Dear Women Against Feminism,
Let me begin by saying I understand your frustration. Women’s rights have come an incredibly long way since the 19th Amendment to the US Constitution and its global counterparts.
It’s irritating to hear jargon-riddled Women’s Studies rhetoric that seems to want to make victims of everybody with 2 X chromosomes. And gender politics is an incredibly complicated, far-reaching issue that profoundly affects pretty much every person on the planet. We get justifiably touchy about it, especially when we think we have a solution no one else has thought of.
Protest is Not the Answer
But standing against feminism—against an entire movement that, in its purest incarnation, really is trying to improve women’s lives—is not the answer. You can oppose the name because, at the end of the day, “gender egalitarianism” really is a better way of putting things. You can oppose some things many self-described feminists say. If you like, you can even oppose many of the things they say. In fact, please do if that’s how you really feel. But the bottom line is that the very fact that you can protest against feminism is due to…well, feminism. Speaking your mind, getting a job, voting—I think even you would agree that these things are available to women because of feminism. Be honest, none of us is sorry the movement has gotten us here.
I’m not trying to claim feminism is a perfect movement. I think we’ve all heard someone arguing with a feminist who, instead of addressing criticism in depth, whips out the dictionary definition of feminism (to paraphrase, “the belief that women are entirely equal to men” ). I think we can all agree this practice is highly irritating. After all, feminists can play the “No True Scotsman Fallacy” all they want, but the fact is that a lot of people who call themselves feminists say a lot of things you, and I, disagree with.
Of course, I’ve now raised the issue of group identity. As soon as you call yourself a member of a certain group, you can be fairly certain another self-proclaimed member of the said group will say or do something stupid. Do you pull the feminist card and insist that person just doesn’t understand the group, or do you struggle to continue your association with a group that makes you culpable for other people’s actions and opinions? You, Women Against Feminism, seem to have chosen Option 3, the nuclear option: sever all ties with the aforementioned group. In fact, not only do you refuse to associate with feminism, you firmly proclaim yourselves against it.
But this choice raises its own issues. Now Women Against Feminism is a group of its own. Have you really escaped the problems that threw you from feminism in the first place? From my perspective, you seem to have only shifted them along with your name change. You are, of course, free to choose to self-identify as any group you wish. But I do ask you to consider why, exactly, you have chosen to call yourselves Women Against Feminism, and whether you feel you have achieved what you wanted to.
Marvels of the Internet
I must congratulate myself because I have, thus far, managed to avoid mentioning the Internet. This is a weighty achievement considering the sheer volume of feminist debate that occurs online. Including virtually the entire Women Against Feminism movement.
As someone with an Internet connection: again, I understand why you take issue with the modern feminist movement. How many times, for instance, have you seen a self-righteous teenager copy and paste the “Women make 77 cents to every man’s dollar” line? What a terrible thing, you thought to yourself… until you discovered that it’s mostly a myth. The Atlantic’s Hanna Rosin adjusts for weekly instead of annual wages, unionization, and differences in occupation and calculates the wage gap to be 9, not 23, cents. The Huffington Post cites a study from the American Association of University Women pegging the wage gap at only 6.6 cents and another from the US Department of Labor estimates it at 4.8 to 7 cents. Other sources abound explaining, with data, the truth behind the gender wage gap.
And yet we continue to hear, mostly on the Internet, constant citations of the 77-cent gender wage gap, usually paired with some variation of “And this is why we need feminism”. The rapidity with which information moves online, the ephemeral life of a post or tweet or article, necessitate catchy pop-statistics like this one. They prevent most disseminators of misinformation from getting their comeuppance, and people walk away with misconceptions about the topic at hand—in this case, something that could affect legislation and more for years.
Women Against Feminism, Hear me out
But, Women Against Feminism, I’m not letting you off the hook, either. You fill my computer screen with webcam pictures of yourselves holding up handwritten signs—maybe 10 or 15 words each—that are supposed to explain why I should reject feminism and join you. You could be trying to make cogent points, but instead, you opt for something splashy and shallow. I don’t feel enlightened by the misspellings complaining about “victim complexes”. Instead, I feel like slamming my head into a wall trying to explain everything that feminism has done for women. Even with its many flaws.
I can’t tell you what you should or shouldn’t believe. If I could, the world would be a much more boring place. But I urge you to think about how counterproductive is a woman (anyone, really but especially a woman) opposing a movement that aims to help alleviate gender inequalities. Criticize feminism. Call for reform. Distance yourself, if you wish—I certainly understand the desire to avoid subscribing to a constrictive label.
But please think about what you’re really opposing. And please express yourself fully. Even if I still disagree with you, I’d love to have a discussion. Right now you seem to be a movement fully comprised of immature signs.
(Not a feminist. Not an anti-feminist.)