How Can We Make Feminism More Accessible to “Women Against” It?

Since every other feminist is posting their thoughts on the whole Women Against Feminism thing, I’ll go ahead and do so, too. I’ve noticed that most other posts about this tumblr serve to point out the misinformed ridiculousness of the WAF blog (can I call it that?), and my initial instinct is obviously to do the same. Feminists, myself included, reacted to the blog by collectively face-palming and then posting sarcastic responses to our various forms of social media (even I have to get it out of my system), which makes sense given how maddening and insulting the blog is. However, I also feel that it’s important to take a step back and consider the implication of WAF. Clearly, feminism isn’t working for a large portion of the people it’s supposed to be helping, and I see this as an issue even though it’s one I have virtually no idea how to solve.

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Hysterical hipster whores, unite!

Each post in the tumblr makes me so angry, because so much of it is so misinformed and because I see that the sexism those women are so sure doesn’t exist is what’s turned them against a movement that addresses it. It upsets me on a personal level because feminism kind of saved my life, and made me the self-possessed person I am today. But the fact that so many women don’t feel served by feminism, even if their understanding of it is skewed, is problematic. 

For one thing, it gives feminists a bad rap, which in turn makes feminism less accessible to folks who need it. I feel like when I first channeled my inner moon goddess and became a feminist, it was after years of resisting that urge because I didn’t want people to think I was crazy and annoying. I literally would say “I’m not a feminist, but…” and then say something totally feminist. I think I had been fed a lot of the same bullshit that these women had, and thought I would be better off if I pretended like I wasn’t pissed off when something sexist happened- I wanted to seem laid-back and cool, and the stereotypical feminazi I heard rumors of definitely wasn’t those things. If feminism had been better represented to me, I may have found that my values aligned with it and been more empowered earlier on, which is of course what I want for these women, as well.

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Stupid, weak, and ugly- thank god I found feminism to save me from myself.

Additionally, I’m concerned about the implications of WAF because it kind of makes me feel like we’re doing something wrong, as a movement, if so many women feel judged or belittled by feminism. A major theme of the tumblr account was accusing feminists of judging other women on a variety of things: putting their home life and children ahead of their career, wearing too much makeup and being too feminine, not hating men, or whatever. As feminists, we understand that these are exactly the kinds of things we’re fighting against. A woman should be able to choose what her home life is like and how important it is to her, and wear whatever makeup she wants and still be respected, and we don’t hate men, for crying out loud. I know that most of the responsibility for fixing this misconception falls on the Women Against Feminism themselves, because they clearly need to do some more research. Or like, any research. But I still wonder what I, as a feminist, can do to meet these women where they are in their learning process and not just totally write them off.

A couple things I can think of to help better represent feminism would be to be aware of any exclusive, jargony theory that we throw around on the internet when addressing groups like this. It definitely seems like the WAF are having trouble understanding how feminism can help them in their own lives, and maybe they’re feeling alienated or confused because of the theory-heavy leaning that internet feminism can have. I’m not advocating for eliminating feminist theory on the internet, at all, but I wonder what conversations could be had with women who disagree with feminism in order to draw out real-life instances in which it could be useful to them. I think the other most important thing to remember is that, while it’s easy and funny to make fun of Women Against Feminism, it’s also critical to remember that everyone is at a different point in their process and that they are oppressed by sexism as much as any woman even if they don’t understand it. Again, I don’t really have any idea how to develop real dialogue across difference when I’m so utterly perplexed about where they’re coming from, but I think that these conversations about inclusiveness are the ones we should be having.

 

All good arguments. I concede to your point.

All good arguments. I concede to your point.

Obviously, if no one ever misunderstood or opposed feminism, we wouldn’t have a problem with sexism anymore, so figuring out how to make feminism more understandable or accessible to folks like like the WAF is like tasking ourselves with dismantling the patriarchy itself. I’m totally down for folks critiquing feminism, especially its tendency to still be a movement most inclusive of white, straight, middle-class women, because that kind of dialogue can make feminism better by recognizing its shortcomings. However, anti-feminist critique like Women Against Feminism is upsetting because it’s not something that can make the movement stronger and more anti-oppressive, it’s something that can further hurt those women and all other women. For that reason, I think it’s really important that we focus on a conversation about how things like WAF affect the feminist movement, as well as what can be done to make feminism more inclusive or less misunderstood.

This article is reposted from its original location, my own blog quiotgrrrl.com. Check it out! 

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