Internet feminists are generally a very prickly, insular group. As far as the ideological groups I’ve participated in (from Fascists, Communists, Anarchists, etc.) I’d say they are by far the most unwelcoming and unwilling to talk about their beliefs on a level beyond five minute sound bites (wage gap, rape in colleges, etc.). For the most part, fringe ideological groups are very tight nit and insular, but they will surprise you by being very eager to discuss their beliefs on a deep, atomic level.
Feminism is not a ‘fringe ideological’ group. They are very close to becoming mainstream and accepted in popular culture. As a result they feel as though any discussion on the basis of their movement makes you an enemy, I.E. a bigot, a racist, a misogynist, or a man’s rights activist. Internet feminists believe that the pre-suppositions of their political world are axiomatic; I regret to inform them that they are certainly not. They have to participate (on equal footing) with all other competing ideological groups.
To expand on this a little bit, all ideologies have a few things in common, they
Establish some base assumption of human nature
Identify important societal issues
Propose a solution for going forward
Of course, feminism is a broad set of differing ideologies. It isn’t something we can just tackle. The term feminism is a big bucket that all the feminist ideologies can be categorized in. But in the same way that Communism has multiple variants (Stalinism, Marxism, Anarchist, etc.) and how Classical Liberalism is multi-faceted (think modern day political parties), they all share some core fundamental beliefs. It is on those core values that I go forward with my critiques.
1. Alliance with the political ‘left’
Feminism is a movement about empowering women, as a result, every woman should theoretically be a feminist. And yet, they are not. To go forward we need to look at some polls to see how females (and the general populace) consider the feminist label.
Prior to definition of feminism given:
38% Females consider themselves feminists
28% of the population consider themselves feminist
After definition given:
67% Females consider themselves feminists
57% of the population consider themselves feminist
Prior to definition of feminism given:
55% Females consider themselves feminists
After definition given:
68% Females consider themselves feminists
So even in the best of times, only about 38-55% of females identify with the label without a primer. Once primed with the definition (which side steps all the political arguments feminists/anti-feminists make) the number jumps to around 68%.
So why are there so few Feminists?
I think a lot of the reason is because American Feminists have aligned themselves with the political left. As a result of this, feminism has lost control over their image; they are now democrats and liberals, the arguments of feminism are now drowned out in our binary political world. If you are a feminist now you are a supporter of unions, a supporter of a welfare state, a supporter of tax increases, and a host of numerous other negative associations (to our ‘right’ wing friends).
It no longer matters what you believe in anymore, or even, what feminism actually is. All of that is irrelevant. The political reality is that now feminism = liberal, and to 95% of the voting populace this is all that counts.
If democracy is about stealing from group A so group B can benefit (and our good friend Plato was right) then feminists have played right into the dichotomy. Now when feminists go to the polling station they have no choice but to vote democrat since they’ve alienated the other party. There will never be a candidate that has a ‘feminist’ platform because those issues are now a whisper in the loud echo chamber of competing interests in the Democratic Party.
Feminists are now captive votes and any change they want will come much slower because they have neutered any bi-partisan support.
And I think internet feminists are partially to blame here for its continued movement leftward. There isn’t a feminist blog out there which doesn’t try to infuse the feminist message with leftist ideologies, the necessity of strong welfare for mothers being key. In doing so they give their enemies all the fodder they need to combat feminism, by simply ignoring a feminists arguments about gender equality and attacking their liberal stance.
2. Lack of focus and 3. Insular tendencies
There is a growing trend in feminism to deal with questions of race and class. Historically feminists have been (like many groups who sought political change) of the majority race (white) and the most politically active class (middle class). Since feminism has aligned itself with leftism then it has been muddling itself in the questions of race politics and economic inequality (I am referring to upper/middle/poor economic classes not male/female economic subjugation). This has grown full force into an addendum to feminism known as “intersectionalism” which claims that the oppression of an individual is not equivalent to it’s parts; it’s worse.
As an example, a black poor female has a different experience with oppression than a white poor female, or a black rich female, or a black poor male, etc. They state that you cannot simply take each piece of the oppression pie (say, you are black so xyz occurs, you are poor so abc happens), you have to appreciate that it compounds upon itself exponentially.
I think the implications of this are so foolish that I need to break this into two parts.
It has encouraged feminist ideologues to start censoring discussion among themselves based on racial, economic, or gender characteristics of the writers.
As if the alliance with leftism wasn’t difficult enough for a clear universal feminist argument, now it has to fight for the elimination race AND economic inequality.
2. So let’s target the insularity first.
Here is an article that I feel epitomizes the attitude of internet feminists
The argument being made is that certain forms of argument are not valid. Not only are they invalid because of the method in which they are proposed, they are also invalid because of the economic, racial, or gender of the individual presenting it.
Additionally, any skim on a feminist blog and you’ll see plenty of articles telling you hey, you don’t get to talk about race unless you are [insert a non-white race here]. In any other ideological group I have yet to come across people who self-discourage discussion so freely.
I am of the opinion that stupid opinions need to be said out loud, not quietly maintained. When people interact and communicate with each other both parties change in very slight, but important ways. Will you ever convince your Libertarian friend to become a Communist? No. But you can sink some doubt into a Communist’s mind that socialism can create a “new man.” And that is progress.
Racism is a universal human constant. It has been with as long as we have had two tribes competing for resources. Racism does not go away when a dominate race stops talking about subordinate races; under the assumption that subordinate races are valued enough to even be listened to (by definition of being subordinate: unlikely).
All this toxic racist feminism does is keep people from discussing feminism and race. Although, feminists shouldn’t be talking much about race anyway and we will get to that now.
3. Lack of Focus
The more ‘fights’ you tack onto a movement the more diluted it becomes. Feminism is evolving to try and re-define the American liberal party by fighting for economic, gender, and racial equality. It will succeed in integrating these platforms, eventually, but it will be slow going.
Look, there will always be racists and sexists, but for the most part, the majority of the population doesn’t think they are racist or sexist. They are awaiting for the dominate culture of their society to tell them what racism and sexism are.
This is why narrative is so essential in ideology. By aligning feminism with leftism then the ‘right’ must be opposed to it. As a result, the dialogue the right will send to its members is that they are not sexist or racist (as the norm) via ignoring the issue all together or tackling peripheral pop-culture issues (are yoga pants rape culture, court cases, racist cop killings, etc.) and discussing the details of the case rather than the magnitude of the situation.
As a result, feminism is a large mixture of ingredients that feminists desperately want to blend together. They want this blend so badly that they are truncating their prior arguments and obscuring their message. Fighting for gender equality in our culture is difficult enough, adding on racism and economic inequality is another.
Each of these three topics constitutes entire academic areas of study and they want to truncate these thoughts into sound bytes. But unfortunately they are no longer feminist sound bytes, they are Democratic party sound bytes. Finally, when I read a feminist blog I feel like I’m reading a leftist blog instead. What makes them distinctly feminist anymore? When you decide to downgrade the patriarchy question you run the risk of essentially being a carbon copy of other leftist groups who argue for the exact same thing.
As an example, Communists have been arguing for gender, class, racial equality since before feminism existed. What made feminism unique from communism was the focus on patriarchy rather than the class dialectic. Therefore the feminist focus is lost and as a result their message no longer resonates as true as it once did.
4. Confusion between legal and cultural oppression.
Again, this is a consequence of feminism aligning itself with leftists. It is one thing to say that females are oppressed, it is another to say that this oppression is legally enforced.
There are clearly some sexist laws (marriage is a prime example), but for the most part our laws are gender neutral. What is not gender neutral is the application of the law by sexist/racist people. One school of thought is to enact laws forcing people to not be racist or sexist. Another is to change the culture of the society we live in such that these evils are mitigated.
A great example is the wage gap. Feminists say that females are paid far less than their male peers for equivalent jobs. This may be true, but I ask why? A feminist will say it is because employers are sexist and in spite of a hard working female they will always be paid less.
1)This is not legal oppression, this is cultural oppression. Wanting to solve this issue through legal means is an entirely different argument. I want people to be judged on the basis of their objective work, but the fact is that most of corporate work is based on a large series of intangible things. Before we start resorting to the threat of violence to solve our issues (i.e. using the government) lets first make it clear exactly what you think the origin of those issues are and alternative solutions going forward.
The data I’ve seen is that the wage gap is closing between females and males, so why do we need the threat of violence to fix it?
5. Rampant Ad Hominid Arguments
This is just a short rant. Every discussion with an internet feminist I have had has resulted in them bringing up my perceived race/gender and how this is a serious factor in the validity of my argument about feminist philosophy. Honestly, if the basis of your arguments are grounded on the race of the individual making the comment (on the theoretical nature of feminism mind you, not the impact that being black has on American justice) then you are no better than the Storm Front neo-nazis. I’m being serious, you can go check them out.
And you should be disgusted with yourself that such discourse is allowed and accepted. Any of the comments of the blogs I have posted in this article are riddled with this sort of ad hominid foolishness, and applauded by the authors. All of this is under the false pretension that you are a crusader for racial equality and all who disagree are racist misogynists. I applaud you for your zeal but have some unfortunate news for you, every single modern (1800+) political ideology ever conceived is concerned with the ‘equality’ of its adherents and claims to do exactly what you are doing. Just because you are ignorant of this truth does not mean it doesn’t exist.
You are not the gate keeper of this sacred charge to emancipate your ‘people’ and you are on ground that has been trodden on so thoroughly that the path doesn’t even exist anymore. You are so lost in this swamp that if you could just look ahead you’d see the giants who had left this path behind long, long ago.
If you want to rise above the fray, attack the content of the argument not the character of the creator.