Was talking about #WomenAgainstFeminism today on Twitter, a trend that I see largely as a reaction to (1) extremist feminist politics found readily online and (2) ignorance/stereotypes about feminism. I tried to handle my frustration with a bit humor but quickly realized this is actually a really emotionally-fraught topic for people. Maybe not the time for sarcasm.
Most the time, feminism in action doesn’t explicitly call itself feminism. I’m talking about things like campaigning for sex ed, same sex marriage, equal pay, maternity leave, reproductive health access, transgender health care, representation, implementing sexual assault/harassment policies, getting women into stem, etc. I think this confused void about what feminists *actually do and believe in* allows the space to be sensationalized by a loud, extreme minority and predatory media sources who see a “hot story”. Mainstream onlookers who don’t know their history or what feminism is (and don’t take a second to learn…) naturally take the bait and then end up railing against something that isn’t even an accurate representation of feminism in the first place. Then feminists are pissed, and anti-feminists are pissed (though misogynists are usually quite happy) and we’ve whipped ourselves up a nice divisive shitstorm of “whose side are you on”?
I understand it’s unpopular amongst some feminists to concede that extremism exists; “there’s nothing wrong with radical action” and “they’re a part of the movement too”! I think those are valid points (and I certainly don’t think the solution is to silence/disown anyone), but I also think we have to admit that it can really alienate people from the cause, and perhaps #WomenAgainstFeminism is proof. What do you think?
I completely agree. I’ve been incredibly disappointed lately in the amount of extremism in the feminist…uh…community-sphere-whatever. It’s to the point where I’ve actually begun questioning whether “feminism” is the correct term to describe what I stand for (and always have stood for), just because of the sheer amount of extreme viewpoints, and the bitterness and outright hatred, that have dominated the discussion for at least the past few months (if not longer).
Based on what I’ve seen on Tumblr and elsewhere, I’ve noticed that the most extreme and radical viewpoints develop out of an extreme naivete. They’re the products of thoughts that lack depth and thoroughness. A lot of these “radical feminist” ideas are just proof that their creator has never bothered to think about their real-world applications or implications. While I don’t want to explicitly “silence” anyone either, there’s a reason that phrases like “what are you, twelve?” and “please go outside” are common rebuttals to this kind of extremism. These ideas simply don’t hold up in the world of real human interactions.
I support all of the lovely things you mentioned above. And it frustrates and worries me that these extreme (and extremely naive) views are diverting attention and energy away from the *real* hard work and change that needs to happen in order to make sure men and women are equal.