“Not Needing Feminism” Makes You Part of the Problem.

Earlier today, a friend of a friend posted a photo in response to the Who Needs Feminism? project, with the disclaimer that “As long as feminism means promoting the dignity and equality of women, I’m fine with it. But be careful with your definition of equality.”

It’s unfortunately clear that this girl, and many others, don’t understand what feminism is about at all. Now, I’ve made a couple other posts about this that pretty much say the same thing, but for those who have arrived from Facebook, here’s the rundown: Just like any movement, feminism’s core principles are subject to interpretation and implementation by individuals, which means that they span a wide spectrum. Hopefully, she and others like her don’t go about vilifying entire causes on the basis of individuals or extremists with whom they disagree. After all, it’s clear they don’t define Catholicism by those who use it in a hateful way or the few priests who have abused their positions of power.

To her credit, most feminists would ardently disagree with the pro-life stance, but it doesn’t mean that feminism as a whole, and all the other issues it addresses, should simply be swept under the rug. Furthermore, save for maybe a few radicals or old-schoolers, nobody in the mainstream modern feminist movement is telling people that equality means sameness in every way or that being a mother or wife, or being loving, caring, and “modest” is a crime, or shameful, or that is makes them any less of a woman, and THAT IS THE POINT.  Feminism is about “championing” a woman’s right to make decisions about her own life- whether she chooses fishnets or floorlength skirts, wants to be a stay-at-home-mom, a software engineer, or a solider, subscribes to Christianity or atheism. It also, however, calls for social reflexivity- for women to be aware of the social structures and attitudes that have historically deprived women of agency in a myriad of ways.

In any case, the most glaring part of this well-intended Facebook post isn’t the ignorance it demonstrates, but the mentalities it espouses. The real problem is that responding to the Who Needs Feminism project by making a poster like this is insulting to all those who have participated, and minimizes their very REAL and PAINFUL experiences of being abused, taken advantage of, or not taken seriously because of their gender.

The poster depicted above and posted to Facebook was made by a student at the University of Notre Dame, a school at which a girl KILLED HERSELF because the administration did nothing when one of its athletes made her feel as though her choices, her feelings, and her body weren’t in her control.

3 weeks ago, 15 year old Amanda Todd committed suicide after she was lured by a stranger on the internet into exposing her breasts, and then pictures of this act were posted to Facebook, shared, mocked, and vilified by her friends, fellow students, and people she didn’t even know.

A month ago, 15 year old Ciara Pugsley, a popular girl who struggled with depression, committed suicide after being “bombarded with hate messages” on Ask.fm, which told her that “she was depressed to attract attention, that she was fat, and that she had no respect for herself.”

5 days ago, 13 year old Erin Gallagher committed suicide after being continually “taunted about her weight and looks” via similar Ask.fm messages.

Countless others are subject to this sort of harassment in silence.

If that’s not relevant enough, consider the girl who has one night stands or is promiscuous in the college scene because she feels guilty for saying no. Her environment conditions her to honestly believe that if a guy buys her a few drinks, if she makes out with somebody, or if a guy lets her crash at his place, she would be rude and disappointing if she didn’t follow through. That “not delivering” on something she’s “offered” (via her attire, flirtatiousness, and/or other sexual acts) makes her a bad person. That there’s a “point of no return” past which she cannot back out. She may not even be conscious of this mentality at work in her actions- I certainly wasn’t.

In the end, the internet user who convinces a young girl to flash the camera, the Facebook users who mock and slut-shame a teenager for her self-proclaimed mistake, the internet users who take it upon themselves to make young girls’ mental health and physical appearance their business, the administration that doesn’t take sexual assault claims seriously, the society which continually reinforces the notion that sexualization and objectification (at younger ages every year) are simply means to validation, appreciation, and self-worth, and those who ignore, minimize, or encourage a culture of female subjugation, all send one message loud and clear: Girls, you, your bodies, your choices, and your feelings are merely sideshows at a circus. You exist to be advertised, scrutinized, commodified, and judged. Fuck your agency. You are not an individual. You are a public spectacle. 

These issues are real, and their effects are devastating. They aren’t going away. So when a girl makes a poster saying “I don’t need the kind of feminism you’re promoting,” this is what she’s standing against:

12 thoughts on ““Not Needing Feminism” Makes You Part of the Problem.

  1. I Honestly have a hard time seeing the point your trying to persuade in this, but I’ll elaborate as to where my confusion comes from, as I’d love for clarification.

    1)With the Notre Dame incident, I don’t quite see how the Universities failure to do the moral and ethical thing exactly applies to the concept of feminism. From my perspective, I would imagine it comes from the fear of the media whiplash and damage that it would do to the University (Which I believe it rightly deserves considering the circumstances), or seeing as how he is an active player, the potential revenue loss from the loss of support of the fans and the teams performance due to his contributions. (I mean shit, It’s a multimillion dollar business).
    I’d like to hope, they had some sort of justification for their concern in the validity of the hesitance due to “inconsistencies” in the story, and if the university was receiving stories that she may have been intoxicated (whether she was or wasn’t), They must then consider weighing the risks of pursuing a case that causes severe damage to both their image and revenue, with the potential (I’m saying from their perspective) that the “other witnesses” persuade that she was drunk and made a dumb decisions and regretted it (which in the past, has not been unheard of)

    As for Amanda Todd, I think it is indeed it is a tragedy that she killed herself, but I don’t see how feminism applies to a group of people who can hide behind the anonymity of the internet to attack someone for a decisions they made. In my mind, that is more a point of harassment and bullying as I’ve known plenty of guys who have been photographed in degrading or demoralizing situations that have been used against them, but just because they didn’t decide to take their own life under the strain, It’s not a kind of thing that ever draws much publicity.
    I don’t feel this is particularly only relating to women, except in the manner that the questionable image was her breasts?

    As for Ciara Pugsley and Erin Gallagher, see above. I feel this is more an issue of bullying and the mask of internet anonymity that allows people to be okay with saying things they never would person to person. I mean, If we had some sort of way to prove that this was particularly only males doing the harassment based on the standardized perception of beauty, It would make a little more sense to me.

    And if those arguments above are about primarily women, What about when a man find himself in a similarly down or depressed stage of his life, and a woman shows him little to no compassion for the state of mind he is in? He is told to “Man up” or “Just deal with it” because of his gender?

    Can you say you’ve never been responsible of this same argument with the reversal of gender?
    And that’s because no one can.

    To me, this is a matter of the state of humanity and lack of morality, ethics, or respect that is becoming a more and more significant percentage of the children of this country over the last 5-10 years.
    Not Feminism.

    • Hey Kyle! Thanks for commenting!

      1) Think about what you just said- a girl was sexually violated by a football player, and nothing was done about it because of “the fear of media whiplash” and/or “revenue loss.” They weighed the risks to their image and revenue as higher priorities than the personal wellbeing of a girl who, one way or another, felt she had been violated, and the safety of women on campus at large. Saying “well, she might have been drunk” sets a TERRIBLE, dangerous precedent for future cases. Frankly, it doesn’t matter if she was intoxicated- silence isn’t consent. “She was drunk” isn’t an excuse. Giving the benefit of the doubt to the potential assailant over the victim affirms the already well-established message that if those who have experienced assault, rape, or harassment come forward, no one will believe them. I don’t give a flying fuck what kind of multi-million dollar business is at stake- these are people’s LIVES we’re talking about. This is a girl who came forward despite the knowledge that she was standing up against not just an individual, but a team. Despite receiving a scare-tactic message from a friend saying “Don’t do anything you would regret. Messing with notre dame football is a bad idea.”

      And let me paint you a picture of exactly how Notre Dame handled the situation: She reported the assault the day after it happened. It wasn’t turned over to the St. Joseph County special victims unit, which is trained in handling sex crimes. The accused football player was not warned, suspended from play, or disciplined in any way. The player wasn’t interviewed until TWO WEEKS after he was reported. The university didn’t publicly acknowledge the case until more than two months after her death. After her suicide, the University failed to tell the SJPD about her report of sexual attack. They also refused to release police reports on the incident.

      She, and countless other women, have their experiences ignored and trivialized. If you don’t see how this relates to feminism, well, I don’t know what to do for you.

      2) As for the other examples, you seem to conveniently be minimizing some very important points. She was convinced, at 15 years old, to reveal her breasts to some stranger on the internet, and that he/she, and all those who commented, shared, mocked her, judged her, somehow felt it was their business to do so. You don’t see anything wrong with that? Feminism isn’t just about how men hurt women, or how we don’t have equal pay. It’s not claiming these things don’t happen to men, too. You know what? Something tells me I’m not going to get very far if you don’t even see how these issues relate to feminism in the first place. Here, start with this.

      • I apologize that I may have made myself unclear.

        I wasn’t suggesting that if she was drunk that it’s all right in any sense of the word. But it isn’t unheard of or even uncommon that a person gets drunk, goes along with it without thinking or thinking its a good idea in a inebriated state, and then regrets the decision come sobriety.
        There are a few cases recently (I’ll try to find the links to the articles for you) in which these types of people then accuse sexual assault or rape, without consideration of the life long impacts that can have on the future of someone they didn’t say no to.
        2 men were almost put in federal prison when after a woman got drunk, went home with two guys and got double teamed (under her own inebriated judgement) and then claimed rape. She under whatever pretense, had the moral and conscious awakening to come forward and admit she made the decision completely consensual and was ashamed of herself so she tried to make it out as rape and was sentence to prison time for the false allegations.
        How many people do you think would decide to come out if they knew they would face FEDERAL charges and prison time
        It’s cases like these, that I was suggesting, that if the general consensus of the other interviewed individuals was anything close to something of that nature. I could comprehend how there would be at least HESITANCE to instantly ascribing guilt.
        Now with that in mind, I’m not trying to justify Notre Dames actions or how they handled the situation. I highly doubt the proposed possibility would be the case given the way they handled the situation, and There should be an investigation to scenario and that Notre Dame should be held accountable for hindering a criminal investigation in such ways and allowing this to unfold as it has.

        I’ve actually gone and read about 4 or 5 of your previous posts, before commenting originally, because I wanted to have a better understanding of your perspective on this topic, but when it comes to the other cases I think your ignoring the main point that allows me to draw my conclusion.

        She was convinced to…..

        She was not forced, She was not blackmailed or otherwise required to take the actions she did.
        If she internalized guilt and felt OBLIGATED to do so, I feel that you cannot pin that on the other individual for asking/begging/pleading for her to do so.
        No mean no, Stand your ground.

        I do believe to remedy this scenario, that a good course of action would be to have seminars in the schools for young woman about scenarios like this and about how to handle themselves when feeling uncomfortable, unsafe, or pressured. Although I still firmly hold that if she made the decision and people are as sick and twisted and mocking as they are, She still chose to do so.
        And law is written to be as explicit as possible, and nothing could be written to prevent others from thinking or saying what they felt about her outside of the realm of directly intimidating and harassing her. As that could be vague enough to be stretched across the realm of free speech when not expressed to her via spoken word, social networking or whatever means.

        I’m not saying its okay it happened, Im not saying it ever SHOULD happen.
        I’m simply stating that she should have taken accountability for her actions, and if she would have chose to rise above it and stand strong, maybe we wouldn’t have lost another young life.

      • I really wanted to know how what you presented here related to feminism. I am disappointed that you side-stepped that however.
        1. Regarding the Notre Dame case, you seem to be making a claim that the administration’s actions were sexist. The university in question didn’t do what they did because it was ‘just a case of a molested girl’. They did it to protect themselves. Even if the footballer and his friends had some night, bullied a boy to his death, the university would have done the same thing, they’d have covered up. That it was a girl getting molested was purely coincidental and nothing more. Molestation is a crime, yes and molesters need to be punished severely. But this Notre Dame case is more of an issue on how big corporate and institutions cover up to protect their vested interests than anything else.
        2. Your statement “and that he/she, and all those who commented, shared, mocked her, judged her, somehow felt it was their business to do so.” is the definition of bullying. Bullies feel that its their business to approve of the world. The victim can be anyone, an old person a young girl and adult child.

  2. I don’t really understand how you got from whining about a woman who didn’t like the promotion of a certain ‘brand’ of feminism to a bunch of girls killing themselves???
    And while those circumstances are horrible I don’t see why you’ve gone there. Or why you’ve cherry pick a few cases. Men are taking there own lives at a rate of 4 times greater than that of women. And whilst the rate of women committing suicided is falling the rate of men committing suicide is gradually increasing. Yet I don’t see you ‘alarmed’ or ‘upset’ about that inequality. Interestingly its been since the onset of feminism that mens suicide rates have escalated.
    Why are you not talking about this issue. What do feminists have to say about a society that they have changed so much that men are resorting to this at ever increasing rates? Why are feminists silent on this issue?

    • Ever heard of a fallacy? Ever heard that “correlation doesn’t imply causation”? Just because the rate of male suicides has increased in the time since the onset of feminism doesn’t mean that men are “resorting to” suicide because of it, any more than that suicide rate is caused by the increasing global temperature. Feminists are “silent” on this “issue” because it doesn’t make any sense.

      I didn’t “cherry pick” a few cases- I was giving a few very relevant examples of how the public scrutiny of women, their bodies, and their private actions has become normalized, and at younger and younger ages. Other examples include the email to the overweight news anchor, and politicians calling the PM of Australia a “cold bitch.” Yes, bullying is a serious problem across the board, and it is tragic and alarming, but my post is specifically addressing the way that this plays out with women.

      • Unlike global climate change, globalised feminism didn’t start till around 40 years ago. There is a link between feminism and increased suicide rates. You and other feminists just refuse to admit that it’s a feminist’s problem.
        Things that would result in increase of suicide amongst men-
        – Men becoming homeless or going to prison for not being able to pay child support, and/or being forced to pay child support for a child that has been proven to NOT be theirs.
        – Men who suffer silently with domestic violence, because in they know in most cases if reported they would be arrested themselves.
        – Men whose names get dragged through the mud in a false rape case whilst the false claimant remains anonymous.
        – Men who were educated in our highly feminised schooling system and are told they have a disability for questioning the relevance.
        – Men who grew up without a father.
        – Constant reminding through various forms of media an educational establishments that men are disposable, violent and obsolete.
        These are all items which have increased massively in likely hood since the globalization of feminism.
        The cases you have mentioned are a product of a society that is falling to new lows, a society that is falling apart, a society that lost its values due to feminism. It isn’t the ‘patriarchy’. If it were why has it only come about since the globalization of feminism?
        A woman cuts of a man’s penis and on national TV a group of women laugh and make jokes about it. They’re forced to give an apology which wasn’t sincere. The PM of the UK gives a bravery award to a woman who premeditated the murder of her husband whilst he sleeps. Julia Gillard gets called a ‘Cold Bitch’, a news anchor gets hate mail for being overweight and you want to call for an intervention. You’re quite happy for violence against men to go unnoticed, laughed about or even praised.
        BTW I think Julia is a cold bitch too. She wrote, promoted and passed legislation that means I can be arrested for IGNORING MY WIFE. I can be arrested for kicking the family dog, but not for animal cruelty, but for violence against women. NEVER MIND THE FUCKING DOG.

  3. Fbomb sucks,

    Firstly, I’d argue that you need more proof to say that something is the cause of something else purely because they happen alongside one another. Obviously if you have any statistical evidence, I’d be happy to hear about it.

    It does seem odd that you consider this a “feminist problem”. I’m not denying that there are men with legitimate issues and complaints, but why do you think it’s something feminists should help you with?

    Yes, there are men who are victims of domestic violence, as you said, but the numbers are paltry in comparison with women effected by it. Do you honestly expect the author of this blog to discuss men suffering domestic abuse?

    Men as disposable, violent and obsolete? Arguably, you have a point. But if so, you surely can’t argue against the fact that women are constantly reminded that they are sexual objects, defined by their appearance and susceptible to being ‘sluts’ if they act incorrectly.

    You just seem to be playing tit-for-tat. If you read a post about someone in a wheelchair, and their experiences of living that way, would you tell them to stop complaining because you broke your leg once, and why don’t they write about that?

    Society hasn’t lost it’s way because of feminism, it’s simply changed and you, as a man, have lost some of your power. Perhaps you’d be happier in a time when women had to keep their mouths shut, violence and rape went completely unreported and there was no threat to your ego. Even with the advances made, I’d still say power overwhelmingly belongs with men still.

    I’m sure the author isn’t happy for violence against men to go unnoticed. I’m sure the author doesn’t hate men, a popular misconception.

    Because feminism isn’t about men. Not everything is about men. It doesn’t hate men, it’s just about equal rights for both sexes.

    Violence against men occurs. But, when you leave the house, do you on every occasion think about what you’re wearing, the route you’re taking, the street lighting, the number of people around, the way you walk, because the threat of violence is constant?

    As a man, I don’t think you do. As a woman I imagine you would.

    So I guess all in all, I’d advise you to just calm down and listen. It will make you more of a ‘man’ and happier too. And have a lovely day.

    • I’ve asked this question time and time again with no response – What other factor has changed other than the onset of feminism and its attack on men and families, has changed to bring about the consistant rise of male suicide rates??? SHOW ME STATISTICAL EVIDENCE THAT IT ISN’T FEMINISM!!!
      I believe this should be a feminist issue because like many shit things in todays society feminism is responsible. Like our bullshit eductaional systems. Like our bullshit family law. Like bullshit domestic violence law. Like lowered entry standards for women into particular sectors. The increase of crime (research fatherlessness).

      You are yet another delusional feminist on domestic violence (afmong other things). You only buy into that statistics endorsed by feminism, and lack the will power or the brains to find the truth even though it is right there.

      http://lab.drdondutton.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/GOLDENSON-SPIDEL-GREAVES-DUTTON-2009-FEMALE-PERPETRATORS-OF-INTIMATE-PARTNER-VIOLENCE.pd

      http://www.scribd.com/doc/34007126/Dutton-Nicholls-The-Gender-Paradigm-in-Domestic-Violence-Research-and-Theory-Part-1%E2%80%94The-Conflict-of-Theory-and-Data-2005

      “Violence against men occurs. But, when you leave the house, do you on every occasion think about what you’re wearing, the route you’re taking, the street lighting, the number of people around, the way you walk, because the threat of violence is constant?”

      Violence against men full stop, occurs against men at 4 times the rate of women. You are contradicting your own feminist freinds here. Feminists even argue that you are no more likely to be the victim of violence wether you wear a short skirt or a tracksuit. Men walk there girlfriends home at night to protect them yet they are 4 times more likely to be the victims themselves.

      “it’s just about equal rights for both sexes.”

      Show me evidence. yes thats what the dictionary says. but everything I see says its about preference and all the while without responsibility. Doesn’t matter wether its responisbility of women or the responsibility of feminism.

      “Society hasn’t lost it’s way because of feminism, it’s simply changed and you, as a man, have lost some of your power.”
      I haven’t lost power – EVERYONE HAS. Feminism has helped, and continues to help, put power back in the hands of government.

      “Because feminism isn’t about men. Not everything is about men. It doesn’t hate men, it’s just about equal rights for both sexes.”
      The author may not hate men but feminism as a collective, has shown time and time again that it does.

      “So I guess all in all, I’d advise you to just calm down and listen. It will make you more of a ‘man’ and happier too. And have a lovely day.”

      So your guessing now? Should I tell you to calm down and listen, because that would make you more of a ‘woman’ and make you happier? Or would you start calling me a mysoginist. You really need to have a good look around the world. Realise that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. Realise that eventually you need to be held accountable for those actions, instead of the child like state that feminism is spreading.
      I won’t wish you a lovely day because I would not be being truthful.

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