There’s been a backlash against modern feminism lately, and for good reason. It became militant, hateful, and irrational. It lost its heart. It lost its humanity.
It reminds me of when I became atheist. At first, I let my anger and outrage take over. I hated Christians and Christianity and wanted to abolish religion completely. After all, Christians had been torturing and killing atheists for centuries. There’s a long history of bigotry and hate, even war.
I used to take to the internet and post very aggressive anti-Christian stuff, ridiculing, mocking, and hating them. But, then I realized that some of my good friends were Christian and they didn’t fit the image I had in my head of what a Christian was. They were smart, kind, non-judgmental, and often open-minded. I was wrong about those people. They were not my enemy. They were not torturing or oppressing me. They were people who happened to be Christian.
Gradually, I calmed my shit down and stopped judging Christians in general. I may not agree with their beliefs, and I may still judge the ones that are scientifically invalid, and I still see a lot of them that are fundamentalist and fit the stereotype I had in my head, but I could no longer bring myself to judge them all the same because it just wasn’t true.
I eventually became what is often called a “friendly atheist”. Someone who is staunchly atheist, but doesn’t judge if someone is religious, unless of course, some individual is being an irrational fundie. But that’s those specific people. It’s not “Christians”.
When Christians said that not all Christians are like the fundies, I didn’t take part in a #yesallatheists hashtag meme. I didn’t accuse them of being torture apologists. I didn’t see them all as potential witch burners. I didn’t tell them to go create their own support groups and then go protest when they did. I didn’t use terms like “micropreaching” or “christ-splaining”. I’d have been seen as crazy if I did.
So, why has it been accepted for so long for feminists to behave like that? Feminism used to be a force for equality and empowerment of women. It was a necessary movement for a long time because women couldn’t vote, couldn’t work at certain jobs, and they were treated as second-class citizens. They organized, took to the streets and the courtrooms, and won legal equality, at least in America. It is illegal to discriminate based on gender for just about everything. If someone does, you can sue them.
Are there still a lot of sexist assholes? Of course, because there are a lot of assholes in general. That’s humanity for you. But blaming half of humanity because of those assholes is wrong. There’s no asshole-free utopia.
It would seem that the next logical step would be to take that fight to other countries where this legal equality has not been established. But, instead, that’s given lip service and the focus is on things like “microaggressions,” which are basically anything a feminist decides to take offense at like a simple compliment, having a door held open, being looked at, etc. It’s become a hypersensitive shitstorm of crazy. It’s turned into bullying anyone who doesn’t agree completely with their ideology. It’s become fundamentalist.
So, what the feminist movement could really use is what the atheist movement needed. A friendly face. A stance where, rather than blaming men in general and spreading hate and bigotry, it can instead foster a philosophy of non-judgment. Where each person is taken on their own merits rather than lumped into the label of “men”. Where they treat each man like they want to be treated themselves, until an individual shows themselves to be unworthy of that respect.
It’s time for it to grow up and behave like an adult rather than a petulant five-year-old. To deal with serious issues, especially the oppression happening in other countries, rather than bickering on the internet and acting like thought police, hunting down any expression that might possibly be construed as even slightly sexist and acting like it’s oppressing all women. Rather than telling other women what to think, they should focus on letting women think for themselves, even if they disagree, because that’s what adults do. They don’t need to be agreed with in order to have basic human respect for someone.
There was a time where is was just accepted socially that you should not criticize religious beliefs. You had to respect a person’s religion. It was taboo to question them. That has since evolved into the idea that you can still respect a person but you don’t have to respect their religious beliefs.
Right now, at least on the internet, it’s taboo to question modern feminism. You’re immediately considered a men’s rights activist, a sexist, a misogynist, and probably a rapist too if you do question it. It’s not sexism to question feminism, because no ideology should be immune to criticism. It’s time to re-examine it and question it and criticize it because it’s turned into another Tea Party. It’s time to call bullshit. It’s time to stand up to the bigotry and insanity, while simultaneously doing all we can to help women who are actually oppressed all over the world. To bring real feminism where it’s badly needed.
You know what they call women who don’t need to identify with the modern feminist movement? Women. And that’s not a bad word. It’s beautiful. It’s strong. It’s powerful. Just like them.
© 2015 William Suphan
- Ideological Feminism