Women (and the men) Who Argue Against Feminism, Who Claim Men and Masculinity Are Under Attack, Or Who Insist That There is Little, to No, Sexism In The U.S.A.
I am in the process of writing two or three different posts for this blog, and they are in Draft status. This post is an off-shoot of one I’m working on right now.
I may go ahead and publish this post right away, but it’s one I may come back to in order to edit, to add more thoughts or more links.
Most of the content below was originally part of another, separate post I’m working on.
I discuss Sommers quite a bit below. She is an anti-feminist feminist.
Sommers is certainly not the only woman I’ve come across online I’ve seen who criticizes feminism, or who insists masculinity is under attack, or who thinks that boys are treated unfairly in schools, or, perhaps, my biggest pet peeve:
Sommers is not the only woman to make the argument that girls and women in the United States have life just great, sexism is a thing of the past, and…
Because, supposedly, the Sommers-types of the world think, American women generally don’t face as severe a level of sexism as often as their Muslim counterparts in the Middle East, that American women who bring up American sexism are either…
- Whiny cry babies
- Lying about sexism
- Reveling in perpetual Victim-hood Status
- or Manufacturing outrage
Most of the research I was doing in regards to sexism and so on, for another post I was working on, kept turning up results for Sommers, which is why a large portion of this post focuses on her.
At this stage, I don’t really have the energy or time to devote a more thorough investigation and report on this. I may at a later date edit this post to add more examples of women such as Sommers, or in regards to related subjects.
At any rate:
I am right wing.
I have never been a liberal, nor do I use the label “feminist” to describe myself, because, far too often, the word “feminist” is associated with far left wing causes and views I don’t agree with or support.
I am a conservative. In the past, I’ve always voted Republican.
On these issues of sexism, marriage, sexual harassment, and so on, I take things on a “case by case” or “issue by issue” basis.
I believe both the left and right wings, both the pro and anti feminists, get a lot of things wrong, but both sides also get some issues correct.
I am not fully on one side or the other (depending on the particular topic).
One of the things I can say as a conservative woman, who was brought up in a traditional values, Christian household: sexism and sexual harassment are real, both do do exist, and I’ve been personally subjected to them from the time I was girl and in my adulthood as well.
I do not like being on the receiving end of such sexist behavior, and I refuse to put up with it any longer, or remain silent about my dislike of it.
Therefore, to the other conservative women out on Twitter and where ever else I’ve seen instructing women such as me (well, actually, they usually direct this sort of rhetoric to liberal, feminist women) to (paraphrase of their position),
“Just suck it up, put up with a little male sexism, buttercup, it’s no big deal, we women have been dealing with it for decades, the cat-calling, lewd comments, and butt grabbing are certainly not so bad when compared to rape, and those poor men, how can you tell them not to flirt with women in the workplace any more, you have men afraid and worried about being fired…”
– you’re speaking for yourself there, not me.
How is it that such women manage to paint MEN as being the victims in all these news articles published revealing the huge extent of workplace male- on- female sex harassment that exists and that has been going on for many decades?
Women are and should be the subject and concern here, not men, and not men’s worries and fears about this.
(But this is a topic I am addressing in a separate, as of yet published post, so I’ll leave it there for now.)
Yes, I have actually seen a few conservative women make that very argument on blog posts, magazine articles, on televised interviews, and in social media, one of whom was a right wing journalist whose tweets I used to enjoy, and who I used to follow on Twitter.
However, I un-followed this conservative editorialist after she made a Tweet or two, in the midst of all the news stories about sexual abuse and harassment by the Harvey Weinsteins, Matt Lauerers, and Al Frankens, telling women that facing unwanted sexual acts from men was not a big deal.
This woman, right wing editorialist was reasoning that boorish, sexist behavior from men was to be expected – and tolerated, even, and maybe with a grin and wink – so women should just learn to accept it, and if you don’t just quiet down about it and go along with it, you are being a big, whiny cry-baby who loves to Play Victim.
To women such as that:
Don’t tell me I (who, there again, I remind you, am a right winger, not a liberal feminist!) ought to just silently endure men in public, or on a job, groping my behind or making unwanted, sexual comments to me.
I don’t like any of that behavior, and I don’t have to like it, accept it, tolerate it, or look the other way and pretend it didn’t or does not happen.
CONSERVATIVE LA LA LAND OF SEXISM DENIAL
I don’t have to live in a false “La La Land” of Conservative Make-believe or Conservative Sexism Denial, where Sexism is allegedly a fairy tale – fantasy that does not exist, and… get this… where feminism is said to be responsible for sexism.
In all seriousness, in the last two weeks, I’ve seen 3 different conservative editorials BLAMING the current spate of sexual harassment news stories, regarding Harvey Weinstein and Al Franken and such, not where it rightly belongs – on “Toxic Masculinity,” sexism, or on the male sexual harassers themselves – but on Feminism.
(Side note: some conservatives also blame ‘Toxic Masculinity’ on feminism, while others deny there is even such a thing. I plan upon eventually writing more on that in another post.)
My mouth falls open in shock that fellow conservatives are blaming, in toto, across the scale, with no reservations, a problem caused by sexism on people, specifically feminists, who are opposed to sexism.
I live in the real world, where sexism is very much present, at varying degrees.
CHRISTIANITY AND GENDER COMPLEMENTARIANISM
My Christian faith I was raised under (but a faith I question now), taught me I should be able to count on men to behave like gentlemen who treat women with respect and dignity.
You’ll note, however, that many Christians who subscribe to Gender Complementarianism – which also promotes the idea that all men are gentlemanly towards women – also, simultaneously, teach or assume that all boys and men are ‘designed by God’ to have uncontrollable sex urges.
Therefore, the complementarian thinking goes, men cannot be trusted to treat women with dignity, but to behave as though women are sex objects.
No, complementarians believe and teach, it’s up to girls and women to act as “sexual gate keepers” and to make men behave, and not tempt them beyond all self control, by avoiding wearing mini-skirts.
In addition, Christian conservatives, under complementarianism, believe or assume that Men cannot be trusted to be left alone with women(*), because they will cave in to their sexual desires – cue the “Billy Graham Rule,” now referred to by some as the “Mike Pence Rule.”
(*)And, in addition, complementarians also believe and convey that all women are slutty Jezebels who will attempt to seduce a man. All women are sex pots and temptresses and can never, therefore, be trusted to behave around men, so a man should never, ever be alone with a woman.
LIVED SEXISM FIRST HAND
Because I have – and as a long-time, Republican-voting conservative who was a very traditional Christian for years, no less – encountered sexual harassment and sexism first hand
(From cat-calling, receiving profane, vulgar comments by men I did not know publicly while working at sales jobs, to being talked over by men during business meetings, and about everything in-between),
I strongly disagree with conservative, libertarian, classical liberal, or any other variety of anti-feminist persons, who argue against feminism by employing rationale such as the following:
- that sexism in America really is not so bad;
- sexism or sexist incidents (or sexual assault reports) are “over-stated” or skewed by feminists;
- sexism is a thing of the past, it doesn’t exist today; or,
- because sexism in some third-world or Islamic nations is so much worse than in the U.S.A., all girls and women in the U.S.A. should stop complaining about their lot in life.
What’s a little groping by a man on a job, what’s the big deal with that, when some girl in the Middle East is getting acid thrown on her face by a Muslim man?, this line of thought goes.
I am not a liberal feminist.
As a conservative woman, who for years lived and believed in traditional Christian values, I have experienced sexism myself on jobs, or while on personal time out shopping at stores and so forth.
Sexism is very real. I’ve lived through it. And I did not appreciate it at all.
FIND A NEW APPROACH TO CRITICIZING LEFT WING FEMINISM, PLEASE
I also really don’t appreciate “anti-feminists” trying to dismantle feminism by acting as Sexism Deniers.
If you don’t like feminism (I myself disagree with them on some matters), all fine and good, but please, stop stooping to the level of denying that girls and women in the United States still do face sexism at times – even if the variety and frequency of said sexism may not be “as bad” as what Muslim women usually face in other nations.
I have a zero tolerance policy in regards to sexism.
No woman should have to put up with any sexism on the Sexist Contiuum:
On a scale of one to ten, with one being “not so bad” with ten being “really horrible,” I’d say acid in the face is obviously a ten, while being cat-called by a strange man while walking down an American city street rates about a one, but, here’s the point: both are unacceptable.
No girl or woman should have to endure any point of sexism along this scale of one to ten.
That “Level Ten” atrocities regularly exist against females in ‘Nation X’ does not mean that females should be expected to acquiesce to “Level One” variety behaviors in the United States.
BUT WE DO HAVE LEVEL TEN SEXISM IN CHRISTIANITY AND THE UNITED STATES
I contend that we here in the U.S.A .do in fact have our own share of “Level Ten” sexist behavior at times, consisting of things such as: domestic violence, sex trafficking of girls, and sexual assault.
Girls and women are abused in the USA, even under the auspices of religion.
Unfortunately, in some ways, American Christians either do not fight against such violence and sexism against females, or their world view, or their chosen biblical hermeneutics, actually underpins and justifies such sin, under teachings called “Gender Complementarianism.”
When a complementarian church teaches “male headship” and the like, don’t be surprised if and when this contributes to some men then believing women are some how less than men, that it’s acceptable for a man to dominate or even abuse a woman, and so on.
Don’t be surprised when you read of stories where complementarian churches refuse to help abused women leave or divorce their abusive husbands, but tell them they must remain, because it’s their godly design and duty to submit to an abusive husband.
This sort of thing happened in America, under Christianity, not in Saudi Arabia or Iran, under Islam:
-The teen victim also had to apologize to her church members for having been raped by a grown man who also attends their church.
Again, in the United States, under Christianity, not Islam in the Mid-East:
I’d hazard a guess that such horrific treatment of girls and women is probably far more common-place among Muslims in and out of foreign nations, but.
It still does happen on occasion to American, Non-Muslim girls, by Non-Muslims in America.
America is not always consistently a paradise for girls and women.
Christina Hoff Sommers
There are actually Republicans and conservatives (or Democrats who conservatives love to quote) who are promoting this view that men or masculinity are under attack or being treated unfairly (I may do a post or two on that subject shortly).
Such women would include a few conservative or “anti feminist” women who have turned this into a cottage industry, such as Christina Hoff Sommers, who dubs herself a “factual feminist.”
(Sommers once wrote a book actually entitled, “The War Against Boys.”)
Sommers strikes me as the secular, conservative, Republican(*) woman spokes-head counterpart to the Christian gender complementarian Mary Kassian, with Kassian acting as a token woman spokes-person on behalf of Christian gender complementarian groups.
*(Though according to some sources, Sommers says she is Democrat.
Regardless of whatever her political stance is, fellow conservatives, I’ve seen, quote her with much glee when discussing feminism.)
Kassian is paraded about and featured by male Christian complementarians on Christian sites.
Why do complementarians trot Kassian out and parade her in front of Christian women?
Because Kassian tries to convince Christian women that equality or leadership roles for women are not really good, biblical, or necessary, and that Christian gender egalitarianism is no different from all of secular, left wing feminism and is therefore un-Godly, awful, anti-family, and to be avoided.
Sommers and Kassian have the same agenda, then, only one is quoted more often by secular conservatives, while the other is featured more by religious conservatives.
You can read more about Sommers or her work here (I am not in full agreement with all political or moral views expressed on these pages):
Her [Sommers’] book [“Why Feminism’s Vital Statistics Are Always Wrong.”] is filled with the same kind of errors, unsubstantiated charges and citations of “advocacy research” that she claims to find in the work of the feminists she takes to task.
[One example of several cited on the page:]
In arguing against feminist claims that wife-beating was tolerated in English common law, Sommers quotes the 18th Century legal historian William Blackstone:
“The husband was prohibited from using any violence to his wife….”
The ellipsis conceals a Latin phrase that Sommers either didn’t bother to translate or decided to ignore.
In English it reads: “other than that which lawfully and reasonably belongs to the husband for the due government and correction of his wife” (Linda Hirshman, L.A. Times op-ed, 7/31/94).
In other words, the complete text says the exact opposite of Sommers’ partial quotation.
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Snippets from above link:
But even the NCVS, which Sommers cites as the “gold standard” for such statistics, concludes that nearly a quarter of a million women experience rape or attempted rape each year.
Our country’s rape crisis is real, not imaginary, and it is the millions of American women who are raped, not the comparatively tiny number of men who are falsely accused, who bear the overwhelming majority of its burden.
To claim otherwise can only be described as denial.
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(The author of the above received a rebuttal from Sommers, and he replied to her rebuttal on his blog here.)
My Little Takedown of Christina Hoff Sommers – via Sinmantyx blog
Snippet from Sinmantyx blog (one I do agree with, regarding Sommers):
While she [Sommers] may bill herself as the “Factual Feminist”, her history suggests she’s a right-wing shill who uses her platform to spread misinformation about feminism, in the hope of opposing social change.
I think she’s taking something of an embrace, extend, and extinguish approach: pretend to join up with what you oppose, but alter it to be superficially similar yet quite different and use a mix of money and rhetoric to bury the original version.
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Sadly, these women find it personally advantageous to reject feminism and continue perpetuating sexist social norms
…A lot of people assume the term “female misogynist” is an oxymoron. How can a woman be opposed to the fight to help women achieve equality?
The sad fact of the matter is, as long as there has been feminism, there have been women who find it personally advantageous to reject feminism and instead argue for continuing social systems that perpetuate women’s inequality, male dominance, and even violence against women.
(There were even plenty of women who were willing to argue against women’s suffrage back in the day.) Here is a list of nine women who have made a career out of opposing women’s struggle for social, political and economic equality.
1. Christina Hoff Sommers.
Sommers is a pioneer in the art of arguing that it’s men who are actually the oppressed class in modern society.
Her 2000 book The War Against Boys tried to argue, falsely, that feminists are ruining young men’s lives by oppressing them through the educational system. (Somehow those distressed young men continue to graduate and go on to have better job opportunities and make more money than their female peers.)
She was most recently spotted offering her support to an organized online campaign to harass a young video game developer over her sex life.
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BELIEF THAT SEXISM IS A THING OF THE PAST AND NO LONGER EXISTS
I’d say that nations such as the United States have been fighting overt (what I call “Cave Man”) sexism for decades now, but a quieter, more subtle form of sexism and sexist biases still lingers in our nation, and it still holds girls and women back.
From August 2016:
The majority of U.S. men believe that sexism has been all but defeated, according to a Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday.
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Of course some men harbor that illusion: because they doubt sexism exists in the first place, and since they are not subjected to it personally, as women are.
My previous post on that:
Additional resources, other sites:
American Men Don’t Believe Sexism Still Exists, According To New Study by John Haltiwanger
Snippets (written by a man, no less):
So, American men, let me ask you:
Have you ever been cat-called on your way to work, or ever?
Do you consistently feel as if you’re being judged by your physical appearance, instead of your intelligence and abilities?
Do you feel safe the majority of the time when you go out at night?
Do you feel as though your gender has frequently presented an obstacle to you in terms of achieving your dreams?
These are questions women in the US, and across the world, are faced with on a daily basis. Men simply do not face the same challenges.
Until more men recognize there is a problem, and that in many ways they are a part of it, nothing will change.
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Sexism is Prevalent Everywhere, Not Just in the ‘Developing World’
There are many who claim that patriarchal oppression is only a problem in other, less ‘developed’ countries. Indeed, it’s easy to observe the systematic oppression of women elsewhere in the world.
We only need to look at the prevalence of female genital mutilation, of child brides, of honor killings, the lack of access to education for women, the widespread nature of sexual violence and domestic abuse, in order to realize there is a problem.
But to many Westerners, such things are seen as distinctly ‘other’, not at all a part of their society. The systematic oppression of women is something that happens solely elsewhere.
But sexism is still a huge problem in the US, the UK, and the rest of the Western world, however much we like to think of ourselves as ‘more advanced.’
It speaks volumes to Western arrogance that we think such problems only exist in other places, and that we are the perfect model of equality. This is not so.
Just because things ‘could be worse,’ it doesn’t mean the problem is solved, or that we should stop trying to tackle it further.
As Laura Bates puts it:
“Nobody suggests that we should stop worrying about burglary in the UK just because rates happen to be higher in another country.”
…When women are murdered, beaten and raped in countries we deem to be ‘less developed’ than our own, we are quick to criticize the appalling way in which women are treated, and yet despite repeated acts of misogyny–fuelled violence in our own societies, we outright refuse to consider that such acts might not simply be the isolated products of mental illness in men, but that a wider culture of sexism might be at least partly to blame.
We don’t want to admit that we have a problem or that we might be part of it.
And although we have laws in place to prevent gendered violence and discrimination, this doesn’t mean there are no instances of it. Far from it.
…And it’s not just violence; women are discriminated against in all areas of life.
…When We Dismiss ‘Trivial’ Instances of Sexism, We Normalize Misogyny
Many people look at feminists who are in uproar over the lyrics of ‘Blurred Lines’, or Disney princesses’ waistlines, and dismiss their concerns as ‘ridiculous’ and ‘nit-picky.’
“How can you be so worked-up about something so trivial when people are literally DYING in other countries? Why don’t you put your energies into something that actually matters?
What such people fail to realize is that the small stuff is important, too. It’s important because it’s connected to the big stuff.
As Bates puts it:
“Women aren’t killed in a bubble. They’re killed in a world that disenfranchises them, positions them as other, and disadvantages them.
[…] The cultural elements that help to create these messages aren’t the cause of violence against women, but they are the context in which it happens. They help perpetrators to see women as objects.
They frame violence against women as titillating, funny or excusable. They help us to blame victims when they come forward. They hamper justice.”
Misogyny doesn’t happen in a vacuum; it’s the small, seemingly trivial instances of everyday sexism that combine to create the bigger picture.
They contribute towards a culture of gender discrimination in which acts of violence take place, in which ten-year-olds worry about their bodies, in which women don’t report sexual assault because ‘it wasn’t that bad.’
And every time we dismiss one of these ‘trivial’ instances of sexism, we are normalizing misogyny.
The tendency for many men …. to dismiss such concerns as ‘trivial’ is made doubly absurd due the hypocrisy that often accompanies this.
Why is it acceptable to reject the concerns of women and other oppressed groups whilst maintaining that complaints about ‘issues’ like the ‘friendzone’ are rational and legitimate?
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Women are often made to feel like being groped, leered at, and shouted at in the streets is normal and that they should just shut up about it.
Yeah, so do you know what? That is NOT cool, and I wish something was being done about it.
Oh hold up, there is! Watch to see what happens when this woman brings together the power of social media and other women from all around the world who have finally had enough of this treatment.
[Click “View Transcript” link text that appears in small sized font on the page, Or, View the Video Here]
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British woman, Nicola Thorp, was sacked earlier this year for refusing to wear high heels to work. An inquiry was launched.
What followed was a slew of reports about women’s treatment in the workplace — being told to wear make-up and clothing that enhanced their physical assets, and how often they endured unsolicited comments about their appearance, age, and weight.
Numerous studies about women being humiliated, sexually intimidated, harassed, touched, their professional efforts trivialised, being spoken over, ignored, their ideas filched, etc — mostly by men and all while at work — have been published.
…Part of the reason sexism still exists is because of unconscious bias.
It means we respond to the same behaviour in men and women differently.
If a woman asserts herself in the workplace, she’s aggressive.
Ambition is an undesirable trait in a woman, but appropriate in a man. Men are “strategic”, women “cunning”; “passion” in a man becomes “emotion” in a female and is construed adversely. Likewise, boldness, forthrightness, etc.
This is because women in professional situations are still understood and rated against a masculine paradigm — not just within organisations, but by those outside them as well. Take for example the number of times women are assumed to be in subordinate positions to their male counterparts, even when they’re in charge.
…If this tactic is unavailable, then women are called upon to “prove” their worth in ways men would never be — it’s often subtle but no less real.
How can you convince someone you’re the best person for the job if they can’t move beyond sexist stereotypes and unconscious bias? If your employer can’t see the abilities beyond the body, age, weight, appearance or the fact the applicant is female?
When Martin Schneider, who worked for a small employment service firm in Philadelphia, swapped email signatures with his female colleague, Nicole Pieri, he was shocked.
Not only by the way he was treated when people thought he was a woman, but the assumptions he’d made about Pieri’s work habits.
Assuming Pieri was slower at completions because she had less experience, he quickly learned it was because she “had to convince clients to respect her”.
Believing they were dealing with a woman, clients condescended to Schneider: “Everything I asked or suggested was questioned. One asked if I was single.”
He concluded that as a man he had “an invisible advantage”.
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Common Argument #5: My mom was such a ball buster, though. She had my dad in check.
Your Response: I’m very glad that your mother felt comfortable asserting herself in her relationship with your father.
As all women should. But the very fact that you feel the need to refer to her as a ball buster, implying that a woman who takes a dominant role in a heterosexual relationship is somehow crushing a man’s testicles, shows that sexism is still a thing.
Traditional gender roles are still at play, and both women and men are made to feel ashamed when they somehow deviate from them.
There is a rise in women as the breadwinners of the family, so if that trend continues then maybe we might one day be able to stop looking at women who take the reins in a relationship as some sort of ball busting harpy. DARE TO DREAM.
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Not so long ago, overt gender bias was a perfectly acceptable office practice. (Think every single episode of Mad Men.) That sort of in-your-face sexism is not as prevalent in today’s work environment.
But remember it was driven away by fear of lawsuits, not good business practice.
Today we are given the false impression it no longer exists.
…Overt workplace sexism may generate higher visibility, and the occasional harassment lawsuit, it’s the sexist jokes and comments around the office that can do real damage to a woman’s path to success. When a woman is labeled “tough, strong, decisive, or aggressive.”
…Of course, report egregious examples of workplace sexism to Human Resources and leadership. But, not all examples will rise to that level. When those are encountered, they should not go unaddressed either.
…When someone remarks that you or a female colleague is being “emotional,” you might remind him that your colleague is “passionate” about the subject, contrasting it with his rather passive interest…perhaps he should not be included among those working on the project, presentation or strategy development.
One very effective way to call out someone making an offensive, sexist statement is to make him explain to those present what he means by it.
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Double standards and casual misogyny have made sexism almost invisible, yet it’s still a barrier for many women and something we all need to confront
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Not only do “most men disagree,” but you can add in anti-feminist feminist women, such as Sommers, mentioned above, as well, and a smattering of men and women conservatives I’ve had the displeasure of seeing wringing their hands in worry that there may be a “backlash” against men.
Or, the Sommers and those of her ilk worry there may be a rise in false sexual harassment accusations against men, in this current climate of women finally being believed when they come forward with sexual abuse allegations.
And, speaking as someone who has a father, brother, and uncles:
It’s not a bad or worrisome thing that men are finally being held accountable for their sexist and reprehensible actions, and no, I don’t worry for them or feel sorry for them. But more on that in a future post.
I’m no liberal, secular feminist, and I’ve experienced sexism (and sexual harassment) both inside and outside of the workplace, I detested it, and I very much resent anyone telling me there is no such thing as sexism, or, if they acknowledge it, they argue I should smile and tolerate it. Nope.
Men Depicted as Victims Part 2 – “Depressed, Repressed, Objectified: Are Men the New Women?” by E. Day – Or: Is it Scientifically Plausible That Men Are Innately Dumber Than Women And Do Men Biologically Prefer to Fail School?