So one of the other reactions on the internet to movements like Men’s Rights Advocates and GamerGate is a push for the end of Feminism. On the one hand, this makes me throw up my hands and want to bash my head into a desk, because the MRA and GG are the reason we need feminism more than ever. On the other, if I take a minute to actually pay attention to what people calling for the end of feminism are saying – and by “people” I do not mean MRAs or GGers – they have some valid points.
First and foremost is what “feminism” has come to mean for many people. A common understanding is that of the “feminazi,” or “man-hating woman,” who supposedly advocates for a gynocracy and/or the extermination of all men. This image is the one that gave birth to the “Why I don’t need feminism” Tumblr and @WomenAgainstFeminism, which largely seem to display a vast misunderstanding of the definition of “feminism” (technically defined by the dictionary as “the advocacy of women’s rights on the grounds of political, social, and economic equality to men”).
More recently, XOJane published an anonymous piece entitled “I am A Feminist And I Don’t Think We Need The Feminist Movement Anymore” which contains the following description:
American feminism has become a media-obsessed vortex of mostly coastal white women trying to make careers of giddily telling us about the hard reality of everybody’s life to prove they deserve a spot on TV.
This type of “sorority-style” feminism is, I would suggest, even more problematic than the “feminazi” version. On the one hand, it’s avowal of a kind of sisterhood makes it seem attractive, like the “Girl Power” movement of the 1990s and early 2000s. On the other, it serves – also like the Girl Power movement – to reinforce gender stereotypes and further institutionalize other forms of oppression like racism and homophobia by eliminating them under the umbrella of a “sisterhood” that features predominantly middle- and upper-class white women.
It pretends to advocate for women’s rights, when what it really does is advocate for the rights of a very specific, socially acceptable version of what women are or should be. It doesn’t advocate for the rights of butch lesbians, transwomen, women of color, poor or homeless women, or women who seek to defy gender and social normativity in any way. It states that women who are already granted a certain level of privilege within American society ought to be granted more privilege, and leaves behind the women who don’t fit into that narrow mold.* (*These women should be given more privilege, but so should all the women that aren’t included under the umbrella.)
And I would agree that this kind of so-called “feminism” isn’t helpful. It widens rather than narrows the gap between the privileged and the oppressed, and that isn’t good for anybody.
But where I disagree is with a recent trend of “giving up” on movements and terms that have been partially co-opted by the privileged. I’m not ready to stop being a gamer, and I’m really not ready to stop being a feminist (which makes me a feminist gamer, which is a dangerous thing to be these days).
The anonymous poster at XOJane is right about one thing:
We DON’T NEED feminism like this. We need some thing better; we need something that’s not just ready for Hilary but actually ready for a life that has been hard for a while and is getting harder — though for all their news hawking, they don’t seem to notice.
I hope feminism keeps failing. I hope they laugh these girls right into the implosion the rest of us are living through.
Maybe — just maybe — if it actually goes straight to hell they’ll actually remember what feminism is about.
I don’t hope feminism fails. I hope that enough women and men are able to see through this recent whitewashing (in multiple senses) of feminism as a movement and go back to its roots – fighting the hard fight in the mud and dirt because all women and men deserve social equality, not just the ones with good PR campaigns and disposable income.