Women Against Women Against Revolution

These past few days, info my inbox has been fuller with blood than a butcher’s dog. On Thursday, dermatologist I made the (not terribly daring) claim on Australian news site Crikey that the social media mini-movement Women Against Feminism deserved analysis a little deeper than “those whores are wrong”. Since then a number of concerned liberal associates have quietly contacted me to ask if I have not, in fact, lost all of my shit or, at least, asked Satan to exchange it for a nice new pair of shoes.tumblr_n9g6ymJmLv1thkqcyo1_1280
Well. No new Miu Miu has appeared in my wardrobe and my shit, I think, is in the same place I left it last. But nonetheless, it seems, the failure to immediately denounce any opponent of feminism is seen as little short of madness.
Truth be told, I have no interest in redeeming myself as rational. But I do, after some days of discussion, feel I have a small stake in giving Women Against Feminism some analysis that goes a bit beyond the very simple and dominant critique of “those bitches are dumb”.
Let it be said. Some of the Women Against Feminism advocates seem thicker than a bowl of quinoa porridge. Their scrawled complaint urges, on occasion, for a return to “traditional values and families”. Lol. Good luck with reorganising a western economy that does not just permit but demands female participation in an organised workforce, girls. I’m sure you can fundamentally change the shape of labour and return to your rightful place at the hearth making cakes and giving exquisite blowjobs using only a cardboard sign and a nice foundation garment. Knock yourselves out and if you have any handy hints about how the women of the world should feed themselves and their issue on a single income generated by a man, I am, after twenty-five years of wage slavery, all fucking ears.
Just to be clear. Women Against Feminism contains a volume of Stupid so great that if it were converted to quality top soil would be sufficient to transform the dust bowls of Africa into arable farmland.
But. You know. This doesn’t mean that Women Against Feminism does not (a) have something instructive to tell us about anti-liberalism generally and (b) that the Feminism it attacks is not, at times, also as dumb as a bowl of porridge.
What we have here in part is a case of dumb and dumber. What we have is whole lot of selfies of women in their best lipstick holding up signs opposing signs held up in selfies of women in their best lipstick. It is illiterate anti-feminism talking to an almost identically illiterate feminism.
Of course, this is not how the Feminist Internet sees it.
These past few weeks, a thousand Strong Women™ have decried the mini-movement. I’m going to list the major critiques before I get to the bit where I suggest that Women Against Feminism, like other anti-liberal populist groups, deserves a second look.
The first account of Women Against Feminism is that it is part of a long tradition of opposition to feminism. Slate says, “there’s nothing new about women being marshaled to attack feminism” in one of many pieces that links the young women to a tradition exemplified by Pyllis Schlafly, an ultra-conservative teacake who spent many years building and then burning down a fictional feminism made of straw and Stupid. One of the emails I received said, similarly, that Women Against Feminism was just more “backlash of the type that Susan Faludi described”.
For mine, this is not completely true. Certainly, there has been a tradition of opposition to feminist ideals as old as feminist ideals. And certainly, some of these have taken the form of traditional right wing idealism that wants women back at the hearth giving headjobs between plumping up soufflés. But it is worth remembering the constant assertion by feminists that feminism itself is a “broad church” and that the objections to it—even within Women Against Feminism— are similarly disparate.
Let’s consider the early injunction by socialist women of suffrage. Real red-ragger women didn’t encourage it. Take, for example, this 1909 claim from women in the British Socialist Standard that suffragettes were “a few deluded individuals who have conceived the brilliant idea that the vote, per se, is all that is necessary for the ushering in of the millennium.” They opposed the vote because they opposed The System and fucking good on them, frankly. Why partake of the illusion of democracy? It was, they said, counter-revolutionary.
A little softer but not really structurally indistinct was Germaine Greer’s cry against liberal feminism. She has been unwavering in her 1971 claim that she wanted to change the whole system and not just confer more advantage to women within a system she saw as corrupt. Marking the difference between a feminism of liberation that rejects all hierarchies and a feminism of equality that simply rejects patriarchy is another critique of feminism. And one that has nothing to do with a “long tradition” of right wing women clinging to a nuclear family fancy.
And one, by the way, that has been mentioned by some participants in this newest anti-feminist action. This young Women Against Feminism on YouTube, urges for a politics that extends beyond gender equality.
She seems frustrated with a movement that sees gender equality as the foundation of social change. “I am for equality for everyone,” says the young woman, who also says that she supports equal rights for women in law. Her thesis is not evolved, but her irritation with feminism is worth analysis.
So. In short. To say that the claims of Women Against Feminism form part of an ongoing right-wing feminine self-loathing ignores history. Which brings us to
Our second account of why Women Against Feminism suck in the view of Internet Feminism.
HuffPo bemoans “the lack of understanding of the history” of the mini-movement. The Daily Wife urges for an “education in history” to remediate the stupidity of these young women. WHAT ABOUT ALL OF THE THINGS FEMINISM HAS DONE FOR YOU? demand a number of sites.
Well. To that I’d say, since when in the name of sweet fuck has any popular movement consisting chiefly of young people—including popular feminism—been big on history books? Further, I would say that it is impossible to claim, as most of the writers do, that feminism is a “broad church” which has no rules for membership while demanding that Women Against Feminism establish a liturgy and definite rules for membership.
Again, Women Against Feminism is opposed not to a broad historical understanding of feminism but to a new feminism which gives it a run for its insufficient intellectual funds. It is women with cardboard signs answering other women with cardboard fucking signs. We’re not going to get Marx reinterpreting Hegel, here. Or Butler re-reading Foucault if you want to get all femmo. What we have is ahistorical, antipolitical young women answering other ahistorical antipolitical young women. It’s a recipe for double-shit-chip cookies.
And fuck off telling young people they need to read history. They never will. I’ve been doing that for years. I even have a book about it due for release in December. Everyone keeps telling me, quite rightly, to get fucked. History. Young people. They’re as compatible as a rat and a snake.
If anyone needs to get down with a big old library of poisonous ideology, it is, perhaps, feminists. Which brings us to the
Third account of why Women Against Feminism are a noxious force of titty little lady birds who need their wings clipped and their mouths bound up with Rosie the Riveter do-rags.
Blah blah blah Because we’re women. Because equal pay. There’s still a struggle. Blah. Look. At this point, I am boring even myself and I’m not going to link to any more god-awful precious shit about the Feminist Struggle against twenty-year olds with cardboard signs because fuck me, I can’t take any more bad discourse.
Look. What all these Women Against Women Against Feminism are saying about their nemeses is that they don’t understand that women are being oppressed. Particularly economically.
Now, if we go back to our relatively sane young woman on YouTube who cries for the inequality of all, I think we can begin to say that this populist movement has half a point.
If you are not a middle class young woman, imagine that you are. Imagine that you have just left university and that you are confronting not only the bruising reality of your debt but the likelihood that you and all your age-mates will spend the next thirty years living with your parents. Imagine that you have been raised in a time with the deadening ideology of You Can Make It Only If You Try and the crushing experience of having tried and knowing that you’ll never work in your field of study. And, in fact, that a job in any field is hard to come by.
Add to this a cunning marketing culture that pulls at your desire to consume but gives you no means to do so. And the suspicion that the world is choking thanks to the over-production of all those things you can’t buy. And, perhaps, if you are a mildly political person with some economic nous, you might be troubled by the idea that the labour of dependent trade nations makes possible the portable affluence of your iPhone. You might know, vaguely, that one of the last gasps of your western wealth came from Foxconn in China and mines in Africa. And imagine that in addition to the sense that liberal democracy can no longer deliver you the things it gave your parents, it’s closed its doors on your male friends as well.
And amid all of this, you hear a bunch of your peers baying for more blood out of a stone. They want equality from WHAT? A system predicated on inequality? A system that all reliable economists tell us what we all suspect: that the era of high-flyin’ western good times is fucking over.
And you hear women demanding that the Taliban stop its oppression of Our Sisters. But you wonder about the men that the War Lords and the Taliban is screwing and think, perhaps, that even if they don’t have to wear a particular item of clothing, that they are denied sanitation and subject to the brutality that your iPhone owning culture caused. And you see friends Facebook statuses which decry Muslim treatment of women generally and you think, well, that seems a bit racist. And you might wonder if the US drones that  hover over Pakistan and Yemen “discriminate” on the basis of gender.  And you think, quite rightly, that a military death is a military death. Whatever its gender.
And Michelle Obama holds another cardboard sign saying “Bring Our Girls Back”. While her husband orders more drone attacks. And these drones don’t discriminate.They kill children, too.
Drones don’t discriminate like they are supposed to. And your democracy and your economic system doesn’t discriminate. Your men friends are as fucked as you are. You’re all just scrambling for a living.
And you see women advocating for more political representation. Why? So they can join a political class that accelerates your decline into poverty. .And you hear women advocating for more positions on boards. Why? So they can make the decision to send more manufacture off-shore so that your iPhone 6 can be made in a feudal factory complex that contains more slaves than Abraham Lincoln ever freed. And you see women demanding for a “broad church” approach to their physical representation on cat-walks and in magazines. Why? So they can advertise more shit you can’t afford to buy. So they can liberalise the “right” to be looked at for all women? As though being considered pretty by a mass audience was as precious as the right to free assembly.
These are the suspicions that can motivate someone to hate feminism as it has become. And don’t give me It’s A Broad Church when it is very largely a mate to liberal democracy and the economies it legitimises. What feminism largely wants is equality for women in an era and a system that are as inevitably predicated on inequality as your iPhone 6 is on slavery. There can be no equality in our western democracies and the countries they enslave. And if women aren’t getting short shrift, some other poor fucker of a social class certainly will. And even if the handful of people who decide our economic fate happen all to be white men, there are a bunch of other white men who get zip and will live at home until their parents die.
Imagine being a young woman and imagine how these thoughts might occur to you.
So. Women Against Feminism may be apolitical and unformed And just because they are a bit stupid and trollish doesn’t mean they don’t have a point. Like the kids of the London Riots, they don’t know what they were rebelling against. But they were rebelling against something. A consumer culture, perhaps, that blared temptation at them but denied them the means to partake of it. They couldn’t articulate it. But this doesn’t mean that their actions weren’t eloquent.
Why not listen to what their pathologies have to say without dismissing these girls as naughty little things who aren’t good at history? They are rejecting a bourgeois movement of stupid whiners who demand “equality” in a system that cannot ever provide equality.
Feminism as it is largely expressed cannot imagine much beyond liberal democracy. Feminism is Francis Fukuyama and it asks the End of History Daddy State to fix the grievances it has but rarely questions the economic forces that fuck most of us. And will keep fucking us, if Stiglitz and anyone with a clue is to be believed.
Women Against Feminism, thick as it is, is, at the very least, saying, on occasion, Something Is Very Wrong. And it’s not just that some men have “bad attitudes” but that capital is a monster without any moral logic. And that asking it to behave like a nice guy is like asking a bowl of quinoa porridge to taste good.
It can’t hear you. And it sure can’t read your cardboard sign.

96 comments for “Women Against Women Against Revolution

  1. Jennifer
    August 13, 2014 at 12:38 pm

    So much of this pop feminism reminds me of the Justin Bieber V One Direction thing I went through with my 14 year old daughter. You were one or the other, you just could not be on both teams. Pop feminism is so much like that all or nothing mentality; you are either for or against period. To actively question feminism and the way it is in the lived experiences of women – throughout the world, sees you casts a heretic and will have you burned at Smithfield!

    To try and look outside of the cardboard seems to be a no go area. Why? The feminism I learned about in my history units at university was all about women exploring the wider context of women’s experiences and figuring out what the hell was wrong. When did that actually stop being the norm for feminism?

    The most fascinating thing that I learned in one of my history lectures was that up until the post war era men and medicine were not even remotely interested in our bodies let alone our reproductive organs! There was simply no money in it for them so they left it to the women – who for millennia were quite capable of dealing with what needed to be done. The same women who delivered our babies preformed the abortions. It wasn’t until the McCarthy era where everything including our bodies became a commodity and therefor of fiscal value that women became of interest to medicine. That’s the real history we should be teaching women!

    I’ll admit my background is sociology so I devour research like a good chick flick but this dumbing down (if I may be so bold) of modern feminism for something that can fit the 140 characters or less modern method of communication has to stop! The complexity and fluidity of women and all of our lives experiences; good and bad; are surely worth more than that?

    Pop feminism is, for me, nothing more than a consequence of the radical technological chainages that we are living with. Masculine technological changes that have lead to the need for the two income families & the casualisation of the modern workforce, the impossibility of any sort of work/life balance because we all bring work home & the materialistic addiction that is directly harming women throughout the world! I wish more people, more women, understood the reality of places like The Congo & how rape is used as a weapon of war in order to provide us with the latest gadgets and thingy-me-bobs.

    But sadly that’s a little to complex for 140 characters so we need to submit to that mean girls mentality & duel it out with each other over what is written on a piece of cardboard!

  2. melina smith
    August 13, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Only a sociologist could really answer that question Helen.

    Watching Kelly o Dwyer on Q and A with Tim Wilson’s infamous comment:

    It’s not my fault women have kids

    She did say he went too far and laughed at him!

    That’s a start!

  3. gina
    August 13, 2014 at 5:14 pm

    Welcome to all the Sociologists here on this thread!!

    I was raised by one and I wish there were more people in the m.s.m that analyzed our politics through a sociological context.

    Hello Susan Carland !

    • August 14, 2014 at 5:37 am

      I was also raised by a sociologist. In part. The mighty Karl.

  4. Serena
    August 13, 2014 at 9:31 pm

    The inequality of capitalism coincides with current third word commercial surragocy. How is that not like Atwoods story.
    Thorough I can see this is not from Christian Right influence, probably the opposite.

    • August 14, 2014 at 7:12 am

      Exactly. It’s the liberal idea of freedom (in this case, the freedom to temporarily purchase womb) that give us surrogacy.
      Again, though. Enslavement to first world interests is hardly a female only province. And again, worrying about Christian extremists is as myopic as worrying about Islamic extremists. Not the real problem

  5. gina
    August 14, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    Yes Helen…l.ol!

    The emotional intelligence and warmth she provided us along with those endless dinner conversations is no substitute for a text book.

    Along with many inside jokes sociologists use x

    Cheers X

  6. CAP
    August 28, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Hmmm food for thought there Helen. My head has been driven so far down the ostrich hole lately I hadn’t heard of this females against feminism thingy/group, but then generally no-one gives a shit about my opinion, so it’s unlikely it would have ever been brought to my attention if I didn’t read your blog.

    I agree – the reason sexism, racism and probably a whole lot of other “isms” can exist is because of the current politics of classism and an economic strategy deliberately class divisive in our society. The trickle down crowd always seem to think that it’s the less wealthy’s lack of pizzazz dividing the wealth so unevenly. The truth is more sinister. It is their exploitation of pizzazz that keeps it divided. If in this country those with all the money went on spending binges in this country, on Australian made products, rather than throwing it into savings, stocks, bonds, offshore accounts, and fab holidays on other continents, perhaps some would trickle back through. What we have is a system of exploitation, which is essentially robbery of the person you are exploiting, and then running off with the money for everyone else but those they are blaming for not working enough, or having enough money. The truth is there is a finite amount of wealth in this country, it’s called a GDP. And if all the wealth of that GDP is spent or saved else where, well then it’s not trickling down to the rest of us. It’s locked up for those who already have it so that millions of others go without. There should be a maximum wage as well as minimum wage. I’ll be generous, lets make it $2million/annum. If you think you need to spend $20million on a CEO because they are so good, I’ll bet a team of 10 CEOs working together for the same amount would be just as good when they pooled their ideas, and then at least the ludicrous wealth would be getting shared around a little more, as 10people and their families are likely to pump a little more back into the economy than 1. The biggest problem we face today is greed. With greed comes all the justifications for the classism which trickles down to racism which trickles down to sexism and leads the way to fascism if taken to the very enth degree. If we can regulate greed these problems will naturally start to improve as there will be less competition to survive with this greater sharing of wealth, which will drop down some of the irrational battle lines society draws to compete. I don’t disagree if you work hard you deserve more and if you are talented you should be appreciated for it, but no matter who you are, a healthy society does not recognise one member of it as being 20billion times more important than another. That is what is escalating all these other manufactured problems such as judging worth on skin or gender, as people compete to survive.

  7. Peter
    August 29, 2014 at 2:56 pm

    Have any of these woman against feminism approached their boss and asked their wage to be cut to two thirds of their male colleagues?

    • August 29, 2014 at 3:01 pm

      You didn’t actually read the post, did you?
      I shouldn’t bother

  8. Xorn
    September 8, 2014 at 6:25 pm

    On my homeworld we have no gender, but some of my species have purple patches on their tentacles and some don’t. A few years ago the purples hated the cleanskins and vice versa. Then some of the purples started hating the purples who hated cleanskins, and other purples hated purples who hated purples who hated cleanskins and well it led to the greatest spilling of ichor ever seen. Only a few of us survived. We started thinking of ourselves as just one species in a very dangerous universe, and we really wish you guys could do the same. We can’t tell any of you apart – maybe you should try it. CAP good on you for wanting to limit CEO pay, but Helen has hit the nail on the vlob. Imagine a world with no CEOs at all. No jobs, no money, no scarcity. Seems incredible but we know you have the technology now to pull it off. It is just your corrupt politicians and corporate overlords who are holding you back. Check out The Venus Project, The Zeitgeist Movement and an economist name of Jeremy Rifkin. These guys are not perfect but they are at least looking to a post-monetary economic strategy that can be developed into a real answer to humanity’s problems. Go for it people! It may be hard to get your vlobs around, but money truly is not only no longer necessary it is positively holding you back. The universe awaits.

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