-The original blog post, “You Are Not Equal. I’m sorry.”
-The rebuttal to this blog post, “Yes, I am Equal. I’m sorry You’re Offended By Us Women Who Lack A Victim Mindset”
-And now, onto my rebuttal to this rebuttal…..
So, I decided to kind of break this article apart piece by piece because I have my education and background in these issues, and I think it’s important for me to share this information with others and let them do with it what they will.
All of the outside sources I’m including(minus the entirety of the Goodreads list at the end) are sources that I’ve read, thought about, wrote about, and while I don’t necessarily agree with everything, they give a good basis of feminist theory and are a good place to start in understanding feminism and structures of inequality. To start off, this article is one of the basic, most essential fundamentals of understanding feminist theory and patriarchy as a system.
So, in response to Elise and this fun article, as far as her general point about modern feminism being filled with a victim mentality, I just generally disagree. I think that people spending their time marching, organizing, coming together, etc. are taking responsibility for change as opposed to just whining about it. Also, feminism is this word that gets thrown around as a monolith when really feminism contains many schools of thought. There is intersectional feminism, eco feminism, cultural feminism, and lots of other feminisms and feminist theories and scholars that can’t necessarily be grouped into one monogamous whole.
Point 1: “Thank Margaret Singer for your birth control”
I don’t actually know enough about Margaret Singer to talk on this. I would have to do more research because we all should be continually engaged in research and challenging our pre-existing views.
I will say that yes, I’m sure that just like many other figures who did a lot of good for social movements, such as Gandhi and Mother Theresa, they sadly did and said some racist or other awful things. This isn’t to excuse it, but just to point out that these issues and figures are complicated.
As far as Planned Parenthood goes, I have volunteered for them. I know that they do not use federal funds for abortions. Well, because it’s illegal. Once again, I’ll just point people in the direction of the Hyde Amendment. In fact, they have separate clinics that perform abortions (at least in Utah). Their main focus is on education, birth control, STI screenings, and many other important health services. Sure, there are probably certain people within the organization who have done bad things and lied, but overall, it is filled with caring people who want to help women, poor people, and other disadvantaged groups.
Point 2: You are not equal. Even if you feel like you are. You still make less than a man for doing the same work.”
Yes, of course, it’s the law that people should be paid equal pay for equal work. But just because something is law doesn’t mean that it is always enforced or that it ensures that things happen fairly. The reason why sexism still happens in wages and in society as a whole is because it is really hard to unlearn what we have been taught about gender and sex. Social progress often takes time and structural inequalities make it so that people have both explicit and implicit bias. Here’s an interesting take on implicit bias against women leaders. http://www.aauw.org/article/implicit-association-test/
People assuming that a woman won’t make a good boss or efficient leader because of gender stereotypes about women might be one example. Also, the reason why many women have to take time off for childcare and things like that is because society still often expects women to do that work but doesn’t expect men to, so this isn’t necessarily a good argument proving that things are already equal.
The idea that even when both men and women work full time that women are still expected to do the brunt of the housework and childcare is known as “the second shift” in sociology. I wish I had a link to the original source, but it’s a whole book. This at least gives an overview.
Here are a couple of additional sources about how wage inequality occurs even when comparing men and women in the same positions.
Point 3: “You still don’t have full rights over your own body. Men are still debating over your uterus.”
I’m not going to get into the abortion debate. I’ve already said my piece on Planned Parenthood. Also, I would say that I spent months of intense study and thought about abortion, looking at all sides, at multiple sources, both objective and emotional, before coming to a conclusion. So, this wasn’t a position I took lightly. I will say though that even if you’re against abortion there does seem to be something inherently strange about men being the one making most of the legislative decisions and passing laws about what women can do with their bodies.
This link gives statistics on how few women there are in government. It seems a bit skewed that more women aren’t making and passing these laws. The lack of women in government points once again to systemic inequalities and gender notions that hold all of us back from reaching our true potential.
Point 4: You still have to pay taxes for your basic sanitary needs.”
I need to do more research on this subject, too. However, the pink tax is an interesting concept to read more on.
Point 5: You still have to carry mace when walking alone at night.”
Once again, yes, of course sexual assault is against the law. That doesn’t mean that it is taken seriously. We still place a lot of blame on women when they are raped or assaulted. I think that almost every woman I know can think of a time where they felt unsafe, when they were harassed, even just walking down the street in sweatpants. Rape culture is a big idea that requires a lot of thought, but the linked article is a good place to start.
Also, the fact that so many men think it is ok to treat women these ways and think they are better than women is further evidence of how we sadly still live in a patriarchal culture.
Yes, violent crime that is not of a sexual nature does happen much more to men, but it is usually done by other men. Toxic masculinity is a good concept to start with on why this is. Patriarchy and sexism harm men, too, in very real and sad ways because men aren’t really encouraged to handle their emotions in positive ways. They are told to “be a man” and suck it up.
Also, I would add that sexual violence and domestic violence against women are not outliers. They occur at alarmingly high rates. So yes, of course, not everyone is abused by the men in their lives, and not all men are abusers, but it does happen to 1 in 4 or more women depending on where you live.
Point 6: “You are still objectified.”
Yes, of course most of us sadly tend to notice appearance first. However, there is a lot of research that has been done showing how we talk to boys and girls differently and how little girls’ appearance is emphasized over other important qualities. This article talks about how even toys are gendered in a way where girl’s toys are focused on appearance and beauty while boy’s toys are focused on action and building.
Moreover, yes, men can be objectified. But when you look at the instances of sexual violence, how rape culture functions, and how women have been treated over centuries, we see that there are a lot more expectations on women to be beautiful, to appease their husbands sexually, to look good for men. This is an essential feminist scholarly article by Linda Mulvey about the objectification of women in film (going back even to decades ago up to now).
Also, this is a good resource on some feminist perspectives on objectification.
Point 7: You are still being abused by your husband, by your boyfriend.”
See the resources from number 5.
Point 8: “Your daughters are still told they are beautiful before they are told they are smart.”
See number 6.
Point 9: “You are still systematically oppressed.”
This is another good overview of privilege and how systems of privilege work.
Also, I would recommend reading The Second Sex by Simone de Beauvoir as well as anything by bell hooks. These are fundamental feminist reads.
Point 10: “You think it’s not classy to fight for equality.”
Hopefully, by now, we see that yes, there is still inequality between men and women in this country. I want to know if the person writing this article has read all of this information, if they have put the effort into understanding both the history of feminist movements in this country as well as current thought and theory.
Learning about these issues requires constant investment, research, and engagement. You can’t just read an article or two here or there and be an expert on these issues. This doesn’t mean that we all agree on every issue or on what is to be done about them, but I don’t understand this need to dismiss those who are fighting to both maintain the rights we have and to continue seeking equality both in the law and in culture. It just comes off as harsh and naïve.
Point 11: “I get it. You want to feel empowered.”
First of all, the idea that women (and other minority groups) have to speak in a certain way to be listened to is called “tone policing.” The article linked is a good place to start on this term.
The main goal of feminism according to this Elise is to get women more freedom to kill their children. This is such a ridiculous claim I hate even addressing it. I would just recommend maybe talking to some of the many women who have had abortions for a myriad of differing reasons. Also, here are some statistics on abortion so at least we have the facts. Plus, I recommend looking up the research that shows how easy access to birth control and good sex education actually reduces the number of abortions.
As exhausting as this was to put together, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to feminist theory. This rebuttal focuses heavily on introductory information and mostly on white feminists and feminism. There is much more to get into as far as queer women, women of color, intersections of economic inequality and feminism, etc.
Further Suggested Reading:
Judith Butler- Gender Trouble
Gloria E. Anzaldúa- Borderlands/La Fontera
Anything by Audre Lorde
Luce Irigaray-The Sex Which is Not One
Mary Wollstonecraft-A Vindication of the Rights of Woman
Roxanne Gay-Bad Feminist
Betty Friedan-The Feminine Mystique
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie–We Should All be Feminists
There are also countless blogs and articles out there that do great work. Everyday Feminism is a good place to start.
Actually, here’s just a whole list of feminist books and theorists.
Have fun reading! Let’s talk when you get through all that.