Disproving Anti-Feminist Stereotypes, One Meme at a Time, Pt.1

AH memes.

Recently I was surfing facebook, and as I lazily scrolled through different links to “The Fox” music video, and politically charged posts about Syria from all of my friends from college,  I stumbled upon a meme which linked back to a page called, “Exposing Feminism”.

No good can come from this.

It was with foreboding that I clicked on the link and explored the page. I was immediately inundated with meme upon meme about the irrationality of feminists, the unfair prejudice they place on men, the triviality of their concerns, the myth of rape culture, etc, etc. “Exposing Feminism” also offered up links to countless other similar facebook pages. I decided (perhaps unwisely) to widen my search of anti-feminist memes. I scrolled through google images until it felt like my eyes would bleed, I searched for websites, I visited tumblr, I looked at the long list of disturbing comments left on all of those facebook pages.

It was enough to get anyone depressed. It’s enough to make me want to pull out my hair in frustration; it’s enough to (almost) make me dive into a long comment war, trying to explain to all the anti-feminists why these memes are so simplistic, ridiculous, implausible, and sometimes downright cruel.

Instead of doing any of those things I thought I would display some of the more disturbing memes, and explain, in my view, why they are false. This is going to seem pretty basic to all the other feminists out there, but I know a surprising amount of people who consider themselves on the fence about feminism. They avoid using the term because of stereotypes included in some of these memes, so it’s important to wipe the floor with this rubbish. Memes can be funny, they can be smart, but they can also take a complex issue and dilute it down to stereotypes that are misleading, and do not show the true complexity of issues. Let’s explore some of my favorites, shall we?

Meme#1: “Your concerns are trivial, so shut the hell up.”

feminist meme3

feminist meme7

Lets talk about perspective.

It is a good thing to be reminded that you are not the center of the universe, and that our personal problems are not so important in the grand scheme of things. The very popular “first world problems” meme is dedicated to the fact that people in first world countries often make a big to-do about problems that are incredibly trivial when looked at on a global scale. It’s pretty ridiculous to get mad that your latte from Starbucks isn’t hot enough when there is a civil war going on in Syria. One of the most famous (albeit probably false) stories about Marie Antoinette is her clueless response to the revelation that the French people were starving: “Let them eat cake”. Let me say again, it is a good thing to be reminded to think beyond our own personal problems, and our own community concerns.

This meme illustrates the, “American feminists have no perspective” anti-feminist argument. It’s taking the perspective argument and twisting it in a really awful way. Gender inequality in our own country is often dismissed by saying that we are making a big deal out of nothing when women abroad have it much worse.  But don’t take my word for it, Richard Dawkins recently made a claim like this in response to Rebecca Watson, a female activist who described in an online video some discomfort she felt while being propositioned by a man in an elevator very late at night. Dawkins response follows:

“Stop whining will you. Yes, yes, I know you had your genitals mutilated with a razor blade, and…yawn…don’t tell me again, I know you aren’t allowed to drive a car, and can’t leave the house without a male relative, and your husband is allowed to beat you, and you’ll be stoned to death if you commit adultery ,But stop whining, will you. Think of the suffering your poor American sisters have to put up with.”

This is a ridiculous argument for several reasons, the first one being this: It WOULD be wrong for a Feminist in a first world country to overlook the concerns of other women across the world.  The thing is that the majority of us don’t. Nowhere in her video does Rebecca Watson shout, “I’m tired of hearing about all the women who don’t live in the first world, we only have time to discuss my problems!” Rebecca Watson, other feminist, and I all have the ability to care about many different issues at once. Just because I think that American women still face issues of gender discrimination does not mean that I trivialize Women’s rights all over the rest of the world. I can care about the fact that women are objectified in the American media AND the fact that women are suffering horrible genital mutilation if Africa. I can care about the fact that women still aren’t earning as much money as men in America, AND the fact that women are not allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. I can work to raise awareness on all of these issues. I can try to help women in many different circumstances. I don’t have to pick one thing. My brain is big enough to see both the small and the big pictures.

My second point is this: When it comes to Human rights issues, gaining different rights gradually and separately, over a long span of time does not make for instant equality. Telling a woman that she needs to stop complaining because America is good enough for women already would be like telling a black person in 1963, “Hey, you people have been free already for 100 years, what more do you want!?” It would be like telling a gay person seeking marriage equality, “Hey, at least homosexuality isn’t punishable by death in the United States.” These things are both true, they are things we should be thankful for, but they also shouldn’t signify that the work is done. Gaining the right to vote, freeing the slaves, granting property rights, passing laws that end segregation, these are all really obvious, splashy steps towards equality, but they are just that: Steps . The work gets harder and becomes less black and white the further you go. When Abraham Lincoln signed the Emancipation Proclamation nobody shouted, “Hooray, drop the balloons, racism is over!” because it wasn’t. We are still dealing with racial discrimination to this day. Winning those big battles is awesome, but they open the door to a whole lot of other battles that are often more subtle, and harder to win. Women do not have full equality with men in America. We are doing really good compared to many other nations, and looking at those places I consider myself lucky to be born here, but there is still more we can do. There is no reason that I should stop working towards gaining full equality just because I already have SOME equality.

Lastly, on a slightly less serious note, perspective is a good thing, but using the “You need some perspective argument” all the time for everything would get pretty annoying don’t you think? If my best friend called me every once in a while, in frustrated tears because she had a bad day at work and my response was always a scathing, “Hey, at least you weren’t working in a sweatshop, alright!” I think she would be pretty taken aback. I don’t think she would want to have a discussion with a person who constantly used that argument, and neither do I.

Come back next time for meme#2: “Feminists are dirty hypocrites”.

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7 thoughts on “Disproving Anti-Feminist Stereotypes, One Meme at a Time, Pt.1

  1. Thanks for referring me to that facebook page, definitely worthy of a like. They seem to make a lot of valid points backed up by facts and offer their sources.

  2. Regarding the case of the woman who is basically told she is too pretty to waste her time on academics, her complaint isn’t completely valid. Sure, it might be annoying for some to be told that they’re too pretty to learn more, but to justify a whole movement based on a single case of someone being an asshole, perhaps unintentionally, is trivial. That’s the issue with these “I need feminism because…” images. They’re just so unbelievably trivial and rely on anecdotal accounts of “My mum called me fat… better support an ideology that demonises men, male sexuality and claims to support gender equality (when it actually doesn’t)”. It really doesn’t do any justice for feminism if that was even their goal.

    I tend to agree that we don’t have to ignore inequality in western society simply because women (and men) in Africa and the Middle East are facing massively oppressive regimes (this would require a human rights movement, and it’s a totally separate issue to equality in the west). We can focus on issues in these countries as well as issues of inequality at home. It’s not like our plate is full. At the same time, many feminists claim that issues of discrimination against women are more pervasive and urgent than the “minor” issues of discrimination against men, and as a result, issues that women face should be dealt with first and foremost to bring about gender equality. Assuming this is true for the purpose of discussion (and it isn’t, both are equally pervasive and urgent, and men’s issues are far from “minor”), it’s a double standard that while feminists claim we can focus on women’s issues both in western society and in less fortunate countries, we simply can’t focus on the inequality both genders face in western society because the discrimination against women is somehow stronger and must be dealt with before men’s issues are even given concern. If we can deal with issues across culture in more than one society at a time, we can deal with the larger issue of gender equality just as easily.

  3. “Women do not have full equality with men in America. ”
    You’re right:
    – today, women outnumber men in colleges 3:2
    – today, women make as much as 15% more than men all other circumstances equal
    – today, 85% of women and only6 6% of men receive primary custody
    – today, 70% of women initiate divorce and 95% of men pay child support and alimony.
    – today, a mother can initiate a divorce by filing false DV charges under vawa, immediately ejecting the father from his own house and insuring he’ll never see his children again.
    – today, romance mags tell women to be provocative at work looking for a boyfriend, while feminists have insured any man who initiates and is not the one she’s after trades in his office job for ditch digging – FOREVER.

    Keep crying victim.
    The truth really gets in the way of the feminist oppression narrative, but fortunately, you can just censor anyone who disagrees with you because opposing this pernicious ideology, which every truly successful woman reviles.

    “I can care about the fact that women are objectified in the American media AND the fact that women are suffering horrible genital mutilation if Africa.”

    Watch a few vintage episodes of “I love Lucy”, then watch a few modern sitcoms. See anything similar? The only difference is those poor, feckless dolts on TV now have a penis. We now have a complete reversal of society’s sexism from the 50’s.

    We have a war on men you feminists continue to ignore.

  4. False comparison. Women have never been treated like blacks or gays in western society, and it is symptomatic of the fatal headwound that feminism suffers from that you would have the temerity to even make the comparison. Feminism has achieved its objectives and now you’re complaining that you don’t enjoy being treated like a man – well suck it up because you should have been careful what you wish for. There is no redeeming of a toxic label that arose from sexist and racist roots, you would be wise to seek emotional security and gratification from something more laudible. You have lost and you don’t even know it, man-up and face reality: a gentleman politely asking a woman if she would care to enjoy a coffee with him is not wrong, offensive or anything to claim victim status over. Grow up and stop acting like children.

  5. It’s funny because it’s apparent you are unaware of the fact that the bulk of feminism is radical and would much rather have a form of supremacy than any form of equality. What does feminism do for anyone? The majority of things I hear from feminism are bigoted and hate filled. Your movement ignores the fact that in modern American society women have more rights then men. The fact you find it crazy that people would dislike modern day feminism tells me you don’t pay enough attention to your own movement and the filth it spews on a daily basis. The nasty comments on that belong men dying at war? The comments of chopping male genitilia off as way to empower women? The often belligerent and many times lawbreaking protests at men’s seminars because woke say without proof they are “sexist”. I hate your movement, but I love women I have a wonderful girlfriend whom is still with me dispute the fact I am deployed in the Middle East where women actually have it bad I have 4 sisters and a living mom and none of them agree with modern day feminism as well.

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