What Is Feminism?

It’s better if we define our terms right from the start. Yes, I know there are lots of different flavors of feminism… but we don’t need a definition more complex than what is useful for the discussion, so long as essential information is not lost for the sake of simplicity.

You may be familiar with the No True Scotsman logical fallacy (for a refresher, click here: http://www.logicalfallacies.info/presumption/no-true-scotsman/ ).

When we talk about “radical Islam”, some apologist will literally turn the No True Scotsman argument into their first and foremost tool against every single argument. We have two Muslims in a room. Anytime one of them does something we don’t like – ah, that’s radical Islam! What’s even more disingenuous is that either one can start or stop being a radical Muslim from minute to minute, depending on what he’s doing and whether or not we like it.

To fix this, there are two things we need to do.

First, we need to create a clear set of definitions and boundaries that define what we consider “radical” ahead of time, with an acknowledgement that “radical” does not necessarily have to include “a fringe minority”. Radical Christianity – the kind that launched 12 or so different Crusades across Europe – was the mainstream religion of that area for centuries. “Radical” can most certainly be “mainstream”. So back to our Muslims, we need to lay down an understanding of what we would consider “radical” before we know anything else about them, and then not continually change what we mean as time goes on.

Second, we can’t take a person at their word. If a person representing a group tells you that group is all about peace and love, then detonates a bomb in a crowded subway, we judge the group for their actions completely irrespective of their word. Why? Because people can lie. That’s why. Any and all terror groups can easily just say “Yea what we really want is peace”, but those are just words. This can get a bit tricky, and it can be easy to conflate Muslims living in Malaysia and Singapore – which are two of the most peaceful countries on earth – to Muslims living in Syria, simply because they both have the same undifferentiated name: “Muslim”. But if we’re being honest, we know the difference between radical and moderate. You have the understanding of which is which, and can easily identify either side.

The final thing we need is to understand that a few exceptions do not disprove the entire rule, and thus make it utterly impossible to distinguish either side. This is a common apologist tactic: “Not all of my group is like that, so it’s impossible for you to say which is which and you’ll just have to take my word that we’re all perfectly good!” I’m sure somewhere in the world you can find a KKK member who says “We’re not anti-black, we’re only standing up for the rights of whites!” (In fact this is precisely the message that group adopted in the early 70s in an attempt to rebrand themselves and appeal to a new generation.) Refer back to rule number 2, and keep in mind that a genuine exception doesn’t then make it impossible to discern what a group stands for based on their actions.

And with that, lets begin.

Feminism can be divided up into 4 different “waves”.

The Different Waves of Feminism

First Wave Feminism lasted from the late 1700s until the early 1900s.  In an era where women were viewed as nothing more than property, the First Wave smashed this notion wide open, and did what was considered unthinkable for the time.

Accomplishments:

– Allowed women to own property
– Allowed women to work
– Allowed women to vote

The focus of the First Wave was that women deserved the same rights as men.  It was defined by works such as Mary Wollstonecraft’s “A Vindication of the Rights of Woman”, in which she discussed that women should be entitled to an education, and that women were inherently valuable to the nation.

Is everyone on board with this so far?  Great.  No one disagrees with the assertions put forth by First Wave feminism – neither in their doctrine, their stated beliefs, or their actions.  Even the most dedicated MRA advocate would not disagree that women should have these rights, because after all, women are people too.

Second Wave Feminism stretched from the early 60s to the 80s.  If First Wave feminism was impressive, the Second Wave was nothing short of spectacular.

Accomplishments:

blablabla– Spread awareness about abortion issues, and gave women reproductive rights
– Spread awareness and advocated against rape crimes, set up rape crisis centers, lobbied for more sensitive treatment of victims
– Defined and campaigned against sexual harassment, making it illegal
– Lobbied against spousal abuse, and helped pass stern laws against domestic violence
– Outlawed gender discrimination in education and other places.
– Allowed women to divorce
– Established women’s shelters
– Established women’s clinics
– Established women’s resources to aid against domestic violence and women’s issues
– Drastically changed expectations of women in society; made it socially acceptable for a woman to be a doctor or lawyer
– Creation of childcare services
– Created maternity leave
– Ensured women were paid the same as what men are paid
– College funding for women and women’s studies
– Founded the National Organization of Women (NOW)
– Changed college curricula so it included female authors
– Promoted the use of the term “Ms”, to allow identity that was not contingent upon being married or not.
– And much, much more.

Second Wave feminism wasn’t just focused on merely adding a few extra rights for women. It helped established total equality for women and completely knocked down barriers women had in domestic and professional life.  By the time it was over, women not only had access to all rights and privileges men had, they were left with multiple advantages that men didn’t!

So, are we still all on the same page?  Once again, no one disagrees with anything that was done here.  And again, even the most staunch MRA supporter does not disagree that women should have access to woman-centered health care, nor do they argue with women having equal protection under the law.  So far I hope you’ve all enjoyed happy-agreement time, because things are about to get batshit insane, and this is where the problem comes in.

Third Wave Feminism began in the early 1990s, and is currently what we see today.  By this point, feminism had already established equality between men and women, and would have done superbly well to act as a watchdog group and ensure things remained that way.  But that’s not what happened.

Instead, the Third Wave changed direction completely, and began focusing on victimizing women and criminalizing men.  They do this by completely misrepresenting facts, twisting truths, and perpetuating myths they know are wrong, but did it anyway to fit their agenda.

Here are some examples of what Third Wavers engage in:

Re-interpreting history through the narrative that fits their agenda: that women have always been oppressed by men, simply because they are women, and because men are men.  Both Merlin Stone and Riane Eisler do a fantastic job at explaining why this is false, as would virtually any school curriculum history book.

– Interpreting the actions and behaviors of men through the narrative of their agenda, and disallowing for any other possible motives or explanations.  See: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/08/12/robot-hugs-sexual-harassment-comic_n_5671532.html .  If you talk to a woman, she gets to decide if it’s harassment.  And if it’s harassment, then you’re automatically behaving the way you are because you believe you’re entitled to her body.  The Third Wave narrative decides what men, as a group, think and feel, and what their motivations are.  If this were being done by whites towards blacks, by theist towards atheist, or by men towards women, it would be totally unacceptable.

– Perpetuate the myth of “rape culture”.  See: http://espn.go.com/mens-college-basketball/story/_/id/11125819/ex-oregon-ducks-basketball-players-accused-rape-suspended-students.  These three young men had their entire lives and careers ruined forever based on an accusation of rape, not a conviction.  Because putting them on trial would have required cross examination and questioning of the accuser, which Third Wavers will claim is part of “rape culture”.  Also see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1KQQ1bzQn0k

– Perpetuate the idea of a misogynist culture which simply does not exist.  See: http://images.dailykos.com/images/86145/lightbox/1095.png?1401243737.  Consider that this is depicting an “average joe”, and we’re given no other prompting to believe there’s anything at all dangerous about him, but the woman believes he’s possibly a rapist and killer *anyway*.  Tell me again how feminist don’t think all men are rapist?

Of course not all feminist think think this way.  “Not all feminist are like that!” – which is entirely true.  First and Second Wave Feminist really aren’t like that.  They focused on equality for women, not on attacking men.

– Added to the point above, also see http://media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/736x/88/59/e4/8859e48bec39562ba6eff6a9e4e2c582.jpg – and please show me one example of any major publication anywhere in the first world, where the topic of rape was reported, and the question was asked “what was she wearing”, or the claim was made “She was asking for it”.  Because the only time we ever hear either of those things being said – is from Third Wave Feminist.

– Conflate everything men do into rape, by changing and mixing the definitions generally accepted as rape (a man forcefully having unwanted intercourse with a woman) with abstract theoretical concepts of “power” and “control” (see http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2013/08/29/rape-and-power/ ), allowing situations where a man can “rape” a woman without even touching her.  This is very damaging for actual rape victims, since it causes people to doubt their claims.

– “Men think about sex every 7 seconds”.  Where do you think this came from?

– Continue to claim that women are paid less than men, or that women have a “glass ceiling” in the corporate world as a go-to point, even when this has been thoroughly debunked, not unlike a creationist continuing to use “just a theory” as a go-to point.

– Openly accepts, and even celebrates, violence against men.  See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CRCS6GGhIRc.  Also see http://law.jrank.org/pages/3594/John-Wayne-Lorena-Bobbitt-Trials-1993-1994-Lorena-Bobbitt-s-Trial-Begins.html .

From the link:

—– —–
Autographed John Bobbitt T-shirts were selling for $25, all proceeds going to the defense fund. A restaurant offered a Bobbitt Special—a hot dog with French “cut” fries.
—– —–

Imagine for a moment a woman being mutilated, and having her breasts cut off – then men enjoying jello domes, and handing over the profits to the “defense”.  This would never be accepted – while the reverse is perfectly fine, and yet somehow we live in a patriarchy that oppresses women?

– Openly laughs at violence against men.  See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HRa3yQVtV2g.  It’s funny until men get hurt.  Then it’s hilarious!

– Promotes clothing that celebrates and embraces violence towards men.  See http://www.lookhuman.com/render/product/0002/0002007566406404/2329ind-w800h800z1-33890-i-bathe-in-male-tears.jpg.  How far down the street would you get wearing a shirt that said that about women?  Hell, you’re not even allowed to wear a shirt that has women ON it, much less anything at all even slightly offensive about them.

Keep asking yourself: Would First or Second Wave feminist do any of this???

– Enforces a double standard, which by now I hope is clear, and is in favor of women, NOT men.  Yet Third Wavers push the idea that men somehow have “male privilege” (which they don’t), while ignoring and outright denying that women have “female privilege“.

– Claim that it’s only sexist when men do it.  See http://finallyfeminism101.wordpress.com/2007/10/19/sexism-definition/ – an entire convoluted round-about out-of-the-way mental-gymnastics-routine is being done here to justify why sexism against women is wrong, while women just can’t be sexist against men.  Instead, we could be saying “sexism is wrong regardless of who it’s aimed at” – but that wouldn’t work because equality is not part of the Third Wave agenda.

If a woman is fat, she's a whale. That's objectifying. But if a man is poor, then he's a bum, and that's not objectifying?

If a woman is fat, she’s a whale. That’s objectifying. But if a man is poor, then he’s a bum, and that’s not objectifying?

– Claim that only women are sexually objectified (and men aren’t), and have it to where *any* expression of male sexual interests in women is a form of objectification.  According to the Fox News of social science, when women objectify men, that’s just “sexual desire” – and of course it’s only objectification when men do it.  This goes back to the earlier point that the motivations of men are defined by women as they see fit; it can’t be that you’re simply a straight guy who likes beautiful women.  Instead, you’re an oppressive part of “the patriarchy” that’s objectifying them (unless you’re tall, handsome, and rich – in which case, you’re fine).

– If you’re a man, you can’t even sit down somewhere without being at fault somehow.  And this isn’t about taking up other seats either – if you signal you’re about to sit next to the guy, he closes his legs and gives you room.  I can board any bus anywhere in the city of Portland and prove that over and over again 100% of the time.  Yet this is called an “expression of dominance” by men who are of course an oppressive part of the “patriarchy”.  Yesterday, a woman in Saudi Arabia was stoned to death for being a woman… but in America, a man sat with his legs spread (which is an actual Third Waver argument I’m not making this up).

– I mentioned “patriarchy” twice now with quotes each time.  Click here, and especially here (scroll down a bit) to find out why.

– If you’re a man and you’re in charge of a small business, or you find yourself in middle management, then you might have been called a fat piece of sh*t more than once.  You’ve probably been told to f*ck off, go to hell, had all sorts of nasty passive-aggressive things said behind you’re back, seen some interesting things written about you on social media, and of course heard rumors that your head is interchangeable with other parts of your anatomy.  But call a woman “bossy” even one single time……………

The Average Feminist Today

Your average supporter of women’s rights probably does not support any of the crazy coming out of the Third Wave. They probably just believe that men and women should be equal. That’s it. But lets not pretend that modern feminism (the 3rd Wave) is just as benign, or that it follows that kind of thinking, or try to dismiss the parts of the movement we don’t like as “a few fringe radicals”. The above examples, and the ones still to come, are fully endorsed and often promoted by hollaback, upworthy, and everydayfeminism.com, which have millions of followers supporting them. CNN, the Huffington Post, and MSNBC routinely broadcast that women aren’t paid as much as men for the same work, when there is no truth to this claim. 3rd Wavers like Anita Sarkesian have appeared on The Colbert Report. Jon Stewart and John Oliver routinely parrot their claims. Rebecca Watson can claim oppression from the patriarchy because someone asked if she wanted coffee; this proceeded to cause a severe disruption in the atheist community. Laci Green has a videos with over a million views that are dedicated to the 3rd Wave narrative. Jessica Valenti is a major author and blogger for the movement, and routinely appears in online news publications such as thenational.com. These aren’t just a few radicals. They are the movement!

Most of the big names in feminism today support actions outlined above, or at the very least, refuse to speak out against them, while selectively picking out and attacking social issues that involve men as perpetrators. The “women are people too” is the philosophy was believed in, and practiced by, the previous waves. When you look at both their words and their actions, then it becomes clear.

The 3rd Reich Wave gains its strength by deliberately confounding their motives with the accomplishments of their predecessors.

4th Wave is an attempt to shift the focus back towards legitimate women’s issues.  And a big part of that is refuting 3rd Waver myths.

That’s my sincerest hope with this site.  Women do actually have a number of legitimate issues that are not necessarily “equal rights” related; such as access to women’s health care, administrative failures during actual rape trials, maternity leave, and so on.  Some women’s issues – such as the continual disempowerment and victim-enabling mindset of women – is being perpetuated by the Third Wave, and I think it’s best that another wave of feminism (the Fourth Wave) focuses on reversing that.  Responsibility is not a burden – responsibility is empowering!

In the ideal world, MRAs would focus on men’s issues, Fourth Wave Feminist would focus on women’s issues, and together we would strive for the benefit of all.

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22 thoughts on “What Is Feminism?

  1. Pingback: Feminist and antifeminist positions and narratives | xcbeskow

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  3. You are sane and reasonable. You are trying to correct the direction of feminism, and I very much respect that. I don’t think it’s possible and identify as anti-feminist because of that, but I do very much respect that you are putting in real efforts to course correct feminism back into reality.

    That said, I see a great deal of the third wave feminism that you are condemning in your writing. Where this is most clear is your revisionist history of feminism.

    Prior to the 1700’s both men and women engaged in “unpaid work” because each family farmed and gathered and built for themselves. That men had the task of picking fruit while women had the task of canning it was hardly oppressive to women.
    Trying to claim that “Women’s right to work” is some sort of feminist victory is revisionist history. Women have worked throughout all of human history. What feminism did do was devalue and debase the work that women have traditionally done.
    Women have always been allowed to own property. This is more revisionist history. For most of history “the household” owned the property. The semantics get tricky with how coveture worked, but the property was owned by “The household” if a woman was in charge of the household, she controlled the property. What feminism really did was change marriage from “What’s his is ours and what’s hers is ours” to “what’s his is ours, what’s hers is hers”
    On the vote. In 1913 SCOTUS ruled that men don’t have a “right” to vote. Men have the earned benefit of the vote in exchange for their availability to be drafted. In 1926 women got the right to vote with no reciprocal obligations to the state. Women’s right to vote is pure and simple a female privilege, and unearned benefit due to their sex.

    I agree that women are people and women deserve the full rights and RESPONSIBILITIES of being fully functional adult people. What I disagree with is that first wave feminism advanced these goals.

    You have a great deal more points for second wave feminism. I could refute them point by point, but that would take way to long. I will focus on just one NOW. NOW opposes the assumption of equal shared parenting. They oppose the creation of domestic violence shelters for victims with the “wrong” genitalia. They oppose alimony reform recognizing women’s ability to participate in paid work. They oppose gender equality in higher education. NOW is not third wave feminism. NOW is second wave feminism and has opposed gender equality on all fronts since it’s inception. Second wave feminism did a great deal to pile more privileges on women, equality be damned.

    Women should have access to women-centered health care. Men should have access to male-centered health care, but no men’s health centers exist.
    Women should have equal protection under the law, but they should also be equally culpable for their criminal actives. Currently the sexism against men in courts is three times greater than racism against blacks. There is no attempt to correct this, only attempts to make it worse.

    I hope that I’ve shown that it’s not just third wave feminism that has operated at the expense of men. Feminism has gained unearned benefits for women at the expense of men (or at best complete disregard for men) since day one. This “third wave” has affected people’s thinking so deeply that even you, someone advocating against third wave feminism, is largely engaging in it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for the feedback, Gender.

      If I had better access to internet, I could give you a better and more complete response!

      But only a few things for right now – I’m sure somewhere in the world, in some capacity during the 1700s, it can be said that women did own land. What I’m referring to is the legal right for every woman to own land totally own her own, in the exact same capacity as a man could, and that same designation holds true in regards to work. For sure, women could stay in their homes and knit, but could not get a job the same way a man could. I also don’t think a woman could just walk up and buy and sell property however she wanted the way a man could.

      As I’ve mentioned in another post, I have finished writing a book on this subject. I spend a chapter talking about how women weren’t “oppressed” in the sense that Third Wavers use, because in the feudal system, everyone on the bottom was oppressed, most at the top were privileged, and you would find both men and women on every level. In all fairness though, I don’t think I said anything about oppression in this post. 🙂

      I also agree that women should certainly have the same responsibilities if they want the same privileges.

      I’ve not done the in-depth research on NOW to comment one way or the other. Hopefully I will have time for this in the coming weeks.

      In regards to equal protection under the law, you are right. See my post here: https://4thwavers.wordpress.com/2014/08/09/the-female-privilege-checklist/ .

      I still hold that the bulk majority of our current issues were caused and are perpetuated by Third Wavers – however, even if this is inaccurate, the goal of 4th Wave Feminism is to undo the damage they’ve done by illustrating the facts of the matter and debunking the Third Wave religion.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I think you missed the main point of my post. Gender roles are interconnected and interdependent divisions of labor that place burdens and obligations on both men and women and grant both men and women the rights necessary to fulfill these obligations. There exist four quadrants for gender equality “Men’s Rights” “Men’s Obligations” “Women’s Rights” “Women’s obligations”

        Feminism with it’s exclusive focus on one and only one quadrant of gender equality “Women’s Rights” has been problematic since day 1. It is the 3rd wave revisionist history of “The Patriarchy” and “The Oppression of Women” that is now used to retroactively justify this focus.

        Women where “allowed” to stay home and knit, men where “allowed” to get a job. Men where NOT “allowed to stay home and knit. Women where NOT “allowed” to get a job. Feminism said, “Fix this, but only for women”. So women where “allowed” to work OR stay home and knit. Men where still restricted to only “allowed” to work. To push this, feminism did more damage than good.

        I see what your advocating for. I support this. You are doing a good thing. I’m trying to help you understand how deep that rabbit hole goes.

        On a side note:prior to 1700 almost all land in the entire world belonged to “The Crown” (15 or so different “The Crown”, but that’s beside the point). It was impossible to buy land, property. It just couldn’t be done, none was for sale. To look at men “owning property” in 1500 is to look at a very different system and a very different understanding of ownership through the lens of the modern system and understanding of ownership. I bring this up because much of third wave revisionist history is the result of doing this, it is something very hard not to do. It is something that you need to be aware of when considering the historical context of historical gender roles.

        Liked by 1 person

      • You didn’t use the word oppression, but you state that women were viewed as mere property, which amounts to much the same.

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  5. I can’t agree with your “women were property” idea, and I don’t have such a rosy view of first and 2nd wave feminism, but your analysis of 3rd wave is spot on. I wish you the very best in your efforts to construct a more humane women’s movement. Though I think you should abandon the “feminism” label and start with a new name and new movement. Feminism has become too tainted and will take another generation to rehabilitate.

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  10. In fact, some employers and industries activepy recruit graduates from a distance learning college becase of the ability and discipline it takes to graduate
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  11. Pingback: How to Answer 3rd Wave Feminist Arguments | 4th Wave Feminism

  12. As someone that considers themselves a feminist. I strive to provide opportunities for women to better themselves. I run a science for girls group to try and get young girls interested in science. I don’t exclude boys from the group, and we do have one little guy, but when you say “science for girls” they tend to be less interested. Their loss. I also sit on a scholarship board that, up until this year, gave scholarships to women entering University STEM courses.

    It’s been harder and harder for me, as a man, to continue calling myself a feminist and working toward these achievements because of the type of people that are also calling themselves “feminist” these days. My reasoning for doing so is all about building women up and giving them tools to work with, while others seem to be trying to tear men down and claiming victimization of women as a reason for doing so.

    Thank you for your analysis, I couldn’t agree more. This 3rd wave trend of attacking everyone that’s “anti-feminist”, especially if they’re women not toeing the line, has to stop. It’s not helping anyone and only breading malice between genders, sexes, races, and sexual preferences. It makes everyone a victim and ruins any ambition they have of even trying to succeed.

    Liked by 1 person

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