The other day in a class I was teaching, we were talking about the various words we use to talk about the different types of prejudice we sometimes have for certain people or groups of people. Of course we got to the topic of “Islamophobia”, which is a term I don’t like, and I don’t think it is even a sensible way to speak of prejudice. My reasoning for this is that Islam is a religion, many people don’t like things about Islam or other religions for that matter, but this doesn’t make them “phobic”. I think that people who despise Christianity are uninformed, wrong, and basically out to lunch on the subject, but I don’t think they have a phobia. A phobia is essentially a behaviour that manifests when you have an irrational fear of something. You could have hydrophobia for example, a fear of water, which is of course irrational. There are a whole host of other phobias you could have as well, and all of them are irrational by nature. They aren’t things you have thought through. No one thinks about the ideas that water espouses and then makes a decision about not liking it. By nature, a phobia is irrational, and it is not about ideas. Islam is a religion, it presents ideas, which can be tested against history and the other 2 religions (Judaism and Christianity) that it pulls its scriptures from. You can make claims about Islam, and you can even completely dislike the whole system without having a phobia.
Furthermore, Islam, being that it is a religion, is comprised of people from virtually all races. You can’t even be “racist” towards Islam because it isn’t a race. Of course there are individual people who look at someone who attends a mosque and associate something negative with them without any good reason. This is of course is an example of prejudice. They have pre-judged them without getting to know them. But it still isn’t a phobia. At any rate, we came to the conclusion as a class that we already have words that are perfectly suited for things like the mythical “Islamophobia”, we have the word prejudice and we have the word bigotry.
This is why I dislike the word feminism. I think it is a destructive term in the same way that I think Islamophobia is a destructive term. It turns women into an “ism”, it turns them into a set of ideas. This is a problem, because it is completely appropriate to attack ideas, as they need to be tested, but it is not appropriate to attack people in the same way. For the same reason that Islamophobia conflates a religion with a set of diverse peoples, feminism does the reverse, as it conflates the real people who are women, with an ideology.
The simple fact that many women are not comfortable with the term feminism is testament to the fact that there is nothing universally feminine about feminism. Women are just as diverse as men, and they don’t all want the same thing, which is why they can’t subscribe to an “ism” that purports to represent the best interest of the gender as a whole.
Okay, but what about all the “good original feminism”, you know like about the right to vote or own property.
I think it would be helpful for us to look at two scenarios that are appropriate for the sake of analogy. We should look at the two African American activists of the civil rights era who are most famous. One is Martin Luther King, the other is Malcolm X. I am not going to speak at length about anything they did, but you can do that if you would like online in your own time. Martin Luther King was very successful at uniting black and white people for a common good, Malcolm X was not. Malcolm X was very good at motivating black people to fight for the interests of black people, but because of this the movement got pretty intense and alienated a lot of white people of good will who responded to Martin Luther King instead. Malcolm X, although he softened over time, would use terms like “white devil”, and other terms that are analogous to the way that many feminists talk about men today. On the other hand, Martin Luther King made it very clear that he was fighting for Civil Rights, and Human Rights, and racial injustice was the thing that stood in the way. He didn’t fight for black power, he fought for human rights. He made it very clear that black people and white people should live together and be afforded equal freedoms. His message is relatable to people all over the world in many circumstances, because it is about people first, and specific issues second.
Feminism, is like the Malcolm X example. Although there were some feminists who led the charge for voting rights and property rights, they were hardly the majority of the people, or even the initiators of the movement. A suffragette is not the same thing as a feminist. A suffragette is a woman who fights for her right to vote, which is a civil right and a human right, it is not specifically a woman’s right. It is worth noting as well that the right to vote used to carry with it stipulations of readiness for military service, which is why not even all men could vote.
Feminism is an irrelevant term, just like Islamophobia is an irrelevant term. Human rights are human rights, prejudice is prejudice, and bigotry is bigotry. All people should have human rights, and all people can be racist or sexist.
Now, what about all those old fashioned feminists who call themselves feminists but look nothing like the blue-haired rage-filled man-hater of today. When I was in university I used to call myself a liberal, and I used to say that I was left-wing, because I thought they were the same thing. I liked the idea of being “liberal”, because I liked the idea of individual freedom, and I was told that liberals were left wing, so it made sense to say I was also a liberal who was left-wing. I was told this by teachers, professors, and the media, so I believed it. Then one day, I started to realize that the Left wasn’t Liberal at all. They made up words like Islamophobia, they censor people, the stifle religious freedom, and they tend to hate unborn children. They publicly denounce the Church, and they call Christians bigots and other things. Then I actually looked that history of the term Left and Right wing. They come from the French Revolution, where Napoleon and his murderous comrades sat on the Left wing of the governmental building while the Church officials and the monarchy sat on the right wing while they were debating and hashing things out. It dawned on me, that the Left has its roots in a murderous regime responsible for what has been called the first European genocide, which was committed by the Napoleonic death squads against over 100,000 Catholics who would not renounce their faith. Is it any wonder why the left-wing political ideologies of socialism, communism and Nazism have led to the death of hundreds of millions in a half century? And yes, Hitler was a lefty. He was a socialist, he was a vegetarian, he was anti-religion, and he initiated universal health care and was a big proponent of big government and unions. Left wing people can be racist, just like feminists can be sexists.
It is true that a lot of women who have fought for woman’s rights in the past have been called feminists, just like a lot of Liberals have been call left wing. But when you look into the actions of these important woman, you realize, that like Martin Luther King, they were fighting for universal human rights. Perhaps if you were to look into the actual thoughts and philosophy of the Mother of Feminism, you would see that, like Leftism, there was never anything feminine about it.
Simon de Beauvoir and her comrades in the early days of feminism were already saying that there was no such thing as biological gender, that marriage was slavery, and that society would somehow be magical if only men were out of the way. Oh yeah, and my personal favourite is how Simon De Beauvoir, along with other feminists and Marxists who were world famous, signed a petition to allow kids as young as 11 to be sexually active with adults. De Beauvoir and her famous atheist partner, Jean-Paul Sartre even participated in a movement called The Pedophiles Liberation Front. But I am sure that there is no way that any of that got into her feminism…
Now I know there are a lot of other feminists besides the insane and demonic De Beauvoir, but it is precisely that feminism as a whole heralds this woman as a genius and a pioneer that is the troubling part. It would be one thing if she was a child of her age and her suspect sexual activities were the norm of the time, but her reasoning was sound and her philosophy was strong. This is the case with Plato for example. But she was not acting upon the norms of her age, she was actively fighting for heinous and awful things. She hated motherhood, the female body, and men in general. But even so, she is still heralded among the feminist sympathizers of the day. I did a quick good search of “praise for Simone De Beauvoir,” and to be fair it wasn’t all praise, but as expected, all the major “progressive” blogs and publications had a lot of nice things to say about her.
Maybe I will leave you with some of the amazing things she had to say that are so integral to the awesomeness of feminism.
The wife feeds on him like a parasite; but a parasite is not a triumphant master
No, we don’t believe that any woman should have this choice. No woman should be authorized to stay at home to raise her children. Society should be totally different. Women should not have that choice, precisely because if there is such a choice, too many women will make that one. It is a way of forcing women in a certain direction.
In my opinion, as long as the family and the myth of the family and the myth of maternity and the maternal instinct are not destroyed, women will still be oppressed.
Motherhood relegates woman to a sedentary existence; it is natural for her to stay at home while men hunt, fish, and go to war
[The mother] is plant and animal, a collection of colloids, an incubator, an egg; she frightens children who are concerned with their own bodies and provokes sniggers from young men because she is a human being, consciousness and freedom, who has become a passive instrument of life.
Just to finish off… I am sure that her and other feminists like her have said some other things that are thoughtful and correct, but they haven’t said these things because of their feminism, but seemingly in spite of it.