Feminism. When I hear that word I either give a long sigh accompanied by a good eye-rolling or a short, sharp grunt between gritted teeth out of frustration; and I’m not alone. Before I go any further with this post I would like to say 2 things: I am a woman (not that it should matter but I know it will to some people) and this piece is not about wishing for the death of feminism. What this post is about is how that word seems to have become ‘dirty’ or given the wrong associations.
Back in the day, a feminist was considered as someone (not necessarily a woman) who would seek to establish equal opportunities for women, primarily in education and employment, but in all other areas as well. Thanks to the feminist movements in the past, women in most (but not all) countries have the right to vote and to run as elected officials. The pay gap is also beginning to close in a lot of countries and women are treated as equals in every aspect more and more as time progresses.
However, the reason why a lot of people have a negative reaction to the F word (feminism) now is because the types of people associated with it have changed. The term ‘it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch’ seems to ring true in this situation. Not all feminists are like the ones I am about to discuss – but because of the extreme behaviour and vast media coverage that these types of feminists attract, they have ruined the reputation of the majority of feminists and have trivialised the whole movement. I’m talking about the oh-so-rightly dubbed ‘feminazis’.
The feminazis masquerade as feminists, but there are three clear differences. A feminist is someone who wants equality; a feminazi wants female supremacy. A feminist will fight for things like the right for women in poorer countries to get an education; a feminazi will scream at you (with an air of self-entitlement) that women are always objectified in every single aspect of life (movies, music, videogames – the list is endless), by the male-dominated world. The third difference is that a feminist can make you feel inspired to make a positive change in the world; a feminazi will make you want to punch them in the face as hard as you can – and I’m restraining myself, you should read some of the YouTube comments on feminazi videos.
The feminazis are detrimental to the causes that they claim are important and support as well as the real feminists, their causes and the whole feminist movement. The feminazis almost seem as though they originated as a fictional stereotype intended to attack real feminism in a satirical way; their claims are over exaggerated, they often go over-the-top in their displays and communications and they are so extreme in their beliefs. But they aren’t fictional, they are all too real. They make feminism look ridiculous and superfluous because, unfortunately, their ‘issues’ tend to make figurative headlines over the real issues at hand. This is mostly due to their methods in expressing their points of view. They always quell opposing points of view and never listen to anyone who attempts to discuss their thoughts with them. If you actively speak out against their ideology, you’re labelled as a “rape apologist”, a “woman hater” or a “player in the game of patriarchy” by them and their supporters.
They will also see misogyny in everything. Perhaps the most easily accessible example of this is Anita Sarkeesian and her YouTube channel ‘Feminist Frequency’. Anita has uploaded several videos that (in her opinion) expose the patriarchy, misogyny, and sexism in a vast array of popular culture. However, she recently began a video series that looks at the representation of women in videogames. This has been met with a huge backlash by people who point out that these games very rarely include anything that she accuses them of and that Anita picks and chooses what she will include in her “research” so that it can be twisted and taken out of context to suit her needs. One of the more level-headed YouTube users to debunk Anita’s spin is Thunderf00t and I would suggest watching his videos regarding Anita’s “well researched project”.
Whilst not as common a trait as the previous two mentioned, hypocrisy can also be found in feminazis. Adria Richards publically shamed two men who made a joke, between themselves, about a “big dongle” at PyCon (a convention for the Python programming language). This private and pretty innocent joke (we’ve all heard similar or worse on shows such as ‘The Simpsons’) between two men was tweeted by this woman along with a picture of the two men. This resulted in controversy and two people (one of which was Adria herself) losing their jobs. The hypocrisy? Adria had previously tweeted a joke containing sexual innuendo to her followers!
It is because of behaviours like the ones I’ve mentioned above that the feminazis are often the subjects of parody, satire and even hatred. A good example lies in the practise of creating demotivational posters like this one:
Demotivational posters are very rarely a true representation of someone’s point of view, never mind that of a large body of people. But they typically exist to get a rise out of their intended target. This one is (it’s pretty safe to say) at feminazis or anyone with similar sensibilities. There is also a brilliantly satirical feminist make-up parody that is well worth a watch. These acts are either parodies or simply acts of trolling, designed to either highlight the lunacy of some of the feminazi “mission statements” or to make fun of the people who believe them to be accurate representations of a general belief.
The feminazis and what they stand for is poisonous to real feminism and they actually deter people away from it. That’s why, like I said at the beginning of this article, a lot of people have a negative attitude to feminism. Patriarchy does not exist in the narratives of films or videogames that have damsel-in-distress story arcs, nor is it in the lyrics of songs referring to women in general – though I will yield and say that there are songs out there that do seem to objectify women, but it is not commonplace enough to validate feminazi arguments. Patriarchy exists in cultures that insist that women must be chaperoned by a male when leaving their house, it exists in cultures that force women to cover their entire body from the gaze of anyone except for their husband, it exists in cultures where rape is generally considered to be the woman’s fault every time. Oppression is what happened to the African-American population during racial segregation in America, it is what is happening in North Korea, it is the selling of women as wives. It is not in wearing a bra, shaving or fashion choices.
The technological world that we currently live in has provided an invaluable tool for sharing information and learning. It’s great for communicating messages and supporting causes. However, this tool is often misused, and feminazis are a repeat offender. Real issues affecting real women are pushed to the background or even depreciated because of the ‘issues’ that are often brought to light under the guise of feminism. These ‘issues’ include anything that Anita Sarkeesian ever brings up, things like how women dress and its relation to male oppression, the regurgitating of outdated stereotypes like making sandwiches or being seen and not heard ect, ect. These ‘issues’ are being fought by people who are over-sensitive, self-entitled bullies who use the disguise of feminism to attempt to validate their weak arguments. They are taking the much needed attention away from real issues to feel important.
Yes, the pay gap in the developed world is something to be a little pissed off about, but overall, women in the first world have it pretty good. We can earn our own money to start with, we can wear whatever we want, we can go wherever we want – whenever we want to. We have so much freedom in our choices on how to live our lives, and whining about pathetic things such as how a man who might buy a woman a drink in a bar is acting out his role in patriarchy and oppressing women is insulting to the women who genuinely are oppressed, objectified and suffering real traumas.
NOTE: I was inspired to write this article because something I saw way back in the November 2013 edition of Elle UK magazine. It had a few pages centred on feminism and encouraged a debate about the subject. I used to like Elle magazine, but in the whole debate I only saw what I call ‘soft’ arguments and issues; being “faced with wolf-whistles” from men, perceiving themselves as being “treated as a special interest group” and a “15%” gendered pay gap. There was no campaign for helping women who don’t even have what we in the first world consider to be basic human rights. Elle asked its readers to rip out a page and write on it, under the headline of “I’M A WOMAN AND”, something that “smashed stereotypes” about women. You know, the things that bother feminazis such as “I’m a woman and I’m not a slut for wearing make-up” or “I’m a woman and you can make your own damn sandwich”. Once we’d written our message about how we’re fighting the patriarchy, and how men can fuck off, we were asked to upload the picture of us holding the page to Twitter. Here’s my picture: