No, I’m not a feminist

The following is a guest post by Daisy Belden

“Are you a feminist?”

People ask me this question all the time. I used to shrug it off, having had a generally benign view of feminism as something that existed to fight against the dangers women faced in their everyday lives, like rape, harassment, and other forms of violence. I could see where they were coming from, since I too, had experienced these dangers: the shaky nervousness of walking home alone, hearing about my mother’s friends who were stalked, dealing with creepy guys who just won’t leave you alone. I got it, I really did. It sucks, having to worry about that stuff. But, I thought, if they really cared about women being in danger, they would just support gun rights, right? The fact that they don’t, well, that was my first clue that feminism was not as advertised.

I started to recognize the detrimental effects of the feminist movement as it merged with social justice activists and gained more popularity on the internet. It seemed like all of the sudden, every college-aged girl I knew had adopted an obnoxious, posturing kind of misandry into her digital presence. Being a man-hating woman has become trendy — a kind of signaling mechanism that means someone is a hip/liberal/down-with-the-kids type of chick. I guess that makes me a grumpy old man shaking my cane, because hating half of humanity is not going to empower anyone.

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When I tell people, “no, I’m not a feminist” the response is usually something like “…but you’re a woman.” For a brief moment I can feel my brain short-circuiting from the idea that 50 percent of the population would subscribe to one ideology simply because of their gender. Almost as if my entire individuality is washed away by the fact that I have ovaries. After regaining my composure after my mini-stroke, I try to find a way to boil down the plethora of reasons I have for not being a feminist into a succinct answer. Turns out I can’t, so here are some of the reasons why feminism is fundamentally flawed.

Women Have Brains

Shocking, I know. A feminist would have you believe that your ovaries should inform your political leanings, not your brain. It would be an understatement to say that this is pretty insulting to women who may have other priorities, like, oh I don’t know, the economic climate. Despite what a feminist will tell you, women are more than the sum of their reproductive organs. It may be hard to believe that any woman would find that she had more to gain basing her belief system on economics or philosophy rather than the parts of her body that make her a woman. But some do.

To a feminist, your brain is but an obstacle to your uterus. I have to deal with people asking me if I’m a feminist instead of my views on other, more intellectual topics, because of feminists, not because of some kind of paternalistic, condescending misogyny. It is feminists, not men, who don’t allow women to have intellectual individuality. They create the perception that women’s political philosophies are completely determined by their body parts instead of their brains. Forget economics. Forget philosophy. Forget business. Being pro-choice and pro-Planned Parenthood are all of the opinions and knowledge I need to navigate the world! Womyn unite!

This aspect of feminism offers an attractive opportunity for its proponents to add “meaning” to their lives (for some reason people seem to equate political activism with “meaning”) without ever having to open up a book — reading one article from Jezebel is good enough. To a feminist, your intellect matters none, because your gender validates your political positions. Feminists don’t have to back up their arguments because they’re women, therefore they know best about discrimination against women and what should be done about it. It is considered offensive to ask for logical, reasoned arguments, or evidence for that matter, so don’t even try.

Collectivism and Absolving Personal Responsibility

In this type of two-dimensional, collectivized perspective of women, all women are victims of men, and all men are violent rapists (because rape is defined by a feminist as any unsatisfactory sexual encounter these days). All individuality is lost, and you are judged by only one characteristic. All unsuccessful or unhappy women are mere victims of their discrimination, and every daily frustration becomes oppression. Because, why take personal responsibility for anything when you could blame the patriarchy?

For example, feminists often point to office environments as being hostile to women. The struggles of everyday life, like interactions with coworkers, which everyone faces, are now attributed to a greater conspiracy, “the patriarchy.” What no one will say to a feminist is that human interactions are fundamentally imperfect by their very nature, and that “the patriarchy” is not responsible for every interaction with another human being that you didn’t like. If a creepy guy hits on you at work, that sucks, but that’s life. Men have to deal with assholes just as much as women do, they just don’t complain about it. They know that humanity is riddled with imperfections and miscommunications, and that not everyone begins their day brainstorming ways to make your life feel like a fairy tale (sorry to burst your bubble).

Stop collectivizing people. A couple of jerks in your office don’t mean that all men are jerks. It just means that one guy is a jerk. Men probably don’t like him either.

Moreover, it astounds me that in such a free society, feminists have the nerve to say that women’s lack of professional success can be attributed to minor slights against them in school or in the workplace. These women demand that they be given jobs, engineering degrees, and board positions, instead of earning them — the odds are so stacked against them, they say (again, women can’t do it on their own because they are just a pair of ovaries, right?). Ayn Rand put it very succinctly in this quote on the Women’s Liberation Movement:

“There is no place on earth where so many opportunities are open to career women as in the United States, or where so many women have achieved successful careers. Women’s Lib proclaims that success should not have to be achieved, but it should be guaranteed as a right. Women, it claims, should be pushed by law into any job, club, saloon, or executive position they choose — and let the employer prove in court that he failed to promote a woman because she is a slob and not because she is a woman.”

Feminists are constantly infantilizing women as not able to achieve success by their own merit, but instead needing government and a collective movement to force the hand of an organization to raise them up. Women are incapable of achievement or self-confidence without intervention. Mindy Kaling sums this attitude up nicely in her book Why Not Me?:

“Just the attitude alone makes me sad: “We have to help our girls and teach them to be confident.” Well, guess what, young girls. You aren’t damsels in distress. You aren’t hostages to the words of your peers. You aren’t the victims that even your well-meaning teachers and advocates think you are.”

Feminists themselves perpetuate this notion that women are victims of society, in need of feminists’ help. They would love to take credit for Mindy Kaling’s success, by saying that she is the star of a television show because the body-positive feminist movement allowed her to be — discounting all of Kaling’s hard work and her writing and acting abilities. The reality is, Hollywood isn’t about giving affirmative action to talentless actresses just because they are chubby, Hollywood is about making money, and what makes them money is hiring people who get laughs and get shit done. Take your charity case to a non-profit; Mindy Kaling didn’t complain her way to the top. Mindy Kaling gets shit done.

Feminists Want Privileges, Not Rights

The things feminists demand — quotas, affirmative action for women in the workplace, free abortions for everyone — these are not rights, they are privileges. The feminist movement wants us to petition the government to receive political goods, not equality before the law. Peter Schwartz recalls the National Organization for Women’s march on Washington:

“When a march on Washington was organized by the National Organization for Women to publicize “violence against women,” the objects of the protest were, not just rape or battery, but reductions in welfare spending and cutbacks in affirmative action programs. As reported in the New York Times, the feminists “equated what they called ‘political violence’ with physical attacks.”

Feminists constantly blur the line between rights and privileges. Women should have the right to bodily autonomy, not the privilege of having other people pay for what she does to it. Women should have the right to sue their rapists in court, not the privilege of denying their rapists due process. Women should have the right to earn a living, not the privilege of any job they want. This is an important distinction. Women don’t need handouts. They’re smart.

So leave us alone, feminists. Stop telling women they’re successful because of Planned Parenthood. Stop blaming the patriarchy for your problems and build the next iPhone — it will do a lot more good for humanity than your complaining ever could.

Daisy Belden is a senior at the University of Michigan. She is an aspiring entrepreneur and writer, with a love for the controversial and contrarian.

5 comments

  1. There are a lot of moving parts here, and I don’t have the wherewithal to address them individually. Instead I’ll address what I take to be a central misunderstanding here. Belden speaks of women, in opposition to feminists, as individual actors capable of self-actualizing as do cis-men. It’s the myth of individualism enshrined in liberal lore going back to at least Locke. Individuals are endowed (by their Creator) with natural rights that just-in-fact enable them to self-actualize. The Lockean myth is that the universe is created in such a way as to seed the exact rights necessary to lead a felicitous life. If you just take _responsibility_ for your actions, anyone can be happy. (Remember that little bit in the Second Treatise where Locke says that land is basically worthless without labor–a hoot to any broker in Manhattan or SF these days.)

    But this is a weird premise to take on faith alone, that natural rights just do in fact provide the sufficient conditions to self-actualize. We have data, right? Let’s see if they really do, empirically. Here we see that women, taken as a demographic group, are not afforded the same outcomes as men, controlling for the same set of rights. Women are paid less, sexually harassed (and assaulted) more, and in nature’s great wisdom, assigned costs associated with reproduction that men just aren’t. It’s just insane to think that these divergent outcomes are just random. It is far more plausible to say that there are systemic modes of organization and operation that generate these divergent outcomes.

    Rights are great. I love rights as does everyone with higher cognition. But it is a device in the service of human flourishing and felicity more generally. And yes, Locke understood this too. Rights are not incorporated into the fabric of the universe (on the matter of the inherent arbitrariness of property rights, for instance, see McKelvey & Page 1999), they are useful fabrications that we employ to make people’s lives better. But when property rights undermine happiness, say by making it costlier for women to obtain reproductive care, it only makes sense to shunt this notion of inviolable (property) rights aside and divert collective resources to even the scale.

    (Many) Feminists are liberals that understand that sometimes you have to look at the whole to understand how individuals ought to be treated. They are thinking with both their eyes and their brains.

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    1. “It’s just insane to think that these divergent outcomes are just random. It is far more plausible to say that there are systemic modes of organization and operation that generate these divergent outcomes.”

      Yes & we call these modes of organization “sexual dimorphism.” Curiously, the entire class Mammalia groans under the yoke of the patriarchy.

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      1. So at least in regards to reproductive care that’s right, but the distinction between humans and other mammals is a morally relevant one here. The _fact_ of sexual dimorphism doesn’t directly inform how we ought to account for it.

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  2. The agency angle is the right approach, Daisy—i.e., to correct feminism. There’s no surer way to prove inferiority than by documenting victim-status and appealing to the strong to fix it. If you follow that logic to its natural conclusion, you will realize there is no right at all that is not granted by a corresponding agency.

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