My piece ‘Against Feminisms’ explaining why I think feminism is wrong about pretty much everything, has been one of the most controversial on this blog.
Last night @allyfogg gave a point by point response. Before I reply I thought the #QRGMassive could take a look and see what they think!
1) Feminism is based on an assumption that overall, men as a group hold power in society and this power, damages women as a group.
No, it doesn’t have to be based on this assumption, although I accept it very often is. Feminism <i>could</i> be based on an assumption that there is structural, systematic discrimination against women of a different nature to structural, systematic discrimination against men.So it could be other social forces holding power, not “men.” Marxists feminists like Lindsey German would probably tell you that the ruling class holds the power, not the male gender. Selma James would probably say it forces of cultural socialisation or something woolly like that.
Anyway, I should point out that even feminists who do believe in simplistic patriarchal theories are not necessarily misandrist. They could like and love men but hate the system that accords gender roles and power (as they see them.)
2) The above assumption, no matter what feminists say, relies on a belief in and a reinforcement of the essentialist binary view of gender (i.e. that male v female men v women masculine v feminine are real and important distinctions. That is how feminists justify their belief that ‘men’ hold power over ‘women’)
It doesn’t rely on it at all. All it requires is a recognition that the dominant society (or a significant part of it) believes in a binary view of gender and acts unjustly upon that belief, false or not. If society were to arbitrarily decide that people whose surname begins in the second half of the alphabet were to be deprived legal and democratic rights, one could point out that it is ridiculous because it is an entirely false premise and social construct, but that wouldn’t make the discrimination any less real or less worthy of challenge – it wouldn’t make it untrue that alpha-mus hold power over nu-omegas in practical terms.
3) e.g. concepts such as ‘rape culture’ and ‘patriarchy’ and ‘violence against women and girls’ and ‘the male gaze’ and ‘objectification’ rely on making out men are not decent people
No,this is deeply, deeply wrong and, ironically enough, I think you slip into out and out misandry of the type you’re accusing feminism of. Those concepts rely on making out <b>the men who do those things</b> are not decent people. There is no need for it to be generalised to all men, and some feminists are quite good at clarifying that. Also,in this paragraph (also your GMP piece iirc) it is *you* who is associating rape culture, VAWG etc with masculinity. Fuck off with that Elly, seriously. Rape, harassment, violence, domination are in no way essential to my gender and I spend a considerable chunk of my life trying to detach the associations. Saying campaigns against violence against women are de facto anti-man is saying that violence against women is part of masculinity. I’m not having that. Rape is a crime against a woman and also a crime against masculinity. Same for all the rest of it. Violence, harassment, abusiveness, whatever, is not decent behaviour. The people who do it are not decent people. I have no problem condemning them for it and trying to prevent the behaviour, however I can. That doesn’t make me a self-loathing man-hater.
4) The focus on men’s power over women in ‘patriarchal’ society ignores other divisions between people
That’s not a logical necessity at all. Someone could be primarily engaged with economic class dynamics or race dynamics, see all of their politics through that lens, and yet still identify as feminist by any definition. Most Marxist Feminists and anarcho-feminists would be utterly baffled by this claim. Yes, a lot of feminists do ignore (or downplay) other power dynamics but it is by no means a logical necessity that they do so. Their politics can still be entirely coherent if they do not.
Finally, and as with the last one above your numbers (5) and (6) are commonly true in practice but quite obviously don’t need to be true, politically.
Now after all that I should say, it is a perfectly decent list of reasons as to why you don’t call yourself a feminist. I disagree with some of it but hey ho.
What it does not do is rebut the claims that <i>”‘feminism is not a monolithic group’ ‘there are many branches of feminism’ </i> etc You haven’t done that at all.
Nor, to go back to our Twitter chat earlier tonight, have you demonstrated that feminism is by definition and necessity man-hating and misandrist. Not by a long chalk.