THE PROBLEMS WITH ‘THE PROBLEM WITH FEMINISM’

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By James Dee

I don’t even know where to begin here, other than to express profound disappointment that we are doing this yet again. For those of you who do not follow The Hamilton Spectator, yesterday an Op-Ed was published called ‘The Problem with Feminism‘. If you don’t want to read it the TLDNR version is essentially: “feminism was once important, but now it is bad”, followed by a list of reasons that are all entirely not things. I cannot believe that we are doing this again, Hamilton Spectator.

I cannot believe that in 2017 there are still people who willfully misrepresent what feminism is, which is the belief that humans of all gender identities and expressions are deserving of equal rights, respect and treatment. Being critical of ‘the construct of feminism’ as a whole is not brave or original, it is oppressive and disgusting. Full stop.

I cannot believe that I had to read another exact-same version of a tired, played out argument that I have seen literally hundreds of times before, with almost all the exact words, dodgy analysis and factual errors. I cannot believe that anybody could write this op-ed, thinking they are onto something big when they posit the argument “what if feminism was once a good thing, but now it is a bad thing?” as though they were the first to ever devise such a hot take.

I cannot believe that this argument devotes almost a third of its airtime to making grievances about all of the ways that women are not treated fairly and equally in our society, and still somehow comes out saying that feminism is bad.

I cannot believe that this op-ed seems to argue that being against feminism is somehow being trans inclusive. Seriously.

I cannot believe that an article that seems to believe itself to be more trans inclusive than ‘the construct of feminism’ says things like “Biologically, males and females are different. This statement seems pretty obvious based simply on a glance downward”.

I cannot believe this article makes the most tired and easily refuted claims about feminism and thinks it is in any way original to misrepresent feminism as something that devalues femininity and wants to make women more like men. Please see the earlier definition of what feminism is. It is not a complicated thing. It is at its core, a belief in equality amongst gender identities and expressions. It is true that there are feminist arguments and theories that spin off of that, and not all of them have always been great. But notice how groups that hold privilege are never defined by their outlying extremists? There are bad feminists. I am not going to argue that there are no people who call themselves feminists and also devalue culturally-assigned ‘girliness’ (such as the example of princess halloween costumes she invokes). But I am going to argue that if the ‘construct of feminism’ has to be considered flawed based on its minority of people whose analysis is flawed, than it follows that every ‘construct’ should be measured entirely by its worst contributors. We all know that dosn’t happen. ‘Outlying extremists’ is an excuse we make for constructs that have power (western religion, politics, law enforcement), but easily scapegoated constructs (refugees, Islam, feminism)  apparently have to answer for every individual action, attitude, mistake or indiscretion made by any of its people. It is, ironically, a rather good illustration of why we do in fact still need feminism.

I cannot believe, while we are on that subject, that this author has never encountered femme-affirming feminism. Rather, I do not believe that, because femme-affirming feminism is in my experience, the majority of feminism. Same goes for ‘all the genders on the spectrum’. For any one alleged feminist you find me who has a problem with non-binary gender identity, I can find you 50 who understand that feminism is about affirming and supporting and most importantly, equalizing the rights, respect, and treatment of all gender identities.

I cannot believe that last night (which again, is a time that occurred in the year 2017 and not the 1950s), the author of this piece seemed utterly taken aback that anybody had a problem with her perpetuation of harmful misinformation and chose to make that known on social media. Statements like ‘feminism is not the same as gender equality’ are incorrect and harmful, and should have consequences – even if it is just the incredibly mild consequences of disagreement on twitter.

I cannot believe that when the author was engaged with on twitter last night, disagreement with her was characterized as violent and hateful, when she asked us to ‘choose peace’ instead of continuing to demand that she #usetherightwords, or defensively characterized the interactions as being “attacked”.

I cannot believe that gross and damaging misrepresentations of feminism is able to find a place to be published in an allegedly credible news outlet, even in the opinion section. People are entitled to their own opinions, but not entitled to their own facts. Words mean things, and they don’t mean things that they don’t mean. You are The News. Its your literal job to know this.

I cannot believe I have to write this. Again.

Reposted from the incredible Bent Q Media.

James Dee is an editor at Bent Q Media, a queer community organizer and sexual health educator in Hamilton, Ontario.

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