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April 21, 2015

The First Argument against Feminism I’ve Been Able to (almost) Stomach.

Lauren Southern made headlines alongside other women in 2014 by posting their “I don’t need feminism because [insert reason here]” photos to the internet.

Enter a firestorm of both backlash and support that played out largely through social media.

LaurenSouthernSign

I don’t need feminism, because I believe in equality, not entitlements and supremacy.

Southern in particular was the target of a massive pushback served up by self-proclaimed feminists who told her that feminism was a movement for everyone.

She was one of a disappointingly small handful of participants in the guerilla campaign who might be able to back up their anti-feminism with logical reasoning.  Don’t get me wrong, there were certainly other potentially viable claims against feminism, but then there were the “I don’t think it’s wrong to find body hair offensive”’s  or the dreaded “I’m not going to hold a men responsible for something that is a woman’s fault” re: rape. Ugh.

A year after that initial s&*t storm, Southern claims she is still not a feminist.  In this video that Rebel Media posted last week, she discusses why she believes “third-wave feminism is not a movement for equality”:

Some of her support for this brand of anti-feminism revolves around unequal representation (where are all the feminist men?) or the alleged absence of feminists complaining about the advantage that women have over men in certain situations.

A few issues with her logic, though:

Southern claims that more men than women are raped each year in the United States. She cites Human Rights Watch for reporting that 100-140 thousand males are raped yearly in U.S. prisons.

Fact: The Department of Justice’s low estimate for how many women are raped in the United States each year is 300,000.  That’s their low estimate. The high estimate? 1.3 million.

When you look at the global statistics for rape, they’re even more dizzying.  While I believe that no one should be raped, anti-feminists should not discount the overwhelming majority of sexual violence against women in relation to sexual violence against men.  Let’s work to lower these numbers overall, but don’t forget that behind these statistics are people regardless of gender, including women.

I do commend Lauren for starting a conversation about the lack of safe houses, court advocacy programs or subsidized legal counseling for men who are victims of domestic abuse.  I agree with her on the fact that not all men are privileged and not all women are oppressed.

However, being a staunch anti-feminist does not help to address or remedy the fact that one of my role models lost her job at the hands of a misogynistic boss because he couldn’t stand her [female] strength.  Being an anti-feminist does not help me earn more than 78% of my male counterparts’ salary in the American workplace even when I am just as or more qualified.

I’m a champion of humanism, and while I favor fairness we cannot ignore the centuries of institutionalized oppression that women have experienced as a result of a patriarchal system.

I know a lot of feminists who hate men, and I know a lot who don’t. I know feminists who fight for not only gender equality but also the rights of all people, men, women and the entire gender spectrum therein.

Yes, feminism, equality and human rights are all piping hot topics of debate, but so many of us get caught up in the thrill of disagreeing and in doing so begin to ignore the actual facts. I think that’s a problem.

So let’s talk, let’s figure it out. What do we all stand for and what won’t we put up with? I believe there is an element of humanity within all of us, however stunted or distinguished, that will not stand for injustice.

For those who don’t believe there is a need for feminism or humanism, please, do your research. If you are well informed, you are a valuable part of the conversation.

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Photo: Tumblr

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Relephant Reads:

How Different Countries Treat Women, on One Map.

The Problem with Rejecting Feminism.

Is Feminism an F-word?

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