Future Female Leaders, a conservative site for young women, has a list of “10 Questions We Need Radical Feminists To Answer Pronto.” These questions were written by one “Aryssa D,” which has in her bio “When she is not being ‘oppressed’ by the patriarchy…” So this right away tells you the level of feminist discourse on this site. These are a bunch of conservatives who don’t believe in feminism. This is all the more obvious because they have no clue what radical feminism is. And this is a general confusion amongst conservatives: they pretend to address radical feminism while talking about liberal feminism, they pretend to address liberal feminism while talking about radical feminism, and in general it is very clear that they have no interest whatsoever in knowing what the fuck they’re talking about (but what’s new, right?).
Liberal feminists are not much better, but their ignorance is motivated by ideology and hatred, instead of an aversion to basic logic and general mendacity like conservatives. I am not saying that the latter is better. In most feminist respects, conservatives are worse than liberals. But I still don’t like being confused with their nonsense. And these questions are a great demonstration of the utter confusion that conservatives experience when they try to confront feminism.
1. How is being pro-choice, or pro-abortion, supporting equality for all: mother, father, and baby?
This, combined with question 3, indicates that they believe radical feminism is about equality. This of course is incorrect. Liberal feminism preaches gender equality, while radical feminism preaches the end of patriarchy (that social institution that the author herself doesn’t believe exist, which makes her about on par with 9/11 truthers and vaccine deniers). Radical feminists reject equality under the law because this equality would not address the root of the prejudice and exploitation of women.
The anti-abortion position is not a position of equality, because it is fundamentally an anti-woman ideology. Their objective is not to lower the number of abortions (because there are many means they could take to accomplish this, and they don’t do any of them). Their objective, as indicated by their actions and rhetoric, is to punish and torture women. So a conservative should not be asking such a question, since the answer will inevitably be: it supports equality more than your anti-abortion position.
Furthermore, the anti-abortion position has no respect for the child side of the equation either. They don’t give a shit if a baby is born with compromised health. They don’t give a shit if a baby is born unwanted or in a family that can’t raise it. They don’t think babies have any rights at all. So what is there for them to be equal to?
So the question is entirely out of line. As I wrote about in my new book A New Approach to Procreative Ethics, we can only analyze procreation through the three sides of the procreative triangle, mother, father and child, by looking at antinatalism and childism, two frameworks that belong to the radical side of politics. The standard views on procreation only look at one side, that of the father (and its abstract patriarchal extension in “the economy”). Being pro-abortion supports the equality of all because it takes into consideration the rights and needs of potential children, something which no other position does. It’s not that the pro-abortion supports equality better than the other positions, but that there’s just no contest.
2. Do you really believe that American women are horribly oppressed when there are women out there that cannot vote, drive, file for divorce, etc?
This is the standard “they have it worse elsewhere” argument. The main problem with this argument is that it’s used as a weapon against women everywhere, not just in Western countries. Middle class women are told they have it better than poor women and women of color. Poor women and women of color are told they have it better than women in India. Indian women in cities are told they have it better than women in rural areas. In all cases, the message is always: “shut the fuck up!” Likewise, this conservative woman wants feminists to shut the fuck up. A strange argument to make on a list of question which, you would assume, is meant to open discussion, not close it.
Of course it’s wrong for women to be unable to drive or divorce. To argue that saying Western women are oppressed means that other women are not even more oppressed is silly. To advocate for Western workers is not to argue that workers in Chinese sweatshops are not being oppressed. A person can hold two positions at the same time, one group of people can be oppressed while another group is even more oppressed, and we can recognize those facts. It’s not rocket science.
3. How do you hold yourself on such a pedestal for promoting “equality for all women” but then bash women who do not agree with you?
As I already pointed out, radical feminism has nothing to do with equality. Beyond that, radical feminists do bash women who claim to be feminist but promote anti-feminist ideologies, conservatives and liberals alike. There is nothing contradictory between holding to an ideology that is against the patriarchy and bashing people who promote the patriarchy. Feminism does not promote the belief that all women’s positions are equally valid. Feminism is a political ideology, not a book club.
4. Why do you consider government restrictions on abortion “politicians being all up in your business” but are happy with politicians and the government dictating which healthcare you must have, what you must learn in school (Common Core) and taxing you left and right?
Again, there is this profound confusion of radical feminism with liberals. All of these things are liberal constructs. While there are disagreements, radicals are generally not in favor of government schooling or government-controlled health care. We reject the notion that education or health care must be left to some hierarchical system and put outside of the hands of the people who are “served” by it. I’m certainly not “happy” with any of those things. I don’t like the tax money going to the military (no matter which one). I don’t like children being brainwashed by public/private factory schooling. I don’t like health care left in the hands of the government or megacorporations. And none of this has anything to do with radical feminism specifically.
5. Why are you more concerned about fictional characters on fictional television shows getting fictionally raped than real men having their real lives ruined by very false rape accusations (I’m looking at you, Rolling Stone)?
I have never heard any radical feminist complain about specific fictional rapes. Yes, obviously the prevalence of rape culture in the media is a bad thing. It is an important issue. It is certainly more important than false rape accusations, which are not an issue. Studies have shown that the prevalence of false rape accusations is no greater than false accusations of other crimes. People who are victims of false accusations have their lives turned upside down, but this is not specific to rape. Is that a bad thing? Of course. Is it more of a problem than rape culture? No.
6. Why have you let Lena Dunham become a spokesperson for your cause, a woman who has admitted to taking advantage of her younger sister sexually and doing “anything a sexual predator might do”?
Lena Dunham is notoriously a liberal activist. I don’t know much about American culture and even I know this. She has nothing to do with radical feminism. I can’t believe anyone would be this stupid.
7. Do you really think being able to walk around topless is a freedom that women need to live a good life?
No, and I haven’t see any radical feminist advocating for toplessness. The topic of Femen and other “nude protests” only invokes ridicule in radical circles. Being able to walk around topless is not a necessary freedom. It would be nice if women could walk around topless without being harassed or being treated as sex objects, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.
8. How do you make supporting the right to abortion a tenant of feminism when the majority of abortions performed worldwide are due to the child being female (gender-selective abortions)?
This is an argument of a kind similar to “how can you support right X when these people over there misuse it so badly?” But rights are not attributed on the basis of them being used wisely or misused. In fact, a conservative should agree on that one point: that rights are supposed to be inalienable and are not contingent on how they are being misused (gun rights anyone?). For a conservative to turn around and say that the right to abortion should be rejected because it’s being misused is rather silly.
As a pro-abortion advocate, I believe that any abortion is a good thing, no matter what the purpose is, even if it’s motivated by hatred of women. Would I rather people didn’t hate women? Yes, but only radical feminism can provide any situation to that state of affairs. Conservatives have no answer to the hatred of women, since they deny its causes.
9. When you say “Teach men not to rape” are you meaning to imply that men have been, in the past, taught TO rape, or that men are the only people capable of rape (Mary-Kay Letourneau, anyone?)?
Another unoriginal argument, this time of the “women do it too” variety. Yes, women can rape too. So what? There is nothing in the concept of rape culture which implies that only men can rape. Likewise, we also live in a death culture, but there are also people who are compassionate and who don’t promote violence. Not many people, but they do exist. Any culture necessarily has dissidents, otherwise it’s a cult dogma, not a culture. There is a difference.
By the same vein, men are not explicitly taught how to rape. There is no one out there except PUAs going “here are the steps you need to follow to coerce a woman into sex,” but even most PUAs are more coy about it than that. Men are taught the mindset that tells them sex with women is necessary, allows them to see coercive sex as acceptable, and are taught the means by which they can bring it about. No one needs to tell young men how to rape because they can add it all together fairly easily.
When we say “teach men not to rape,” we mean to imply that when a man rapes a woman, the man is responsible for the act, not the woman. For any other crime, this is implied and generally agreed upon. Few people blame the victim of an assault, a theft, or a kidnapping. We do not teach potential victims of assault, theft, or kidnapping that they are to blame if they are actually targeted, or that being victimized is a moral failing. To do so would be laughable. It is equally laughable to do it in the case of rape.
10. Do you really think the original feminists, the women who fought for the right to vote, would be proud of you fighting for the right to bare your lady parts, abort your children and shame men into submission like you claim they would?
I don’t think the author has much insight into the minds of first wave feminists, since she doesn’t seem to know anything about the development of feminist thought at all. I know nothing about their psychology, and so I really have no idea if they would be proud of breastfeeding, abortion, or BDSM (I’m not sure what the “shame men into submission” is supposed to refer to, so I assume it has to do with that pet liberal feminist cause).
A more important question would be: should WE be proud of it? Taking a historical view, first and second wave feminism were movements that aimed at removing oppression, and therefore they were on the right side of history. Liberal feminists and anti-feminists are on the wrong side of history. I don’t think we should be proud of the mainstream acceptance of BDSM, because it is a step backwards in feminist thought, but I do think we should be proud of the growing acceptance of breastfeeding in public and of abortion rights, as these advance women’s well-being against patriarchal objectification. Conservatives demand that we see women as walking incubators and inherently dirty bodies. We must reject these views as backwards, and I certainly don’t think anyone should be proud of them. The fact that any human being would be proud of such views is the really shameful thing here.