Feminist Aspie

“Why is feminism a dirty word?” Spoilers: It’s patriarchal myths.

on January 16, 2013

Earlier today, this “infographic” from Vagenda Magazine showed up on my Twitter timeline:


…Right. Let’s go through all of these, in order.

  • “Not sexy” – This defeats the object. Women should not be defined based on whether or not they are sexy. This is a patriarchal myth.
  • “Un-feminine” – The fact that a “feminine” stereotype even exists shows that feminism is needed. The “feminine” stereotype is a patriarchal myth.
  • “Makes you feel guilty” – Again, THAT’S THE POINT. You realise that certain things you say/do are inadvertently sexist, so you stop saying/doing them. Once you’ve done that, nobody should continue to “make you feel guilty”. This perceived permanent judging of people who have genuinely changed is a patriarchal myth.
  • “In-fighting” – There’s also in-fighting in politics. There’s in-fighting in most friendship groups. There’s in-fighting in life. People disagree. This isn’t a reason to avoid feminism; if anything, it’s a reason to add your support to your chosen opinions. There is no more in-fighting in feminism than in any other activist group; such a notion is a patriarchal myth.
  • “Angry” – Okay, so feminism is angry; but this shouldn’t be a bad thing. If you realised how much oppression is faced by so many groups of people, you’d be angry about it too. Anger is (usually) how change happens. Also, when was the last time you heard a man being told to calm down? Turns out that anger being a bad thing is, too, a patriarchal myth.
  • “Unattractive” – See “not sexy”. Patriarchal myth.
  • “Hostile” – Only if you say something massively offensive. I’m relatively new to this – the blog’s been up for just over a fortnight – and everyone’s been really welcoming so far; the only Twitter argument I’ve had was nothing to do with feminism (or gender at all, for that matter). I went to my university’s WomCam meeting for the first time the other day, and they were similarly welcoming. As you may have guessed, any hostility surrounding feminism is a patriarchal myth.
  • “No longer needed” – Actually, yes it is. A quick look at The Everyday Sexism Project, as well as its #ShoutingBack and #StandingUp hashtags, proves this. The idea that feminism is “no longer needed” impedes feminism. Guess who benefits from that? It’s another patriarchal myth.
  • “Confusing” – Seriously, it really isn’t. Women and men should be treated equally – in fact, everyone should be treated equally. If you believe this, you’re a feminist. And if there are any terms or concepts that you don’t understand, just ask. If you don’t want to ask the person, then ASK GOOGLE. It’s really not hard; that’s just a patriarchal myth.
  • “Intimidating” – See “hostile”. Patriarchal myth.
  • “Academic” – See “confusing”. Patriarchal myth.
  • “Dogmatic” – “Forcibly asserted as if authoritative and unchallengeable”. (Yes, I had to look it up. It took about ten seconds of my time. See “confusing”.) This sounds more like the kyriarchy and mainstream media to me. However, applying the label to feminism and intersectionality looks better for, you guessed it, patriarchal myths.
  • “Too radical” – So wanting gender equality is too radical? Would you rather maintain gender inequality? Who would? The patriarchy. Hence all the patriarchal myths.
  • “Not relateable” – This depends on the person, I suppose, but most people (regardless of gender) have experienced sexism. Have you ever been told that something is “for boys” or “for girls”, “masculine” or “feminine”? Have you ever experienced harassment? At work, have strangers ever assumed you were a different gender due to the type of job you do? Congratulations, there’s going to be something you can relate to. This relates to what I said about “No longer needed” – most people feel they can’t relate because they genuinely don’t realise the discrimination they’ve experienced, because sexism doesn’t exist according to, again, patriarchal myths.
  • “Scary” – This is understandable, but like “Angry”, this shouldn’t be a reason to avoid speaking out. In fact, the reason I set up this blog and Twitter is because I realised that I kept refraining from tweeting about sexism due to who could possibly see it. And that’s what the people you’re scared of want you to do, because if women aren’t speaking out, society is allowed to continue to spread patriarchal myths.
  • “Man-hating” – This is factually incorrect. Feminists do not hate men. Feminists hate the patriarchy. The patriarchy is not men. The patriarchy is a system maintained by some men as well as some women; in fact, there are occasions where men (particularly fathers) suffer discrimination due to stereotypes about “women’s work” (particularly parenting). Feminists realise this. Feminists want equality. Anything else you hear is a patriarchal myth.
  • “Seemed exclusive – not for people like me” – Unfortunately, there are some self-proclaimed “feminists” who do exclude others, as shown by certain transphobic articles published this week. However, this is not true of all feminists, and should not be used to put people off feminism as a whole. In fact, I get the feeling that these transphobic articles made it to publication in order to perpetuate this perceived “exclusivity”… making it a patriarchal myth, for a change. 😛
  • “No education about it” – See also “Confusing”. But seriously, if there’s no education about feminism, that’s a reason to support feminism, not a reason to avoid it. Under this logic, if there’s no support for feminism, more people will get away with not educating others about feminism, so there will be less support for feminism, etc. Sounds like a patriarchal myth.
  • “Too intellectual” – See “Confusing”. Patriarchal myth.
  • “Pious” – “Marked by false devoutness; solemnly hypocritical.” I can see why this would apply to a minority of feminists, see also “Seemed exclusive – not for people like me”, but like I said, they certainly don’t speak for all feminists; this is a patriarchal myth.
  • “Irrelevant” – See “No longer needed”. Patriarchal myth.

Please tell me you see a recurring theme here, because now I’m sick of typing “patriarchal myth”.


14 responses to ““Why is feminism a dirty word?” Spoilers: It’s patriarchal myths.

  1. Amy says:

    A splendid post, dealing with every point effectively! The account which Tweeted the original graphic should Tweet this out as well, as it dispels so many of those (you know what phrase is coming here) patriarchal myths which are unfortunately ingrained in so many young women’s minds.

  2. Amy says:

    Haha. I was actually considering asking you on Twitter if you approved comments on here!

  3. A says:

    Just passing by… the line in the preview that showed up on Google:
    ““Un-feminine” – The fact that a “feminine” stereotype even exists shows that feminism is needed. The ‘feminine’ stereotype is a patriarchal myth”
    Is completely illogical, because there’s also a “masculine” stereotype. By that same logic, some kind of “Masculism” is needed. I disagree with both conclusions. Use your brain. That is all. Good day sir.

  4. […] grew up in a society and an extended family where feminism was completely discredited. Feminism was misunderstood–by both women and men.  Some people think that feminism is equivalent to patriarchy, just […]

  5. autisticook says:

    Funny, I was just thinking that masculism is needed and relevant just as much as feminism, when you agree that feminism is simply about being thought equal and equally capable as other people of doing certain things. I’m all for masculism saying that men are just as capable of caring for others as women are. (Seriously. Don’t you guys feel HURT when someone assumes you don’t know the “right way” to hold your own baby simply because you’re a man?) I’ll fully support any man saying it’s not fair that he automatically gets expected to do all the DIY stuff around the house. I don’t mind calling that masculism if the word feminism makes someone feel excluded. Because in the end, it works both ways, and sexism hurts everyone.

  6. Henry says:

    Feminism is not a dirty word because people misunderstand it. Actually they’re not misunderstanding feminism in the slightest. They’re seeing what you are unable to see as perhaps you’re too close to the problem to see it accurately or maybe you just can’t bear to face an unpleasant truth. But you’re not going to convince anyone worth convincing by simply pointing to the dictionary definition of feminism then folding your arms smugly like you just proved something. The problem is that there is an enormous gulf between the THEORY of what feminism is allegedly about (the dictionary definition) and the PRACTICE of what feminism really is and does in reality.

    It is quite easy to demonstrate what I mean. You see, when your movement claims that it is simply fighting for equality with men, not special privileges above and beyond what men have, no silly, just equality, then your movement needs to explain why it still exists in the western world now that women have had all the same rights as men for quite some time now in addition to some female-specific special privileges on top of that which no man will ever have. Point me towards even ONE law in the U.S. for example which discriminates against women in favor of men. I hear crickets chirping. When you have already achieved all the same rights as men yet you still keep on playing the victim card to try to milk further gender-specific concessions out of society, guess what? You’re making it pretty damned obvious to anyone with more than 2 brain cells to rub together that equality isn’t nearly good enough for you, that you’re a female supremacist movement unconvincingly dressed up as one that’s “fighting for equality”. (For crying out loud, even the movement’s very NAME gives away its purpose. If it was fighting for equality it would be called egalitarianism or humanitarianism or something quite a bit less narrowly gender-specific.)

    If feminism TRULY was about fighting for equality rather than being a one-sided gynocentric superiority movement then ask yourselves why it constantly pooh-poohs any problems or injustices that aren’t 100% exclusively about women. Ask yourself why it makes no effort at all to redress any of the imbalances that favor women over men.

    For example, where is the feminist activity on the issue of women being sentenced to 60% less prison time for the same crimes as a man? Why isn’t feminism demanding that women be held to the same standard of adult responsibility as a man who committed the same crime? Why is your movement content with such an egregious disparity in sentencing? Oh yeah, because it is a disparity that favors women over men, whereas if the situation was reversed with men getting let off with 60% less prison time than a female you bet your ass it would be a feminist priority.

    Why is feminism content to see 93% of workplace fatalities being male with only 7% being female? If feminism is about equality then why isn’t feminism working to try to convince more women to take these dangerous jobs so perhaps we could start to equalize this extremely one-sided workplace death ratio? Oh yeah, because feminism is perfectly content letting men do the dirty, heavy-lifting, dangerous and hard jobs that keep society going and letting women get the air-conditioned office jobs… then bitching about how a secretary answering phones all day in an air-conditioned office is a “victim of discrimination” for not getting paid as much as a man 500 feet in the air dangling off a skyscraper installing window glass though of course we know they will NEVER be THAT specific in their criticism because it would risk revealing the vapid, dumbed-down, apples-to-oranges nature of said criticism. Far better to just make some unsubstantiated claim about your mythical “gender-based discriminatory pay gap” that magically disappears as soon as one adjusts for personal career choices, education and childbirth.

    Where is feminism’s activism about the issue of women getting awarded custody in about 90% of child custody cases? To the extent that the woman would have to just about be a practicing prostitute or a heroin addict in order for the man to be given custody. Funny but this doesn’t seem to make it onto feminists’ radar either, gosh I wonder why…

    Why has feminism remained silent about the huge discrepancy in funding for male homeless shelters versus female homeless shelters? When the overwhelming majority of homeless people are men rather than women, why on earth should men’s shelters get short shrift compared to female shelters? This clearly isn’t an important issue for your imaginary “patriarchial” government which routinely ignores men’s issues in favor of women’s issues so why isn’t feminism, the movement you never tire of telling us is not gynocentric but all-inclusive, fighting for equality not female supremacy, doing a damned thing to bring this to society’s attention? You can bet any amount of money if the situation was reversed with the homeless population being mostly female it would be a crisis of Biblical proportions, worthy of the government declaring a “war on homelessness” to solve it. Why is the feminist movement just as disinterested in this matter as the government?

    Why is feminism content with men still having to pay alimony in 2014? Aren’t you the same ladies who constantly tell us how women are just as good as men, just as capable and just as independent? Then why the hell should a man have the responsibility of paying for the upkeep and lifestyle of his former spouse on an indefinite basis? Why did this issue only make it onto feminists’ radar (in Florida) when the infinitesimally small amount of women paying alimony to THEIR former spouses inched up a tiny bit while still remaining a mouse fart compared to men’s alimony payments? Where is feminism’s indignation that these supposedly liberated, independent women are entitled to being supported by a man that isn’t even living with them any longer? Why don’t you see this as an enormous insult and indignation? Oh yeah, because I suppose the convenience of getting a monthly check in the mail assuages your little feelings of shame and dependency, right? So long as it works in women’s favor instead of men’s it’s perfectly OK with the feminist movement.

    Where is feminism’s concern with the issue of men committing suicide at rates astronomically higher than women? You know if the numbers were reversed there would be a colossal shitstorm until we got the numbers of women killing themselves back down to acceptable levels but yet with the numbers being what they are this, unsurprisingly, isn’t an issue feminists will lift a finger to work on.

    And I have yet to hear a single feminist push for women having to register for the draft. Why does a man have to register at age 18 or else he isn’t entitled to any of the benefits of society, can’t vote, can’t collect Social Security when he’s old etc. yet no woman has to register for the draft in order to enjoy any of that? Why are feminists content to let women avoid adult responsibilities that men can never avoid? Oh yeah, because it isn’t a movement about equality at all but rather female supremacy, the same reason why the KKK never pushes for anything aside from matters that affect white people. As despicable as they are at least they’re honest enough to not pretend to be fighting for racial equality.

    Or what about the biggest double standard on the face of the earth? By this I mean the elective abortion/mandatory child support issue. Let’s say a woman gets pregnant accidentally, neither her nor her partner intended for it to happen. If the man wants to be a daddy to that unexpected kid but the woman doesn’t want any parts of it she’s going to go to the abortion clinic and get that unborn human dismembered and sucked out of her uterus without having broken a single law in the process. That man will now be the proud daddy to a bloody little pile of severed arms and legs. But if the situation is reversed and the woman wants to keep the baby but the dad doesn’t want any parts of being a daddy? Tough tittie, he’s on the hook for 18 years of child support payments for a kid he will never see. The law simply doesn’t allow him to act like an irresponsible piece of shit at least not without facing the penalty of jail time for his irresponsibility. The law holds that man to his responsibility, forces him to act like a grown adult and take responsibility for his actions. Whereas the law makes no effort whatsoever to force the woman to act like an adult and take responsibility for HER actions, no, instead it lets her dance away from the consequences of her actions without a care in the world. When the man’s irresponsibility results in the woman not getting a monthly check in the mail and that’s illegal yet the woman’s irresponsibility results in the death of another human being (the unborn human) and yet THAT is LEGAL?? Are you effing kidding me?? This has to be the most horrific double standard the world has ever seen, yet I guarantee you that if anyone was to start pushing for ending mandatory child support payments or tying the continuance of legal abortion to the ending of mandatory child support it would be the feminitwits who would be leading the charge to make sure things remain as one-sided as they are now. When the woman is allowed to act like a magical sparkly princess with no more responsibility than a child even though her irresponsibility and immaturity results in a human being’s death and the man isn’t even allowed to skip out on child support payments for a kid he never sees, clearly this abortion/child support situation can be called nothing less than overt female supremacy. Not equality between the sexes. Not egalitarianism. Overt, in-your-face female supremacy and nothing less. Funny but I haven’t heard of a single feminist anywhere pushing for an end to elective abortion. Feminism seems perfectly content to let this terrible double standard remain in place and any comment made about ending elective abortion is immediately met with a lecture about how it would somehow be “oppressing women” to hold them to the same standard of responsibility a man is held to, how it would be “chaining them to the stove” or ensuring they are “barefoot and pregnant” or whatever other feminist propaganda bullshit they can come up with. Because this is one of the many double standards that feminists embrace, those which favor women over men. Another reason why few people aside from feminists themselves take feminists seriously.

    So you want to “prove” your movement really is about equality and not female supremacy and special gender-specific privileges? Great, come out against elective abortion. Demand that it be abolished, demand that women are held to the same standard of responsibility that a man is held to, demand that women receive no preferential treatment in the court system etc. etc. Basically it comes down to a realization that not everything in life is a right or a privilege, that there are some things in adult life that are called “responsibilities”. If feminism wasn’t all about milking society for more benefits, more gender-specific set-asides, more quotas, more gynocentric advantages and actually grew the hell up enough to see that there are such things as RESPONSIBILITIES as well then maybe more people would take feminism seriously. As it stands right now only about 23% of American women identify as feminists meaning no less than 77% of women wouldn’t touch with a ten foot pole the movement that is supposed to be designed around their interests. That is a spectacular failure so amazing words can’t describe it. Perhaps women are getting tired of being constantly told they’re weak, helpless little victims who can’t do anything for themselves without a movement behind them to keep them pointed in the right direction and protected from this cruel world. I suspect your average woman is quite a bit stronger than that and doesn’t appreciate being talked down to. But whatever it is, your movement is dying and I say good riddance. Let it be replaced with something that doesn’t try to drive an unnecessary wedge between working class men and working class women. Let it be replaced with something far more mature, grown up, sensible and realistic. In other words let it be replaced with something that is GENUINELY about equal rights for the sexes.

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