I’ve noticed a lot of bickering on a lot of topics to do with feminism. Elevatorgate, violence in video games, Emma Watson’s UN speech and a tasteless t-shirt just to name a few. This culminated recently with Hirsi Ali’s backlash.
I see an increasingly hard line and divisive attitude on the rise – not just in feminism, but in just about every topic – religion, climate change, vaccines, refugees… Maybe it’s complete coincidence, but it seems to be increasing along with nationalism and other forms of political stratification. It also seems to be related to the increasing view that offence is a perfectly valid reason to censor, invalidate and otherwise limit another’s behavior.
I do think that constructive feedback and criticism is good and warranted. What I am talking about here is the kind of my-way-or-the-highway attacks that include ridicule, blocking and passive-aggressive straw man posts that appear directly after a post/event without ever referring directly to it (I particularly dislike this last kind because other people not deeply in the scene pick up on the straw man and share it without even knowing the full context).
You can guarantee that any time I mention anything to do with feminism, it will elicit responses arguing against a position I don’t hold and didn’t state. This is only slightly irritating for me as a male nobody on the scene. Imagine that kind of attack on famous, outspoken feminists (especially male feminists). We’re all fighting for essentially the same thing. Why are we wailing on each other over minor differences?
I know that some of these people are involved in trying to change culture and policy. I can say for sure that a policy of attacking anyone who does not agree completely with a specific point of view is not a good method of positively influencing people. It leads to more segregation and groupthink – yes, the same kind of us-and-them thinking that extremist groups have.
In my opinion, none of us are perfect and sure as anything no culture or society is perfect (whatever “perfect” means). Yes, it makes total sense to campaign to eliminate things like rape culture. It makes no sense to campaign to eliminate slut shaming. It makes sense to campaign against anything that you are against – even if it’s cartoon women on a t-shirt.
By that I mean society can and should be developed so that it is not only not encouraged, but that bystanders will generally act to defend or support potential victims as well as call out perpetrators. It’s possible and it’s realistic. In most of the world, it’s already happened with slavery. Further societal changes can be achieved for a more egalitarian society. However, that shouldn’t be confused with getting everyone to think exactly the same way that you do. Once you go that way, you’re aiming for totalitarianism and thoughtcrime.
I don’t want that. I don’t want to belong to a particular sect of feminism. In fact, although I use the word, I don’t even like it. I prefer to call myself egalitarian. It’s broader than feminism, but in this aspect it simply means that I think people should not be discriminated against purely because of their gender. Rather than fragmenting and becoming sectarian like the Church has done, I would prefer to have a united movement. A movement that contains and accepts individual differences and encourages discourse about those differences, but without the blatant infighting.
United we stand, divided we fall.
The fight for equality is far from over. Attacking allies just because they don’t agree 100% with you will only weaken your cause as well as the one you’re attacking.