Open Letter to Girl Writes What
I have never been more conflicted about the state of an argument. When Eric called for a debate I didn’t see it as my strongest skill, but did feel a response was needed to why feminism was not hate. No one else was jumping up so I did.
What I struggle with and what you must too is the burgeoning amount of apathy that exists in the middle ground. We must by necessity take sides because in the words of Elie Weisel, “our obligation is to give meaning to life and in doing so to overcome the passive, indifferent life”. The middle ground, the apathy, is where I find the most value in changing ideas.
GWW, you are a brilliant orator with a keen mind. Even with the insulting condescension with which you address me I still actually enjoy listening to you. So too do I have admiration for a woman raising three children while fighting for a cause. I regard you in higher esteem than to say that you seem merely nice. Women can’t always be nice. Feminism’s own beloved problem child the narcissistic Elizabeth Wurtzel praises the virtue of the difficult female. I honor you your contrary nature.
However, your assumptions about my beliefs make this conversation impossible. I don’t even know what we are arguing about now so I’m sticking to the whole “Feminism is Not Hatred” thing because ‘all the reasons that Danielle was wrong’ means we resort to endless recitation of old arguments. Through an 8-minute video you extracted my tertiary assumptions? No you didn’t—what you did do was structure an argument pandering to your audience. You built up and fabricated assumptions to base an argument on.
The largest misrepresentation that you put forth is black-and-white reasoning. You propose that a situation is either/or—that the indifference of some in the feminist movement towards men is the proof of hatred throughout feminisms’ entirety.
That’s why despite pleas to the controversy, and against my own better judgement I keep on with this discussion. I think that binary application is damaging.
The movement to label feminism as hatred does neither of us any good. Classification of that sort creates an us vs. them mentality. It inspires hatred. Men in your comments sections call out for bloody resolution–what the world needs is not more bloodshed. Mens Rights Activists who I hope are not indicative of the whole movement, have advocated for violence on me or any other dissenters commenting in the discussion. I honor that frustration calls out from pain but condemn MRA or feminist alike for employing anger towards individual dissenters.
It is worth note that your organization keeps company with people who advocate that single mothers should be put to work in whorehouses. Ideological hardliners from either side of the situation create the hatred. However, I consider this blowback from oppression, and you do not. I believe that women struggled on the path to self-actualization and that we struggle still.
Taken from Paulo Freire “during the initial stage of the struggle, the oppressed, instead of striving for liberation, tend themselves to becomes oppressors”. The situation that you argue exists in society seems to centre on this thesis: Feminism is hatred because it ignores the plights of men. The rise of feminism and the backlash towards men is itself evidence that oppression occurred against women. To argue against this supposes your own examples to be invalid. The alternative is that women enjoying the spoils of privilege, perhaps out of boredom, suddenly held a secret meeting and unilaterally decided to lash out at men arbitrarily.
Further, women are problematic to feminism too it’s not just males who are wrapped up in ideology. Ladies have been coddled and exist in a reality where they have not had to be self-actualized. The Declaration of Sentiments from the Seneca falls conference recognizes the situation into which females existed, They decreed of man that he has:
“made her, morally, an irresponsible being, as she can commit many crimes with impunity, provided they be done in the presence of her husband. In the covenant of marriage, she is compelled to promise obedience to her husband, he becoming, to all intents and purposes, her master–the law giving him power to deprive her of her liberty, and to administer chastisement.”
I know, you won’t buy that men have made women into anything. We differ greatly in opinion over the structures of society. I fear I am getting close to trying to measure who has had it worse, and that is not my intention.
You mentioned that Michelle Obama is running the country without having to be elected. The so-called moral hazard you mentioned about a partner in office having power to act without responsibility is an imaginary argument. We can’t prove who makes the decisions and the extent to which Michelle influences her husband—but neither should we scoff at someone for taking the opinion of their spouse under consideration. I hold enough trust in the general populace that they may recognize the potential influence of the president’s partner. It’s a democratic election. That same argument was why many people who don’t like Clinton also didn’t want Hilary in the White House. Does not that moral hazard exist for both men and women in public office?
Nextly, there are documented matriarchal societies. But you are right there is no evidence of societies where women dominate men. Matrilineal societies seem to run differently. Christopher Ryan and Cacilda Jetha describe a few examples in their book Sex at Dawn of matrilineal societies. One example is the Mosuo people. They are known as the ‘Kingdom of Women’ because they exist as a matrilineal society: heterosexual activity occurs only by mutual consent and mostly through the custom of the secret nocturnal “visit”; men and women are free to have multiple partners and to initiate or break off relationships when they please. There’s also the Minangkabau culture where property and land is passed down from mother to daughter, while religious and political affairs are the responsibility of men—though some women are involved. The existence of a “true matriarchy” is viewed by anthropologists as a direct mirror reversal of a patriarchal society and it ignores “the differing ways male and females conceptualize and wield power”.
There are plenty of pieces where I can dissect and argue these points and I’m tired of my refusal to do so being labeled as a lack of caring. Every opinion and fact in this discussion can be found splashed all over the Internet. Surely you have noticed commenter’s complaining about talking points. My response: maybe you are asking the same questions. I did not intend with my initial arguments to reside on the back of the feminist movement without burden of proof, but perhaps I did a disservice to the discussion. This is since remedied by the hours spent conversing with commenter’s and moving towards real understanding of the MRAs movement. I am unconvinced that people have been swallowing feminist ideology “hook, line and sinker” because not all of the ideologies that have been ascribed to them meet with my expectations of feminism.
I respect the time and attention you put towards these discussions. However, I am not going to jump back and forth rebutting every video and every comment thrown against me. I have stated my case: feminism is not hatred. That does not mean that the movement is perfect, or that the people within the movement deserve to be above reproach. However, you need to look in your own backyard before you start flinging around the word hate.
Now enough of this foolishness, this arbitrary debate over whether my ideology is hate will not accomplish the changes that either of us seek, there is real work to be done. I hope that we can, in the future focus on the issues that are of real importance to both men and women: equal representation under the law, and the end of dangerous or exploitative situations for both.
hooks, B. (2005). Feminism is for everybod:passionate politics. Cambridge: South End Press.