The lady doth protest too much, methinks

I continue to find it pathetic that every few weeks feminists feel compelled to write articles about how people misunderstand them. For a group that has been around in its present form for nearly six decades, feminists are completely incapable of convincing people they are not misandrous ideologues bent of ruining society.

As Zerlina Maxwell stated in her recent article:

The message is fairly simple: Feminism in this case is the sanctimonious, uptight older sister, always out to spoil everyone’s fun.

In 1990, Pat Robertson famously said, “The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism, and become lesbians.” Despite countless well-reasoned arguments to the contrary, it’s clear that some 25 years later, feminism still has an image problem.

And whose fault is that?

This isn’t to say it’s feminists’ fault.

Really? Please explain.

For whatever reason, a comprehensive definition of feminism has failed to stick in some circles, as suggested by the fact that actress after actress has gone out of their way lately to publicly reject the feminist label. The recent popularity of the Women Against Feminism Tumblr has similarly proven that far too many women don’t understand what feminism is or what its main goals are.

Another explanation would be that people fully understand feminism and its main goals and want nothing to do with the ideology or its followers. It is very easy to play the victim, yet in this instance feminists cannot lay claim to that status. Feminists attack people who disagree with them. The feminist response to actresses disvowing feminism was not compassion but mockery, anger, and harassment. The same holds true for their treatment of Women Against Feminism. There was no solidarity or attempt at dialogue. There was only attack after attack, humiliation, and bullying. Men fair far worse. Bring up men’s issues, and one suddenly finds feminists tweeting pictures of themselves wearing t-shirts that read, “I bathe in male tears.”

Feminists like to believe the act out of compassion for everyone, but their actions and words prove otherwise. Yet so convinced are they or their altruism that they grace us with things like Maxwell’s list of the 10 worth myths about feminism. As she explains:

This means that all those who believe feminism hurts women, is perpetuated by man-haters or is designed to subjugate men’s rights are confused. So, in order to counter some of the more problematic and pervasive stereotypes about feminism, we’ve given some of the most popular myths a good old fashioned debunking.

Let us see what Maxwell offers:

1. Feminists hate men.

This may be the most persistent myth of them all. Faulty logic dictates that because feminists are active and engaged in making the world equal for everyone, they want to do so at the expense of men.

This is just not true.

Agreed, which is likely why no one makes that argument. The argument people make is that feminists demonstrate a visceral, consistent antipathy towards men. This manifests in feminist theories like “The Patriarchy” and “male privilege” to policies like teaching men and boys “not to rape.” That is the complaint, and so far feminists have done little to address it, although they have done much to worsen it. One need only read articles by Amanda Marcotte or anything on Jezebel or listen to commentators like Zerlina Maxwell to see precisely why people think feminists hate men.

If anything, the feminist critique of unhealthy masculinity drives this “you just hate men” narrative. Feminists want to put an end to catcalling, harassment and abuse of women. But if the vast majority of abuse of all people, including that of women, is at the hands of men, are you a raging man-hater for pointing that out? Of course not.

Except the “vast majority of abuse of all people” is not at the hands of men. There are of studies demonstrating that women commit a large amount of violence. Likewise, the majority of men are not violent, so holding them collectively or individually responsible for the few men who do commit violence is at best nonsensical. It is at worst sexist, hence the complaint that feminists hate men.

2. Feminists aren’t funny.

While there is a broader debate centering around the fallacy that women are inherently less fun than men, that misconception is even stronger with feminists. But while there is certainly a seriousness with which feminists address issues like the abuse and murder of trans women, for example, there are a million examples of feminists who are funny as heck.

Humor is subjective, so there is no way to declare who is or is not funny. It can be stated, however, that what feminists find funny is rather specific. It would appear that as long as men and boys are the butt of the joke, the joke is perfectly acceptable.

3. Feminists are hysterical.

“Hysterical” is a term historically thrown at women to silence them. It dictates that any analysis or complaint raised is inherently over the top. For example, feminists who argued that rape culture is a problem that needs to be seriously addressed are often dismissed as overly emotional and exaggerating.

That occurs because feminists are exaggerating. The very data they use to declare that there is a “rape culture” suggests the opposite. Crime has decreased in recent years. This includes rape against women. So the claim that we live in a “rape culture” that engages wholesale in sexual violence against women does not hold water.

Yet this is the consistent feminist response to an issue. Whenever feminists find a valid issue to address, they exaggerate the severity of the problem. There are legitimate problems women face. Feminists do not need to turn them into conspiracy theories.

5. Feminism hurts men.

Feminism helps men. Period.

No, there is no period. Feminism has a long history of hurting men, from forcing the closure of athletic programs for college men and high school boys to blocking legislation to assist male victims of rape and domestic violence. Feminism has fostered ambivalence towards serious men’s issues such as men’s health and male suicide, and has led to the assumption that normal male behavior such as assertiveness is the gateway to abuse.

To this point, Maxwell could not get three sentences into her declaration without slapping men and boys down:

A 1981 study, “The Unintended Victims of Marital Violence,” found that “Male children who witness the abuse of mothers by fathers are more likely to become men who batter in adulthood than those male children from homes free of violence.”

Abused boys are more likely to abuse. Nicely done. Interestingly, that notion does not lead feminists to actually help boys. Rather, it leads to feminists teaching them that because they are male they are a threat to females.

6. Feminists are only women.

Yes, there are male feminists! Sure, if you ask the average American to name a feminist, they most likely will name a woman, but that doesn’t mean that feminism is only for women.

That is a non sequitur. Feminism can be only for women and have male members. It is also misleading. There are plenty of feminists who do not think men can be feminists. This is a debate that feminists have amongst themselves frequently. Pretending that this is a non-feminist argument is dishonest.

More troubling is that Maxwell, like most feminists, cannot get through her rant without throwing male feminists under the bus:

The key here is that men who are allies in the fight against patriarchy need to be hyperaware of their own male privilege. In a post over at TIME magazine, author Noah Berlatsky says, “It’s true that sometimes male feminists, myself not excluded, imagine we’re brave allies, altruistically saving women by standing up for them. … But dreams about men saving women are just another version of misogyny — and, in this case in particular, totally backwards. Misogyny is a cage for everyone. When I call myself a male feminist, I’m not doing it because I think I’m going to save women. I’m doing it because I think it’s important for men to acknowledge that as long as women aren’t free, men won’t be either.”

Even as men side with feminists, their so-called allies smack them down.

7. Feminists don’t like being moms.

Here’s a myth that gets trotted out from time to time, perhaps most recently following New York magazine’s groundbreaking feature on New York City’s first lady Chirlane McCray. McCray, often described as a strong feminist leader, was slammed by the New York Post for admitting she didn’t always want to stay at home with her daughter.

Except the Post stated nothing of the sort. The closet the article came to that assertion was, “The disclosure — bound to horrify most moms — shatters the carefully crafted image of de Blasio’s close-knit family, which helped vault him into office.”

The notion that feminists do not like being mothers comes less from outsiders contorting feminists’ statements and more from people taking feminists at their word. McCray is not the only feminist to state she had difficulty accepting the parent role. This seems to be common, particularly with older feminists and those with sons.

One cannot say that feminists do not like being mothers. However, one can argue that feminists appear to have a tougher time accepting the role than non-feminist women.

8. Feminists are anti-marriage.

[…] While feminists certainly fight for the rights of women to have autonomy in their relationships, they also fight for the right of everyone to marry if he or she chooses. This means that while many feminists are gay rights activists, they also fight for equity within a marriage as a partnership, as opposed to a patriarchal entity.

Feminists do not support marriage as an equal partnership. They appear to support it only when the marriage bucks the traditional roles. Should men and women engage in the traditional norms, feminists seem to take issue with it. It is only the the non-conformist marriage that feminists support, hence the support of same-sex marriage. But the support does not come from any concern for equality. Feminists have no problem with women dominating the marriage or relationship.

9. Feminists’ primarily care about abortion.

Feminism isn’t only about abortion. By and large, to identify as feminist a person must believe in full bodily autonomy, but abortion is only one part of the fight for reproductive justice.

Again, this is a non sequitur. The argument posed is that feminists care primarily about the abortion. Arguing that they do not care only about abortion does not disprove the initial statement.

The right to have children, the right to not have children, the right to parent the children you do have in a safe and nurturing environment, and the right to determine under what circumstances you start a family are crucial components to full social, economic and political equality. If you don’t have control over your reproduction, you don’t have control over your life.

Interestingly, this logic does not apply to men. I can only think of a handful of feminists, all them critical of mainstream feminism, who would agree that a man or boy should not be forced to create or raise a child he does not want. The notion that men and boys should have control of their reproduction is considered by most feminists to be anti-feminist.

Setting that aside, only two of the items listed in Maxwell’s rant have anything to do with abortion: the right to have or not to have children. Yet even those side-step the actual problem: the morality of taking the unborn child’s life.

10. Feminists are angry.

In conjunction with the whole man-hating stereotype, the trope of the angry feminist is one of the most often-repeated lines in the history of anti-feminism. Dating back to one or two iconic images of feminists burning bras, this stereotype has been used by men and women alike to smear the movement as emotionally driven, the same way the stereotype of the “hysterical” feminist is used.

Like the “whole man-hating stereotype,” the angry feminist is not a stereotype. We can find her. Easily. There are many, many more examples of feminists raging like that. But let me not interrupt Maxwell’s excuses:

Yes, perhaps at times feminists have expressed their frustration with patriarchy and sexism in less than cordial tones. As it turns out, continued second-class citizenship isn’t something that makes you feel warm and fuzzy. Let’s be clear: Feminists have a right to be angry. Whether it’s rampant sexual assault without accountability, the wage gap, the glass ceiling, gender-based discrimination in general or decreasing access to birth control, righteous indignation is certainly called for here.

No, it is not. Righteous indignation would be called for if no one took those issues seriously or made any effort to address them. It is not called for when someone points out that the anger is misdirected at half the human population, that it leads to discrimination, bigotry, and violence against that group, or that it promotes hatred and further unjustified anger. The term to describe that is passive-aggressive narcissism. Or as Maxwell points out, “compassion”:

But it’s much more than that. As Jessica Valenti noted in 2013, “We have a right to be angry, we have a right to be sad, and shocked. We have a right to be exhausted… That anger, that sadness, it can help us do what we have to do. And I am angry and sad and exhausted with you. But I also know that what brings us together is more than a confluence of hardships. We don’t do this work because of anger—we do it because of love. We do it because of compassion.”

Spoken like a true abuser. Abusers are the only people who state they hate and become angry out of “love” and “compassion”.

So I state again that the lady doth protest too much, methinks. Initially I meant that in the modern understanding, i.e. that Maxwell denies too much. However, I now include the original meaning, i.e. that Maxwell declares too much. Maxwell, contrary to her intent, reveals precisely why people do not like feminists. She reveals that her list is not made of “myths” but of straw men she created and “stereotypes” feminists brought on themselves.

Here is a thought: if feminists want people to think the best of them, it would do them well not to behave so badly.

14 thoughts on “The lady doth protest too much, methinks

  1. Man: How many feminists does it take to change a light bulb?
    Feminist: That’s NOT Funnnyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  2. I’ve got a better one:

    A feminist and a man step into an elevator and—OH MY GOD, RAPIST!

  3. “Even as men side with feminists, their so-called allies smack them down.”
    Have observed this more times than I can count.

    Their entitlement is rivaled only by their ingratitude.

    How do you know when you’re not oppressed?

    When you can take a dump on the people that agree with you and they keep right on agreeing with you about EVERYTHING.

  4. I found this image in an article Vice ran about Women Against Feminism that I think is increasingly relevant here (as well as many other place):

  5. Pingback: This Day in the Secret History: August 26, 2014 | End Times Prophecy Report

  6. Oh, one of these again. Yet another propaganda piece that’s intended to convince other feminists more than the people it’s ostensibly addressing and gives no indication she’s ever tried to talk to the movement’s critics and asked them how they got their ideas*. I like how she uses the term “confused” instead of her actual meaning “you’re completely wrong and don’t have the slightest idea what you’re talking about shut up shut up“.

    1. Has anyone noticed how feminism constantly talks about it’s for “equality for women” and destroying the Patriarchy and rape culture and so forth, but when feminists write apologia like this it’s just “equality” and all that other stuff is quietly shoved under the couch?

    And how men who dislike feminism are usually called misogynists, but women who make the exact same criticisms are just poor little misunderstood children? In public, at least, in posts like this. Turns out that in private, they get the same death threats men do.

    Interesting how the examples of “unhealthy masculinity” are unhealthy for women. Totes not gynocentric!

    2. Yeah, remember that time Jessica Valenti wore a shirt that said she bathed in male tears and everyone laughed? And by laughed, I mean “roundly criticized her while feminists like the ones at Slate circled the wagons and insisted that it was funny, you guys, why are you making such a big deal out of it”.

    3. Yep, there’s the obligatory erasure of male feminists, who get just as much criticism as female ones, and are called “white knights” and “manginas”.

    5. Feminism has spent more effort trying to shut down people who talk about men’s issues, including other feminists, than it ever has working on men’s issues.

    Also, what about boys and girls who watch abuse of men by women? In fact, doesn’t exposure to abuse increase both the likelihood of being a victim and abuser?

    6. So to disprove the belief that feminists are gynocentrists, you use a gynocentric quote from a male feminist, about how men need to learn to be subordinate to women.

    And feminists tend to forget malefems exist whenever they try to claim their critics are misogynist, or describe the movement as “women fighting for their rights”. Including the malefems themselves. Speaking of which, one of the most prominent “experts on masculinity” in feminism, Dr. Jackson Katz, doesn’t think the term ‘violence against women” blames men clearly enough, and “men’s” should be but on the front.. Strangely, I note a complete lack of feminists expressing even a fraction of the outrage they do over the word “bossy”.

    Note how she says nothing about the stick malefems get. Apparently only women are persecuted for being feminist. They can’t even share victimization within their own movement.

    10. Dr. Michael Kimmel, one of the other prominent feminist “experts on masculinity”, has made his career railing against Angry White Men. He literally has a book by that title, in which he dismisses many men’s complaints, despite being a privileged white dude himself, and claims MRAs are “almost entirely” “angry straight white men”. But again, I don’t see feminists getting het up about that. Mainly because calling someone a straight white dude automatically discredits their opinion in most SJ circles, unless they have the “right” one, like he or Katz do!

    I like how she quotes from the same Valenti who denies men’s right to criticize her and mocks them for doing so.

    Like I’ve said before, people have the right to talk. But it turns out we don’t have the right to make anyone listen.


    Also, feminism, as a movement, has no problem ticking off the dudes it claims are oppressing them, even when they know its counterproductive. That’s what they invented the term “Tone Argument” for, to ridicule the idea that presenting their argument in a more palatable way might get more people to listen to them.

    Oddly enough, they seldom have any problem demanding men change things to accommodate women’s feelings.

    * Spoiler: Usually it’s by talking to feminists.

  7. PS: Actually, if you add it all up, she’s saying that feminism fights for equality and men, but men are unilaterally privileged and, implicitly, their issues are less of a priority than those of women, and helping those issues will, explicitly, magically help men as well, because all sexism, including that against men, is really about women, and we have always been at war with Eastasia.

    Also, remember what I said about feminists shoving their ideological memes under the couch when defending the movement? She couldn’t even make it through the entire article without insisting men are privileged and can only be feminists once they admit it.

    There’s a reason these articles don’t convince anyone.

  8. Emma Watson shows a change of trend, though. UN feminist representative, bringing up the issue of male suicide, so maybe the old guard are due to be ousted by a more compassionate and intelligent generation of feminists. Food for thought! 🙂

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