Anti-Feminist Memes pt.5:”Equality is Stupid because the Titanic”

I’m gonna level with you all. I’m a novice at this blogging thing(if you couldn’t tell). I am ESPECIALLY a novice when it comes to feminist writing. So I’m always a little shocked when people leave me negative angry comments about how terrible my ideas about feminism are, considering that they are so tame. This blog is the introduction to feminism, the tip of the iceberg of equality. I haven’t even yet discussed issues of intersectionality, the historic alienation of minority feminism, issues of the trans community, etc. I often feel that if any experienced feminist blogger found my writing they would roll their eyes and say, “Well, duh.” What I’m saying is that I’m not going very deep here, not yet anyways. The issues and the memes that I’m talking about shouldn’t be that controversial. But considering the amount of memes I’ve found, and the misinformation that I’ve come across all over the internet, apparently this basic feminism still needs to be addressed. Especially when it comes to these last memes I want to talk about. Memes so stupid I can’t believe that there are people in the world that still give them credence. We shouldn’t have to talk about this stuff anymore, but apparently we have to.


men wear the pants


feminist meme8

I mean…really?

These memes represent the idea that women had it pretty awesome before voting/equal pay/property rights because…chivalry! Things really weren’t so bad in the old days because we were “handled with kid gloves”. We have no right to question the patriarchy because men died fighting in wars and stuff!!! I didn’t think real people actually believed these things, but that was before I heard about Suzanne Venker.

suzanne venker

She is not my favorite.

One look at the titles of her articles on fox news tells you pretty much all you need to know about her views on feminism:

Women, wake up, men have made your life better, not worse
“Men-the new second class citizens“‘
To be happy, we must admit women and men aren’t ‘equal’

Look, I expect to find a lot of arguments and memes on anti-feminist websites that are distinctly horrible/far fetched. Many of the people I see making comments on these websites are not rational or respectful. People who insult feminists with slurs about their sexuality, threaten them with rape,  and curse at them in blog posts are people I try not to take seriously. They are trolls. But Suzanne Venker is not a troll, she is not on the fringe, she is in the mainstream media, spouting these beliefs as if they are perfectly reasonable, and she must be stopped. The madness ends now. Let’s look at some of the gems of knowledge that stand out from her writing about feminism and womanhood.

“It’s time to stop pretending men are oppressors and to start recognizing the extraordinary contributions men have made to society.” -Women, wake up, men have made your life better not worse

“From boyhood through adulthood, the White American Male must fight his way through a litany of taunts, assumptions and grievances about his very existence. His oppression is unlike anything American women have faced.”-Men-the new second class citizens

“Prior to the 1970s, people viewed gender roles as as equally valuable. Many would argue women had the better end of the deal! It’s hard to claim women were oppressed in a nation in which men were expected to stand up when a lady enters the room or to lay down their lives to spare women life. When the Titanic went down in 1912, its sinking took 1,450 lives. Only 103 were women. One-hundred three.”-To be happy, we must admit that women and men aren’t “equal”
That’s right ladies, in 1912 women were forbidden to vote. Women couldn’t join the military in 1912. Women couldn’t be doctors, lawyers, ship captains, judges, or even serve on a jury. Contraception was illegal in 1912, as was abortion. Women were barred from entering into many colleges in 1912, and that’s all just in America. But none of that constitutes oppression because men would still do things like help us over puddles and open car doors!


He probably wants to hurry her back home to the kitchen.

Her argument about the titanic is so shocking and offensive to me that it drops my jaw every time I rediscover this article. Not only are anti-feminists in denial about problems that women face today, but they are in denial about the problems that women faced in the past.

 First of all, the titanic is one instance, ONE, where men sacrificed themselves for women. There have been PLENTY of times in history when chivalry went out the window and it was every man for himself.
Now let’s be clear, by saying this I am not implying that all men prior the 1960’s hated women because making broad, sweeping arguments about the character of men is bullshit. Men should be judged on their bravery, kindness, and selflessness on an individual level. The men who gave up their seats on the lifeboats aboard the titanic were very brave, and selfless, but that doesn’t mean that the whole male sex has the right to be like, “Hey, look what we did for you! OBEY US!” Also, if someone commits an act of self sacrifice just so that they can lord it over the other person then that’s not really a sacrifice. Equal rights should not be the exchange for chivalry.
And the WWll comparison…ugh. I have respect for the military, but making the argument that women have no right to complain about anything because men were protecting them in wars is ridiculous because until very recently, just in case you forgot, WOMEN WEREN’T ALLOWED IN THE MILITARY . Even if a woman in the 1940’s wanted to fight in combat she wasn’t allowed. She wouldn’t be allowed in combat for another 70 YEARS.

You can’t tell me that I have no right to complain about my situation when I’m not even allowed to choose it. I never sat down and signed a contract that I would shut my mouth about women’s rights in exchange for men protecting me. Instead, I got signed up for that contract against my will, and now it’s being waved in my face like I’m being a hypocrite. I’m being told to feel grateful for a protection that I never asked for, that I didn’t choose, and is apparently conditional on my shutting the fuck up about feminism. As for chivalry: Don’t be nice to me because I’m a woman, don’t open a door for me because it’s the manly thing to do. Don’t stand up when I enter a room just because you feel obligated. Then, don’t feel cheated if you do these things and I don’t admit you are the better sex.
If you want to be nice to me, do it because I am your fellow human being. If you want to buy me dinner, do it because you like me. If you want to open the door for me, do it because it’s a decent thing to do. Do these things because you want the respect of a fellow human being, and I will respond in kind. Because I am not just a woman, I am a person, and Suzanne Venker’s one dimensional vision of womanhood is not for the likes of me.


Anti-Feminist Memes pt. 4: “Most Rape Accusations Are Fake”

Oh boy, was this fun to research. -__-


feminist meme2


rape accusation

This last one in my special favorite. See what they did there, they are mocking rape prevention posters. Because that seems like a totally reasonable, emotionally sensitive thing to do.

If you looked only at  Anti-feminists facebook fan pages you would come to believe that there is no rape, there are only fake rape accusations. They use the subject of rape to attack feminism in two ways. The first is to spread around the myth that women frequently make false rape accusations because they do not want to admit to having consensual sex that they now regret.

feminist meme26

As in:  a woman wakes up next to a man after drunkenly having sex with him. She remembers the sex, she remembers saying yes, but now she regrets it. She feels so embarrassed. She resolves right then and there to claim that she was raped instead. That way no one will see her as a slut, and she will receive sympathetic attention instead. The second way feminism is attacked via the subject of rape is to suggest that the Feminist movement identifies all men as rapists.

1.To anti-feminists, false rape accusations are a HUGE epidemic. (but not to anyone else)

More on that second attack strategy in a minute, but first, about these false rape accusations: they happen very rarely.  Let me be clear here, it is not ok to falsely accuse men of crimes that they did not commit, and all people accused of crimes deserve a fair trial, but Anti-feminists talk about false accusations like they happen all the time. They do not. Or that they represent the majority of all rape cases. They do not.

. rape

This meme actually overestimates the number of men falsely accused, as pointed out in this excellent article.

Most women do not lie about sexual assault, and it’s easy to tell apart the ones that do(Same article, quote under paragraph 5.). The big reason that women don’t lie about rape is that  admitting to sexual assault is an extremely shaming experience.

Contrary to what anti-feminists would have you believe, rape and assault victims do not receive universal  sympathy. As illustrated by the recent Maryville incident, victims of rape are the ones targeted  and blamed by their communities, not the perpetrators. This happens especially if the assault happens in relation to alcohol. It is assumed that the accuser is either lying about  consensual sex that she now regrets, or worse, that the assault may have happened, but she was asking for it by behaving in the way she did.  Another good example of victim blaming is the Rihanna/Chris Brown assault case, where fans were falling all over themselves to claim that Rhianna must have done something to “deserve it”


These memes also  subtly shame women for participating in provocative activities. They don’t come right out and say,  “Well, if you got that drunk what did you expect to happen?” but they might as well. Almost all of the rape memes I came across presented a context in which the woman had been drinking. Because it’s not ok to force a sober, chaste woman to have sex, but if she was drunk then she MUST have been ready for lovin’. For your information, alcohol does not turn all women into sex maniacs, ready to screw every man from their boyfriend to the bar bouncer.

These memes are wrong because they present false data, do a lot of victim blaming, and deny that victim blaming and shunning even happen at all.

2.Feminism believes that all men are rapists

 Let’s say you are feminist, and you are having an argument with an “anti”. This is how it’s gonna go down:  First, after you point out that false rape accusations are very rare the anti-feminist will accuse you with, “It does happen SOMETIMES, but I guess you don’t care about men who are abused by the system!” Of course feminists care. Every person deserves a fair trial, including accused rapists. The Scottsboro Boys case is an example of a false rape accusation that led to an unfair trail and ruined lives. I would never want that to happen again. But statistically speaking, a man has a much lower chance of being falsely accused of rape than a woman has of actually being raped. Most rapes go unreported, and very few rapists actually end up convicted and in prison where they belong. So yes, I am spending more time and energy on making sure that women receive justice, since statistically speaking, they don’t.

In connection with the previous conversation, an anti-feminist might throw memes like this one at you:

double sex standard

 This double standard is unfair. But as I’ve pointed out on this blog  before, most  gender stereotypes  affect both sexes very negatively. Feminism does not support these stereotypes.  In this case the stereotype is that women are chaste beings, to whom sex is only an act of love. When they end up in a situation like this, they are viewed as a disgrace and a slut. Whereas men are viewed as horndogs, ready for sex at all times. They should be thankful every single time a booty call presents itself. So when men are abused it isn’t taken seriously, which is horrible,  because men definitely are victims sometimes.

After this discussion the next thing an anti feminist will shout at you is, “Oh so most women don’t fake rape, so I guess you’re saying most men are rapists! Feminists hate men!” Oh boy, this is a big one. The thing about anti- feminist arguments is that most of the time they contort feminist views to make the gender equality movement look like a radical witch hunt.  “So, you want women to gain a better foothold in the workforce? You must want to fire all the men. So, you praise women who succeed in their career? You must hate all the stay at home mothers. You want an anti-gender discrimination law passed in congress? Women are equal already, you must want men to be subjugated .” And on and on it goes until we get to, “So, you are very concerned with rape in this country? You must think all the men are rapists.”

 This argument is meant to discredit feminism, to make the movement seem radical and angry.  No, actually, most men are not rapists. About six percent are.  And they are repeat offenders, about 6 women per rapist. But besides that small percentage, most men are totally awesome. The “feminists hate men” tactic is one that has been used to reinforce gender inequality for decades.

anti suffrage

It was untrue during the suffrage movement, and it’s untrue now.

In reality, I do not believe that the people making these memes respect women.  They believe that women who drink too much at a party are sluts. They don’t really care what the rape statistics are because they don’t really care about protecting the rights of women who they think deserve to have bad things happen to them. Mostly I believe this because along with the memes I already showed you, I also found this one:

feminist meme12

This is gross. There is no excuse, no argument that I want hear to try and validate it.  I don’t care about people who believe this about women, they are not worth the energy,  and I do not wish to have any kind of discourse with them.

Who I do care about are the average people who see these memes and who wonder, “Wait, do feminists today believe that all men are potential racists? That is so crazy! Rape is terrible ,but most men would never rape!” “Wait, do they believe that if a man and a woman have sex together while drunk that the woman was automatically raped? Whoa, feminism has gotten really extreme these days. I believe in equal rights for women, but I’m not a feminist.”

All of the feminists reading this are thinking to themselves, “Well duh, this is feminism 101.” And I would believe that if I didn’t meet so many people who said these stupid, nonsensical words:

“I believe in equal rights for women, but I’m not a feminist.”

This post is for the people who say that accursed phrase. For people who are good at heart, but who are afraid of the feminist label because they fear it will make them seem radical. This is for them.

89,000 women in the united states are raped each year. Most of these rapes go unreported. Of those that are, very few lead to convictions. Along the way, these victims are shamed and humiliated. I am interested in stopping this from happening, and despite what these disgusting memes would have you believe, there is nothing radical about that.

Anti-Feminist Memes pt.3: “Domestic abuse, Men are the real victims”

Let’s talk about violence. More specifically, let’s talk about violence against men, which according to the anti-feminist movement, is one of the great injustices perpetrated by the Women’s Liberation movement.

feminist meme27

feminist meme18

feminist meme30

feminist meme violence

This type of meme is extremely popular. In looking for memes to write about for this blog project, this theme was one of the most prevalent.Memes like these send a lot of messages simultaneously. First , they suggest  that feminism is rooted in hypocrisy. They want us to assume that feminists not only support negative gender restrictions on men, but that they also encourage policy that will oppress men. A lot of these memes have phrases in them like, “according to feminists”, “feminists believe”, and, “feminist logic”.  It’s not enough for these memes to suggest that men are oppressed more than women claim to be, the meme must also suggest that feminism causes and supports violence against men, with the aim of total male oppression.

feminist meme20

notice the heading, “according to feminists”.

The most glaring message of these memes however is  that society is ignoring the negative stereotypes about violence that are placed on men. This meme implores us to believe that men suffer domestic violence too, and that men probably suffer more, because they face an unfair stereotype about violence. As in, “Why is it ok for a girl to punch me, but I’m not allowed to hit her back?!”

This sort of meme is upsetting for a lot of pretty obvious reasons, the first of which being that it makes light of domestic violence perpetrated against women. It’s basically saying, “Oh yeah, women have it SOOOOO bad… NOT!” Violence against women is very real. It is a terrible thing that should not be dismissed and sneered at. As you can see from these stats about Domestic Violence,1 in 4 womenwill experience domestic violence in her lifetime. Out of  all the women murdered every year, 1 in 3 is killed at the hands of her current or former partner. 4 out of 5 domestic violence victims are female. So apart from being offensive, the anti-feminist memes about domestic violence are just flat out wrong.

 Another upsetting aspect of these memes is that they assume that feminism doesn’t care about the unfair double standard placed on men in regards to violence. We do care, men can be and are abused. But the fact that men are also victims doesn’t mean that concerns about violence against women are suddenly trivial. The perception that feminism seeks to encourage violence against men is false. Unfair violence stereotypes are the result of a patriarchal society, not feminism. Like many gender stereotypes, this affects both sexes in a negative way.

Much of our perception of violence is still guided by our loyalty to old gender stereotypes. Like the perception that men are always strong, and women are always delicate. Let me explain it this way:  In a popular culture, a man hitting a woman is viewed as an act of sadism. He is terrorizing her, and she is the helpless victim. Pop culture portrays men who commit violence against women as bad guys. In movies, television, and books when men commit violence against women it is almost always portrayed as sinister, with no other cause than to be cruel. Meanwhile female violence is almost always portrayed in pop culture as revenge based. When a woman hits a man she is righting a wrong. We’re supposed to stand up and cheer, she is empowered and strong!  It is unfair that men are viewed as incapable of being victimized, but society and culture have taught us to view men and women in a certain way. Men are strong, violent, and capable. Women are delicate and in need of protection.  Therefore we are skeptical when a man claims he is a victim, and we support images of female violence because we assume it must be a reaction to some evil that was perpetrated.

Let’s imagine for a second that a male artist had released this song. Would it have been a sassy song of a woman getting the revenge she deserves? No, it would have been a cautionary tale of terror. Your boyfriend terrorizes you after you leave him for another man.  There is definitely something unfair about that double standard, but feminism isn’t what caused it, it’s our society as a whole.

This positive attitude about female violence is actually negative for women, because it has less to do with pumping up a woman’s power, and more to do with how we expect women to respond to abuse. Songs like “Before he Cheats”, and revenge movies like “I Spit On Your Grave” send a terrible message to young women about how to respond to violence and ill-usage.  Society encourages women that it’s their own job to prevent domestic abuse and assault from happening to them.

And let me be clear here, I’m not saying that when someone is under attack that they shouldn’t defend themselves, they definitely should. And we should definitely all exercise a certain level of caution in our lives. No matter how much social and legal reform our country goes through, there are always going to be bad people out there.  But our society as it is now encourages women that strange men are out to get them, and that’s just the way it is. Rather than trying to change perceptions about gender in society as a whole, rather than addressing the problems our country still has with stereotypes, women are encouraged that it is up to them to protect themselves from an assault that is perceived as practically inevitable.

  The positive spin that gets put on female violence is bad for both genders. Our society assumes that all men are violent, ready for their next victim, while at the same time incapable of being victimized themselves.  The flipside to that is that women are viewed as incapable of sadistic violence.They are also encouraged to be careful, and if they aren’t careful the resulting violence against them is their own fault, and they need to take their own revenge.

The film “Enough” is a good example of terrible violence stereotypes at work. At one point during this trailer we hear a man saying, “The cops can’t help you.” Ummmmm, why?  This woman is being stalked, threatened, and abused. The life of her child is arguably in danger, why can’t the police help? You’re telling me that our society is such that this woman has NO other options to escape her abusive husband other than going into hiding and becoming abusive herself? What does it say about our society that instead of cheering for legal reforms that would give this woman a way out of her abusive relationship, we cheer instead that she is able to be abusive back? Again, I want to make it clear that it is OK to defend yourself when being attacked. But the way pop culture portrays it, women are only violent when forced to be so,and that is great, and empowering. Meanwhile men in pop culture are violent just out of a naturally sadistic nature.

 So, if stereotypes about men and violence bother you, if you get mad at the fact that people smile and giggle when women slap men out of sassy anger, then stop saying, “Yeah, you go girl!” when you see an example of female against male violence in the media. Ask yourself, “Who is this really empowering?”  The enemy here is not men, and we absolutely shouldn’t be teaching that violence against men is ok. The enemy is the idea that it’s ok to hit men because that’s the only way for a woman to fight back. The enemy here are stereotypes that still teach us that men can never be victims, and the only time that women are capable of violence is when they are reacting to violence perpetrated against them.

Anti-Feminist Meme’s pt.2: “Feminists, those dirty hypocrites!”

One of the most common anti-feminist arguments I have ever encountered is some variation of, “Feminists SAY they want equal rights, but they don’t care about all the ways that men are subjugated.” And then I’m given a list of examples including, “If a commercial makes a man look stupid everyone laughs, but if it makes a woman look stupid, then everyone freaks out.” “Feminists don’t want children to have fathers!”, And my personal favorite, “Feminists made it so that men are disadvantaged in Custody hearings.” But why just tell you when I can show you some of these arguments?

feminist meme14

feminist feminist meme23

feminist meme15

Well first off let me say that men DEFINITELY have rights too. The work that feminists do is aimed at banishing stereotypes that are as bad for men as they are for women.

Don’t believe me? Well lets tackle my favorite “feminists are hypocrites!!” claim, the one about feminists supporting unjust custody laws that favor the mother.

feminist meme14

Incidentally, I do not know if these specific claims are accurate, but it’s pretty well known that custody disputes tend to favor the mother.

I remember a discussion that I had with one woman who told me that she might consider being a feminist, if it wasn’t for this one issue. She related a personal experience to me in which she thought her husband had been treated unfairly in a custody hearing concerning her step children According to her the mother was given unearned preference, not based on her character, or her ability to care for her children, but simply because she was the woman, the mother.

This encounter illustrates the damage that this stereotype about feminism has done. It makes people associate feminists with wanting to reinforce negative male stereotypes while lifting female ones. This is totally FALSE.

No self respecting, intelligent feminist is going to tell you, “I want to enforce harsh laws on custody disputes in regard to men, because only women are suitable caretakers!” (Ok, I’m sure you could find some person calling themselves a feminist spewing garbage like that, but the internet is FULL of people who say a lot of crazy and stupid things.) Saying something like that would totally undermine feminist doctrine. The whole goal of feminism is to gain equality, not lord it over men. Supporting a system that disadvantages fathers would only support gender stereotypes that feminists wish to dismantle. The stereotype in this case is as follows:
Women are meant to be caretakers, and men are meant to be breadwinners. Always.

So, when a man and woman get divorced, this stereotype dictates that the children should be left in the hands of the mother, no matter what evidence there is to suggest that the father is the more suitable parent.

This gender stereotype is bad for BOTH genders. It is responsible for shaming mothers who want to enter the workforce, and for insinuating that men are sub-standard caretakers.  It’s a stereotype that is played up in advertising, TV shows, film, and the media, as demonstrated in this excellent video by “Target Women”:

We cant let the dad have custody, he would only feed the kids pizza rolls and hot pockets!

As I mentioned at the beginning of this post, another common refrain of anti-feminists is: “Why is it ok to make men look like idiots on tv but not women!” Well, it’s not ok, but it’s not feminists who are painting men with the stupidity brush. As demonstrated in the video above, men are often portrayed as total idiots in advertising. Specifically advertising about household products and food. Ads like these reinforce traditional gender roles. They portray the wife as the wise guardian of a family who would be lost without her. She might not work outside the home, but look how much control she has over her husband! Look how much smarter she is than her husband when it comes to working that vacuum cleaner!

 One of the most common ways to continue female oppression throughout history has been to convince women that while  they don’t have legal power, they DO have power at home. As in, “Legally you might not have rights, but that’s ok because you have them socially. The men have the rights outside the home, but you’re running the show once the front door closes at night.” During the suffrage movement this was a real strategy used try to convince women that they didn’t need the right to vote. They didn’t need it because they already influenced how their husbands voted! Ladies, your real power is in the home, what would your husband be without you? He could never handle it on his own.  Interestingly, during the suffrage movement the biggest reason that women shouldn’t vote was supposedly that it would destroy the family.



The notion that men make terrible caretakers is, again, NOT A FEMINIST IDEA

Stereotypes about traditional home life were meant to keep women in the home, and out of power, but they have negative consequences for men as well. So if you’re upset that men are treated unfairly by the media and discriminated against in family court then you should be upset at people that perpetuate outdated gender stereotypes, not at feminists.

Next time: “Female Violence is ok, but Male Violence is not”

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”.

Women in Combat, and what the debate reveals about our society

History was made on January 24th when Defense Secretary Leon Penetta formally lifted the ban on women serving in combat in the military. When I first heard this news I was very pleased, this seems to me to be a natural (but overdue) step in the continued struggle to gain women greater equality in our society. This is a welcome step forward. Especially when you consider the fact that many women are already serving in combat positions. According to the New York Times more than 800 women have been wounded, and more than 130 have died in combat. The lift of the ban insures that women in these positions can have an official classification, and be entitled to all of the benefits and prestige that comes with that.

There was of course a negative backlash to this decision. There are still people who argue against this decision, saying that allowing women in combat will have a negative effect on the military. I won’t say that I’m surprised by the backlash, but it does disappoint me. It also highlights some of the problems that we still face as a nation in regard to how women are viewed and treated in this country. The problem I have with those who are opposed to allowing women in combat, is that their argument regarding this subject makes a lot of assumptions about men and women that are heavily sexist, stereotyped, and unfair. Such as:

Women should not be allowed in combat because they are not as physically fit as men.

This argument is always made first because it actually does have some biological truth. Physically, most men are larger and stronger than most women. I won’t try to argue against this basic biological truth, but I will argue against the assumption that because this is true, it must also be true that all women are unsuitable for combat.

The problem with this argument is that makes really broad assumptions about women who join the military. Yes, in a situation where an average man is placed alongside an average woman, the average man will probably physically outperform the woman. The thing is though, the military is not made up of average men and women. Exceptional, hard working, driven people of both genders join the military. If a woman chooses this path, she has the right to try to prove herself, both physically and mentally for the task at hand. Many women already have.

Also, the male branch of the military is not made up exclusively of buff, 6’5, robust men. Men are not turned away because they are only 5’9 as opposed to 6’2. Men are given the opportunity to prove themselves, even if there are other taller, bigger men enlisting along with them. So why should women be universally turned away from service when men are not? Why are men given choices and opportunities, but women are not?

Combat is gross. Sometimes there is no privacy, and that would be awkward and embarrassing for women.

This argument was recently voiced by Lt. Gen. Jerry Boykin on CNN where he stated that,

“The slots that may be opened are in our infantry and Special Forces units. The purpose of such units is to directly and physically engage enemy forces. These units can often be deployed in prolonged operations that can last for months. The physical toll is constant and wearing. During operations of this kind there is typically no access to a base of operations or facilities. Consequently, living conditions can be abysmal and base.”

I won’t deny that having to pee in the woods would be unpleasant, but that doesn’t mean I couldn’t do it if I had to. This argument makes the assumption that women are too delicate to be exposed to the gross physical realities of warfare. This notion is heavily stereotyped and insulting. If we lived in a world where all women were fragile, and needed to be sheltered then this argument would have some validity. But we don’t live in that world. Women are forced to face harsh realities every single day, in every country of the world. Is war full of horrors? Yes. But why does Boykin make the assumption that women are universally incapable of facing those horrors? This argument assumes that while men are able to adapt to the horror of warfare, women are inherently incapable of doing the same . The stereotype that women cannot handle gritty realities is antiquated, untrue, and sexist. And it needs to go away.

Women can’t be in combat because it would create huge sexual tension, and the sexual assault problem in the military will only get worse.

This argument is probably the one that bothers me the most. It is no secret that sexual assault is a major problem in the U.S military, and arguments against letting women in combat positions, or in the military at all for that matter, usually begin with points like this: “Women should not be allowed in the military because their male counterparts cannot control their sexual urges, and this is why so many women are horribly sexually assaulted within the military.” Boykin does not directly say this, but he alludes to the concept of women in combat causing unbearable sexual tension when he writes,

“Men and women can serve together in the armed forces productively, but that service needs to be prudently structured in a manner that reflects the differences between the sexes and the power of their attractions.”

In this article he suggests that sexual tension is so strong, so all consuming, that it would endanger lives if women were allowed in combat. Others argue that if women are allowed in combat, the sexual assault problem in the military will get even worse. So the solution is to just keep them out. Period.

I hate this argument, because it puts the burden on women to stop rape from happening to them.  Instead of teaching men in our society that raping women is a depraved and evil act, we are teaching women that they must behave a certain way in order to not get raped. Rather than expecting men to be decent human beings, we are blaming women who are raped because they stepped out of traditional gender roles.

This argument is insulting to both men and women. It first assumes that men cannot control themselves, and that they will sexually assault women if they dress a certain way, talk a certain way, take certain jobs in a male-dominated workforce, etc, etc. Because they just can’t help it.They are so attracted to women that it just happens.

I think of all the men in my life; my friends from church, my work colleagues, my family members, and I think of how insulted they would feel if I assumed that the only reason they don’t sexually assault me is because I’m wearing modest clothing, or acting a certain way, or working in a traditionally female field.  The reason that these men don’t assault me (or any other women) is because they are decent men, who were taught to value and respect women as human beings. Our society needs to stop teaching the idea that acting on sexual urges is uncontrollable, and that we should gender segregate our society accordingly to avoid mishaps, and START teaching the idea that sexual attraction is something that decent human beings of both genders can control when it would be inappropriate to do otherwise.

All of these arguments result from viewing women in a very narrow, stereotyped way. Most importantly, the proponents of these arguments all take the choice away from women themselves. Rather than letting women choose to endure demanding physical tests, they assume that women are universally incapable of withstanding them. Rather than letting women choose to endure harsh  war realities, they assume that women are universally too delicate to handle it. Instead of teaching men in the military that women are to be treated as valued comrades, deserving of respect, they would rather assume that men are slaves to physical attraction.   Instead of letting women prove themselves in the military just like their male counterparts, the opponents of lifting the ban on women in combat would rather assume that all women are too weak, squeamish, and vulnerable to fight.

The backlash to the decision on the 24th reveals the narrow and one-dimensional way that part of our society still views women. While this is troublesome, we can still celebrate the decision itself, which is long overdue. We can only hope that this change will bring more opportunities to women in the military as well as change the consciousness about the roles of women in our country in the years to come.


First Post: Feminism is…

Let’s begin with a quote from the tv show Commander in Chief:

Young woman to her grandmother: “I mean, I’m no feminist.”

Grandmother: “So you don’t believe women should have rights equal to those of men?”

Young woman: “Well of course I do, it’s just-“

Grandmother:”Well then might I suggest my dear, that you look up the definition of feminist?”

Now, from

Feminism: the doctrine advocating social, political, and all other rights of women equal to those of men.

I probably started calling myself a feminist, and actively telling others about feminism when I was a freshman in college. I wouldn’t say that I was an anti-feminist before this, but I just didn’t really think about it. If someone had asked me if I was a feminist, I might have even said no. Like many people I might have said, “No, I support equal rights for women, but I’m not a feminist.” This phrase is an oxymoron, but before I was  19 years old I wouldn’t have thought twice about saying it. Just like many of you wouldn’t think twice about saying something like that now. And that doesn’t make you sexist, it just makes you typical.  The word feminism has negative associations attached to it, that it absolutely does not deserve, and I want to remove them. The purpose of this blog is to try to bring the word feminism back into the lexicon in a positive, non-stereotyped way. So that regardless of your religion, political party, or gender, you will not be ashamed to call yourself a feminist.

When I was a freshmen in college, I got really into listening to podcasts during the time between my classes. I particularly enjoyed NPR and I would listen to podcasts about books, religion, news, and anything else that seemed relevant or interesting. One day I was listening to an installment of Fresh Air with Terry Gross. She was interviewing a female author who had just come out with a new biography. I feel bad now, I don’t remember the book, or the woman’s name, but she was very insightful. She talked about her relationships with her mother and her ex-husband, and was just all around a very interesting woman. What she said about feminism really struck me though, and I’ve remembered it ever since. My quote isn’t exact of course, but it went something like this:

“You know my daughter was in a woman’s studies class recently, and her professor asked all of the students who identified themselves as feminists to raise their hands. My daughter told me that only she and one other person raised their hand. It bothers me that so few young people call themselves feminists, because I’m sure that all of them would say that they support equal rights for men and women.”

Listening to that podcast really made me question myself, “Would I have raised my hand if I were in that class? And if I didn’t, why not?” I had never been confronted with this concept of how the word feminism has become so negative in our culture. No teacher had ever talked about it, and I had never been asked a question like that one.  Well, the universe works in mysterious ways, because only a couple of months after I heard this podcast the topic of feminism came up in my freshman level history class. My professor asked us, “How many of you consider yourself feminists? Raise your hands.” In a class of about 100 people, only I and about 10 others raised our hands. The professor waited a beat and then said, “Ok, now how many of you believe in equal rights for women? Raise your hands.” Before he had even finished the question, everyone that I could see had a hand in the air. He ended the discussion with, “Congratulations, you are all feminists.”

These experiences effectively ended my questions about whether or not I was a feminist. It seemed so simple to me. “Well yes, obviously I’m a feminist. We all are, we just have to remind people of the definition and everyone will be back on board.” In the beginning I don’t think I even expected arguments. It’s so simple, Feminism=equal rights for women, why would anyone who knows that still say they aren’t a feminist unless they are openly against the equal rights of women?  I expected everyone to have the same revelation that I did.

But it doesn’t happen like that. “Yeah, but…” When I tell my story to people who don’t consider themselves feminists I always receive responses that begin this way: “Yeah, but that’s not really ALL that feminism is about.”  “Yeah, I mean, I know that YOU don’t hate men Tara, but SOME feminists do.” “Yeah, I support equal rights, but feminism isn’t really necessary anymore.”  Feminism has such a negative stigma attached to it.  Since this is my first post in the blog, I mainly just wanted to explain to you why I am a feminist, and how I became one. So in this first post I won’t get into the ridiculous, sexist, and unfair associations that have been tied to feminism. (Don’t even get me started on the phrase, “feminazi”) That’s not what this first post is about.

The idea behind this blog is that I want to tackle negative stereotypes about feminism, and prove that it really is a movement that desires equality. Not one that hates men, children, the traditional family, or femininity. These negative stereotypes are not what feminism is, they are stereotypes developed by anti-feminists to try to discourage people from joining the feminist movement, and they are working. This is why so many people say things like, “I support equal rights for women, but I’m not a feminist.”

Yes, you are. And you don’t have to be afraid to say it.