Why Would Women Grumble and Tumble Over Feminism?

WTF? Women Against Feminism?

WTF? Women Against Feminism?

Women are still proclaiming they’re not feminists over at Tumblr.

Tumblr may be a new thing, but women fighting against their interests is not.

Now why is that?

Before looking at that question, let’s look at the trend:

Feminists whine about stupid stuff, like a right to their wages

Two centuries ago plenty of women shamed and shunned feminists who worked for the right to: vote, own property, have a right to their wages, not be beaten by husbands, get a divorce, have a right to their children after leaving an abusive spouse… and more.

Geez, no wonder feminists were snubbed! Totally unreasonable.

If those 19th century anti-feminists had had Tumblr they’d be posting their little signs.

In the 20th century, feminists were backing the right to apply for any job, have equal pay, promotions and their own credit, use birth control, apply to an Ivy League college, not have curfews at colleges, not be raped by their husbands, not put rape victims on trial… and more.

Well, no wonder feminism was “the F-word” back then.

But alas, no 20th-century Tumblr to whine about it all.

I actually began wondering why women sometimes fight against their interests back when I was a kid growing up in a Christian fundamentalist church. All around me women were bashing battered women’s shelters and priesthood power for women. And whining about feminists.

Yet most women today actually think they are better off now than then!

But it’s hard to imagine people of color cheering on racism.

What makes the difference? The answer comes, in part, courtesy Simone de Beauvoir.

Women lack memory of equality, so inequality can feel natural and normal

First off, people of color know that there has been a time or place in the world, or in history, when they were “number one” — a time before imperialism and racism against their kind.

Women lack this memory. While there is evidence of non-patriarchal cultures, few women know of them.

When inequality is all you have ever known, it can feel pretty natural and normal to you. Like a fish in water, you don’t notice it.

Plus, feminism’s big gains can make it seem like we’ve reached parity.

Fearing punishment

But a lot of women also think that God wants inequality because their male leaders say so. When God seemingly says it, it can REALLY seem “meant to be.” And why risk Hellfire for a little fairness, right? Scary stuff.

But punishment may come in other forms, too. Like prison, abuse, ostracism, insults, or losing lovers. More on that last one here:

Feminists fighting for women's rights

Feminists fighting for women’s rights

Protesting male privilege seems like protesting men

Another reason why women are more likely than people of color to disavow their own interests is because — for about 95% of us — our lovers or mates are men. Not only that, typically half of our children, siblings and parents are male, too.

That becomes a problem when a critique of male privilege is seen as a critique of men — which is common these days. When the fight against racism is misunderstood as disliking white people, people of color don’t have as much to lose, leaving them less fearful about standing up for their rights.

On top of that, we live in a culture that eroticizes male dominance, so that sexism becomes sexy.

But we still need feminism

Yet, we still have much to fight for.

The more patriarchal a culture, the more widespread violence against women is.

When patriarchal Europeans arrived on America’s shores they were shocked to learn that rape and battering were virtually unknown among the egalitarian American Indians they met.

Violence against American women is way down since the less feminist 1990s. Partly because of hot lines and shelters for women, mandatory arrest, policies against sexual harassment, and changes in men’s attitudes. But we still face too much brutality.

Women continue to be body-shamed, slut-shamed and blamed for rape. And war is still being waged against our reproductive rights.

Women still make 77 cents for every dollar a man makes. And when the vast majority of government, business and religious leaders are men, it’s harder to see yourself in that place, so you are less likely to try.

Meanwhile, subconscious messages sink into our brains, saying we are secondary as language orders men before women, or when females disappear entirely in images of man and mankind, and when “female” and “bitch” become interchangeable.

And more.

We no longer live in patriarchy and no longer need feminism?

Think again.

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About BroadBlogs

I have a Ph.D. from UCLA in sociology (emphasis: gender, social psych). I currently teach sociology and women's studies at Foothill College in Los Altos Hills, CA. I have also lectured at San Jose State. And I have blogged for Feminispire, Ms. Magazine, The Good Men Project and Daily Kos. Also been picked up by The Alternet.

Posted on August 8, 2014, in feminism, psychology, sexism, women and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 21 Comments.

  1. This post is highly eloquent and truly well penned, Georgia ⭐
    I like that you brought to the spotlight Simone de Beauvoir´s quote “Women lack memory of equality, so inequality can feel natural and normal”…
    Anyhow I wonder is it is inequality what justifies this anti feminist virtual movement … I tend to think, once again, to follow up De Beauvoir’s statements all throughout her works that it is paradoxically, equality…
    Those gals on Tumblr are more the bourgeois type to use a french expression which works pretty well here… I think that as they has already clearly fulfilled their basic needs and so on, well they just jumped against “a cause”…. Which is their own cause, at the end because they are women… Aim to fight for the same things I guess (?).
    I would read it through Bauman’s lens and say it probably has to be with the lack of values and counterpart ideologies that depict the liquid modernity, but that would be just an approach and there are many others…
    Thanks for sharing… Needless to say that your post stands out. Aquileana 🙂

    • Interesting thoughts. I suspect they have internalized, unconsciously, a societal view that says feminism is bad. A view championed by man who fear losing privilege and status. And then add women who don’t want to offend men. But I think you could add your point to all this, as well.

      • I was thinking in Michel Foucault’s concept of normalization which basically refers to social processes through which ideas and actions come to be seen as “normal” and become taken-for-granted or ‘natural’ in everyday life. I would like this idea to middle range theories and social control.

        Foucault has well developed it all throughout his works… For him normalization involves the construction of an idealized norm of conduct which is socially accepted and expected to be that way…Normality is a sort of statistical concept, originally defined as the average of what it is expected to be in a certain way…He would later on say in “Discipline and Punishment” that disciplinary power governs in fact structuring the parameters and limits of thoughts and practices, defining which are the allowed, normal behaviors and punishing and trying to sanction those which are diverted from the average rank, meaning: Normality~

        I think that also Durkheim in “The Rules of Sociological Method” speaks about the social fact…
        “A social fact is every way of acting, fixed or not, capable of exercising on the individual an external constraint; or again, every way of acting which is general throughout a given society, while at the same time existing in its own right independent of its individual manifestations”.

        If we assume that a Patriarchal Society is the rule and this model is imposed by itself implicitly accepted as being the normal state of things… I would be hard to even consider alternative perspectives…

        Resistence to change is probably an unconscious force that allow Patriarchy to keep its hegemonic role… Even when plurality of ideas and values spread their forces… Some things and behaviours are validated, their forces are coercive and thus it is extremely difficult to change them…
        Best wishes. Aquileana ⭐

      • Thank you. Good stuff.

  2. Anyone heard of this song before and have an opinion on it? I won’t post the lyrics here but they’re easy enough to find.

    “Woman Is the (n-word) of the World” is a song written by John Lennon and Yoko Ono from their 1972 album Some Time in New York City. Released as a single in the United States, the song sparked controversy at the time due to its title and subject matter.

    The phrase “woman is the (n-word) of the world” was coined by Yoko Ono in an interview with Nova magazine in 1969 and was quoted on the magazine’s cover. The song describes women’s subservience to men and male chauvinism across all cultures.

    Forty-two years later, is it still as relevant now as it was then?

    • Luckily, the song is immensely less relevant now than then. And I edited your comment to insert (n-word) where the original word was because I won’t have that on my blog. It’s probably the only word I won’t allow because it touches such a sensitive nerve among people in a culture that has been greatly discriminated against. But thanks for bringing up the topic. It’s worth discussing.

    • Interesting.

      I’m a little confused as to whether the men are forced to work out of the community by the women or my circumstance. From the telegraph:

      “It looks as if the majority of the population are women, but it’s partly because the men leave during the week to work in the city.” However, some of the town’s women fear that an influx of men could destroy their distinctive way of life http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/southamerica/brazil/11060282/Brazils-valley-of-beauties-appeals-for-single-men.html

      Looks like they have a choice and they value their peaceful, joyous way of life, marked by equality and freedom over having a man.

      I’m struck by this, from the article you sent:

      In 1940, an evangelical pastor, Anisio Pereira, took one of the women, aged 16, to be his wife and founded a church in the growing community.

      However, he proceeded to impose strict puritanical rules, banning them from drinking alcohol, listening to music, cutting their hair or using any type of contraceptive.

      When Anisio died in 1995, the women decided never again to let a man dictate how they should live. And one of the first things they did was to dismantle the male-biased organised religion he had set up.

      Rosalee Fernandes said: ‘We have God in our hearts. But we don’t think we need to go to church, get married in front of a priest or baptise our children. These are rules made up by men.’


  3. I’ve been seeing a lot of people post about this, and I’m wondering what magical cotton candy la-la land these women live in where they feel they “don’t need feminism”. And going through their tumblr, it seems many of them don’t understand what feminism actually is. They seem to be really hung up on this man-hating idea and that’s unfortunate.

    • Yeah. Mixing up a concern over male privilege with man-hating. I’m also against white privilege and straight privilege. But I don’t hate whites or straight people — being both myself.

  4. 6 Modern Societies Where Women Rule

    I just read how these societies function. It’s nothing like we know in the western societies.

  5. The way I view feminism since reading your blog is that it is about equality. I have read some “feminist” ideas in the past that were not about equality, but about control and various extreme attitudes.

    If I asked ten people for their opinion on feminism, I think I would probably get ten different answers.

    Over the years in the UK there have been a lot of men who have been supportive of equal rights for women, but that is something that has declined. In English Law Courts there is a disparity between men and women, particularly in Family Law, where men are punished and women are rewarded.

    A woman can admit in court that the reason for their marriage breaking up was her adultery. She is then rewarded by getting the house, the children and a large slice of the husband’s wages.

    There are many men who would now say that it is men who need equality in a lot of ways. There are a large number of men who feel very bitter about the inequality of the legal system and the women who take advantage of a system that is biased in their favour.

    Although there are areas where women are unjustly not recognised as being equal, there are a lot of areas where the pendulum has swung too far in the opposite direction.

    • I don’t know about the law in the UK.

      But since I’m for equality, obviously I’m for equality for everyone. You can’t have it any other way.

      In the US, and maybe in the UK, too, custody is awarded according to the best interests of the child. Most commonly it is women who have sacrificed careers — whether going part time, quitting work, leaving a career for a while and then returning — so that she can devote more time to her children. As a result, the mother is more closely bonded to her children than the father, typically. And so most kids are more comfortable being with mom than dad. And usually men don’t even contest custody, leaving physical custody to the mom.

      But then mother and children need food and shelter and basic needs met. Since she has sacrificed her career to nurture her children, the court doesn’t say: well, too bad for you and your kids — you will all have to live in poverty. Instead, the father of the children is expected to help provide for his children. So you could end up with a situation where the woman has committed adultery and yet the guy ends up with a huge financial cost.

      In a world with equality you would have equal numbers of women and men sacrificing their careers for their children, and then equal numbers of women and men getting financial support from their spouse once the divorce occurs, with physical custody of the children going to the parent who has spent the most time nurturing them, whether that’s the stay at home mom or stay at home dad, for instance.

      In that scenario a man may sacrifice his career to care for children, so he has bonded more with them, and the wife has been enabled to focus on making money in her career. Maybe he has an affair and they break up. He gets physical custody and she has to help support him and the children. A huge financial cost for her.

      In the US, a man (or woman) must financially support his (or her) children until age 18. But only about 15% of women get alimony. And even then it’s only for a short time, until she gets herself on her feet.

      If things were reversed then women would more often be the ones who were financially support their children until age 18, with about 15% of men getting alimony for a short time until they get back on their feet.

      • I understand and agree with you, particularly about the career aspect.

        Although there have been changes in the law in England and Wales in recent years (Scottish law is different) there has been a growth in fathers’ rights movement in the United Kingdom, which also helps excluded mothers.

        There are courts that are held in secret to decide the father’s frequency of contact with his children. When the mother does not adhere to the court’s instructions, the same court does not take any action to remedy the situation.

        Bob Geldof has become involved in the British fathers’ rights movement and spoken passionately of the injustice that affects fathers and their children.

        Getting back to my original point about feminism, and asking ten people for their opinion, I decided I would start asking people what they think about it. I am curious about the difference in attitudes.

      • I look for award to getting feedback. Wonder how things like gender, age, politics, geography will make a difference.

  6. As I mentioned on another post, I feel like a lot of “denial” is involved when a lot women say that patriarchy doesn’t exist- because to admit to the reality might have to mean taking a good look at their own lives and noticing things they would rather not. Right now, all of us are existing within a patriarchal system and it can be very uncomfortable to feel resistant to it because it means we now have to make different choices because we know differently. And for women who are lucky enough to not have to deal with sexism, misogyny, etc, to say that feminism is unnecessary to me feels like an ignoring of the millions of women who continue to deal with these issues every day.

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