5 Critiques of Internet Feminism

feminism

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

  1. Establish some base assumption of human nature
  2. Identify important societal issues
  3. 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.

http://today.yougov.com/news/2013/05/01/has-feminist-become-dirty-word/

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

http://msmagazine.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2013/03/Feminist-Factor-2006-2012.jpg

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%.

youngadultTo these zany teenagers, feminism is a hip new way of saying “I hate old people!”

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.

captain_planet_a_p
Each distinct oppression class has its own color which, when combined, creates captain planet!

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.

  1. It has encouraged feminist ideologues to start censoring discussion amongst themselves based on racial, economic, or gender characteristics of the writers.
  2. 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

http://feministing.com/2014/05/30/an-open-letter-to-privileged-people-who-play-devils-advocate/

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.

http://feminspire.com/why-white-feminists-need-to-shut-up-and-listen-when-it-comes-to-race/

http://everydayfeminism.com/2014/07/8-things-white-people-race/

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/sarah-milstein/5-ways-white-feminists-can-address-our-own-racism_b_3955065.html

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.

intersectionality

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.

1This 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?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/12/11/millennial-women-wage-gap_n_4424939.html

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.

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22 comments

  1. That’s a great post. You put a lot of thought and research into it.

    Internet feminism can be pretty unbelievable. There’s just something about a bunch of keyboard warriors on a social justice mission with that mean girl from junior high mentality. I like to say I blog so I don’t kill people;)

  2. Love this. Many, many great points.

    “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.”

    Hit the nail on the head. The first thing that comes to my mind are Mormons. Mormons seem to encourage questions.They’re both tight-knit and very welcoming. One of the most annoying things I’ve heard Feminists say is “go educate yourself.” No. If you are a representative of a movement, it IS your job to present facts and philosophies that help your cause. Imagine being an animal rights advocate and saying “Save the whales! Go home and Google why!”

    Sure, equality should be the default. Equality should just be a given – not the thing that needs to be defended. But let’s be real. Those who support inequality probably 1) don’t even realize they’re perpetuating inequality and would be open to learning more if someone just explained it calmly or 2) are so overly defensive about clinging to “the good old days” that a mad raving Feminist will push them farther away.

    “The political reality is that now Feminism = Liberal, and to 95% of the voting populace this is all that counts.”

    As a conservative/Objectivist Feminist, this too bothers the HELL out of me. The right wing is terrified of Feminism. They don’t even care what Feminism is saying – all they hear is “liberal.” Yet they still hold up Atlas Shrugged like a freaking bible – written by pro-choice, childfree Feminist Ayn Rand. I know the right could be capable of a very lovely type of Feminism – the type of Feminism that embraces the potential of the individual, male or female, and does not attempt to set a gender role for either. The type of Feminism that simply sees women as people, and realizes that in a free society, everyone has the right to self-determination (i.e. abortion, birth control, etc). And that the less government intervention in a person’s personal life, the better, because the right wing should universally be for small government. The liberal Feminism, which comes off as being “owed” something, or that the government should constantly intervene on behalf of the woman in health choices, and that the government should punish corporations on behalf of the woman, does not have to be the only form of Feminism.

    As far as intersectionality goes, I do believe it’s missing from modern feminism and that non-white, non-straight, non-middle class women are often talked over. But we first must acknowledge that POC and other minorities do not always agree among themselves. There are black people who support the NAACP and those who do not. Which group is correct? Are they both right because minorities are always right about minority issues? If a white person supports the NAACP, are they automatically wrong on the basis of being white, are they right because they’re agreeing with pro-NAACP people, or are they wrong again because they’re agreeing with anti-NAACP people? We can see how this quickly becomes a tangled concept to uphold.

    But while I do not personally feel comfortable speaking from the POV of a minority, I would not silence or demean a person for speaking about lives that aren’t their own. As you said, stupid opinions still need to be spoken aloud in order for discourse and education to happen. And in real life, they’re not always stupid anyway.

    1. Thanks for your thoughtful comment!

      There will always be race issues that a dominate race cannot empathize with or truly understand but that doesn’t mean they should be shutting them down from saying their opinions. I’m of the opinion that all discussion is beneficial to a political movement, internet feminists seem to think (and this is quite typical) that they are the arbiters of what’s acceptable and try to police each other in unimportant, counter productive ways.

      For the most part it’s a big contest to see who is the most “politically correct,” and then use that as justification to put people down and tell them they don’t matter. I feel like this really is unique as I have never witnessed this in other non-dominate ideological groups. Just because feminism has incorporated fighting for racial justice as an explicit doctrine does not make the feminist any more or less an authority on race issues.

      1. I agree 100%. I think it really is an excuse to bully people. Mostly other women too, which is sad.

        And a lot of it really is a dick measuring contest for who can be the most politically correct. “Oh I don’t use ableist words like ‘lame’.” “Oh yeah? Well on your last blog post, you said your day was ‘crazy,’ you ableist scum!” It would almost seem like satire if it wasn’t SO true.

  3. I enjoyed this very much. I’m a conservative woman and leftist feminism makes me weep. Having attended an all-women’s college (Wellesley), and then a graduate school associated with an all-womens college (Newnham College, Cambridge), I’ve been around feminists for a while. So often it seemed like an anti-family movement to me, and indeed, so much of what they propose politically only weakens the family unit. then I was a stay at home mom for 16 years – even though I had a PhD – and that didn’t do me any favors with the feminists. I just find them to be so blinkered and so insular in their approach to ‘equality’. I have started writing for a British website called The Conservative Woman (www.conservativewoman.co.uk) which is against leftist feminism, and that has been very therapeutic for me to get my views out in public on the harmfulness of this movement. I’m not sure feminists realize how hurtful they are to other women.

    1. Indeed. One aspect of leftist feminism has been alienating right wing feminists who refuse to swap to the left, and don’t yet have enough influence to sway the right to pick up their politics. It’s a true shame

  4. Found your blog through Opionated Man.

    A fantastic analysis of what modern day feminism is and I will be reblogging this. Keep it up.

  5. I appreciated this well-argued post, and the links you listed are prime examples of how obnoxious this type of feminist activism has become. I didn’t think about feminism much until “internet feminists” started invading every blog and forum I used to enjoy. Around 2008 most of the hobby forums (gaming, digital art, women’s interest) that I visited changed suddenly and drastically. Places that had been very close-knit enjoyable communities were now clogged with a million threads about “sexism” “racism” and “rape” and in these threads a few “feminist” commenters were busy at work sowing as much gender and racial strife as possible. It really destroyed those communities and made hanging out on the forums stressful instead of fun.

    As a woman who grew up gaming in arcades as well as on Atari, PS1 and other first gen consoles, I’m disgusted by his whole fake internet war over “women in gaming”. Plenty of women game, but most of them aren’t professional feminist whiners who get paid to stir up flame wars for media outlets who just happen need a continuous stream of “gender war” clickbait crap. Yeah, there are some games out there that aren’t for me, but I’m an adult so I just don’t play those games. It’s so easy, I don’t know why these incredibly upset feminists haven’t thought of taking such a stance. (sarcasm, obviously)

    I don’t think the gaming industry has a problem with women, I think modern internet feminism has a problem accepting that not everyone wants to spend all day everyday hang wringing over -isms and whether they should feel guilty or not. That’s not fun, and people visit hobby forums to enjoy themselves, not to flagellate themselves for not living up the feminist demands for total ideological purity. Hobbyists usually congregate in online spaces to be social and enjoy sharing their shared interests; internet hobby forums are not intended to be little feminist indoctrination hubs where we have leftist church and witch hunt for racists and sexists under every rock. In short, modern internet feminists show a total disregard for the rights of internet based groups to set their own agenda. Sexism and racism must be shoehorned into every discussion, and every interaction must be hijacked and ran into the ground.

    Sadly, I wish there was a women’s rights movement that was not so hateful and pushy. I support women’s rights and socially progressive causes, but you are correct that by hauling the whole leftist bandwagon into feminism they have just made it impossible for sane, rational men and women to support them. For instance, I’m white and I understand that my experience may be very different than a black woman’s and that in some cases I may get better treatment from society. That said, I am for equality for all people, and I don’t owe anyone anything, especially if said someone is acting like a total asshole. What I won’t abide are these hysterical posts by feminists that start and end with “White women need to shut up and listen because we said so!” of which your femspire link is a perfect example.

    It’s just off putting and rather than making me want to listen, it makes me want to punch the blogger in the face. Of course, shitholes like Jezebel, Feministing, AngryBlackWoman, and XOJane and the slutty, leftist media exemplified by Salon and the Huffy Hoe live for this stuff because angry people comment more, which means more ad revenue for their websites. All we can do is to stop giving these inflammatory, obnoxious feminist articles and websites the clicks and ignore them. By taking away their traffic, we can send a clear message that this type of feminist clickbait is tired and stale. I know I’m sick of it, and I’m glad to have read your very spot on piece.

    1. Thank you for stopping by. It always means something when a poster clearly takes a significant chunk out of their day to reply in such detail.

      I agree with your point, something I didn’t hit on in my post. The more extreme the feminist position a blog makes, the more views it receives. Pushing blogging feminists to continuously push the envelope which may radicalize the perception of the movement. Those who are seeking to become feminists may see the more extreme positions and think “that’s me, i’m going all out!” or get turned off (as may happen as time goes on).

      In the end I do think Feminism will only continue to dominate the discourse, because a kernel of it is something we all agree with (let’s not treat women like sex objects, or like dirt. instead lets treat them like we treat everyone else), but I think internet feminism is poisoning itself in that never ending game for more viewership; as you mentioned clearly and I did not.

      Take care

  6. This is a very interesting post. I particularly appreciate the section on “lack of focus” and your comment on “intersectionality”. I’ve seen this in feminism, as you’ve indicated here, and I’ve also seen it in the abolitionist vegan community–there is one woman in particular who keeps trying to make veganism about every other social justice issue, saying we must be “intersectional”. The thing is, veganism isn’t about race or gender or class–it’s about social justice for animals. And yes, one would think that anyone who understands how oppression works and sees the injustice of it wants to end it for everyone, but veganism as a movement is about justice for ANIMALS. But Ms. Wrenn keeps insisting that abolitionist vegans must focus on race, gender, class, etc. My problem with that approach is that it takes the focus OFF animals, which is not okay. While I agree that racism and sexism are alive and well in the vegan movement, and they definitely should be addressed and the animal rights movement should be a safe space for everyone, abolitionist veganism is NOT about humans/human rights.

    1. Sorry for the late reply, I had forgotten to reply to this. I think you are hitting on a very important point here, what do Feminists want feminism to be? If they want it to be a social movement, they should keep their message to gender equality (like vegans should keep their message on the ethical treatment of animals/living things). But if they want feminism to start editing our current predominant ideology (Liberalism) then they have to tack on addendum about race, economic equality, etc. etc.

      There are pros and cons to each approach, but one danger with tacking on all these other issues is muting support for your movement in our political world (because now you must not only defend feminism, you must defend feminism’s take on capitalism, race, etc.etc).

      Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts

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