Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Responses to feminist critique are ANGRY!


Settle in for a long post.

Everyone knows, at this point, that it's difficult to call oneself a feminist without being simultaneously labeled as a man-hater, or as someone who is just looking for things to be offended and angry about. 100% of the time, if I read an article with even a slight feminist bent online, someone will be there, in the comments section, making this argument and finding evidence of anti-male bias where it doesn't exist. What's fascinating is how, right alongside these comments, unmoderated comment sections will also have comments like "Fucking feminist slut whore, you're a piece of shit and you deserved to be raped to death, you stupid cunt." Similarly, feminist-leaning blog posts -- often, rather mild ones -- often receive "response" posts that are so off-the-wall angry that you'd think the lady was advocating mass castration.  Tell me again, who are we calling angry?

I'm going to link to a few so you can see what I'm talking about.

1. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a prominent civil rights organization that among other things, researches and publishes data on hate groups in the United States, recently released a statement -- with compelling evidence -- that the modern Men's Rights Movement (MRM) has a misogyny problem. This is a group that sees itself as the antithesis of feminism, not only because it believes that men are oppressed in society, but also because Men's Rights Activists (MRAs) hate feminists (and for many of them, they hate women in general.) It should be mentioned that nowhere did the SPLC officially classify MRAs as a hate group; the movement was just mentioned as part of an intelligence report on sexism and misogyny. See the whole thing here. Here is a short conversation on reddit between a female MRM supporter and some other male MRAs following the SPLC's statement.

2. This video caused quite a stir when it was first posted. She was talking about how she was at a conference where, among other things, she spoke about women's issues. Some of the conference attendees and speakers ended up at a bar until pretty late, and then Watson said she was tired and was going to bed. Then something happened that made her uncomfortable. Here's a transcript of the relevant part, which starts about 4 and a half minutes in:

“…so I walk to the elevator, and a man got on the elevator with me and said, ‘Don’t take this the wrong way, but I find you very interesting, and I would like to talk more. Would you like to come to my hotel room for coffee?’ Um, just a word to wise here, guys, uh, don’t do that. You know, I don’t really know how else to explain how this makes me incredibly uncomfortable, but I’ll just sort of lay it out that I was a single woman, you know, in a foreign country, at 4:00 am, in a hotel elevator, with you, just you, and–don’t invite me back to your hotel room right after I finish talking about how it creeps me out and makes me uncomfortable when men sexualize me in that manner…”

You may have issues with what she's saying -- a lot of people did -- but I don't think anyone can deny that the way she said it in the video and the words she used were calm. Watching it, it strikes me that she had no idea that this was going to become such a huge issue. Well, if you clicked on the video, you can see the types of comments this whole post is about:

"My cock was made for raping and that's just what i'll do, one of these days i'm going to cum all over you"; "People like you are the reason i hate feminists.";
"I am a woman and I think you are a stupid cunt!";
"You are a daft stupid cunt and deserve to be called such. A guy hits on you and you felt like you were 'sexualized'? Feminism itself is bigotry defined. You are an angry person inside and need therapy. A lot of it."

The last one is my favorite because it's a perfect example of the pretty cheerful girl saying something that anti-feminists don't like, and the anti-feminists calling her angry in a manner that as 10 times as angry as she ever was.

3. As a corollary to the above, the woman involved in that dust-up now receives, on a daily basis, a lot of scrutiny and unwanted attention from guys on the internet who HATE HER GUTS. She was recently driven to post an explanation as to why she doesn't respond to every single comment that is directed to her. You can see from the post that, though a bit sardonic and irreverent, it's for all intents and purposes a pretty rational response to a pretty dumb supposition, namely, that she isn't a good skeptic if she doesn't debate with every single person who disagrees with her on Twitter. But here come the complaints!

"1. Rebecca is pretty ugly and you wouldn’t look at her twice on the street in any country with hot chicks in it, like Bulgaria or Latvia.
2. That Irish guy’s game was not that good.
3. That Irish guy was super drunk and had super beer goggles.
4. Rebecca Watson is a bitch who thinks she’s a lot hotter, cooler and smarter than she actually is." (source)

You know? I was going to find more. But I'm tired. I'm tired of reading the word "cunt" as much as I have today, and I'm tired of sorting through this nonsense. It makes me angry, true! But it also makes me sad. Here's the quick truth about how I browse the internet wearing my feminist hat: I no longer visit sites that are just about being feminist. There's nothing wrong with them, per se, but it was so draining for me to be reading, constantly, the type of material that they usually post, since it's often about shitty things happening to women. I do visit sites like Skepchick or the Geek Feminism Blog, but that's because they are both primarily about my hobbies and things I enjoy reading about, WITH a feminist/lady-friendly angle. Which I need, sometimes, because so much of the internet is filled with comments like those I've detailed above. I want to go to places where, if I'm reading about things I like, I don't have to be inundated with things I don't like (namely, sexism.) Sometimes, though, nastiness in the geek community happens, and these blogs tend to cover it, and I read about it.

I'm not usually an angry person. I don't like being angry, and I don't like being sad. I don't like that people accuse me of being angry as a preferred state of mind or habit because I so often stumble upon sexism, and I  -- reflexively -- am wounded by it. I don't like that when I retreat a little into an internet community that doesn't engage in sexist behavior, and makes me feel comfortable and included, I'm further accused of being terrible and angry.


  1. Good, I'm glad someone does! :p

  2. I couldn't agree more! This is EXACTLY what happens, Every. Single. Time. People that say feminism isn't needed anymore just need a quick dip into the ocean of internet commentators.

  3. Very good!