Why Feminism Is Failing


Strong and powerful women like Madonna have often declined to identify as feminist.

Strong and powerful women like Madonna have often declined to identify as feminist.

In a recent interview with Redbook, Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting was asked if she was a feminist.  Her response was a diplomatic one as she stated that she recognized the women who paved the way for her, but never considered herself a feminist as she had never felt like she had to deal with inequality.  A number of feminist were critical of this response, but it is not a response that is uncommon among women.  Lady Gaga, Katy Perry, Madonna, and Taylor Swift have all responded in the negative when asked if they were feminist, though some have later responded in the affirmative.  These women are not in the minority.  One poll suggest that as few as 38% of women of identify as feminist when first asked, though the number changes when the respondents are given the definition; but therein lies the problem.  What is the definition of feminism?  If you simply asked people if they believed in gender equality, the overwhelming majority would say yes.  The fact that the majority of people respond in the negative when asked if they are feminist indicates that for them, the word feminism means something other than promoting gender equality.  Words may have definitions in the dictionary, but to suggest that the word only means what the dictionary says is an etymological fallacy.  Words are socially constructed, and socially agreed upon, and their meaning is defined by experience and context.  Words like ‘communist’ and ‘socialist’, which are just fancy political words that essentially mean ‘share and take care of each other’, have come to develop much more ominous meanings as dictatorial regimes like the Bolsheviks and Nazis have co-opted them and made them synonymous with oppression and mass murder.  The problem with feminism is that rather than being associated with gender equality, it has become associated with polarizing rhetoric, self-interest, finger-pointing, sexist and misandrist stereotyping, sensationalism, logical fallacies, and misleading reporting and statistical analysis.  This has not only served to alienate allies, but has alienated the women the movement is supposed to help, and when the majority of people that a movement is aiming to help refuse to identity as part of that movement, the only conclusion that can be made is that the movement is failing in many respects.  To correct this, people who identify as feminist and participate in feminist discourses, must be hyperaware of the pitfalls that have recently proliferated feminist discourses and serve to correct them in order the re-establish feminism as a movement that promotes gender equality.




Taking photos like this is what some feminists consider to be productive.

Taking photos like this is what some feminists consider to be productive.

As a feminist, one of the most frustrating things for me is reading the trivialization of feminist narratives.  All too often, feminist forums are used as a means to simply complain about men when the issues at hand are not even related to gender.  Salon, who has a history of click-baiting with sensationalist titles, has recently published several stories about ‘manspreading’.  The article bemoans the fact that men take up too much room on public transit by spreading their legs.  Salon is not the only ones wasting time dedicating article to this topic as The New York Times has picked up the ‘story’.  The trending topic was made popular by a tumblr page that was likely created by a person who doesn’t understand what it is like to sit down with two testicles between one’s legs, but when looking at the page, the men photographed are sitting in half-empty cars and are not preventing anybody from sitting down.  There are several issues with this.  Firstly, as a woman, I have had to ride public transit a number of times and there have been more instances than I can hope to count where men have offered me their seat when the bus or train car is crowded.  This is the norm, not the exception, and given that I am a heavy woman who most would not consider conventionally attractive, I would have to assume that in most instances the men are being polite and not performing some sort of subtle mating ritual. Rather than writing posts about how polite men can be when public transit is full, people are writing posts about men spreading their legs in a half-empty train car and calling it ‘feminism’.  In my experience, I’ve seen far more women take up excess space with shopping bags and purses than I have seen men ‘manspreading’ or taking up an extra seat with a backpack. This is not a ‘gender’ issue, this is an ‘inconsiderate people’ issue.  Some people are simply rude.  What is especially problematic is that many men are having unsolicited photographs taken of them on public transit by strangers and are then having their images posted online without their consent.  These are not public figures, and if men were doing the same thing to women, taking photos of them on the subway and then posting them online, there would be any number of legitimate complaints about the photographers invading women’s personal space without their consent.  Given that consent is such a central issue in feminist discourses, it is especially frustrating to see some circumvent consent in the name of feminism as it is contrary to the values of true feminism.  For these ‘feminists’, ignoring consent with the aim of publicizing a trivial issue is seen as acceptable, but this practice works against feminist principles and makes the movement appear to be a soapbox for self-interested whining rather than important issues.



The gang rape and murder of Abeer Qassim Hamsa seems to get less coverage than 'manspreading'.  Tragic?  YES!

The gang rape and murder of Abeer Qassim Hamsa seems to get less coverage than ‘manspreading’. Tragic? YES!

The irony is that Salon is very much aware that women also take up excess space whilst patronizing public transit as they posted an article by one such woman.  The author, who identifies as a woman of colour, describes the train ride as ‘nightmarish’, stating that she placed her bag, which contained her laptop, beside her, then put her earphones in and listened to music.  A white man asked her to move the bag so he could sit down and when she failed to hear him, he handed her the bag and sat down.  She got upset and asked why he didn’t ask her before moving the bag, at which point he explained that he did and she did not hear him.  Somehow, man is at fault in this instance, even though the author was the one taking up extra space.  The author does have a valid point in terms of the race construct, as a man of colour would not have behaved the same way to a white woman.  The source of the problem, however, was the author’s inconsiderate behaviour.  The fact that this man’s perfectly reasonable response wouldn’t be as likely to happen if the perceived racial dichotomy were reversed doesn’t suggest that he is unreasonable, but that social constructs of race prevent men of colour from being able to behave in a reasonable way.  She suggests that he should have tapped her on the shoulder, but had he done that, then he would have been invading her physical space, prompting an entirely different article about inappropriate touching.  The fact that a train ride where somebody needs to take a seat next you is described as ‘nightmarish’ because it involved you having to place your laptop bag on your lap demonstrates the degree of sensationalism present in many feminist discourses, but in the context of other articles about public spaces on public transit published around the same time, it seems overtly hypocritical on the part of Salon publishers.  They sound like a left-wing version of Fox News, applying one set of rules when they have an issue with somebody, and another set of rules when somebody else has an issue with them.  The larger problem is that there are any number of legitimate concerns going on in the world that feminist need to pick up, whether it is the honour killings that seem to happen with tragic frequency, or the gang-rapes that are an every-present threat in conflict zones, or the fact that the statute of limitations for rape expires before many victims  are unable to come forward to report the crime.  I am not suggesting that feminists not take up issues of subtle oppression, as these are important, but complaining about not getting the seat you want on a half-empty train cart is not a feminist issue, and when it is framed as such, it makes feminists sound as if they are a bunch of entitled misandrists who are looking for something to complain about, rather than a group of social activists who are trying to secure equality for women who don’t have it.  If we, as feminists, can’t see that there is a problem with the fact that ‘manspreading’ returns over 600 000 results on an engine search whilst honour killings in Pakistan return less than 300 000, then we need to re-evaluate what feminism is supposed to be working toward.




Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, who was attacked by feminists for not identifying as one.

Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting, who was attacked by feminists for not identifying as one.

Whenever somebody is trying to draw attention to a problem they feel is urgent, there is often times a tendency to make the problem seem more urgent than it is, especially when you have to fight with Kim Kardashian’s latest photo shoot for readers’ attention.  However, there is a fine line between making a strong case, and misleading somebody, and the problem with some feminist rhetoric is the misleading nature of the reporting.  One of the most common instances of this is the ‘pay gap’.  Before moving forward with this, it is important to note that in almost all developed countries, there is pay equality legislation on the books, and the United Nations has made equal pay for equal work a part of their Universal Declaration of Human Rights.  If you live in America, it is illegal for an employer to pay anybody a lesser hourly wage than another person in the same position, with the same qualifications and tenure. Period.  If you talk to a factory worker, or a person in customer service, they will all tell you that they make the same wage as other people in the same position.  Where does the pay gap come from?  There are two key factors.  The first is that the average woman works fewer hours than the average man over the course of their working careers.  This is in part due to the fact that women are more likely to take parental leave after conceiving a child, and also that they are more likely to work part time.  Conversely, men are more likely to work over time.  Though a man and a woman might have the same job with the same hourly wage, the man may earn more over the course of the year if he worked more overtime hours.  This disparity is not the result of discrimination, but rather personal choices.  The other reason for the wage gap is market demand.  For instance, the top grossing basketball player in the NBA earns over twenty million dollars a year.  The top earner in the WNBA, the NBA’s sister league, earns just over $100 000.  She essentially earns 0.5% of her male counterpart.  But the fact of the matter is, not that many people pay to see WNBA games.  In the adult film industry, this pay gap is reserved.  The market determines the salary and most people who endorse capitalism are not going to argue against this.  This works the same in Hollywood, and in the corporate world, as well as academia, where past performances and accomplishments make you more valuable.  Likewise, workers who get pain piecemail, or get paid on commission, can make more than co-workers, but that is based on merit.  The wage gap is largely result of differences such as these, not discrimination.  Much of the reporting on the subject, though, fails to place the gap in a broader context, and in failing to do so, creates a misleading narrative.




Mary Barra, CEO of GM.

Mary Barra, CEO of GM.

This kind of misleading narrative lead to sensationalism, such as it did when the narrative around Mary T. Barra, the CEO of GM, was framed as example of discrimination.  When Barra was first awarded her current position, making her the first women to head a major automotive manufacturer, most of the article focused on the fact that she made less than her predecessor.  The problem was that Barra had been given the position early in the year, and so the stockholders had not yet decided what kind of stock package she would receive, nor had her incentive package been calculated.  When the likes of The Huffington Post reported on the story, they led with titles like “Female CEO Makes Half of Male Predecessor”.  Only after boldly stating that her predecessor made almost double what she made did The Huffington Post concede that he full compensation package would not be determined until June of that year, meaning they were making a claim with only half the information they needed.  They also failed to note that CEOs often get paid based on incentives and that Barra’s incentive package wouldn’t be calculated until the end of the fiscal year.  And what was Barra’s total wage?  Well it may end up being over 14 million dollars, several million dollars more than her predecessor made.  Barra, then, would be the person making double what her predecessor made, not the other way around.  What should have been a celebratory article about a woman breaking ground in the corporate world, instead turned into a series of misleading statements and headlines that led readers astray and incited misguided anger among feminists who saw this as an instance of discrimination.  This amounts to click-baiting, meaning that media outlets are sensationalizing stories in an attempt to drive traffic to their site with sensational headlines.  The frustrating part of this is that these people are doing this under the guise of feminism to tap into a loyal and dedicated readership, but in the process, dilute the credibility of feminist discourse by muddying the waters of the movement with sensationalist headlines.  And what happens now that Barra has been awarded a larger compensation package than her predecessor?  The Huffington Post has added an ‘update’ (not a retraction) on their article stating that Barra is making 60% more than her predecessor, but the original title still boldly professes this alleged inequality and has the word ‘UPDATE’ in parenthesis after it.  The update, though, is easily missed by a hurried reader as it is placed at the bottom of the page.  The article remains sensationalist, even as it stands corrected.





Women who choose to be homemakers are frequently viewed in antiquated terms like this.

Women who choose to be homemakers are frequently viewed in antiquated terms like this.

One of the major turnoffs in feminist discourses is the way in which women are often framed and defined as victims whilst failing to recognize the power of female autonomy.  Many women in the West are empowered, but are often still framed as victims.  Some feminist speaks of industry gender gaps, for example.  Reports suggest that there is a corporate gender gap, a tech gender gap, and an engineering gender gap.  There are legitimate concerns here that should not be dismissed, but there is also an element of choice involved.  Just as there are gender gaps in these industries, there are gender gaps the other way in marine biology, primary education, pediatrics, and nursing.  Nobody expresses a concern for the gender gaps in these areas because they recognize that the gender gap is, by and large, the result of choice men and women have made.  Likewise, nobody complains of the far more drastic gender gap that exists in mining, tool and die, and transportation because people likewise recognize that women do not enter these industries by choice.  Why is it then necessary to suggest that there is a problem with a gender gap in the tech industry?  Why can’t we just accept that this is a field that not as many women are interested in?  Likewise, women are more likely to take on precarious work, which leads to lower pay and a larger likelihood of being laid off, not receiving benefits, and not being entitled to pensions, but there is a reason for this.  Women with children are far more likely to stay at home than men, and are in turn are more likely to work part-time jobs.  This is a choice.  If we look at New Feminism, we see that threads in that sub-sect of feminism recognize that some women want take on a central role in child rearing and that their decision to do so should be respected, and their contributions in this role valued.  It is true that there is a degree of cultural programming that plays a role in such decisions, and we as a society need to be aware of this and make an effort to nurture our children’s interests without projecting gender prescriptions onto them, but feminism is ultimately about choice.  Women who made a choice to stay at home are not going to be inclined to identify as feminist if feminist discourses are telling stay-at-home moms that they are victims because they don’t work in the tech industry or have a job as an engineer.  Instead of bemoaning about gender gaps, feminists need to address issues of workplace harassment in fields where such gender gaps exists because this is an issue that rests outside of their own autonomy.




The Factual Feminist, Christina Hoff Sommers.

The Factual Feminist, Christina Hoff Sommers.

For some, feminism is about equality, and for others it is about choice.  Feminists make up a diverse group of people, both men and women, whose aims are to promote gender equality and female empowerment.  With such a complex issue, there are going to be differences, and unfortunately, what often happens is that women end up attacking and/or silencing other women in the name of feminism.  When Kaley Couco-Sweeting proved reluctant to identify as feminist, a vocal number of ‘feminists’ referred to her comments as ‘anti-feminist’, creating an us-and-them attitude one would have associated with the likes of George W. Bush.  There was nothing anti-feminist about her comments.  Couco-Sweeting actually expressed gratitude for the women that came before her.  Never once did she suggest she was opposed to feminism, only that she did not identify as a feminist.  As to the ridicule the Couco-Sweeting received, I will not give it air time, but it should be noted that the choices that she made in the domestic sphere were harshly criticized.  The frustrating thing is that even women who identify as feminist struggle when trying to communicate within the feminist community.  Christina Hoff Summers, who identifies herself as ‘The Factual Feminist’, often focuses on how people within the feminist community rely on bad stats and polling, and encourages an accurate appraisal of gender issues.  I do not always agree with her approach, but it is an important one to have within the discourse.  Some other feminists do not agree and felt so strongly about it that they took to burning a copy of one of her monographs.  This silencing of women is a common practice in feminist forums as well.  If a feminist questions the statistical analysis of a given poll, they may soon find themselves banned by moderators who are anything but moderate. By ridiculing women like Couco-Sweeting, and silencing women like Sommers, feminists are indulging in exactly the kind of behaviour they criticize the patriarchy for.  There are women for whom notions of equality mean different things.  For one feminist to dismiss the input of another feminist, or worse yet, silence her because they have a difference of opinion, is not ‘feminism’, it is censorship.  Silencing women is what the patriarchy has been doing for centuries.  Feminists should not need to worry about being silence or attacked by other feminists when they are already combating patriarchal oppression.




Our allies from Undercover Colors.

Our allies from Undercover Colors.

Given that the feminist movement has so effectively managed to alienate women, it is no surprise that it has also managed to alienate allies.  There are any number of men who passionately believe in feminism and the gender equality and autonomy the movement seeks bring to women, but many of them face staunch opposition from women who claim to be feminist.  One such group of men created a company called Undercover Color with the aim of designing a nail polish that can detect date rape drugs.  The goal of the project was to allow women to defend themselves against potential predators.  Rather than getting support for trying to combat rape culture, some feminists took to blaming the men at Undercover Colors for promoting rape culture.   Katie Russell of  Rape Crisis England & Wales stated that the nail polish “implies that it’s the woman’s fault” and “detracts from the real issues that arise from sexual violence”, though how it implies rape is the woman’s fault is beyond me.  Likewise, Tracey Vitchers, a member of Students Active For Ending Rape (SAFER) questioned “why we keep placing responsibility for preventing sexual assault on young women”.  This seems to be a regurgitation of the “stop telling girls how to dress, and start teaching boys not to… rape” argument naively put forward in a recent video COMMERCIAL by FCKH8, and is often repeated by feminists who argue against rape culture.  Such an approach, though, ignores the fact that efforts are made to prevent rape, both through legislation that has framed rape a felony for centuries, and educational and social programs in schools.  The tragedy is that rape has been a social issue for centuries, and given that even rapists who are convicted and serve time in prison have a recidivism rate of 13% upon their release, no amount of social education is going to eliminate rape.  Whilst it is important to promote social education to raise awareness, this approach is not mutually exclusive with preventative methods, and the two working hand-in-hand can be far more effective than either working individually.  However, by accusing allies of promoting rape culture for creating innovative preventative methods that empowers women and makes it easier to defend themselves, some feminists alienate allies, creating barriers and divisions where there should be unity, which ultimately impedes progress.




Rose McGowan is one of many women who has made generalizations in the name of feminism.

Rose McGowan is one of many women who has made generalizations in the name of feminism.

Stereotyping and generalizations have become increasingly common, and they not only serve to alienate allies, but push away many who are neutral whilst simultaneously giving fuel to those who stand in opposition to feminism.  Rose McGowan, who identifies as a feminist, once posted on her Twitter account that gay men are more misogynist than straight men. Though McGowan recognized the flaw in her logic and was sure to apologize, this is the kind of sentiment that men, straight or gay, have to deal with on a regular basis.  The fact that McGowan feels comfortable to say such things in an open forum illustrates that this is a rhetoric that is perceived as acceptable.  Lena Dunham likewise has generalizations to make about men.  In a recent clip filmed for The Tonight Show, Dunham claimed that “men… are, at the baseline, very stupid.”  The reason for this stupidity? She claims it is because they opened the door for her more often when she was blonde.  Apparently a man can’t hold the door open for a woman without being considered ‘stupid’.  This is especially problematic because she employs statistical rhetoric, as if this gives her observation some sort of validity.  The term ‘baseline’, refers to a sample before a variable is introduced.  Dunham’s comments, then, suggest that men are innately stupid and require variables of exceptions to be intelligent.  This is exactly the kind of sexist stereotyping and generalizations that feminism is fighting against.  Dunham’s comments are no different than the derogatory ‘dumb blonde’ jokes that have debased women for decades.  Had a man made a similar comment about women, they would be railed for their bigoted and sexists views, but feminists like Dunham believe that when speaking of men, such generalizations are acceptable and even funny.  Though the clip was from a comedy program, Dunham’s response seemed sincere, and the fact that somebody who makes a concerted effort to promote feminist ideals is so gleeful about making sexist comments about men demonstrates the kind of hypocritical attitudes that are too common in feminist circles.  Sadly, these kinds of responses often get far more coverage than the more reasoned and measured voices in the feminist movement.  Nothing productive can come of such rhetoric: allies are alienated, opponents are empowered, and neutral parties are turned off to the conversation.




Soshana Roberts, the brave actress who starred in the street harassment video.

Shoshana Roberts, the brave actress who starred in the street harassment video.

Social media has served as a great tool for highlighting issues and raising awareness of current events and stories, however there are certain limits to social media.  Twitter played host to the #YesAllWomen dialogue that emerged after the Elliot Rodger shootings, and whilst such platforms are a great way for those who have been silence to make their voices heard, a 140 characters can simply not captures the nuances of complex dialogues.  The result is that the negative Tweets build momentum and serve as finger pointing that read like accusations against those who have respected the autonomy of women and worked toward equality, not to mention the fact that Elliot Rodger killed more men than he did women.  Whilst the concerns expressed by these women are legitimate and deserve attention, it takes more than a 140 characters to explain the context.  The result is that the conversation becomes antagonist with the #NotAllMen quickly defending men who feel they are being accused of misogyny, and feminists then responding in an antagonistic fashion as they perceive their dialogue is being hijacked.  The divide between each side is increased and a remediation seems unlikely in the face of such ‘dialogue’.  Youtube has also served as a platform for important issues such as street harassment, most famously addressed in a video put out by Hollaback.  The video is succinct, but it fails to address the full context.  It claims to have been taken from across New York, but many of the instances of street harassment actually take place in economically depressed area and the street harassment is almost entirely perpetrated by men of colour.  This presentations seems to foster prejudices based on perceived race, an issue the video makes no effort explain in order to dispel such an interpretation.  Another video features a woman feigning to be drunk in public and apparently being stalked by predacious men.  The video suggests that that an alarming number of men are opportunistic rapists, but it turns out that video was staged and that the men who participated did not know they would be portrayed as predators.  Videos like this serve to perpetuate lies, victimize bystanders, and dilute the credibility of those participating in feminist discourses.  When using social media to raise awareness, it is important to recognize the limits of the platform, otherwise conversations can quickly devolve into antagonist finger pointing and defensive posturing, freezing the conversation and leaving participants with a negative view of feminism.





If feminism wants the support of women like Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting and the millions of like-minded women, the movement needs a more inclusive approach.

If feminism wants the support of women like Kaley Cuoco-Sweeting and the millions of like-minded women, the movement needs a more inclusive approach.

Feminism is meant to be a discourse, not a lecture.  It is meant to work toward a solution, not finger pointing.  Most of all, it is supposed to empower the oppressed.  The earliest feminists propelled the emancipation and helped free people of colour in England, and later in the United States.  Later, the first wave of feminism earned women the right to vote and fought for equal pay for equal work.  The second wave of feminism secured equal pay for equal work and fought for reproductive rights and workplace equality.  The third wave of feminism was meant to challenge constructed gender roles, but instead has seemingly devolved into conversations about not getting the seat you wanted on a half-empty train cart, whilst telling men who try to defend women against sexual assault that they are promoting rape culture and then making broad generalizations about men on social media.  This is not what all feminists are doing, but there is an extremely vocal segment of the movement that is doing these things.  The result is that a majority of men and women do not identify as feminist and the word has become sullied in the same way that words like ‘Islam’, ‘socialism’, and ‘communism’ have been tainted by people who have abused the spirit of these words.  As a feminist who seeks to achieve the goals the movement has set out, I recognize that we need the help of other women, and our male allies.  In order to secure this, we need to make sure that feminism is promoting important causes, and not trivial ones that aren’t even gender related.  We need to focus on responsible reporting, and reject sensationalism, as doing otherwise only serves to discredit the work we do.  We need to stop attacking and silencing women who do not share our definition of feminism and who do not feel comfortable identifying as feminist, and stop making women who made certain choices feel as though their autonomy is the result of patriarchal victimization.  We need to stop alienating allies, and stop making the same kind of generalizations we are fighting against.  Most importantly, we need to recognize the degree of privilege that we have in the West, and concede that many of the goals our mothers set out for us during the first and second wave have been achieved, and that our sisters in underdeveloped and developing countries have yet to experience the same success.  We need to make feminist less about our own self-interest and more about helping women in countries who haven’t seen the success that we have.  Unless we can do these things, feminism is going to continue to devolve.  There are already countless feminist who are making a positive impact, and I hope that they continue to spread the true spirit of feminism, but those who are being less critical need to start holding themselves to a higher standard, otherwise the feminist rhetoric is going to become a polarization of the drivel that fills the hours at Fox News.


If you enjoyed this post and would like updates on my latest ramblings, be sure to follow me on Twitter @MarthaLQueen, and get updates from Literary Ramblings on Twitter @LiteraryRambler.



  1. Wow…. You have broken this topic down with an astounding level of clarity and intelligence, just from this alone, I have truly learned what feminism is actually about. I’m a 20 year old Canadian born Hispanic male, honestly, I only began reading this because I thought to myself, great! More feminazi, finger pointing, hypocritical trash I can amuse myself with. The realization of how soiled the femenist name is took a hold as you carefully explained it and I now understand. Il be posting this on my fb, twitter, and anywhere else I can because honestly this was an eye opener. 🙂

  2. Martha Loretta Queen Martha Loretta Queen says:

    Thank you for your kind words Alex.

  3. Couldn’t agree more.

  4. Valtyr Kari says:

    That was long, but well worth the time it took to read it. Exelent!

  5. Just a guy says:

    The core flaw in you thesis is that if feminism is about equality, then why does the discourse even coming out feminist academic journal appear to paint men as the problem as is women hold no agency. from what i have seen of both pop, and academic feminism it seeks to reinforce women hypo-agency and men hyper-agency. Also if feminism is about equality it should be about helping every one… even men. But when the topic of domestic violence comes up its shirked off as no big deal even though men make up at least 40% and as high as 60% of IPV victims. Or feminist Mary koss removing men from rape statistics in the CDC. Really look up the CDCs NISVS, the TLDR is that men comprise about 1.2 mil made to penetrate (it doesn’t fall under the definition of rape as given by mary koss) compared to 1.1 mil women raped and the 110000 men who were raped. Also the infamous 1in5 stat come from study the koss design with more holes than swiss cheese.

    The point is feminism doesn’t seem to acting in good faith.

  6. G'Quan says:

    You are getting somewhat closer to understanding – and at least seem aware of the abuses that feminism has engaged in and exacerbated, and why people revile it – but are still making the mistake of clinging to your social labels and the security such allegiance affords you. You try to distance your identity as a feminist from what feminism is and has always been, by claiming that you can take all of the negatives and exclude them from your idealized view of the ideology. However, those negatives are entrenched, inherent to the traditionalist and reactionary worldview that is feminism, a tribal ideology that has not adapted to the modern world and which is inherently incompatible with egalitarian principle.

    Feminism is a tribalist ideology, and thus inherently at odds with egalitarianism. It seeks to reinforce a social system of female protection and related hypersensitivity to female concerns, real or imagined, while drawing attention away from, minimalizing, or denying the issues of poor treatment and marginalization of the majority of males. Furthermore, it takes human matters that should be approached in terms of general humanism and redefines them in accordance with the assumption that the needs of females are paramount, that a wrong inflicted on a woman is a greater outrage than anything inflicted on a man. The focus is selective, the emphasis warped. Feminism is a rightly reviled ideology, and your attempts to “reclaim” a good name for it are both futile and ethically suspect. The central ideology of feminism is the supposed need to focus on female betterment, a long-standing bias and non-egalitarian impulse natural to tribal humans but justified as supposed equality by your worldview.

    The core concept in feminist discourse is “Patrairchy”, a term that feminists misuse in a sense that has nothing to do with the word’s actual meaning. Feminist “patriarchy” is code for “the supposed (non-existent) privileged ruling caste of the male tribe that benefits males collectively at the expense of females, world-wide and throughout history”. Which of course has nothing to do with patriarchy, the social system wherein familial leadership, authority, responsibility and headship is invested in the paternal figure. Society should rightly be considered in terms of the politicized groups that hold sway over it and its narratives – a) the apex male power structure, political, academic, economical, and b) the collective of females. The third group is the majority of males who form a utilitarian framework in service to these first two groups, and do not enter into political consideration.

    The apex male power elite and the collective of politicized females – society is essentially an uneasy and mutually exploitative, yet mutually symbiotic relationship between these two power blocs. Utilitarian males, the majority of males, only enter into political or social consideration when they are a) useful or b) threatening to the social order as consists of the first two groups. Feminism reinforces this, and closes the door on positive change and inclusivity. It is an impediment to social progress, a roadblock on the path to societal healing, and it exacerbates the problems it does not directly cause.

    Feminism – as the very name in conjuction with its claim to supposed egalitarianism indicates – is built on an assumption that males everywhere are part of an overarching entrenched system of selfish benefit and privilege – “the Patriarchy”. To the point that movements and efforts to assist the men and boys in dire straits are rejected and attacked by you feminists and your supporters because they’re seen as defending a supposed cabal of privileged power-holders. The justification used to maintain the façade of egalitarianism over your tribal impulses to privilege the comfort, protection and provision of the female and defend an exploitative social structure. This choke-hold causes misery, anger and bitterness in the utilitarian male population in general, causing further division and social breakdown.

  7. Kristen Warren says:

    Hi Martha,

    Very well written. It’s clear you’ve done a great deal of good quality thinking on the subject, which I highly appreciate. I agree with many of the things you’ve said here and I do sincerely thank you for your objective and properly reasoned explications.

    I do think though that there are some areas that you are missing some information surrounding inequality in the workplace. There is a great blog post by Sam Ladner that can be found here: http://www.samladner.com/what-we-know-about-gender-and-performance-reviews/. Fully cited, it details how unconscious bias (by both men and women alike) affects how women and men are perceived differently, and how those differences directly affect things like performance reviews. There has also been a great deal of social psychology research showing effects such as a resume being evaluated differently simply by putting a male name at the top vs. a female name.

    Unfortunately such unconscious bias is very difficult to work around, and equal pay legislation can only go so far. IMO, Cheryl Sandberg’s Lean In campaign is a great way to get us all talking about some of these issues so we’re on the same page and can begin to become more aware.

  8. Martha Loretta Queen Martha Loretta Queen says:

    Thank you for your thoughtful comment. Your comment on social labels is a fair one. Because language is inherently limited and flawed, it is impossible to speak with perfect clarity and without indulging in flawed social constructs. You will notice in your own comment, you also rely on a number of social labels. It is impossible to carry a conversation on topics such as these without doing so.

    As to thee ‘negatives’ being entrenched in feminism, it is there we will have to disagree. The suffrage movement, and the fight for equal pay for equal rights were not ‘negative’. They were legitimate concerns. If you did not have the vote, and were not given equal pay for equal work, you would fight against that. We can’t ignore the influence the patriarchal system has had and the people it has oppressed. Women in the first and second wave who fought against the system the failed to give them political agency and equality. That is no different than people of colour fighting for freedom, the right to vote, an the right to earn equal pay for equal work. There is nothing inherently ‘negative’ about that.

    As for the negativity that exists today, it is not universal. Like any political movement, you will see certain people who take a logic to extremes. There are Republicans who stand in stark opposition to other Republicans, and Democrats who strongly oppose other Democrats. No two people in a given movement hold all the same views, so to claim that all feminists hold the same views, or that they are all ‘negative’ is flawed.

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