Why Can’t Anti-Feminists At Least Engage in a Clean Fight?

Traveling from blog to blog, I alighted on a post called “Against Feminisms.” “Oh, curious,” I thought and decided to check this website out. I was immediately disappointed because it turned out to be one of those places that picks up the ideas of radical feminists, assigns them to all of us, and then denies that feminism has any value at all. Here is how this blog explains why feminism is wrong:

So here is my rationale for why I oppose ALL and EVERY FEMINIST THEORY.  If you are a feminist but do not subscribe to any of these assumptions/beliefs, then let me know. But I expect there is not one feminist who doesn’t broadly speaking accept these tenets:

1) Feminism is based on an assumption that overall, men as a group hold power in society and this power, damages women as a group.

2) The above assumption, no matter what feminists say, relies on a belief in and a reinforcement of the essentialist binary view of gender (i.e. that male v female men v women masculine v feminine are real and important distinctions. That is how feminists justify their belief that ‘men’ hold power over ‘women’)

3) This means that in order to present these assumptions as ‘fact’, men are demonised by feminism as a whole. Feminism is, by its very nature, misandrist. e.g. concepts such as ‘rape culture’  and ‘patriarchy’ and ‘violence against women and girls’ and  ‘the male gaze’ and ‘objectification’ rely on making out men are not decent people, in general,as a group. To be accepted as decent human beings, the onus is placed by feminists onto men to prove their worth, and to prove why they differ from the (socialised or innate) ‘norm’ of dominant masculinity.

There is a lot more, of course, but since these opening statements are completely an utterly false, then what’s the point of reading them? In a comment I left to this post, I wrote the following:

I’m a passionate feminist but I don’t uphold any of these beliefs you listed. I also find the terms such as ‘rape culture’ , ‘violence against women and girls’,  ‘the male gaze’ and ‘objectification’ to be silly, offensive, and deeply damaging to the cause of feminism. I’ve been blogging about it tirelessly for over two years.

Feminism is not about men holding power over women. It is about the essentialist understanding of gender limiting the lives of both men and women and oppressing men and women EQUALLY. Ergo, departing from this essentialist view of gender will eventually liberate men and women. Equally.

It’s easy, of course, to latch on to the rantings of some fanatic who sees all women as perennial victims coerced into every action they perform and condemn all feminists on the basis of this sort of fanaticism. Dumping on the lunatic fringe is fun. Hey, I do it all the time. But dismissing all feminists just because of what some far-out crazy says means you simply have nothing whatsoever to offer in response to actual, non-lunatic feminists.

FeMOMhist asks why feminists argue so much among themselves. Well, maybe it’s because the opponents of feminism are incapable of providing arguments that would even allow for an interesting discussion. And what’s life without an intelligent debate?

72 thoughts on “Why Can’t Anti-Feminists At Least Engage in a Clean Fight?”

      1. I read “People Skills” on Google Reader and wanted to come there to post, only to discover that the post does not exist…

        Ominous !


  1. As I see it, ‘rape culture’ means the tendency to victim blame (she got raped? It was because short skirt, drinking, flirting, etc.) and let the rapists go free, even if the crime is clear sometimes (he didn’t understand her, he is “a good boy”, etc). Rape victims seem to get slandered like no other victims. The rest of my post is composed of several wiki quotes, which among other things make me not dismiss the term completely, as you do.

    Btw, I wanted to recommend you a great blog by US veteran, feminist and in general interesting person:

    From wiki:

    Rape culture is a term which originated in women’s studies and feminist theory, describing a culture in which rape and sexual violence against women are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media condone, normalize, excuse, or tolerate sexual violence against women. Examples of behaviors commonly associated with rape culture include victim blaming, sexual objectification and rape-apologism.

    In February 2011, seventeen United States veterans filed suit against the Pentagon and defense secretary Robert Gates and former secretary Donald Rumsfield, alleging that they allowed a culture in the military where rape was unevenly reported and punished. In several of the plaintiff’s cases, the victim was forced to work with the accused rapist after reporting them for sexual assault. Unit commanders often have heavy influence over military rape cases, and less than one in five cases are prosecuted. [10][11] According to a 2011 Newsweek report, 1 in 5 females and 1 in 15 males in the United States military reported having been sexually assaulted by servicemembers.[12] (See also: Sexual assault in the United States military)

    In March 2011, a Salon.com editorial criticised alleged rape culture bias in a New York Times article, saying that the article focused on victim-blaming on an eleven-year-old girl rather than the fact that she was raped. The article in question dealt with the November 2010 gang rape of the girl in Cleveland, Texas.[15]

    [edit] Reactions to incidentsSeveral high-profile incidents have occurred where public support of an accused rapist generated reaction to and criticism of that support.

    When Roman Polanski was arrested in Zurich in 2009 on sexual abuse charges, more than 100 Hollywood figures signed a petition of support,[16] which resulted in a public and media backlash against those who supported him and believed his accomplishments should mitigate his action.[17][18]

    After Michael Moore posted bail for Julian Assange in Britain in 2010, a campaign titled #MooreandMe was formed to protest Moore’s dismissal of the allegations against Assange.


  2. Interesting, maybe the word feminism has now become the problem? Do you think that because of its obvious baggage another term might be more appropriate for your belief system?


  3. It’s cynical of me, but I would say that they aren’t fighting a clean fight because they don’t want to – it’s far easier to object to a word than engage with the concept. Any word that we used to describe gender essentialism and the wish to overcome it would be targeted with the same arguments, because at heart, it’s not the word that’s the problem for them, it’s the underlying ideas – they don’t want gender parity, ever, no matter how you describe it, or explain the benefits.


  4. Unfortunately Clarissa, you may be the lunatic fringe, and the feminists described in the points above are the norm. Based on what I’ve experienced in University and from the speeches made by the feminists leaders (in Canada) I would expect these points to be the staples of organizations like the National Action Committee on the Status of Women. The same people who would ban The Bare Naked Ladies from performing in their hometown of Toronto, because the bands name is oppressive to women. I think there is a long way to go before mainstream feminism is recognizable as anything more than man hating.


    1. “The same people who would ban The Bare Naked Ladies from performing in their hometown of Toronto, because the bands name is oppressive to women.”

      -Please tell me this didn’t really happen. It couldn’t have been more than 3 or 4 weirdos trying to get noticed, right?


      1. It goes back nearly 20 years ago, before the band was universally well known. A bunch of “feminist” counselors on TO city government, supported by the National Action Committee on the Status of Women kept them the band out of TO.

        If I recall correctly, they were also supported by some religious groups, obviously worried about the the implied sex. Strange bedfellows, indeed.


        1. I had to think for a while to realize where the implication of sex comes from.

          Radical feminists have been allying themselves with ultra-religious groups since the 70ies. (E.G. Dworkin’s fight against pornography, which for her pretty much included all kind of even semi-erotic heterosexual scenes.) Radical feminists believe that hetero sex is degrading to a woman, that there are “natural spheres” for men and women, that women are incapable of logic and reasoning and are closer to nature and rely on instincts. All of this brings them very close ideologically to ultra-religious groups.


  5. The problem I think is really that there is a large feminist lunatic fringe and they are rarely repudiated. A similar thing happens to MRAs those actually interested in gender equality issues are swamped by the vocal lunatic fringe.

    Within a movement you need some kind of way to define membership otherwise the name becomes associated with the worst of your group. Feminism has been very broad about accepting everyone into it’s ranks, they turn down some people like Sarah Palin for membership but I’ve rarely seen a left winger turned down which is problematic.


  6. Anti-feminists can’t engage in a clean fight because most people do not want such rigid gender roles that they can’t do what they want/need to do.


  7. “1) Feminism is based on an assumption that overall, men as a group hold power in society and this power, damages women as a group.”

    In fact, I agree with him for this. But contrary to him, this hypothesis is simply a fact.


    1. Funny, right? They start with this one statement that actually IS a belief of most feminists, and then veer wildly off into a bunch of logical fallacies I’ve never heard a single feminist ever advocate and try to attribute it to us.


    2. as the person who linked to the “Against Feminisms” blog post (not because I agreed with it, but because in the context of my comment I thought it might be interesting to have a contrast with someone who was seriously anti-feminist) I should point out that it’s not a “him” it’s a her, and a her who seems to be genuinely opposed to rigid and traditional gender roles.


    3. I believe that this statement is a gross simplification that is built on a gross generalization. I don’t find it useful at all. You can’t just subtract issues of class, race, education, cultural differences, etc. etc. from the equation. If you do, you come up with an over-generalized statement that doesn’t promote genuine understanding.

      This assumption worked when immediate goals of basic rights for women needed to be achieved in the XVIII and XIX centuries. Today, we will get nowhere if we don’t start developing a more nuanced, profound approach.

      At the very least, the questions that need to be asked of this statement are: Which men? Which society? Which women? What kind of damage? What are the price both groups pay for this system?

      Only then will we start to progress. The times of “bad, horrible men exploit and oppress good, long-suffering women” feminism are so over. We need to move on already.


    4. HI David, i wrote that blogpost and I am not a ‘him’ I am a ‘her’

      I was also brought up by feminists since 1970 and I was a feminist till a year or two ago. So I can argue with the best of the feminists. It’s just the best feminists are a bit lacking in my view.

      Tim commented above and he likes my blog (or I think he does) so some people don’t find ‘anti-feminism’ to be so devoid of intellectual value.

      Thanks Clarissa to linking to my post – it was a very popular one!


  8. “The above assumption, no matter what feminists say, relies on a belief in and a reinforcement of the essentialist binary view of gender (i.e. that male v female men v women masculine v feminine are real and important distinctions. That is how feminists justify their belief that ‘men’ hold power over ‘women’)”

    This is an hypothesis for machist MRA activism, not feminism.

    “This means that in order to present these assumptions as ‘fact’, men are demonised by feminism as a whole. Feminism is, by its very nature, misandrist. e.g. concepts such as ‘rape culture’ and ‘patriarchy’ and ‘violence against women and girls’ and ‘the male gaze’ and ‘objectification’ rely on making out men are not decent people, in general,as a group. To be accepted as decent human beings, the onus is placed by feminists onto men to prove their worth, and to prove why they differ from the (socialised or innate) ‘norm’ of dominant masculinity.”

    This is an hypothesis for femi-favoritist statism, not feminism.


        1. The problem is that many men who are interested in men’s rights get labelled as a MRA to make them look like they are radicals. Just like some genuine feminists do, right Clarissa? 😉


          1. I’m all for men who support men’s rights. I support men’s rights, although I’m not a man. But the jerks who descended on my blog in August were not genuinely interested in anybody’s rights. They were just crazed spammers and freaks.


              1. I am using this opportunity to improve my French, so please feel free to continue. 🙂

                This time I visited Montreal, I almost bought a tabernac T-shirt to wear proudly in llinois. Next time, I’ll buy it for sure. 🙂 When students ask me what it says, I’ll tell them it means “Hi” in French. 🙂


  9. “It is about the essentialist understanding of gender limiting the lives of both men and women and oppressing men and women EQUALLY. Ergo, departing from this essentialist view of gender will eventually liberate men and women. Equally.”

    I agree, but the reason for this very concept of feminism is that patriarchy elitism (a sexual fantasy for machist MRA activists) tend to consider women as inferior garbage.


  10. “Why Can’t Anti-Feminists At Least Engage in a Clean Fight?”

    In my (limited) experience there are two main reasons for this.
    Firstly, because ‘Anti-Feminist’ essentially a euphemism for ‘misogynist’; these people are quite obviously have a predisposed biased against feminism that one has little hope of changing.
    The next reason is much more common. It is because an awful lot of people still lack a basic lack of understanding of what Feminism actually is, including girls. People presume that all Feminism is radical Feminism, which is clearly untrue.

    It is here that people everywhere can make a real difference, its a simple matter of pointing out what Feminism really is when people talk about ‘bra burners’ and ‘man haters’ and the rest of it. Question it wherever you see it.


    1. *these people quite obviously have a predisposed biased*

      Sorry, I couldn’t help but correct the mistake. I started typing one thing, then reworded it into another.


  11. I will just add, my post has led to a very interesting debate so the whole post and the comments are worth reading. To say one group of people are incapable of intellectual reason or argument is frankly stupid.

    The Guardian newspaper espouses the kind of feminism I abhor. It is a mainstream newspaper not a radfem journal.


        1. I know, I was thinking about the Daily Mail. You are right, of course.

          Even sadder what you say about its kind of feminism, then.

          I’m an immigrant into North America and, honestly, I’m appalled at what feminism has in many places degenerated into here.


      1. The Guardian is basically the leading left-wing Broadsheet in Britain. It isn’t exactly a newspaper that talks about Feminism all the time. It is just simply because it is a leftist newspaper that Quiet Riot Girl has singled it out. A somewhat two-pronged attack on presumably some of the things she hates in the world today.

        Also, just in case you’re interested: http://www.guardian.co.uk/


    1. I said that one can’t expect to engage a misogynist in a proper debate about Feminism. I’m not saying that everything someone who is, for whatever reason, a misogynist couldn’t ever make reasonable and logical input elsewhere.
      But it stands to reason that you can’t debate them on Feminism when they have such a huge predisposed bias against what you’re going to say to them; it is a contradiction of views that one cannot get around.

      You could liken it to trying to debate a White Supremacist on black civil rights, you aren’t going to win because of their beliefs.


  12. One reason why I think you are wrong is this: you say it’s “easy to latch on to the rantings of some fanatic who sees all women as perennial victims”.

    In fact it is easy to find a feminist saying almost anything AND TELLING YOU THAT IS WHAT FEMINISM IS ALL ABOUT. As you have just done. I could say that your version of feminism means it shouldn’t be called feminism but something about equality. Another feminist will then argue with me and say no it’s not all about equality, it’s about “women’s equality”. Ridiculous, but that’s one of the many things they will say. I’ve been down this path over and over again.

    You can’t pin feminism down, but we are continually told it is a Good Thing, then that it is not a single thing, then that it IS one thing. One gets the impression that feminists don’t really care what their arguments are, or whether they are logical, or indeed whether anything they say is actually true. NOTHING matters to them other than whether women get a better and better deal. And if that means a worse deal for men then fine!

    You cannot blame me for not trusting feminists. Just imagine for a moment how it seems to be confronted with all these contradictory ideas. The only unifying theme is more for women and less for men, one way or another…


    1. Yes, you can easily “pin it down.” Just look at the history of the feminist movement from the XVIII century and you’ll have all the answers about what it is and what its goals are.

      If you want to argue with people who believe in something as weird as “women’s equality” (to whom? themselves? aliens? creatures from the Blue Lagoon?”, may be you should do so in places where you are likely to encounter them.

      I believe in equal right and responsibilities for people irrespective of their gender. I believe that physiological differences should never in any way translate into any societal advantages or disadvantages in the workplace, in the voting booth, in the courts, at school or anywhere else. I don’t want ANY advantages for women on the basis of gender because I find them deeply offensive.

      That’s my feminism. That’s what feminism has always been about everywhere. If today a few vocal Anglo weirdos are screaming otherwise, that’s got nothing to do with me. I see no reason why I should abandon my political movement to this tiny, insignificant minority.


    2. Well, as a male I can quite certainly assure you that I am not going to support any ideology that allows men to be at a disadvantage of birth. But at the same time, if you’re going to tell me that the march of Feminism is actually leaving men with a worse deal, I am going to have to disagree with you.

      Are there Radical Feminists that believe they would be better off without men in the world? Yes, of course there are. Do I think that they are a ‘Good Thing’? No, I do not.

      But the simple fact of the matter is that is particular sort of Feminism is somewhat equivalent, I think, to Orthodox Marxism: both are all but dead. There are some Radical Feminists that exist, as are there Orthodox Marxists. They exists and they make their voices heard when they can, but it doesn’t they wield even a drop of influence anymore.

      You can’t pin Feminism down as one particular set of beliefs, but why pick only on Feminism?
      Christianity, Anarchism, Liberalism, Nationalism, Conservatism and pretty much any system of beliefs that exist in the world all have different variants.
      Are you a Catholic, a Lutheran, a Baptist, a Mormon an Amish?
      Are you a Anarcho-Socialist, a Anarcho-Capitalist? etc.

      Yes, there are variants in Feminism. But that doesn’t make Feminism any different an ideology than any other, it makes it exactly the same.


      1. All very good points. Just today in class I had to explain to my students who were horrified by the atrocities of Christians in the Americas that there were, at the same time, Christians who were as appalled at these atrocities and who worked tirelessly to put an end to them.

        There is a lunatic fringe in every movement. There are times when the lunatic fringe might even seem greater than the peaceful members of a movement. We can’t, however, condemn a philosophy or a political movement because it has such a lunatic fringe.

        I’m as stunned as anybody by these rad fem sites I just recently started to discover. But I see no reason for me to believe that the entire history of feminism is suddenly tainted beyond repair by them.


        1. Radical Feminism is a minor problem, that piratically doesn’t exist.
          What is a much greater problem is that detractors of Feminism use this Radical element to make ad hominem attacks on all Feminism.
          Even worse than that is when people believe that this Radical Feminism is quite literally what Feminism is all about.

          For example when I was in year 10 (so the class was aged 14-15), I was horrified to find out that only a tiny minority of our Citizen class were aware of Emmeline Pankhurst and her suffragette movement, esp. since this is a class of British school children.
          These people were the real Feminists of the 20th Century, who achieved one of the greatest victories for Feminisms in Britain ever, and yet (for some bizarre reason that I still am unsure of) they seem not to be remembered as Feminists. In the whole duration of the lessons the word ‘Feminism’ was not uttered once. The class learnt about the Votes for Women campaign, but they were not taught to associate such an endeavour with Feminism, allowing their view on Feminism to remain unchanged from any delusions of man-haters they may have learnt to think was Feminism.

          People should be taught in schools that these suffragettes were Feminists and this is what Feminism is about; that would not be brainwashing our children into Feminism, that would be telling them the truth and letting them make their minds up from said truth.


  13. De-lurking here. I’ve commented once or twice on your lovely blog… I guess I should sign in already! I know I’m coming late to this thread, but I really value your commentary on feminism. This issue in particular- feminist “orthodoxy” and divisions within and without the feminist community- is of interest to me because I find myself in a sort of lonely grey area between a more radical feminist worldview (and I mean the word more in the colloquial sense than in terms of “radical feminism”) and one more akin to what I perceive to be your own.

    In any case, it’s frustrating and challenging to embrace other feminist’s world views without either policing their opinions or patting them on the back for being (in my opinion, strictly) reductive and condescending OR blind to the reality of oppressive power structures that are staring them straight in the face. Wow, that sentence was a grammatical train wreck. I guess the question I am wordily edging my way towards is- do you think that competing feminist worldviews all have something to offer, or do some (for instance Dworkin-y radical stuff) provide nothing positive to today’s conversations about feminism?

    I recall you aren’t a big fan of checking most feminist blogs, but Sady Doyle of tigerbeatdown recently posted a piece that I really enjoyed about this issue. It’s called “With Dim Lights: On Feminism and Virtue.” If you ever get a chance to read it, I would be curious of your opinion.

    Anyways, I really enjoy your blog. Thanks for your contributions to making the blogosphere a more interesting place!


    1. Thank you, dear de-lurking Anonymous. 🙂

      I read the post you mentioned by Sady Doyle. In the post, she’s trying to bring together psychoanalysis and feminism, which is something that I love to do. And the great part is that she doesn’t use the boring, Lacanian psychoanalysis of Julia Kristeva. She goes to Jung instead. Doyle’s reading of Jung is a bit reductive but I’m very happy that there are feminists who are trying to make connections between feminism and psychoanalytic theory. In many ways, the future of feminism lies in that direction, I believe.
      (For people who don’t know what post I’m talking about, here is the link: http://tigerbeatdown.com/2011/09/11/with-dim-lights-on-feminism-and-virtue/)

      I think that learning about all schools of feminism is very useful. I have found a lot of important insights in Dworkin and Lourde, even though today I know that their feminism is not mine. For the most part, the simplifications and popularizations of what these feminists had to say are to blame for the loss of all value in their message.

      Do come back often whether in a lurking or de-lurking capacity. 🙂


  14. I might be jumping into this way to late but….

    Well, if I think that Marcotte and Futrelle’s mocking of Nice Guys (TM) is just a way to humiliate men with poor social skills, does that make me a bitter misogynist by default? I don’t throw in with the AVFM crowd as I have stated that I think Mr. Elam’s “at a rape trial-acquit” is reprehensible. I also thought Marcotte’s handling of the Duke rape trials was awful. I can’t stand Hugo Schwyzer or Roissy/Heartiste-in both, I find a despicable ranking system of “lower caste” males–Schwyzer constantly berates men for “opting out”-Rissy/Heartiste calls them Omega’s. Yup, I’ve heard the phrase that feminism seeks to help both men and women out of oppressive gender roles but when I threw my 2 cents in at Feministe, I was called a “mansplainer” and told to check my f%^king privilege. I was told that I was blind to my own privilege, but when I was 18, I signed up for selective service-I don’t call that privilege, in my vocabulary, that’s obligation. Then I went over to Inmalafide, the racists,uh, I mean scientifically informed HBD/White Nationalists informed me that I was a victim of miscegenation-that’s a fancy way to say halfbreed, yes I did have to look it up…..

    Yes, this reads as a rant I’m sure. I skimmed the comments and found myself growing angry. I don’t particularly know why because many insults were against MRA’s and I’m not one. But settling down I think I do know why. There have been allot of things said and done by feminists hurtful to men and boys. I can provide the citations if needed. And I know some feminists will actually disagree with those things vociferously. However, it was the part that if I actually stand up for myself, that makes me a bitter, hateful misogynist who is unable to “live without my privilege.” All by someone who hasn’t walked a day in my shoes.

    End.of.rant–feeling better….


    1. I’m sure it annoys you when people blame you for the nasty and oppressive things that other men (Americans, people of your race, etc.) have done, right? Then how do you think I should feel when being accused of what folks at other websites, Hugo Schwyzer, Futrelle and God knows who else did? If some people who identify as feminists did and said nasty things, this does not condemn the entire movement. Just like the existence of male rapists doesn’t make every man a rapist.


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