Make Feminism Great Again
“My problem with intersectionality is that it fights sexism, racism, classism by labeling everyone into gender, race, and class. It reinforces what it is trying to eradicate.” ~ Christina Hoff Sommers
Imagine my disappointment upon learning that my clever blog post title wasn’t as original as I’d hoped it would be. Oh well, it’s still descriptive and evocative.
Ah, feminism. One of the most polarizing labels in our modern political lexicon. A word, much like “racism,” whose definition the two sides of the social justice debate simply can’t seem to agree on, and all the trouble that has ensued from such a foundational difference in perception. A word that, for some, speaks of liberation and empowerment, while for others smacks only of oppression and hated.
Feminists will tell you that feminism is about ensuring equality between men and women, which sounds like a good thing, right? Who would possibly be opposed to that? And yet, only eighteen percent of people actually self-identify as feminists. While not terribly surprising for men, the response when further broken down for women is surprising, or at the very least quite counterintuitive, with women being more evenly split on the issue.
Do these women just not want gender parity with men or something? Do they not want to be regarded as equal to men?
When asked why this divide exists, some feminists will assert that this is because women who aren't feminists are internalized misogynists who've been culturally conditioned to not know just how oppressed they really are. But ... if they don't know they're oppressed, and aren't otherwise unhappy with their lot in life as a result of their gender, can we really say that they are? Isn't oppression sort of a personal thing that depends on how you feel about your own particular situation, and wouldn't that be dictating other people's feelings while denying their lived experiences? Wouldn't that feel closer to actual oppression and subjugation under tyranny?
If the patriarchy falls and no one's around to see it, does it still offend and oppress you?
Some women very clearly are oppressed in an individual capacity, and I think we'd all agree those women are not treated as equal but rightly ought to be and could do with a bit of feminist activism to correct real injustices; but can we justifiably extrapolate that to women as a whole? Can we transpose the conditions and temperaments of certain individuals onto an entire group? Is that really fair, given that social justice and intersectionality itself often warns us not to make this exact same type of callous over-generalization with regards to other negative classifications and stereotypes?
What's really going on here?
How do we square this circle and #HealTheDivide between the two sides?
Allow me, if you will, to humbly offer my services and my skills in the art of persuasion, to play mediator for a moment. To be a neutral, uninterested observer (as best I can anyway) and help each side parse their point of view into language the other can understand.
Right now, you might be wondering what qualifies me to do this. Fair question. Let me lay out my credentials here to hopefully earn your trust as to my impartiality in the war of identitarians.
If you hop on over to my Portraits of Inspiration gallery, you will see a compilation of photos of some of my biggest influences (among public figures, at least). Suffice to say, you can't even qualify to be on that list unless I have nothing but the deepest levels of respect and admiration for you. Your own hall of fame may different, but this one is mine, and there are many more honorable mentions left out for various reasons. It doesn't mean I agree with everything they say and do, but they are my muses and my teachers, and I try to learn as much as I can from them when possible.
Assuming you know who these people are, it may create a moment of cognitive dissonance in some of you - even within some of you depicted in that very gallery, no doubt - that many of these people hold diametrically opposed viewpoints to others on that same list. Taking just the first two rows, for instance, you have four who could be classified as intersectional feminists (Scott Adams, Anita Sarkeesian, Elizabeth Stanton, and Emma Watson) and four who could be classified as anti-feminists and anti-SJWs (Stefan Molyneux, Lauren Southern, Sargon of Akkad, and Ben Shapiro).
There are many more of each further down the list.
Yes, I'm completely serious about this. No, it's not a joke and I'm not trolling you. I genuinely hold all these people in high esteem - whether you do or not - and that should hopefully be all the proof you need to know categorically that I mean it when I say I'm committed to true centrism, that I'll defend an enemy when they're right and criticize an ally when they wrong, that I'll engage with either side, and that I seek to #HealTheDivide.
At the same time, you also don't know my race, gender, or orientation (at least as I'm writing this) and that's by design. It's to force you to consider what I say, not who I am.
It could well be, for all you know, that I'm in fact speaking against my own personal interests.
By not having a public identity, it enables me to transcend the rather bipolar cultural war between postmodernist Int-Fems and their modernist opposition. To reach a sort of post-postmodernist vantage where I can see both sides clearly and assess them more accurately, pacing individuals within each one according to where they are, as opposed to where I am, or where I or anyone else feels they ought to be by now.
As it happens, despite freely identifying as a liberal on many social issues, I don’t consider myself a social justice warrior or a feminist at all. I also don't consider myself an anti-feminist or an anti-SJW either. None of those are labels I would attach to myself.
I’m a transhumanist, not a Ford Focus.
It's mostly because of what those terms have come to mean in the public eye and the terrible branding associated with them. Ironically, I owe my red-pilling from both sets of labels to Sargon Of Akkad. I'm not alone in this, as many others, from Laci Green to Dave Rubin (both on the list), have come to be disillusioned by the more radical wing of the progressive feminist ideology.
(I haven't had the chance to ask them.)
Each faction probably regards me as a traitor in league with their sworn enemy, when the reality is, I'm more like the Switzerland of identity politics (or at least I try to be) in that I choose not to take sides, but am fine talking to either side on equal terms. I have my own beliefs, of course, and I may disagree with you, but I am not against you. Not as a person anyways.
Unless you do something immoral, but that much should be obvious.
Among those in my gallery are Christina Hoff Sommers, who regards herself as a classical feminist (whom even Sargon of Akkad has praised as a model feminist), as well as Elizabeth Stanton, the co-founder of first-wave feminism. The sort of "golden age" of feminism and "the good kind" of feminism as many in the Anti-Fem community describe it. The one that gave women the right to vote, to own property without being considered property themselves, to divorce, to work, and other such great and egalitarian things we all agree are good and a sign of true progress towards a better future.
So how is it, then, that I can be proud of all these women and still be critical of feminism? How could I unabashedly support someone like Sargon of Akkad while, at the same time, unabashedly support Anita Sarkeesian (neither of whom currently seem to like each other very much) without calling myself an intersectional feminist or an anti-feminist or even an ally of either? At least, not as the term "ally" is typically used in identity politics.
Indeed, I don't care about people in general, beyond the abstract. No one does, really. It's just too exhausting to invest more than the bare minimum of non-aggressive ambivalence towards those outside your personal sphere of influence. But within that sphere, I care very much about people on an individual basis according to their merits and shortcomings.
I am an ally of certain individuals and of individualism.
As I said before, the clash of identitarians has everything to do with perception. Essentially, modern third-wave feminism has a PR problem and a branding problem, which gives rise to the reactionary culture of the anti-feminist community. This image problem is underscored by a more substantive problem having to do with important key facts, but which is ultimately not terribly difficult to fix if people remain open to constructive self-criticism and a willingness to improve, which I'm sure that feminists are, since they ask it of others all the time.
Here, I'm helping you think past the sale, so that by envisioning feminism as more introspective, the minds of its practitioners (and its critics) will be geared towards making that a reality.
To understand this perception problem, however, let me reframe the situation through the Persuasion Filter using something called pacing and leading, wherein I start off by outlining things we all agree on to prime you to be more accepting of the part that comes next, which you might otherwise be less-inclined to accept if I'd just presented it on its own. Something I've actually been doing this whole time, in fact, but which I'm only just now making you consciously aware of if you didn't already know what the Persuasion Filter was.
Returning to the topic at hand ...
In the current year, if I were to ask you, “Do you support women’s right to vote?” odds are, you’d probably say yes.
Did I guess right? I did? I know, I'm so prophetic. It's amazing.
All kidding aside, yeah, the answer was pretty obvious already before I even asked the question. Even still, I understand there are a handful of people who might dissent in that, because they look at the consequences giving women the right to vote has had, particularly in terms of expanding the welfare state; but I would argue that's less to do with them being women and more to do with socio-political ideology, since there are plenty of conservative and libertarian women to be found:
Why, here are a few right now.
So it's not so much these people are against women voting implicitly as they are against, say, authoritarians voting. I'm sure these same people might like to rescind the rights of authoritarian men if they could as well, but apart from the irony of that being authoritarian in itself, we're also not mind readers and so it'd be rather hard to put that into practice.
Obviously, there are a handful of shitheads who'll comprise the exception, but I think we can agree they are probably in the extreme minority on that issue and most people know enough to disavow them when they meet them. Ok, so I think we're all still more or less on the same page here. Yes? You with me? Good.
So let's continue with this line of questioning just to make absolutely sure:
“Do you support women’s right to vote?”
“Do you think women should have property rights?”
“How about the right to work?”
“Should they be allowed to leave abusive husbands?”
“Have rights to their own children?”
“Well, they’re half theirs, so …”
“Right to serve in the military or other occupations if they’re able to do the job?”
“Yeah … where are you going with …”
“Should they have equal pay for equal work?”
“Are you against husbands beating their wives?”
“Yes, and I no longer feel comfortable with this line of …”
“Are you against women being raped?”
“For god's sake, yes! Am I being detained?”
By now, you're probably wondering why I'm spending so much time going through such trivial cases. It's to help establish as a foundation that there is more that unites us than divides us, and that the state of things is actually a lot healthier than the rhetoric often makes it sound.
If we were to go through each of these issues one by one, we’d pretty much all wind up in the same egalitarian place at the end. At least in the West, we all agree on the morality that women are human beings with rights and duties equal to men. That women deserve whatever good things they earn in life and doing bad things to women is bad, and if a woman doesn't earn something she has no right to it just for being a woman and if she does bad shit, she should be punished for it, ad nauseum.
No one is in disagreement with any of that in our society. Can we all agree on that?
Maybe you find a handful of outliers (perhaps from certain religious backgrounds), but for the most part, our moral compasses are all in perfect, synchronous alignment. Even if they disagreed in their minds with any of the answers given above, those dissenters probably wouldn’t act on those beliefs or say them out loud in public because they fear the consequences of doing so, which is functionally equivalent to not thinking them in the first place since, again, we're not mind readers and thought policing is generally a slippery slope towards perdition.
The ex-men on their way to root out all the misogynists.
Actions speak louder than words; and for those rare few that both think women are inferior to men and act on it, the rest of society is quick to set them straight, even if some of them probably don't know how exactly to go about, like we saw with the Golden Globes.
I'm sure we can all agree, there were probably a number of men who stayed silent because they knew in their hearts they were guilty as sin and that they were next. We all agree they rightly should be next if indeed they are guilty. I think most of us can also agree that there were probably a lot of men at that event who maybe wanted desperately to do something to help but, for whatever reason, maybe didn't know what to that would be helpful in any specific terms beyond what women told them to do (such as come dressed in uniform as a sign of solidarity).
Don +5 Armor of Virtue-Signaling. Check. This feminism thing is easy.
Most men tend to be rather simple and straight-forward like that.
At least among cis straight men anyway. The gay and trans men were probably already helping by that point because they too have felt the sting of marginalization. Either way, again, none of us is a mind reader, so the only way to figure out who's who and how to help and what to do about any of the world's problems is to talk to one another, which too often doesn't happen because people are quick to default to tribal loyalties while also taking it for granted that other people think the same way we do, which they don't, because their thinking is based on their individual personal experiences, which aren't the same as yours.
That's kind of what makes us all unique human beings.
So ladies, if you want the men to do something ... tell the men what you want them to do! Don't just tell them what you don't want, tell them what you do want. Be specific. Be explicit.
Yes, it's well and good and necessary to rail against toxic masculinity, but you're leaving it to them to sort through the rubble of your demolition. To piece together what non-toxic masculinity is supposed to look like and that's not fair to the men who did nothing wrong and never would.
A lot of these men probably had shitty roles models and parents or exes who abused them and don't have the first clue what virtue looks like or where to find it or how to have healthy relationships, so they're just doing the best they can with what they've got. It's not your fault. You should still be free to walk away from risk, but often times it's not their fault either and they just wanna be believed and listened to, just like you wanna be believed and listened to.
It's the same sentiment women in the first-wave movement and the temperance movement expressed when they got tired of their drunken husbands coming home, beating the shit out of them, and raping them every night. The effects of that abuse still ripple through the generations to our modern time and I know you're working on it as best you know how, but I'm here to level with you that some of what you're doing also isn't helping or is in fact overshooting and being counterproductive to your goals.
It's that pendulum swing you keep saying doesn't exist because you still sometimes feel oppressed and are trying to outcompete the men in terms of who can be the most oppressed so you can gain the most sympathy.
Maybe a better analogy isn't a pendulum that just swings back and forth, but around in a spiral hitting everyone all the time and so no one can claim majority, but everyone can claim to be suffering.
It's not your fault. You didn't intend for that to happen and I know you're worried that you fought so hard to make such gains that giving any ground feels like it's sliding backwards into hell. It's likely no one told you any of this in a way that both respects your efforts and parses the problem in a way that you can empathize with and understand. The anti-fem community did it's best and failed. It's not their fault either as most of them weren't trained in the art of persuasion before taking up the cause. They were just flung into it same as you without being told of the importance of empathy and reaching across the aisle.
No one taught me either for the longest time, until someone finally did, and then I started to listen and understand, and now I'm trying to help both sides do the same.
We are all reluctant soldiers in a culture war none of us started, but which we all desperately want to put an end to, and the only way to end it is to put down the sword and start talking.
Hurt-people hurt people, as the saying goes.
Maybe you're not qualified to tell men what non-toxic masculinity looks like anymore than they are to tell you what non-toxic femininity looks like; but regardless, the fact remains, you came in like a wrecking ball and broke them, emasculated them, left many of the good ones terrified that the building would fall down on them, whether you meant it to or not - and if you don't think so, if you don't think that feeling's a thing that exists, just ask them. Show that that famous female empathy they've heard so much about, but which they can't seem to find in this dark hour. Again, you didn't intend for them to hurt, and I know you're hurting too, and your feelings definitely matter, but so do theirs. It's not an either-or, so you at least owe them to try and help them pick through the debris as equal partners before you can work together to rebuild healthy relationships again as equal partners.
I know the building was falling apart and needed to come down. Many women tripped and fell on the stairs, got crush by chandeliers, or fell through the floor before most men even acknowledged the paint was chipped and that's just awful.
I know. You don't have to convince me it is.
I'm legit crying in real life as I type this, just thinking about how bad it is.
Yes, I know some of you relish the fact that men are getting a taste of what you've had to put up with this whole time, and it wasn't fair to you then either, but meeting suffering with more suffering is not going to #HealTheDivide, it's just going to break it further apart.
Yes, you may think what you want is so obvious, but to many of them it's not. You'd be surprised how not obvious it is, and how even many people who were already socially awkward to begin with and bad at reading hints and social cues now find themselves questioning everything they thought they knew and having full on existential crises.
So no, the only thing that's obvious is how not obvious it is. If it was, or if everyone wore their hearts on their sleeves, or if we were all mind readers, we wouldn't have these problems the first place; but it's not and we don't and we're not, so the only way to get through this is together.
Offer them your peace terms in clear, specific language like you're speaking to a five-year old. Hold their hands and walk them through it. Tell them what you want.
Because honestly, for many of them, you could well be the first person that ever taught them.
Just ask Jordan Peterson how many men there are who lack good role models.
And men ... men, men, men, especially you anti-fems ... I know I just called a lot of you children, but put your dicks in your pants for a second and let's talk like we're adults. I know that's probably hard for many of you. It's not fair. It's not your fault you were born that way, hard-wired to get stupid when you get stiff because biology and mixed signals and maybe some of you never had a dad, or worse you had a shitty dad that taught you all the wrong things.
You didn't ask for any of that, and I know many of you are afraid of some Thot coming along and destroying your life for something you didn't mean to do. I get that. But when these women eventually come around and tell you what they want in clear, unambiguous terms as I have suggested, you owe it to them to try and honestly listen.
I'm not telling you that you have to necessarily accept what they're saying uncritically or that you can't make reasonable demands of your own. You don't have to cuck to them and start drinking soy lattes (unless you like that sort of thing). Just because they no longer wish to be doormats doesn't mean you now have to be. Indeed, there is plenty I don't agree with feminists on either. I understand that. I get that. I really truly do. But do as Jordan Peterson advises in his Rules for Life and treat the person you're speaking with - in this case, the intersectional feminist woman you're speaking with - as though she has something to teach you, because I promise you, for as much as you don't like it and don't think it's true, she does. She really truly does.
It may only be a small percentage of her arguments or it could be a lot, but you won't know until you start listening with an open mind, and until she starts speaking to you instead of past you.
And do it humbly ... but without relinquishing your balls either. Find that middle ground, and then share your concerns and your feelings as well, and help her find it too, together, not as higher or lower, matriarchal or patriarchal, but as true equals.
Chances are, the only reason she likes soy boys is because she's scared and hurt and worried that the ghosts of patriarchs past will come back to haunt her in you. Like I said, the abuses of previous generations still ripple through society in a systemic way, but perhaps not the way progressives think; or maybe in the way they think, but not for the reasons their dogma states.
Again, hurt-people hurt people.
The beta male ally won't hurt her, or so she thinks, which is why she turns to him. It's why she's friends with gay men, because the gay men aren't interested in her that way and she doesn't have to guard against his advances, questioning if he really cares or is just trying to get into her pants and at what cost? In most cases, it's not what she's hardwired to like though. It's mainly a defense mechanism and a frankly healthy cognitive response to past injuries and a rational use of pattern recognition.
And here, I recognize I'm speaking mostly of the experiences of straight cis people. Sorry LGBTs, we'll get to you guys another time. You can check out here if you like and I won't blame you for it. Maybe grab a drink, relax, and watch some Netflix. You deserve an emotional break too. Or keep reading, it's up to you.
But yeah, men need women and women need men.
Acknowledge that. Understand that. Empathize with that, and then show her that you're the exception who can be both powerful and compassionate, confident and kind. It's fine if you disagree with her on ideological grounds, but learn to see past that and support her as a human being. As an equal. Deep down, you don't want a weak woman either.
You both want each other to be as strong as possible, to be able to make you as strong as possible through their loving support, without being so strong as to overpower the other and abuse you. That's what true equality looks like.
That's how you #HealTheDivide.
Ok, so I teased before of certain key points and substantive issues that third-wave feminists have to contend with before they can make their ideology more palpable to their critics. I'll just briefly run through a few of them.
First and foremost, check your facts.
Notice here what I said and what I didn't say. I didn't say you're right or wrong. I said, "check your facts." You might be right or you might be wrong, but check each other's work to make sure what you're saying is accurate and objective to the best of your ability.
I know many postmodernists tend to have a relativistic view of the world. They think reality itself is subjective, and indeed there is much about life that is, but some things clearly aren't. Gravity isn't sexist one way or the other. It's not a social construct, even if the words we use to describe it are. Our conception of it is certainly subjective, but there is something clearly objective beyond us, independent of culture or philosophy, that exists and affects us, by whatever name we give it. It's very real and it'll kill anyone and everyone who walks off a building regardless of their identity or ideology.
But for those who insist otherwise, feel free to take that first step and prove me wrong.
No? Didn't think so. Too bad. Oh well, at least I can take consolation in the fact that you agree with me that some things are certainly subjective while others are clearly objective.
The tricky bit is in sorting the two, but I think we can all agree that the concerns of practical day-to-day living within a society populated mostly by other people means we have to come together to agree on at least some basic things and stop saying inane things like that math is bigoted.
Like seriously, what the actual fuck? Math. Sexist. C'mon, people!
I know I said I wasn't gonna tell you you're wrong, but there are just some things ... I'm not gonna get into all the ways the people claiming math is sexist can't even fucking do the math required to prove their case. Nope, not worth it. Not in this article. Topic for another time.
Trying to stay positive and helpful here.
Maintain my calm, maintain my calm, maintain my fucking calm!
A lot of people on both sides of the culture war accuse each other of being liars. Frankly, at this point, I find that wearisome. It borders on mind-reading, as intent is often hard to prove in most cases. Short of some corroborating evidence or consistent pattern of behavior, you can't really know what's in their head, which is why trust is a thing that exists. I myself have been accused of lying about things and I think I know my own mindset better than an outside observer, so I can speak from first-hand experience, the term does tend to be overused quite a lot.
Also, what ever happened to just being wrong?
To suggest that someone is lying is an indictment of their motives and their character. Some people are indeed liars and frauds and seek to push an agenda, but a lot of people are also innocently naive or misguided in their thinking (like math girl there), and it's important to recognize that their emotional state is largely a response to the facts they're working with, or at least their perception thereof.
They're applying reason correctly to bad starting premises to reach the wrong conclusion. Target their faulty premises and the rest will take care of itself.
If there's one thing above all the Persuasion Filter teaches, it's that facts don't matter in terms of changing people's minds. They do matter to outcomes, though. Again, gravity kills. And while a bit of exaggeration now and then can be effective, too much of that - too much misinformation - can lead to people getting hurt in a very real sense.
This is something the left understands better than the right, women understand better than men, and feminists understand better than anti-feminists on average.
A few have tried to learn the dark arts of weaponized feelz. They read Saul Alinzky's Rules For Radicals and say, "We need to adopt these tactics or we'll wind up losing the culture war." They can understand at a cognitive level its importance and pragmatic value, but have yet to truly internalize it because, wait for it ... many of them lack the empathy required to truly see themselves in the eyes of their opponents and to feel as they feel.
They're too busy trying to win stupid identitarian games and forget that there are human beings at the opposite end of those rhetorical guns. That goes for anti-feminists too. They're just inverting the dominance hierarchy in most cases and I've only heard maybe a handful of people attempt to do otherwise: Jordan Peterson, Tarl Warwick, Stefan Molyneux, ...
Ironically, all the people who are aware of and follow Scott Adams know this. Not surprising, as he's the Jedi Master of persuasion.
Most others, though, are simply looking to win, not to win-win. The way to fix that is to commit to trying to feel what the other person feels. The Sargons and the Shapiros of the world are masters of facts, but feelings matter just as much in the game of persuasion.
Women fear not being believed when they come forward as victims of abuse.
If you're a guy, just try to imagine that for a second. Imagine being Anita Sarkeesian and breaking down crying when you see a TV show that actually portrays law enforcement taking great pains to respect a woman who says she was raped, and providing counseling and therapy and stuff without question.
Yeah, low bar, I know; but again, this is as much about perception as it is about reality.
Feelings work both ways, though. Women fear not being believed and men have the same fear when it comes to defamation.
This is a double-edged sword and must be treated as such because what men fear is that the power they give women in offering them sympathy can and, unfortunately, has been abused at times and turned into a weapon against men. Most men, if you ask them, are more than willing to give a woman the benefit of the doubt until such time as she discredits herself, or some other evidence comes forward to discredit her. That may not be enough to break a tie of he-said-she-said in a court of law, with our system maintaining presumption of innocence and deference to the defense as a shield against creeping tyranny; but such cases are also not helped by the very real examples of women who cry wolf and it later turns out they were lying all along.
You can say they're rare, but it doesn't matter for purposes of persuasion anymore than the fact of rape being relatively rare in the West doesn't make a woman feel more comfortable walking alone past strange men on a dark city street.
Fear is highly persuasive because the consequences of guessing wrong can be fatal and, at least so far, we haven't found a cure for our own mortality.
We haven't even found a way to make people un-raped or un-accused of crimes they didn't commit.
Although, the Persuasion Filter can certainly help alleviate symptoms.
It's important to recognize that both sides are afraid and steeped in trust issues and that those feelings are based largely on embellishment, but there is also a core of truth to them that cannot and should not be ignored. Because if it can happen once, it can happen more than once. So the thinking goes. Having accurate facts doesn't completely eliminate that, but it can take the edge off a bit. Certainly, if you had a 1% chance of being raped or falsely accused of raping someone, that is highly disconcerting, but not nearly as much as if it were, say, 50% or 99%.