Feminism is Not Mandatory

Feminism is Not Mandatory

David Moscrop feels there is no excuse for anti-feminism, at least according to the headline of his article in the Ottawa Citizen, but his article bespeaks a much deeper ignorance and authoritarian perspective.  For Mr. Moscrop it is not just inexcusable for people to be anti-feminist, he also feels that every man who does not self-identify as a feminist is “ignorant, selfish, or cowardly”.  I can’t help but notice he does not feel that this should also apply to the many women who also do not self-identify as feminists, or those whom one could label as “anti-feminist”.  As someone who thinks there should be equality between the sexes, one would think that he would not exclude women from his hate-filled, acrimonious view of those who don’t share in his belief system.

I, for one, often take issue with many aspects of feminism, but I would not refer to myself as an “anti-feminist”.  I prefer to think that I am someone who believes in equality, and does not think that any system or structure is infallible.  As such, I often challenge feminism when I see it working in a negative fashion, and David’s article is a good example of feminism gone astray.  One should not have to ascribe to any belief or movement and, to choose not to, is not a reason to be insulted and ridiculed by a man trying to assert his masculinity under the banner of feminism.  David’s mediocre article, which is no more than thinly disguised ranting, is not casting feminism in a positive light.  His hate-filled version of feminism is something that is more likely to push people further away from feminism than to bring them in to its ranks, as he seems to desire.

How, in one sentence, can he talk of the challenges women face while also referring to them as the “fair” sex (as in the physically beautiful sex, which men are anything but); right there he highlights one manner in which women are held in higher esteem than men.  Considering attractiveness is a privilege itself, often leading to one receiving more attention throughout life in a positive manner, is the societal perception that women are by default more fair and beautiful, which, by contrast, implies that men are more boorish and hideous?  Though I may resemble that remark, it does not make me think that such labels should be applied to all men, as many women would likewise dislike being referred to as the “fair” sex.  Please, tell us more about how awful it is to not ascribe to feminism and show us the way.

Feminists, whatever their gender, are a sundry sort. Strictly speaking, we should speak of feminisms rather than feminism.

Feminists are a sundry sort?  Well if there is such a variety of feminisms, how do I self-identify as a feminist without needing to know more about all these different kinds and which I would best identify with?  Should I identify with the radical feminists who are trans-exclusionary, feeling that women who were born with penises are villainous infiltrators?  How about feminists who don’t think there should be any men in the movement at all, and admonish them for self-identifying as feminists, preferring to label them as “allies” (same as LGBT people label their straight supporters who obviously cannot identify as LGBT)?  These feminists seem to be interested in having men just nod along to support feminism and to not be allowed a voice themselves.  Does that sound like equality, or a swing of the gender-power pendulum?

Perhaps one should look at historical feminist figures then, as maybe it’s only recently that feminism
has gotten cast in a bad light by a few misguided feminists.  Perhaps I’ll be able to identify with some of its original representatives.  How about Andrea Dworkin, who is often misquoted as saying “all sex is rape”?  Where did that misquote come from?  Why another feminist, Cathy Young, who felt that it was a reasonable summary of Andrea Dworkin’s claims, such as “Intercourse is the pure, sterile, formal expression of men’s contempt for women”.

How about self-identified “radical feminist lesbian” Mary Daly, who excluded men from her advanced women’s studies classes at Boston College, and who has been quoted as saying “If life is to survive on this planet, there must be a decontamination of the Earth. I think this will be accompanied by an evolutionary process that will result in a drastic reduction of the population of males.”  Oh, and she felt transgendered people were abominations akin to Frankenstein’s monster, but yay feminism!

Should we look even further still into feminism’s past?  How about Emmeline Pankhurst, who fought for women’s right to vote in Britain, but stopped this campaign in order to focus on the white feather campaign; a campaign to publicly shame men to go and fight, often to their deaths, against Germany’s forces in the first World War.  One can draw contemporary similarities to the white ribbon campaign which focuses on one gender by shaming all men for the violence committed by a few against women, but ignores the violence committed against men by women and men alike (a campaign which originated in Canada, where the rate of intimate partner violence against men and women is 6% to 7% respectively).

I could keep going (the “tender years doctrine” would be next, which rightfully changed courts from making the father the default parent in custodial cases, but wrongfully placed the mother as the default parent in custodial cases).  The rest of your article is a bunch of tripe.  When trying to draw comparisons of men to women, one should look up neutral reporting on both, as I did above.  I have a suspicion that your resource for intimate partner violence, “The Canadian Women’s Foundation”, may be biased in their views and reporting.

Talking about how bad women have it in some areas does not negate that men have it bad in their own areas as well.  Comparing women at the top to men at the top is great, but why did you not also draw a comparison to how many men are staying in shelters each night as well as women?   What’s that?  You say there are no shelters for men fleeing domestic violence to compare those specific statistics to (because general homelessness, which is also staggeringly mostly men, doesn’t count)?  That must mean men don’t suffer domestic violence, right?  Perhaps I could interest you in this rock that keeps tigers away?

Gender Distribution of Homelessness in Canada

In short, it is not for you to tell people what belief systems they should ascribe to, or to vilify them if they don’t believe in the same one that you so obviously do; it is very patriarchal of you to do so.  As I said at the start, I would not call myself an anti-feminist, but I would not label myself a feminist either.  Feminism is not above critique, and to criticize it is not anti-feminism.  However, your literal ad hominem shaming methods are consistent with the historical figures of feminism I have highlighted, so I think you are certainly in the right camp.  Hopefully they will forgive you your patriarchal methods of demanding that the ignorant, selfish, and cowardly men fall in line behind you and do as you say.

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4 Responses to Feminism is Not Mandatory

  1. Tom says:

    Brilliant article, I enjoyed it profusely.

  2. Zio says:

    I found this blog in some old well, and I have to say that your writings are a very neat, clear and neutrally worded summation of my own views on the subject. I’d definitely give it my highest praise, one enthusiastic thumb up.

  3. Hi Eye,

    Once you got started you have great things to say…if the David Moscrop ‘mediocre article, which is no more than thinly disguised ranting, is not casting feminism in a positive light……..the rest of the (your) article is a bunch of tripe’, then you should encourage him to write to you and get juices going weekly.

    Thanks for taking the time.


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