Before I explain the title of this article, please read the following quote and try avoid adding assumptions to it.
“Feminism has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties.”
“Its battles have been for education, for the vote, for better working conditions…for safety on the streets…for child care, for social welfare…for rape crisis centers, women’s refuges, reforms in the law.
If someone says, “Oh, I’m not a feminist,” I ask, “Why, what’s your problem?”
This is a favourite quote of Feminism and you’ll find it on a series of Feminist pages. I think it’s a pretty good example of the things that are going right and wrong with the feminist message. The section in blue is the heartland of first wave Feminism, it sends a positive message for gender equality, it speaks of empowerment, and it speaks of achievement.
The section in red, is what I call, ‘A nothing statement’.
I bump into this frequently, generally when speaking to people who claim to represent an equality ideology, but know nothing about it or have allowed their own prejudices to skew its message. A nothing statement takes a value and attaches it to a group in such a way that it is essentially false or entirely meaningless—but when you first read it, seems like a good reason to go, ‘Yeah, damn right!’
Go to the end of this post and re-read the section in red and replace the word ‘Feminism’ with any of the words in bold. The section still means the same thing, and remains true.
The problem with this statement is that not only does it begin with a nothing statement, that section of the statement is misleading and inherently demeaning to any member of either gender with half a brain. How? Read on.
Feminism is an equality ideology, it is not a government, it is not a nation, it is not even a group of people though the people who follow it, feminists, clearly are. As Feminism didn’t exist before the 1960s it is responsible for exactly nothing before this time, good or bad.
The inference is that Feminism is not responsible for atrocity, but “men” or “patriarchy”, are. It could even be argued by particularly one eyed people that this is presenting the position that women are not responsible for any historical atrocity, however that men are. If you hold this position I have bad news, men are not a government, or a nation or even an ideology—they are just a gender, in exactly the same way that women are just a gender. Gender does not make you inherently anything, other than male or female.
When I present this position to some people the argument they present is, ‘But men held all positions of authority, therefore they are responsible for all wars/atrocities etc’. When I hear this, I want to put my hands over my face and scream.
If you think men are responsible for all actions committed before the 1960s I urge you to take a single introductory class or read a book on societal evolution, authority vs influence and or gender role. But understand that even without those classes/books, what you are effectively saying is actually this:
‘Men are responsible for everything before the feminist movement, women are responsible for nothing.’
Which by association means:
‘Men are responsible for all achievements, all art, all culture, all architecture, all music, all religion, all technological advances, freedom of speech, justice and liberty.’
Which also means this:
‘For millions of years, women, have contributed nothing to society, positive or negative—they have spent generation after generation being carried by men, to the detriment of men, as now they are being called oppressive for having done so.’
You can see how this gets more and more ridiculous as you proceed, and if you support any of those positions, if you think that women since the dawn of civilisation have been a group of simple minded lay-abouts that just let history happen without contributing anything to it, without influencing it, without actively participating in it, regardless of whether they held ‘authority’… I sincerely wonder why you have such a low opinion of women.
I certainly don’t.
Replace the word ‘Feminism’ in the above red statement with any of these groups, re-read the section in red and see that it remains true:
The American Writer’s Guild
The Banana Hammock Association
The Men’s Rights Movement
“——————- has fought no wars. It has killed no opponents. It has set up no concentration camps, starved no enemies, practiced no cruelties.”