Body hair, hating men and other undead sexist cliches

•The Bloggess responds to a new Tumblr, Women Against Feminism. The Tumblr consists of photos of women holding up signs saying they are not feminist BECAUSE…
Some of them certainly have valid complaints, such as dealing with racism in the feminist movement. No question there are racist feminists and I’ve read several complaints about feminism not showing enough concern for non-white women. Though I agree with the bloggess, that’s not a reason to reject feminism as a movement rather than specific feminists.
Another woman posted that feminism is bad because feminists assume all women or all true women share their personal experiences. This one, I don’t buy. A lot of feminism isn’t about personal experience, it’s about statistics, politics, policies, rights: I’ve never had an abortion, I’ve never been sleeping with someone who got one, but I still believe in the right to abortion. I think it’s a right women should have, and I think giving the fetus equal rights invariably takes them away from women.
And then we get into cliches that were common back in the early 1970s. Like feminism is all about not shaving body hair (one poster says she doesn’t shave hers, but she’s not feminist because she’s not doing it to make a statement). More than one talks about relationships and says since they want a happy relationship with a man, therefore, they’re against feminism (and “all your lies about empowered sluthood and rape culture and evil men.”).
Same old, same old. “Feminists hate men” or “feminists are just pissed off because they can’t get a man” have been staples since the late 1960s. And the fixation on body hair is popular too, plus more generally that feminists are objectionable because they don’t look good, don’t dress to attract men and just aren’t womanly enough. As with the undead sexist cliche that feminists are too serious and humorless to be respected, this is not a standard applied to other activists. But the idea women’s worth is in their looks is deeply engrained.
As for feminists hating men or believing all men are evil … as someone who’s known a lot of feminists, bullshit (I could give a more reasoned answer, but I’m tired). There are some extremists who go there, but they are an extreme.
And of course, we have the inevitable complaints about feminists having a “victim complex.” Because pointing out victims exist and that some of them are worse off because of their gender (or race or faith) is just objectionable, especially when American women are so well off.
I can’t help wondering how many of the posters actually subscribe to a feminist viewpoint—like believing they should be paid equally for their work, have the same rights as a man and judged on their merit, not on their gender. I’ve known more than a few women who are very feminist, but they recoil from the name. Either because the name’s been associated by 40 years of right-wing shrieking with “ugly man-hating women who don’t shave” or because they honestly don’t think there is any sexism to fight (as I’ve mentioned before, it’s easy to think that if you don’t remember the pre-feminist era).
But if you really want a good response to Women Against Feminism, this 2011 post hits it out of the ballpark even before those Tumblr posts existed.

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Filed under Politics, Undead sexist cliches

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