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January 2013

7 Attacks On Feminism

1) It is a most dangerous false equalization to state that feminism is just as “extreme” as patriarchy. It is a lie. Women who embrace feminism do not seek to dominate, control, or hurt men in the way that a patriarchal society allows men to hurt women. This lie is shoveled around so that men, who do not suffer from sexism but are wounded by the limiting and absolute nature that they’re expected to perform masculinity in a patriarchal society, will reject feminism AND do everything they can to encourage women, either through rhetoric and lies or force and violence, to reject it as well.

2) Pro-life feminism is a construction created by a patriarchal society as a direct attack on feminism. The LIE that anti-choice and pro-birth narratives help women and are affirming to women’s existences, when all they do is reaffirm patriarchal control on women’s bodies is like some sort of ridiculous and sinister reaction formation defense mechanism turned ideology. Just blatantly take that which stands at odds with women and call it “good” then skip off into the forest as if nothing has happened? What’s next? “Pro-domestic violence feminism,” since it’ll teach women how to be “strong” and “fight back?” These sinister people pushing this should stop and simply admit their position, as it is not truly in the interest of women.

3) Violent men who “apologize” are now feminists. Really? Are White feminists so desperate for White male allies who aren’t saying anything that they themselves haven’t said that they will privilege their Whiteness and maleness so high that violence is over-looked so that they can have a “male feminist leader?” Is the feminist community as a leader the space where violent White men need to work out their demons? Is saying that they have privilege “checking” that privilege or is moving away from a leadership position altogether actually doing it? White feminists cannot crave male allies so bad that they allow this nonsense. Further, race plays a factor as there is no way violent Black men who “apologize” then use social media to bully any feminists who don’t accept their leadership would be allowed such a position. In fact, many White feminists react differently to violent White men in the public eye versus Black ones.

4) Even the slightest, non-aggressive gesture by a man is deemed feminist. Yes, it’s us Black feminist theorists I’m looking at here. Black women deal with so much, in general, that a man “not” doing something blatantly misogynist or aggressive gets applauded as some major feminist achievement, even when it is not. Benevolent sexism is NOT feminism. Love is raising the bar, not accepting “anything” as more than what it actually is. And, because some Black men know that the bar is so low, in many cases, this is exploited. Men who aren’t really feminists use this to their advantage to exploit Black women, especially younger feminists, pursuing sexual relationships under the guise of her “exploring” her sexuality and even claim that her not doing so means that she isn’t really “progressive.”

5) Feminism and the LGBT community are blamed as what’s holding Black people back or are called Eurocentic. This is hideous bigotry and oversimplification that some anti-racism, pro-sexism/pro-homophobia Black men (and women) engage in. As bell hooks writes:

Many heterosexual black men in white supremacist patriarchal culture have acted as though the primary “evil” of racism has been the refusal of the dominant culture to allow them full access to patriarchal power, so that in sexist terms they are compelled to inhabit a sphere of powerlessness deemed “feminine” and have thus perceived themselves as emasculated. To the extent that black men accept a white supremacist sexist representation of themselves as castrated, without phallic power, and therefor pseudofemales, they will need to overly assert phallic misogynist masculinity, one rooted in contempt for the female. Much of black male homophobia is rooted in the desire to eschew connection with all things deemed “feminine,” and that would, of course, include black gay men.

6) "I don’t claim feminism since all feminists don’t get along." Um…neither did everyone during The Civil Rights movement. I see this one surface from women anytime two feminists (male or female) disagree on something. These women are suggesting that feminism is a farce and those disagreeing are being “catty” (a sexist term, actually) and thus it invalidates the theory and praxis. Further, by dissociating themselves away from feminism for this reason, they maintain the comfortability of the status quo and illusion that embracing patriarchy means that they’ll be more appealing to the men who are at odds with feminists as well. The reality is a misogynist man is going to bash a feminist or a woman who identifies with patriarchy. They tend to bash both without regard, unless using one against the other, often with fake compliments as tools.

7) We’re all women, so intersectionality is not needed. This one isn’t new but continually resurfaces as some cisgender, heterosexual, able-bodied middle class White women want feminism to remain their plaything and they aren’t considering the words of Sojourner Truth, Alice Walker (WOMANISM…HOLLA!) or Kimberlé Crenshaw; but then again, why would they if feminism is just a White woman’s hobby? Even the feminist space has internal attacks and issues to work through, but the cause makes the work worth it, especially to those willing to do the WORK.

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