. It not only about legislation but education, teaching both genders what is acceptable social behaviour. I don’t think you seem to understand enough about maternity issues to even get into a proper debate. I know America is a right wing country with not a very caring side but men as well as women get paid to stay at home with their child when it is born. That may seem radical, but is common practice in most western countries. The point is not about you having a penis instead of a womb that’s not what equality is. You can continue to intentionally (I hope) misappropriate or misunderstand the issue but it is an issue and things will changes. The US is admittedly quite far behind the rest of the western world on gender issues but it will catch up. So I would recommend learning to live with change and understand that being fair to people is ok. Otherwise you’ll grow to be quite disgruntled when things like universal income arrives and when women are as representative as men in a lot of new situations.

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    1. Yeah I think you are missing the point here a little.

      People are not equals ability at all just but that is not the issue. The issue is equal RIGHTS. Have the right to do the same things as men without judgement or handicap.

      So it is really not about skills or abilities. Hope that clears it up – thanks for taking the time to comment though!

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        1. I think you’re going down a juncture you don’t seem to know a lot about, although the irony of me talking about judgement while judging seems a little unfair. So I’ll give you the benefit of the doubt. It’s not about controlling people’s judgement, but educating people to know that judging someone purely on gender is at best wrong and at worst abhorrent. As for handicaps you don’t have to look very far, pay, access to certain industries, job interviews, and the list goes on and on.

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          1. You’ll give me the benefit of the doubt? That’s mighty white of you. Yes, basing judgements on surface features can be wrong, but, people do it, and, even with your benevolent education will continue to do it. But, by all means, do what you can to improve the species. Perhaps once you finish the list that goes on and on you will come up with some actual workable models for changing some of them to suit you.

            Liked by 1 person

          2. I think you notice that is something I didn’t do. I have happily debated you on the subject and I can only see ignorance or arrogance on a issue you don’t seem to know a lot about. That is certain not a superficial assertion, that is entirely based on your understanding of the issue. I’m sorry you feel people trying to change the world for the better is a problem. The thing is we had it your way many many years ago and it wasn’t very good, and it still isn’t very good so let’s try and change it to make it better for all. Arguing for the past is getting rather tedious is nothing else. There are many many workable models, if you like I’ll run a seminar and you can come and listen. Or you can read any book on the topic. Just because you don’t want to know the existence of something does not mean it doesn’t exist. Either way I wish you all the best.

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  5. I know feminism seems beyond the scope of your blog, Mindfump, but I think that is only seemingly so, for feminism deals with oppression which, like all forms of abuse, can and does create mental health and well being issues. So, I don’t really see this as beyond the themes of your blog. Not by a long shot.

    Second, I’m going to take what might be the minority opinion here (I didn’t do an actual count, though, as my fingers were tied up with typing) and side with those who think a name change might be more advantageous than disadvantageous.

    I’d first like to expand on something already noted: Namely that the great weight of science over the past 100 or more years has come down rather decisively on the side that people are neither easily nor commonly moved by appeals to reason — especially as they age. I think if they were, the billions of dollars invested in advertising would go to producing philosophical treatises rather than the sort of ads and commercials such as we have today. So far as I understand it, changing the name of a product, service, or corporation is an effective means of changing the public perception of it. That’s one reason I’m in favor of changing “feminism” to something like “Egalitarianism”.

    A second reason, a reason that I haven’t noticed that anyone has mention yet (perhaps because the idea is sheer nonsense), is that the name “feminism” seems to me (at least) to be somewhat misleading in the sense that it is not inclusive of nearly half the victims of the patriarchy. For I am of the opinion that the patriarchy not only oppresses virtually all women, but also somewhere on the order of 98% of all men. The patriarchy’s great lie is that it only favors men over women. With that lie it hopes to secure the support of men. But in reality, it favors about 2% of men over both women and the rest of the male population, who are only at best thrown crumbs. It is a scam from start to finish.

    So, I would prefer doing either one of two things. First, change the name of the feminist movement to the egalitarian movement. And if that isn’t practical, or palatable, then drill home again and again and again at every opportunity that feminism is a branch of the egalitarian movement. Make the name feminism associated with egalitarianism as closely as a certain brand of toothpaste was once associated with “sex appeal”. Thanks for your time!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Pretty disappointed this one got dropped into my spam Paul. I am glad you are on Team Mindfump as I am now calling it. I must say I taking a lot pleasure in being the Devils Advocate here. You certainly raise some relevant points. Especially your first point, man is certainly not swayed by reason, you’ve hit the nail on the head.

      Almost whilst I agree a significant proportion of the male population are always barred from power and money, and all things nice. I don’t think this comes in close to the oppression women have suffered. So I don’t feel so strongly as you on that point.

      Someone needs to do some research into it. I feel like I am wholly inadequate to deal with all this great debate.

      Like

      1. Oh, I quite agree women have it much tougher than men! I was merely attempting to point out that, say, 98% of men are also to one extent or another oppressed by the patriarchies, albeit to a significantly lesser degree than women. Naturally, being me, I didn’t make that clearer than I did.

        To my way of thinking, it is in the best interests of nearly everyone on the planet to oppose the patriarchies.

        Liked by 1 person

    2. Hey! I would argue that changing the name of feminism will not stop the gendered squabbles over feminism. Feminism is SUPPOSED to be radical and unpalatable because the movement was trying to dismantle the patriarchy (ie: the capitalist superstructure that is built on the oppression of the poor). Honestly, changing the name “feminist” to “egalitarian” is just a move to make the movement more palatable to those who are benefitting from the system. It just waters it down and puts feminism (the controversial lady movement!) in a pretty box that everyone can support. A big question is whether everyone being feminists is actually what we want. If everyone is a feminist, then no one is a feminist and we are fighting for nothing, we are only posing as people who are. The mass conversion of people to feminism has deradicalized it and frankly made it completely non-threatening. Feminism plays identity politics and gets upset with anyone who doesn’t identify as a feminist or who challenges feminism in any way.
      Admittedly, your criticism that feminism is misleading because it only covers a portion of the victims of the patriarchy is very convincing. My only response would be to express how much I wish the modern feminist movement wasn’t about victimisation. I can’t stand how much we seem to play victim politics now. Nothing gets done when we paint ourselves as victims and compare experiences to see who is the most oppressed. No one benefits from the patriarchy. And the gendering of the words “patriarchy” and “feminism” reflects the historical gendering of the oppressive system (rich property-owning men) and the movement to dismantle it (started by women who were fighting to be given the opportunities to participate in the capitalist system). By no means should we paint the “sides” as “the bad men” and “the poor female victims” (not that “sides” are important at all). Honestly, I am inclined to say that the modern “social media” feminist movement is just oversimplifying the problems and points fingers at men.

      I would love to hear your thoughts!

      Liked by 2 people

      1. What a thorough comment! Although I must say I disagree with quite a bit. The idea that if everyone supported equal rights for men and women, the then it would fail just doesn’t make sense to me. The more people supporting the goals then better. I don’t think it should be radical or threatening. I don’t see how anything would get watered down either, the message would never change. In fact regardless of all the activities and approaches, the goal is to be treated equally with men, and vice versa. I think the average person on the street is confused by the movement, what it is for, what it represents, what it wants, and that is entirely the movements fault. A name change, and rebrand would make it more understandable. Making something palatable does not make it any less effective. Certainly if you think the goal is to dismantle the patriarchy, I don’t think it is an effective method currently. First you need people to understand it, and they don’t. The message needs to be clearer, and more understood. That is the job of people who support women’s rights – me included.

        Actually think I repeated myself 17 times but I hope the gist of the reply is there haha. Loving all the debate though.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Hey! Ok, so I read over my comment and honestly I have problems myself with what I wrote. I completely agree with everything you said, which has now led me to rethink everything and try to reexamine my main points haha. please bear with me!

          1) Feminism has not always been what it is now. I feel that there is so much polarization and finger pointing now, especially on college campuses. Personally, I feel inclined to defend feminism from other feminists who focus on “mansplaining” or “manspreading”.

          2) Historically, feminists have been radical parts of society. They were not the mainstream. Now that feminism is a mainstream, we see that the term has become universal (but mostly universal with upper middle class women). By becoming universal, it ceases to challenge the system because the masses of upper middle class people do not want to change how they live every day because they are benefitting from the economic structure that oppresses others (specifically the poor and the people who did not win the genetic lottery). Supporting gender equality SHOULD be something EVERYONE supports, but when mainstream media takes up the message (like Buzzfeed), people begin to believe that simply by calling themselves a feminist, they are challenging the patriarchy.

          3) It becomes, then, a key part of feminism to convince people to become feminists because identifying yourself as such is political (not to mention trendy). And since most people believe in gender equality, they can be told that they already ARE feminists. Simply existing as a woman is feminist. Feminism gets a bad rap when we simplify it in this way. It takes more than believing in something to be an activist for it. (if activism is what the movement for gender equality is. or is it just an ethical way of life? I can’t figure it out…)

          4) To change the name of the movement for gender equality, we would be essentially ridding it of its crappy baggage that gives it such a controversial reputation. Egalitarianism is neutral, it has no room for misandry or misogyny. It is free from the bad reputation of women who hate on men for sleeping with them and never calling them back.

          5) Here is where the point I was trying to make in the last comment comes in. I guess I see all the arguments over the name of feminism and what is means and whether you’re a feminist or an egalitarian useless in the grand scheme of things. Does it matter what we call ourselves if that’s where the conversation ends? Converting everyone to “feminism” or “egalitarianism” seems hollow to me. It feels like we are rebranding a trendy movement to make it trendier. Perhaps I am being too cynical (I have a feeling I am! I am still working through these thoughts myself), but I can’t help but feel discouraged by a movement that focuses more on what to call itself rather than how to act towards each other and how to change the political sphere.

          It is entirely possible that i am not talking about the same kinds of issues you are. I attend university and I feel very discouraged by the feminist movement on my campus that seems to go hand in hand with censorship, victimization and identity politics. People wanting gender equality is AMAZING but the discussion, I think, and how we envision our future should be MORE daring and complex. I don’t think changing the name will change any of that. I don’t think changing the name will solve any of the issues i’ve outlined above.

          So this has been a FREAKISHLY long comment. Honestly, I’d be open to emailing if you want to continue this conversation. Although I am preparing a piece on challenging feminism on my blog, so you could also watch for that if you are interested in continuing our mini debate! (ps: i honestly really appreciate your patient and compassionate way of dealing with the world around you! i look forward to reading your blog every day.)

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  6. P/S Mindfrump: Did I ever get around to telling you that your readers are a veritable goldmine to a person just returning to blogging and on the keen look-out for new (to him) blogs to read? It’s like icing on the cake of your outstanding blog!

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    1. I know I must say I find a lot of new blogs from people who comment here, it is really great the standard of blogs I find here. It also suits me because it saves me from clicking 3 extra buttons. But in all seriousness thank you for your kind words and hats off to the commenters – they’re amazing.

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  7. Hey! Based on your writing, I recommend “Why I Am Not A Feminist: A Feminist Manifesto” by Jessa Crispin. She tears into feminism for losing its focus, becoming obsessed with converting people to feminism rather than accomplishing anything, and she gives a refreshing reality check to anyone who preaches one thing but doesn’t follow through. Honestly, we can all agree that we support gender equality without focusing so much on labelling ourselves. We lose so much time trying to convince everyone to join our cause that we have forgotten what we are fighting for and the cause is now completely wishy-washy.

    Liked by 1 person

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