On Women Against Feminism

28 September 2014
The definition of privilege is thinking that something is not a problem because it hasn't been a problem for you personally. So outside of a Young Liberals meeting, it's hard to conceive of a more privileged bunch than the women on Twitter tweeting self righteously under the hashtag #WomenAgainstFeminism. Ask them why they feel they don't need feminism, and they'll tell you they are not victims. "I made choices in my career so I've not faced discrimination" "I haven't been harassed or assaulted" "Look at me not being oppressed by my husband". ME ME ME ME ME.

Well, okay. There's no law against being selfish - or illogical. A lot of them will tell you they are actually very much in favour of equal rights for women, but not feminism, because it's been hijacked by extremists. They ignore that the majority of feminists love men - their fathers and brothers and friends, and if hetero their partners - respect men, don't hate men, that we acknowledge the positive role of men in their lives whilst still striving to reddress the effects of milennia of gender inequality. These haven't just gone away. Ask one of the women against feminism if they believe women are paid less, suffer disproportionately from violence in relationships, are underrepresented in business, government and academia, struggle with reproductive choices, because they just aren't as good - and they fall strangely silent. It's not because of the patriarchy, mind. They want you to know there is no patriarchy.

They cite examples of feminist extremism, such as Andrea Dworkin, and want you to know they want no part of it. Well, you can call yourself whatever you like. But just as someone who asserted they believe in the divinity and resurrection of Jesus, believe in the Nicene creed, but because of the Westboro Baptist Church they are not a Christian would be met with snorts of derision, so it is here. If you believe in equal rights for women, you're a feminist. Don't be afraid. We're a broad church. Open to interpretation, sure. But the misinterpretation is pretty frustrating. How many times have we seen right wing women who relentlessly attack feminism turn around and demand to know where the "sisterhood" is when one of their own comes under attack for non-sexist reasons?

They post derisively about Emma Watson's speech on the harms of gender inequality, ignoring that the subsequent sexual attacks prove that misogyny is alive and well. See, here's the thing. You owe feminism. If you're a woman, you owe it your right to vote and theoretical equal pay in law and your right to legal assistance if the boss sticks his hand up your skirt, unwanted. But feminism doesn't owe you anything. Emma Watson was attacked in her speech for specifically referring to violence against girls and women, rather than violence against all people. Well, yes, violence is always a problem and men do suffer disproportionately from assault and murder. But they do not suffer from gendered violence the way women do. With one woman dying at the hands of her partner every week in Australia, I am - sorry - absolutely fucking sick of every conversation about violence against women turning into a discussion about men. Sorry, we do plenty when men are attacked. The entire city of Sydney goes into lock down at night because two young men died in acts of alcohol fuelled violence. Meanwhile women and children are dying at home, unseen and unheard, at the hands of men who were supposed to love and protect them. This is terrorism.

If women against feminism support equal rights, but not feminism itself because it has been "hijacked", absolutely the worst thing they can do is to align themselves with the misogynists and extremists who do believe that deep down, a woman's place is in the home and all women are dirty little sluts. Deriding feminism does nothing for equal rights. If you truly believe in equal rights, proudly call yourself a feminist. Reclaim the label instead of writing them off as extremists. If you think you're too moderate and balanced to be a feminist, be a moderate, balanced feminist. Stop thinking if you play nice with the boys, they'll let you into their club. Acknowledge we've got a long way to go, that's it's not all about you, and start looking for ways you can help.


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