Hi camille.

I’m going to try to get to your points, but first I want to thank you for the link to the Karen Straughan interview. It’s long - I didn’t realize how long, until well into it. (“This interview was initially scheduled to be between 1 and 2 hours. We wound up talking for 7.”) But it’s well worth reading. I’m going to quote a few of the better parts, in no particular order:

There’s more, but that’s already more than what most people are willing to read, so I’ll stop there. However, because a picture is worth a thousand words…


So basically it works like this: either feminism is a movement that can be criticized, or it’s not.

You seem to be arguing that it’s not. If that’s what you believe, you should ignore this thread: I’m doing something that is (according to you) impossible.

If it is possible, then the way to go about it is to look at some of the most commonly-asserted claims and see if they’re accurate: for example, that feminism is about “equality”. One of the claims I’ve made is that feminism is not about equality, it’s about whatever feminists think is best for women. I’ve provided some evidence to back up that claim, and at least some feminists (in this thread) have agreed with me.

Another is that women are systematically oppressed. I’ve provided evidence that that’s not the case. While I don’t think any feminists agree with me, they haven’t contested the evidence.

Anyway, you have to decide for yourself if feminism is above criticism. If it is, there’s no point in engaging with its critics, is there?

No. You don’t have to belong to any particular movement, or ideology, in order to be a critic of feminism. For example, someone who was a critic of, say libertarianism, could be a liberal, a conservative, a monarchist, a communist, or a socialist. It’s entirely possible, other than being critics of libertarianism, that they might have nothing else in common at all. Both Republicans and communists might be critics of liberal Democrats, but that doesn’t mean Republicans and communists are the same.

Rush Limbaugh is a critic of feminism, but I loathe him. Other than that, we have nothing in common.

Being a critic of feminism isn’t an ideology. It’s just being a critic of feminism.

You know more about him than I do, because I know nothing. But I’ll take your word for it.

The link you provided leads back to a site called “RationalWiki”. I don’t know anything it, other than it looks like Wikipedia, but it’s not. I don’t know anything about who wrote it, and as I said before, I don’t know anything about Paul Elam. Having said that, if the claims made there are true, Elam sounds like a horrible person.

In my defense, it’s been a very long thread - something 550 posts, if I remember right. I’m only one person, with limited free time. As I said earlier, it’s mathematically impossible for me to respond to all the posts here. When I initially was trying to do that, I realized I was on page 3, and the thread was 7 pages and growing. In other words, I’m only one person, with a lot of real-life obligations and responsibilities, other than this thread.

But you’re right about responding to the personal attacks. Initially I thought I could call them out, and that might discourage them. But that obviously didn’t work, so in retrospect, I should have just ignored them.

If you think my arguments are not coherent or logical, I’m happy to hear how they’re not; as opposed to simply stating that they’re not. Just stating it gives me nothing to work with.

Similarly, if there are logical and coherent responses that you think I’ve missed, I’d be happy to have them pointed out to me.

I’ve wondered, before, if becoming a mother of son(s) would affect a woman’s attitude toward feminism. I’ve read of feminists being disappointed about having a son. So I assume it wouldn’t make a difference to them. But there’s at least one former feminist who changed her mind, after having sons.

I won’t quote the whole article, since it’s there in the link, but parts of it seemed especially relevant.

I Am A Mother Of Two Children And I Cannot (And Will Not) Support Feminism

The TL:DR is still that no one’s denying that feminists who say terrible things exist, but almost everyone’s questioning to what extent they speak for the movement as a whole.

There are tens of millions of feminists in America alone, and American feminists are not the same as Norweigan feminists, who are not the same as Saudi Arabian feminists, and within national groups you’ve got dozens of intersecting axes of class, race, region, and so forth, before you even start to get into the waves and sub-waves.

This, of course, won’t stop your opposite numbers from claiming repeatedly that all the branches and sub-movements of feminism are obviously worthy and respectable, and no true scots-feminist would slut-shame or exclude trans women, but, to be blunt, you’re wronger than they are. It is wrong to claim that feminism as a movement contains no destructive, unfair, or bigoted elements; it’s wronger to claim to have integrated over all feminists and all time and claim that feminism is, on the whole, harmful or negative.

Feminism is not one thing. And quite a lot of it, even relatively recently here in America, is uncontroversially positive. If you want to point out the bad bits in recent feminism, go ahead; there are certainly a lot to choose from, as you’d expect from a gigantic social movement tens of millions strong. But don’t think that ten or a hundred or a thousand feminists behaving badly tells you much of anything about feminism as a whole, any more than a church full of Prosperity Gospel believers will tell you about Christianity as an ancient, worldwide religion.

No, I didn’t say that feminism couldn’t be criticized.

I said you were using an impossible standard to judge it with. I used the anti-feminist movement as an example of how, by using your broad brush argument, the positions of someone like Paul Elam can be used to define the ideology and purpose of the movement.

You seem to think that anti-feminism isn’t a movement, but simply some random people offering unrelated criticisms of feminism. I don’t agree with that. It is itself a movement and ideology. It is organized, it has leaders, it raises funds and runs campaigns. It is not just a bunch of random critiques by various people.

If you are unfamiliar with Paul Elam, you are not prepared to argue about anti-feminism. As I said, he is basically the founder of the movement. Karen Straughan works for him. She is one of a stable of FeMRAs under the banner of AVFM (Elam’s organization).

It’s obvious how you feel about her personally, but you are taking everything she says at face value. I did check her out, and I cannot find any sources for her claims and statements. She doesn’t cite the studies she mentions. She doesn’t back up her theories with references. You can’t expect everyone to accept her positions without sources, based only on your regard for her.

Plus, as I said, she is associated with Paul Elam. She knows what he has said and done. And she has never called him out for any of it. She participates in some of it. If I had to show you an interview you never saw, consider that there are other things about her you aren’t aware of.

That site has links to sources that verify all the examples I listed. It was easier than wading through all the garbage on his site to link to. Did you check the sources? Do you ever check sources from anyone? I’m not asking you to take my word for it, look it up yourself.

Yes, I would say he is a horrible person. And Karen Straughan is actively affiliated with him. Not just some other random person with some critiques of feminism. It is an organized movement, and she is of the same strand of it as Paul Elam. To paraphrase her again: Some dogshit is not as stinky as the other dogshit, but the dogshit still stinks in general.

Again, no one is saying you can’t critique feminism. But if you bring the anti-feminist creed here whole cloth, without vetting and reasoning out their claims, you are bringing their baggage with you as well, and you have to own that.

Make your own arguments, from your own research and reasoning.

And you are, again, delibnerately shaping your response to something she did not say.

The claim is not that feminism is not a movement.
The claim is not that feminism cannot be criticized.

The point, (repeated over and over), is that feminism is old enough and broad enough to have multiple aspects and many internally conflicting views. You persist in attacking the whole while acting as though it is a monolith.

That does not come close to seriously debating the issue. It is nothing but a personal harangue.

I don’t understand this comment. Well, the TL:DR part of it, anyway.

However, if you’ll read what I’ve written, I’ve asserted that feminism is not about equality. Is that something that only fringe feminists say?

I’ve argued that feminists misinterpret “patriarchy”: they see it as a conspiracy to oppress women. That’s a misreading of history. (Look back at my OP for the full argument.) Is the position that patriarchy is systematic oppression of women a fringe feminist theory?

I’ve argued that the incoherence of feminism is a criticism of feminism, but not shield against criticism. Is the argument that feminists can’t be criticized because they don’t agree about anything a fringe feminist argument?

Obviously, I don’t think any of those things are fringe arguments, made by only a handful of feminists. I think they’re things that many or most feminists believe. But if you truly think there is no content to the label “feminism” then I’d say the label ought be abandoned, because it’s meaningless.

The claims I’ve made are the ones above, and in the OP. I haven’t claimed “to have integrated over all feminists and all time and claim that feminism is, on the whole, harmful or negative.”

I do think there are harmful and negative aspects of feminism, including its modern incarnation. But they didn’t come from nowhere. The notion that women are perpetual victims, for example, is rooted in feminist theory going back to at least to the 1960’s.

As I’ve said before, comparing feminism to a religion is a bad analogy.

Bold mine.

She raised her fist to warn him and he grabbed her fist to avoid getting hit. Them she hit him.

This is a stupid diversion but people are going to great lengths to make this seem like some sort of clear cut case. I don’t see how the quarterback gets charged and kicked off the team if the same thing had happened but with the hipster dude standing next to the girl.

So just to clear up some errors:

I haven’t attempted to attack feminism by pointing at extremists.

If you’ll look back at my OP, you’ll see that I criticized:

(1.) The argument that feminism is about equality.

(2.) The idea that “patriarchy” is an attempt to systematically oppress women.

(3.) That women, in general, are part of a “victims’ class”.

These views are common, mainstream feminist ideas. They’re not fringe theories held only by a handful of radicals. If you think I’m wrong - that these are not central tenets of feminism - please tell me what you think they are. (In other words, please tell me what are the central tenets of feminism, if not these.)

Secondly, I reject the idea that Elam speaks for me. I only speak for myself.

Third, I reject the idea that “If you are unfamiliar with Paul Elam, you are not prepared to argue about anti-feminism.” You said yourself that, I should “[m]ake your own arguments, from your own research and reasoning.” I don’t think I need to make a study of Elam, in order to make my own criticism of feminism.

Fourth, I’ve also noticed that Straughn doesn’t cite sources in her videos. However, with few exceptions, I’ve been able to find sources for facts or statistics that she brings up.

Fifth, I reject the idea that I “bring the anti-feminist creed here whole cloth”. I speak for me, no one else. If feminism has central tenets, then those central tenets are fair game for criticism, from anyone. Arguing that someone who criticizes feminism is just like someone else who who also criticizes feminism is just a logical fallacy.

As I said earlier, someone who criticizes liberal democracy could be either a communist or a monarchist. That they’re both critics of liberal democracy doesn’t mean they have anything else in common.

You’re right that it’s just one case, and it should be treated as such. Having said that, it is one case demonstrating the preferential treatment of women in society; as opposed to the feminist theory that women are oppressed.

I’d argue that there’s a mainstream feminist idea embedded in each one, but that it’s distinct from the way you’re presenting them.

    • is pretty straightforward; no argument with it.
    • I’ve never heard another feminist argue that the patriarchy is a “a conspiracy to oppress women”, or “an attempt to systematically oppress women”. Granted, I haven’t listened to or read every feminist. But the ones I have listened to or read have argued that the patriarchy is of a kind with other social structures based on inequality: the powerful seeking to maintain a status quo in which they are privileged.
    • likewise, I haven’t seen or heard other feminist argue that all women are part of a victimized class; but rather that inequalities exist on the basis of gender.

Nice to see someone openly embracing their double standards.

OK, so you’d rephrase #2 as “patriarchy is of a kind with other social structures based on inequality: the powerful seeking to maintain a status quo in which they are privileged.” It’s kind of bulky. I’m not trying to put words in your mouth, but if you strip away some of the surplusage, how about: “Patriarchy is a social system in which privileged and powerful (men) attempt to maintain inequality (over women)”?

I’m fine with that, if you want to restate it that way: my argument that that is not what “patriarchy” is, still applies. My only issues with your original definition are that it’s not very concise, and that it leaves out which genders are oppressed, and which are privileged.

On #3, you’d restate it as “inequalities exist on the basis of gender.” That’s fine, as long as we’re clear about which gender feminists think is most affected by “inequalities”. Since you didn’t say, I’ll ask: is it women, or men?

Well, complex social structures don’t always reduce down to snappy, one-sentence summaries. What I was trying to convey is that patriarchy isn’t the result of a bunch of men getting together and deciding they didn’t like dames very much. It’s not a conspiracy, and it’s not a systematic effort to oppress all women in all ways. Rather, it’s a set of gender norms and social structures that have the effect of taking choices away from men and women, typically to preserve the power of the already powerful (a group which is generally, but not always, male).

You seem to be arguing that patriarchy is such a “conspiracy”, an ancient “deal” struck between men and women as to how society would be structured. Is that correct?

Both genders are affected. Patriarchy, and our set of gender norms, is/are bad for men as well as women.

They’re at least a little oppressed. Some of it is physical bullying (lots and lots of domestic restraining orders against men, not so many against women). The a lot of the highest paying professions are still mysogynistic boys clubs. They suffer a disadvantage when applying to top schools. Women with kids are professionally stunted at least a little bit because all the career sacrifices associated with child rearing end up falling on the women, etc.

I’m on my iPad right now, so can’t really do quotes within quotes.

My argument is “patriarchy” is not a conspiracy, but, as I’ve said, the most recent manifestation of biological, cultural and evolutionary imperatives. Specifically, the imperative to protect women at the expense (if necessary) of men. The full argument is in the OP, but basically men were expendable, in a way that women were not, in the environment that shaped human evolution and customs leading up to near-modern times.

Of course, we don’t live in that environment anymore, but our instincts and preconceptions live on - and as a result, we continue to value the lives, safety, and concerns of women over men. The full argument, again, is in the OP.

It is difficult to understand how to interpret your claims about what patriarchy really is, because feminism invented the concept. (They didn’t invent the word, but they invented a concept, to which they applied the term, and now in socio-political discussions as opposed to anthropological ones, that concept is the governing one when the term is used.)

It seems clear to me that, through most of history, we absolutely did not value the lives, safety, and especially concerns of women over men. For most of history, husbands were free to beat, rape, and sometimes even kill their wives. Women accused of adultery were treated much more harshly. And of course women were usually much less free to choose their occupations and other life circumstances than men. And to a lesser extent, much of this survives today.

I addressed this back in posts 262 and 410, but you didn’t reply, so forgive some redundancy.

Everything you’re arguing is compatible with a view of women as property (a useful machine for making laborers, among other things). Much of it is not compatible with a view of women as being exalted and catered to by men. See, for instance, the various cultural practices I listed back in post 410:

So again, I ask why men were trained to stand when ‘property’ entered the room, why men raised their hats to ‘property’, why men walked on the outside of pavements (sidewalks) to protect ‘property’ from being splashed by muddy wagon wheels? I still do that last one, it’s deeply ingrained (along with ‘dont hit women’ and ‘dont touch your own faeces’).

Slaves were property. No property owner treated slaves that way.

Try, instead of looking for ‘evidence’ to support a proposition, looking at all the evidence and reaching a conclusion that is supported by it all.