The Anti-Feminism Conservative Bias (written by a Conservative)
I’m a conservative. I’ve never been a liberal in my entire life.
I used to be a Republican, too; now, I am not affiliated with any political group.
I keep noticing in critiques about feminism (which is generally of liberal, secular, feminism, but can be of feminism in general by conservatives and others) is that there is a bias- there is an anti-feminism bias percolating under the editorials and papers I’m seeing.
However, those writing these anti-feminism pieces pretend as though they themselves have no bias, but they argue that feminists have a bias, which therefore means that feminist commentary or research cannot or should not be trusted.
Anyone who criticizes feminism or feminist theory – and usually, but not always, these individuals are conservative themselves, or are quoted favorably by conservatives who hate feminism – depicts themselves as being purely factual, seeking only to repeat scientific facts, without an agenda.
Furthermore, these anti-feminism conservatives like to portray any and all feminists (or those, like me, who aren’t feminist but who agree with some of their positions) as being blinded by an agenda, too emotional, not rational or logical enough, and as being too prejudiced to be objective.
My fellow conservatives continually misunderstand and misrepresent feminism and feminists – whether this is intentional or not is hard to say. But it does happen.
Conservatives are always enacting straw-men arguments about feminism (and about feminists), such as, all feminists are “anti nuclear family,” or “anti traditional /hetero marriage,” which is not the case – not for all feminists.
I’ve pointed this out before on this blog, but I’ve actually spent time visiting feminist sites and blogs, just lurking and reading their commentary.
And I mean not just the kooky fringes. My fellow conservatives, especially those with television news commentary programs or radio programs, frequently like to comment about or interview the really crazy-sounding feminists, as if to suggest all feminists are nutso.
(Concerning feminists, I myself skim or read a spectrum consisting of everything from the kooky crazy to the sane moderates. Unlike many other conservatives, I do not just cherry pick the extreme wackos and conclude that all of feminism is invalid because of the few crazies I see online or on TV.)
From what I’ve seen, most feminists who write and participate on these sites, or who write articles, are not overly emotional, man-hating, baby-hating, anti- nuclear family lunatics.
My fellow conservatives absolutely have an ax to grind. My fellow conservatives – including of the Republican and Christian variety – absolutely have a bias and an agenda as well.
My fellow conservatives have turned marriage and the nuclear family into idols. They act as though marriage and the nuclear family can repair cultural problems.
However, the Bible says no such thing. The Bible points to individuals accepting Jesus as Lord and Savior as a “fix” of sorts for culture. The Bible never applies marriage or baby-making as a cure for sin.
At no point does God or Jesus Christ tell Christians that the way to make people more godly is to have them all marry off and pro-create.
I am by no means anti-marriage or anti-nuclear family. My point is that where the caricature of the family-hating, man-hating feminist boogeyman exists in the mind of the conservative, the conservative, simultaneously, reveres hetero-traditional marriage and the family unit too much, much more than the God of the Bible ever does.
(Remember, the God of the Bible says through Paul in 1 Corinthians 7 it is better for men and women to stay single than to marry.)
Both the right wing and the left wing, both conservatives and liberals (progressives), have their share of “crack pots.”
There may very well be a smidge, a small percentage of, pro-feminist liberals out there who do in fact hate motherhood, babies, and men. That is true.
But, there are in fact kooky, nutty, crazy conservatives – wing nuts – who don’t believe women should ever get a college degree or move out of their father’s house until they marry, and who think a woman’s only purpose or duty in life is to marry young, act as though her husband is her supervisor, and to have twenty children apiece (spend some time researching the Duggar family, Douglas Wilson, Lori Alexander, Debi Pearl, Mark Driscoll, Reconstructionism, and other odd balls of far right wing Christianity for examples.)
Just as some of the kooks on the left may be “anti family,” or who disdain traditional roles for women, there is a corresponding number of conservatives and Christians on the other end of the spectrum who are just as bad in the reverse.
My fellow conservatives (and other assorted critics of feminism) are intellectually dishonest when they sit about in their books, blogs, articles, television interviews and social media, acting as though they are dispassionate, unemotional, purely logical, with no agenda in these disputes, because they most assuredly do have an agenda.
The conservative agenda in regards to sexism, women, and feminism, can be stated in the negative and the positive.
On one level, anti-feminist speakers and writers broadcast or publish their work precisely to discredit feminists and feminism.
On another level, some of the anti-feminist speakers and writers have a motive of promoting traditional gender roles for women.
As to the positive group, some of these individuals seemingly do genuinely feel that all feminists are out to destroy motherhood, America, the institution of hetero marriage, and other such traditional values that conservatives revere.
My fellow conservatives detest feminism, all of it. Their efforts are spent trying to destroy it and to convince the public that all of feminism is flaky, non-intellectual, and agenda-driven, and should therefore be distrusted or ignored.
Some of these anti-feminist writers don’t want to see the status quo change. They want to keep limiting choices for women – they want to keep arguing that women should be stay at home wives and mothers. Anti-feminist commentators want women to maintain traditional gender roles.
I personally do not mind if a woman chooses of her own accord to be a stay at home wife and mother, but the problem comes in for women who cannot or do not want to play those traditional gender roles.
If a woman wants to remain single, rather than to marry, she should be allowed to do so and not face discrimination by employers over that choice, nor exclusion or marginalization from culture, church, or conservatives, over that choice.
If a woman wants to attend college, if a woman wants to work as a dentist, lawyer, or rodeo clown, she should have those opportunities and not suffer backlash or sexism (hurdles based on her gender alone) for doing so.
I believe that anti-feminist commentators want to deny that some gender roles or some supposed “gender preferences,” are in fact social constructs, and the anti-feminism conservatives want to play up supposed biological differences between men and women, all to offer a rationale as to continuing the sexist status quo of, for example, limiting women from certain career choices or trajectories, or shaming women from making certain choices in life.
The anti-feminists want to discourage girls and women from even thinking about stepping outside of their – the anti-feminist – preferred roles for women (which usually comes down to being wives, mothers, and taking on “traditional” occupations for women, such as school teacher).
I think my fellow conservatives enjoy making appeals to biology as their defense of maintaining the sexist status quo in culture, jobs, and marriages, because to their ears, it sounds less obviously sexist to say, “the reason society is like X is because women are born not liking or wanting Z as much as men.”
That’s what all this criticism of feminism is about.
I’m a conservative who was raised in a very traditional, Christian home, and my parents taught me to believe in and live by traditional gender roles (referred to as gender complementarianism by Christians). I finally saw through all this years ago.
Sexism is real. Sexism exists. My fellow conservatives want to deny this and pretend that society is perfectly equitable as it is.
My fellow conservatives, and some other varieties of anti-feminist authors, keep denying that sexism is a real thing, or they deny it’s as ingrained and common as it is.
They further deny that culture (everything from employers to churches to schools to nuclear families) does in fact encourage certain traits in boys, traits that help boys achieve certain results when they are men, and that culture discouragea girls from having those very same traits, ones that could help them later in adulthood.
I was taught by parents, church, television shows, teachers and so on, while I was growing up, I received the messages – sometimes subtle – that as a female, I was to like certain pursuits or was bad at certain things.
For example, I repeatedly got the messages growing up that merely because I was born female, I am more emotional than boys, but that’s okay.
(But later in life, as an adult woman, you realize there is a double standard: if you do openly show emotion as a woman, as culture says it’s acceptable for you to do, then anti-feminists and men say, “See, you can’t listen to her. She’s not logical. She’s too emotional. All women are too flighty.”
American culture gives girls and women permission to be openly emotional but then penalizes girls and women when or if they show emotion.)
I also got the message growing up that reading was something I was “supposed to” be good at, just because I was female, but I was “supposed to” be “bad at” -and disinterested in- math and science, because “everybody knows” that boys are better at math and science than girls are, and all or most boys are “supposed to” like math and science.
I was also told – by parents, church, schools, movies, television shows, magazine articles, etc – that as a girl, I was “supposed to” want to get married one day and have children. As a female, I was not “supposed to” like things considered boy-ish, such as Batman comics or Star Wars movies – that stuff was “for boys.”
When I went into the toy section of the store, though I was a tom boy who hated dolls and Barbies and preferred toy trucks, I was subtly discouraged from going for the toys I wanted – Star Wars and toy cars – because those were in the aisles marked “For Boys.”
The “For Girls” toy aisle consisted of a bunch of pink, plastic girly stuff I had zero interest in, such as plastic toy vacuum cleaners, play kitchen sets, baby dolls, and bead-making necklace kits.
When I was a kid in kindergarten class, one day each week, my teacher had us participate in something called “Show And Tell.” Each kid could bring in some object or toy he or she found interesting and discuss it in front of the other kids.
Did I bring in a doll? Hell no. I brought in a volcano rock my father had picked up while on a business trip in Hawaii.
Another week, a little boy in my class brought in a baby doll. Yes, a doll. This boy brought in a female baby doll with a diaper and a bottle. A few of the other kids picked on him for it – I defended him and told the rest to leave him alone.
Yes, American culture most certainly does socialize boys one way and girls another.
But not all boys fit the “for boys” conditioning they receive, nor do all girls fit the expected gender roles and expected gender preferences they are taught they should have or feel or should be interested in.
However, my fellow conservatives (or anti- feminists of whatever political affiliation) come along to argue that no, it’s all biological.
The Christians among them will argue that God programmed all girls to like dolls and all boys to like toy trucks, for one biological sex to be one way or another.
My lived reality did not bear any of that out.
Anti-Feminists have their own agenda afoot. They are angered or frightened by any changes that feminists try to bring about in culture.
Anti-feminists want American culture – all of it – to retain a Norman Rockwell “gathered around a turkey at Thanksgiving” painting – sentimentality.
Conservatives and other types of anti-feminists will fight tooth and nail and come up with all sorts of biased arguments – ones that argue men and women are wholly biologically different in just about every area – to hold on to that Norman Rockwell sense of the United States.
I personally have nothing against that Brady Bunch or Norman Rockwell form of Americana, but not every one else wants to live that way or walk that path. Yet others would like to but are unable to.
Conservatives would punish or marginalize anyone who does not want to live in a Rockwell painting or who simply cannot do so.
Your conservatives and anti-feminists want all or most women to fill a June Cleaver, stay at home wife and mother role – but they will deny this to the hilt.
When some conservatives think of military personnel who have died in war, who come back home in flag-draped caskets, they tend to get misty-eyed.
When conservatives and other anti-feminists think about their stay- at- home mother, who used to hug them when their were children, when they think about how their stay- at- home mother knit them sweaters and baked them cookies, they get a bit choked up.
When conservatives and other anti-feminists think about how their traditional- gender- role father worked long hours at a difficult, physically- draining, blue collar job to put a roof over their heads, they feel gratitude that melts their hearts.
So, you better believe that my fellow conservatives are emotional, they do get emotional, and they have emotional reasons for why they argue against feminism.
The conservative or anti-feminist reasons for why they criticize feminism or speak up in behalf of traditional gender roles are not always based on cold, calculating, emotionally aloof, logical reasons.
Nor do conservatives always arrive at a decision about some feminist-related issue or another based purely on un-emotional, cold, hard, reasoning alone.
Anti-feminists and conservatives have emotions at play as well.
Sometimes, those emotions can be a knee jerk hatred of, and anger about, anything involving feminism, or they fear change. They fear changing society as it is.
Conservatives want things to stay the same, or to go back the way they were in the over-romanticized, idealized, decade of the 1950s (hence, “conserve” in “conservative”).
The anti-feminists are biased and they have an agenda, so it’s highly misleading and dishonest for them to keep acting as though they are objective but that feminists are too emotional or are biased.
If you are an anti-feminist, or a conservative, with a stick up his or her ass against feminism (or even if you have a mild dislike or a distrust of feminism), please, stop it with this marketing gimmick where you present yourself as above the fray, a dispassionate, un-emotional, with no- dog- in- this- race, who only relies on scientific findings to support his or her views (never mind you choose which studies back up your premises from the out-set) participant in these debates.
You, the conservative, (or anti-feminist of whatever political belief), have just as much an agenda and emotions vested in all these issues as any liberal feminist does or ever will.
And I’m saying this as a conservative who does not wear the feminist label.
I’m disappointed in other conservatives over how they handle the debates revolving around these subjects. Stop being intellectually dishonest, anti-feminists and conservatives.
This post has been edited several times to add more commentary or links
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?