Liana K posted a rant about antifeminists on her YouTube channel. I intended to write a short response as a comment and a longer response here. Unfortunately, I do not think I can whittle the response down. Before I proceed with my comment, I suggest people watch the video. Whether you agree with Liana or not, she does come across as genuinely concerned about how antifeminists perceive feminists.
She does take a great deal of heat from feminists, non-feminists, and antifeminists on Twitter. For that reason, I can understand some aspects of her tone. Watch it is for yourself, and then read my response. It will be directed at Liana because, as I mentioned before, I intended to leave it as a comment.
I watched your video twice. It left me confused.
Who are the antifeminists you mention? I ask only because few of the antifeminists I encounter specifically or primarily cite Andrea Dworkin as their raison d’être for opposing feminism. The majority of them are more likely to cite someone like Amanda Marcotte, Julie Bindel, Jessica Valenti, Anita Sarkeesian, Zerlina Maxwell, and a host of other prominent, popular feminists as examples for their opposition to feminism. Likewise, they are more likely to cite literature, articles, interviews, proposals, policies, and laws as reasons for their opposition. They will similarly note biased research and the politicizing of certain issues as reasons.
So who are these antifeminists who hang on the word of Dworkin?
You also argue that the feminists that antifeminists target either are do not represent real feminists. They are radical feminists, a fringe, but vocal minority within the feminist community. Would you label any of the above feminists radical or fringe? They are fairly mainstream, with a great deal of support within the feminist community.
While I can understand how the loudest voices may be heard, it seems quite the cop out to argue that the negative aspects of modern feminism belong to a fringe group. There is nothing fringe about the “teach men not to rape” consent training being pushed in the United States and other countries. There is nothing fringe about the “stop manspreading” policies implemented in the States and the United Kingdom. There is nothing fringe about lowering the evidentiary standards on college campuses to make to easier to expel students accused of sexual violence.
Those are all mainstream feminist policies.
While I am not men’s right activist, I did find your claim that “legitimate grievances men’s rights advocates have don’t have anything to do with rights and they have everything to do with psychological support and male dominated areas” rather insulting. That is primarily because you went on to state, “This is opposed to the legitimate rights that certain regressive lawmakers are attempting to deny women, mostly in regards to bodily autonomy.” You then went on to claim that some people in power “still don’t believe that a woman can be raped by her own husband.”
The latter would imply that you think it is a woman’s right to be believed if she claims she was raped by her husband. One of the positions of men’s rights activists is that men have the right to be believed if they claim they are raped. It would appear that you are arguing not believing women violates their rights, while not believing men is just a lack of psychological support. Your follow-up statement to those comments was that feminists worked for 40 years trying to prevent sexual violence. Yet you failed to mention the vast majority of that has been and continues to be geared exclusively on preventing violence against women.
I think that portion of your rant, along with how you blithely swatted aside addressing male victimization on its own merits (arguing that the focus should be on addressing women’s issues), is the reason why antifeminists do not believe feminists are as egalitarian as they claim. Your point comes across as contradictory, dismissive, and defensive.
I am not an antifeminist. I am, however, a victim’s advocate and a man who experienced sexual violence for the first third of my life. Your comments are precisely why I do not want feminism or feminists involved in assisting male victims. There is no acknowledgement of the legitimacy of violence against men, no acknowledgment of the need to address that issue on its own merit, and no acknowledgment of the negative aspects of feminism and its impact on addressing that issue.
Why would I want to work with, let alone share my experiences with, a group that will not even recognize that I have the right not to be raped or have the violation believed should it occur?
Now imagine my view of feminism was not akin to that of the late Christopher Hitchens’s view of religion, but that I harbored an antipathy towards feminism and feminists. How do you think your above comments would come across? Would it not sound as if you are painting feminists with the finest sable hair brush while painting antifeminists with the paint roller used to mark street crossings?
Both sides play in extremes. Both sides have valid points about the other side’s behavior. In this instance, antifeminists are correct that the average feminist does appear to support an essentially biased position that favors women over men. You did it while saying you were not doing it (and throwing male victims and men’s issues under the bus).
This leaves me in an odd position because I technically agree with you that antifeminists cherry-pick bad statements. I would be lying to say I have not done so myself. However, I disagree with why you think this occurs, who you think causes antifeminists (and critics of feminists like myself) to oppose feminism, how prominent those voices are within the feminist movement, and how to resolve the divide.
I do not think simply doing everything feminists way, as you suggested, is the solution. If people have a negative perception of your community, you need to ask why. If you think the moderates of your community are the real voice of the community and not the so-called vocal radical fringe, you need to ask why the moderates remain silent. Just like the members of another community that is not that popular with a large portion of the population, you need to explain how you can be the moderate voice when your opinions do not appear to differ from that of the radical fringe.
As for your final questions to antifeminists, I find them to be unintentionally condescending. While I agree that it is better for people to say what they are for rather than what they are against (hence the reason I do not identify as an antifeminist), antifeminists routinely talk about the positions they support. One need only listen to someone Karen Straughan or Erin Pizzey of what it is they support and what it is that they want.
I can only think that you asked those questions because you either have not looked into the antifeminist position or you focused on the most negative aspects. Both are ironic because they are essentially the charge you made against them.
I think that if you want antifeminists to meet you half way, you need to acknowledge that some of their concerns are valid. You also need to extend to them the benefit of doubt you wish to have extended to you. It is not enough to say that they are essentially good people and then follow that by accusing them of engaging in bad activist habits. It is also not enough to acknowledge that some feminists are “predators”, only to deflect responsibility for their bad activist habits onto those who grant them media attention. You will not bridge this divide by presenting your side as the victim of a fringe group while presenting the other side as stuck on Dworkin.
Both sides fight dirty, but you need to admit your side started the fight.