What Feminism Definitely Doesn’t Look Like

I once wrote about what I call fauxminism, poking fun at “empowered” women who do little to nothing for (or even who actually hinder) other women’s choices and freedom.

That’s one thing. This is another thing, entirely.

Recently, I had the distinct displeasure of overhearing two men laugh it up over domestic abuse. As it really wasn’t my conversation and I was in far from the right situation to say anything, I was mostly silent as I listened. I learned that, to them, years of abuse at the hands of his wife rendered a man laughable, not pitiable.


The battle cry of the Men’s Rights Activist or any other breed of anti-feminist is the oft-mocked “but what about teh menz?” That particular question is posed whenever anyone dares to say anything uncritical about feminism. The frustration that many feminists feel regarding that particular derailment is, more often than not, misunderstood as a dismissal and/or trivialization of primarily male-related concerns. This leads to the belief that feminists are female supremacists (feminazis or even femi-stasi, sometimes) who want to oppress men or at least ignore men’s concerns. Taken further, the claim becomes that said problems are somehow caused by feminism.

Setting the misconstruing of feminist aims aside, let us admit a rather painful truth. To blame feminism for the mainstream gender status quo is to attribute way more ideological success to it than it has actually attained. Let us also set aside the fact that most feminists are against all oppressive gender norms and how many feminists are actively working against gender-based oppression of all kinds.

Where do oppressive gender norms for men originate?

There is no question that oppressive gender norms for women existed prior to feminism. Indeed, feminism arose in response to said norms, so to argue otherwise would be more than somewhat disingenuous. In this case, what’s good for the goose is good for the gander: gender norms for men existed prior to feminism. Additionally, so did the effects that gender norms for women had, and continue to have, on men.

Now, let us consider the matter of female-on-male domestic violence. The men I heard making a mockery of a fellow man’s abuse at the hands of his wife were not feminists. I do not say this in judgment of them or their beliefs, I say this with the knowledge that they mock and oppose feminism and say misogynistic things with alarming frequency and audacity.


This is why the allegation that feminism is to blame for female-on-male abuse, or at least its trivialization, is not only untrue but also utterly infuriating. Sexists enforce the gender binary for women — and for men. In their minds, women are weak and inferior to men, therefore abuse by a woman upon a man can’t be serious. That is why they can howl with laughter so shamelessly without a second thought as to the harm being done to a fellow human being.

Similarly, when it comes to women, the “you go girl” attitude towards female abuse of men isn’t exactly a gender-radical, feminist one. In fact, it fits quite neatly into traditional narratives with regards to inter-gender relations. To wit: “He must be cheating on her!”, “she can’t really hurt him,” and so on, ad nauseum.

Although I know I will be accused of doing so within the next 72 hours (if not sooner) because I am not afraid to say that I am a feminist, endorsing female-driven abuse of men isn’t what feminism looks like. Two man espousing an utterly cavalier attitude towards domestic abuse isn’t what feminism looks like. My hands shaking in anger at two men’s cavalier attitude towards domestic violence so hard that I can barely type this?

That’s what feminism fucking looks like.

EDIT (5/5/13): See comment from hierophant as to why I’ve removed a link.

What Feminism Definitely Doesn’t Look Like

Breaking News: Organized Secularism Different for Women

Main Image Credit: Classic Blag Hag

The American Secular Census is something I had seen but in which I had not participated before today because I am mostly interested in seeing the results without someone as (ahem) loud as I am skewing it in any possible way. Many of us here at Skepchick felt the same and did not join.

As it turns out, we didn’t need to participate for the data to corroborate the utterly shocking conclusion that being a secular American is very different for women than it is for men, especially when it comes to participating in organized secularism. Continue reading “Breaking News: Organized Secularism Different for Women”

Breaking News: Organized Secularism Different for Women

Walking That Fine Line: Racism and Relativism

Warning: Some images and links might be considered NSFW. In addition, I use the term “Western” for a lack of a more convenient one to refer to European, Canadian, and American people and audiences.

EDIT: A commenter rightly pointed out that the title, which originally contained “Razor-Thin” instead of “Fine,” could be taken for a very insensitive pun. I was thinking along the lines of alliteration, not a pun, and sincerely apologize for my lack of insight on the matter.

There is something of an innate conflict that exists in the minds of those who are more liberal or progressive-minded, a tension between anti-racism and the desire to see human rights applied in a truly universal fashion for everyone. In other words, the unwillingness to engage in what might be construed as cultural imperialism can clash with the very notion of universal human rights.

This can lead right back to racism, however, when extreme relativism takes over. Excusing the violation of human rights with “that’s their culture and we must respect it” essentially says “you over there don’t deserve the same rights as I do over here.” At the same time, the way in which outsiders tackle harmful cultural practices can serve to accomplish absolutely nothing beneficial.

FGM is one of the best-known arenas where this tension is palpable.

Continue reading “Walking That Fine Line: Racism and Relativism”

Walking That Fine Line: Racism and Relativism

Sex and the Newbie

Our very own El Mofo laid the smackdown yesterday on how the overt sexualization of speakers is unprofessional, uncouth, and just plain unproductive in building a better skeptical community. Recently, the blogosphere has been abuzz with the issues that sexual harassment by speakers raise, such as disclosure and what can be done to improve the situation. I’ve written in the past about the type of sexual harassment that cannot be blamed on so-called “clumsy Romeos.”

Anytime the word “sexism” comes up in the skeptical and atheist community, someone will usually cite the Morgan Freeman Principle: we need to ignore it by not talking about it so that it will go away. Misogyny is clearly a pimple, so let us not inflame it further, yes? Ostriching (or not) is obviously a poor course of action to prescribe if the community ever hopes to be as better than mainstream society as many of its members consider themselves be.

The chilling effect goes further than just on improving the community as a whole, or ensuring that it is welcoming for prospective members: it can kill the spark of activism that exists in women. Continue reading “Sex and the Newbie”

Sex and the Newbie