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Why I'm an Egalitarian, Not a Feminist

I dislike neofeminism for the same reasons I dislike politics and the song "Billionaire": disingenuity and hypocrisy. When I'm driving a clunky 1999 Ford with a broken roof light and a radio that falls out of the dash every time I go up a hill, the last thing I want to hear is a chart-topping idol with platinum records crooning about how much he'd like to have money.

Neofeminists pretend to campaign for equality, but what they're after is anything but. I'm thinking of making a line of t-shirts with the unspoken neofeminist motto, "I'm strong and independent! Coddle me!"

Neofeminism is a bizarre mix of the second wave feminism of the 1970s, in which women were supposed to be strong enough to never need men, ever, and the delicate feminine ideal of the 1800s, in which women were the angels of the hearth and home and needed to be protected from the dirty world of men. Neofeminists today want equality, but they want to be treated like princesses too.

  • Women outnumber men in universities by a significant margin (we're talking 60% of all degrees awarded). Yet neofeminists still insist we need special women-only groups to support our sisters who are struggling so hard in male-dominated academia.
  • Neofeminists seem to believe that a man who cheats on his wife deserves to have his testicles cut off. But a woman who cheats on her husband only did it because he made her unhappy. She clearly deserves better.
  • Neofeminists decry domestic violence, and they regularly troop out the numbers of women who are beaten and raped every day in their own homes. Then, when a case comes to light of a wife shooting/poisoning/torturing her husband, it's something to celebrate. Good for her for standing up for herself and women everywhere!
  • Similarly, a male teacher who has sex with his underage female student is a pervert who will only learn his lesson when he's raped in prison. A female teacher who has sex with her underage male student is a cougar defying stereotypes. It's not the same thing at all.
  • A boy should never hit a girl. Ever. But it's funny when little girls beat up the boys on TV—dudes need to grow some balls and stop whining about it.

Take President Obama's rah-rah-rah speech on a TV appearance with Hillary Clinton in 2008: "[My daughters] can take for granted that women can do anything that the boys can do! And do it better! And do it in heels!"

Now let's flip it: "Men can do anything that the girls can do! And do it better! And do it in sensible shoes!"

Suddenly, it's derogatory. And that, my friends, is not equality. It is not equality for women to call all men "dicks," "pricks," and "assholes," and then cry about how demeaning it is when someone calls them "cunts." It is not equality to giggle that our club is "No Boys Allowed" and then rush to sue when the boys won't let us into their clubs.

Neofeminists are so used to thinking of themselves as victims that it doesn't even occur to them that they could be bullies, as well. They seem to think they deserve retribution for the way society treated their great grandmothers.

"Oh, you think it's unfair that an organization favors hiring women? Tell that to your grandfathers, who shut us out of the workplace in the '50s. You think it's unjust that men have to sign up for the draft but women don't? Well, that's because a hundred years ago we weren't even allowed in the military, so suck it up. And you don't have any right to complain that divorce courts are heavily biased towards women. In ancient Greece, men would take baby girls from their mothers and throw them to the wolves. Men have been oppressing and objectifying us for millennia! It's our turn to oppress and objectify them!"

Now let's address a related bee in my bonnet: the attitudes of some people who write Women's Fiction.

Some authors call their novels Women's Fiction and then get offended when men are wary of reading it. I read an interview with a women's fiction writer the other day that really got my goat.

I had a man ask me recently whether In Need of a Good Wife was "for guys," and I had to take a deep breath before responding. The idea that a story that focuses primarily on women will not interest men is alarming to say the least...Your wife is a woman; your sisters and mother and daughters are women, but women in fiction don't interest you? I'm sorry, but what a crock of shit.

If you go out of your way to tell people that your book is Women's Fiction, you do not get to be indignant when men don't express interest in it. You put the label on it. It's like getting offended that Muslims don't want to buy your Christian Fiction, or that college students politely decline when you say your book is Middle Grade.

This particular author also claimed that "most lauded fiction is concerned with men's experiences." I'm sorry, but what a crock of shit. Almost every recent mega-hit I can think of features a female protagonist. The Twilight novels. The Hunger Games trilogy. The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (technically the main character is a man, but he's just a narrating vehicle. It's all about Lisbeth). The Princess Dairies. Gossip Girl. Fifty Shades of Grey. The one exception is Harry Potter.

Though some Women's Fiction writers like this one take a holier-than-thou attitude, in my experience the genre isn't any less misogynistic than others. In fact, it's often worse. A few weeks ago, I read about a novel that made me angrier than I ever had been over a blurb.

When NYU professor Daniel Gardner's career-obsessed wife convinces him to move to the suburbs, he hopes it's a first step toward starting the family he longs to have. Instead of domestic bliss he finds his neighbor, Marienne Valeti. She loves her freelance design job, but must contend with a growing sense of isolation created by her husband's indifference. A penchant for good books, bad movies, and Marienne's to-die-for brownies sparks a powerful bond between them. Passion simmers, but they resist its lure, surrendering only in the seclusion of their minds. Their friendship helps them weather every hardship, from divorce to widowhood, leaving them both secretly wondering if it can survive a first kiss.

Firstly, I despise any story that glorifies emotional adultery as super-duper romantic. Secondly, the stereotypes are backwards as hell. A "career-obsessed wife" who isn't interested in having kids? Clearly, she must be a horrible, horrible person. Because good wives don't value careers over "domestic bliss." Good wives like the same books and movies as their husbands and make to-die-for brownies.

This book wasn't written by a male misogynist trying to keep us in the kitchen. It was written by a woman. For women. And women lap it up.

You wonder why there's a wage gap? You want to know where that glass ceiling comes from? It comes from this. It comes from women teaching other women that being driven and uncompromising is bitchy. It comes from women insisting that we are, and will always be, victims who need to be protected from those awful, primitive men, because we're too weak and stupid to take care of ourselves.

Is sexism against women still a problem? Sure. You meet the occasional old professor who's amazed there's a girl in his computer science course, or the boss who unconsciously treats his female employees like they're less capable than their male counterparts. But there are also female professors who think young men have no business being in their gender studies/nursing/elementary education courses, and female bosses who will always promote women over men in "solidarity."

Neofeminists, essentially, want to have their cake and eat it too. They want all the benefits of the modern age, but they also want to keep the benefits of the Victorian one. They want special privileges in the court of law, and special societies where no one can bother them. They want to be able to hit men and not get hit back.

But as long as they want to be princesses, they will never be queens.


Amy Jane (UntanglingTales) (November 7, 2012, 1:17 pm)

*Nice* closer.

(Clicked through from a comment you made on Writer Unboxed, btw. Enjoy how you think.)

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What is the first letter of "Michigan"?