the theory of the political, economic, and social equality of the sexes
“I wouldn’t say I’m a feminist. I mean, I think that would be, maybe, going too far. I’m for women, I’m for men, I’m for everyone.” – Donald Trump
If you go on Google and search “feminist meme”, 59,200,000 related websites and images come up. When I started this project a month ago, there were 43,800,000 results. There is even a “Know Your Meme” page for the term “social justice warrior”. In today’s new wave of feminism, many people argue and continue to identify as non-feminists. Now, in the midst of the #MeToo movement, and the Women’s Marches across the country, I’m wondering “why?” Why do so many people make a joke of the movement? Why is feminism still argued against in today’s society? Read more
Passing Amendments and Blocking Them
“Say No To Suffrage”
Anti-feminism began with the anti-suffrage movement. It was a social movement of mostly women speaking out against their right to vote. Small groups of men and women would organize to lobby against the growing whispers of women’s suffrage, but it wasn’t a full social movement until the creation of the Massachusetts Association Opposed to the Further Extension of Suffrage to Women (MAOFESW) in 1895. By 1900, there were several similar groups created in other states. The first nationalized movement of anti-suffrage was the National Association Opposed to Women’s Suffrage (NAOWS) founded in 1911 by Minnie Brown and Josephine Dodge in New York (Maddux).
By 1915, the organization had 200,000 members and 25 state associations, and by 1916 they had grown to 350,000 members. They made many arguments against suffrage, using separate spheres (the idea that men and women were designed to belong in different aspects of life), religion, and women’s current uninvolvement in politics to make their point.
However, in 1920 the suffrage amendment passed and the anti-suffrage movement, while influential, failed.
Stop the ERA
The next big feminist movement was in the 1970s and came with the Equal Right’s Amendment. A new organized anti-feminist movement was started, highly driven by Phyllis Schlafly’s Stop-ERA campaign, which was very organized and supported by both men and women. They argued that the ERA would displace a woman’s place in society, encouraging her to leave the home, join the military, and in general cause chaos to current societal order. The Stop-ERA movement was successful, and the amendment came three states short of getting the ¾ majority it needed before the bill expired in 1982. Read more
Men’s Rights and Misandry
At the beginning of the 1980s, the United States entered somewhat of a more conservative era. Ronald Reagan was elected and brought in a lot of conservative ideals. This change was actually a huge success for anti-feminists, or more conservatives, as a lot of what they lobbied for were being heard and supported by the US government. However, it also brought in a new era of anti-feminists whose ideas were wide-stream, and therefore didn’t have to push as hard for them. Anti-feminists now look different to the ones of the past, as they tend to believe women and men are already equal, and the continuation of the movement is misandry.
Today there are also many pro-men groups, known as men’s rights activists, arguing that the feminist movement was particularly “anti-men” and that men are actually equally discriminated against by gender but in a less-obvious way.
They also speak out against the anti-rape pushes from many feminist movements today, like #MeToo with things like the #HimToo movement that came against it, saying that in the wake of these movements that men also get hurt and are discriminated against.
Our president also promotes some ideas of anti-feminism. Trump has been quoted saying that he isn’t a feminist, because he’s “for women, [he’s] for men, [he’s] for everyone”. This ideology of his stems from the idea that feminism isn’t about equality between all sexes, but that feminists anti-male. His presidential campaign manager, Kellyanne Conway, does not call herself a feminist because she feels feminism is very anti-male and pro-abortion, and she is neither of those things.
There are also still many conservative anti-feminist groups continued on from the Stop-ERA era. Phyllis Schlafly’s Stop-ERA group was renamed to the Eagle Forum, and you can visit their homepage today. There is also the Concerned Women for America group, which is historically more religious-focused, but still around today for people to join and participate in.
Other women voters have also declined to support feminism because they feel it comes with an idea of oppressive political correctness. The problem with feminism and antifeminism nowadays is that there is no longer a clear distinction of the movements. Feminism, by definition, is the idea that all genders are equal. But now, with growing activism and awareness in America, more feminists are including other movements in their agendas. Some men, in the rise of feminism, feel attacked by their message and that they are being discriminated against, and other women do agree that they don’t want to be “anti-men”. Does being pro-abortion make you a feminist? Does being a feminist make you pro-abortion? To most against the feminist movement, the movement itself is no longer a question of if women and men equal, but if they support a larger, much broader spectrum of liberalism and radicalism that most people aren’t able to accept whole-heartedly. Read more
What’s The Solution?
This problem does not stem from the separation or disparity between genders. The problem of anti-feminism has nothing to do with solving the problem of inequality between genders, but the problem between people’s mindsets and our societal response to people with different opinions than our own.
But how do we solve this? It’s simple: address it. It’s hard to have an organization against the opposition to feminism; it would be a movement against a movement against a movement, redundant and confusing. It is up to feminists to change the way they respond to anti-feminists and the stereotypes portrayed about them in order to fix this problem. Here in America, especially online, we have a culture of lashing out after someone disagrees with our opinions. When it comes to the topic of feminism, arguments occur rather than conversations. Structured conversations between feminists and anti-feminists need to occur in order for any change or understanding to happen. For example, at the University of British Columbia in 2014, there was a conference between feminists and anti-feminists about men’s rights in challenging feminism. PBS also has released an interesting segment called “Me Too, Now What?” where they create conversations not only about the disparities about women but the response in men after this movement. Conversations like these, where they are structured, calm, and informative, are vital to spread awareness about stereotypes and create change.
https://www.pbs.org/show/metoo-now-what/ – A link to the home page for more videos with “#MeToo, Now What?”
On a personal level, people like you, the reader, can push yourself to this mentality, ask more questions. Stay informed about the beliefs of both sides, and try to honestly understand why the opposition takes a certain stance rather than shutting down their opinions. Going to local feminist organization’s meetings and listening to their conversations, and maybe even playing devil’s advocate, would allow for more practice in healthy discussion that could push us towards more productive change.
The #metoo movement, the Women’s March, all are important feminist movements to bring awareness. But we need to stray away from awareness and towards direct conversation in order to create a change that everyone can get behind. Read more
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