Photos and images via Women Against Feminism
The Women Against Feminism Tumblr has been getting a mild amount of attention. Women Against Feminism is a blog that collects stories from women who are “against feminism” for one reason or another, presumably in response to the blog Who Needs Feminism? This Tumblr asks its readers to submit photos of themselves holding a sign that explains why they don’t need feminism. You get the idea.
The women on the blog have a variety of reasons. Some of them don’t believe in hating men (a basic pillar of feminist theory). Some of them think feminists are sluts (their words). A disquieting number of them simply need help opening jars. One woman does not need feminism for unstated reasons (but I think we can safely assume it’s related to jars). The jar problem is rampant enough that I'm a little worried these women have severe, undiagnosed muscular problems. Guys, please see a doctor. It can be a male doctor!
A common theme in these user-submitted signs is that the women don’t need feminism because they believe in living traditionally. Some specifically state that they are stay-at-home moms. One woman does not need feminism because she likes to cook for her family. On its surface, it’s pretty easy to understand where they’re coming from—you don’t hear a lot about feminists fighting for a woman’s right to cook for her family. But that’s because the option to cook for your family was always on the table (so to speak). Our feminist predecessors had that option, and they wanted more options—like to have job opportunities and to vote. You don’t give up one right when you gain another. The option to be a stay-at-home mom has always been there (if you can afford to live on one income and so forth). You’ve heard about suffragettes fighting for the right to vote because it was a big deal. You haven’t heard about suffragettes fighting for the right to be stay-at-home mothers, not because it’s frowned upon but because there wasn’t a need to vocalize support for the status quo. If someone tells you “your only meal option is beans,” you don’t need to stand up and demand beans. The beans are right there, beaning around in front of you.
However, if you want to talk about a group that has historically voiced support for families, and specifically mothers, of all types—including, yes, stay-at-home moms—we must, I’m sorry to say, talk about feminists. Here’s an incomplete list of mother or family-related issues that feminists have fought for: maternity leave, incarcerated women’s right to give birth without being in shackles, and basic rights for domestic workers. Women Against Feminism would point out that feminists don’t work toward the same rights for men, so what gives? Feminists do actually work toward things like paid paternity leave, for one thing. But similar to the point made by my incredibly insightful bean metaphor, men already, uh, have a lot of rights. That’s why you don’t hear about feminists pursuing them. Maybe if feminists do eventually start fighting harder for the rights of men, there could be a highly paid male executive, or hell, even a male president!
Women Against Feminism appears to confuse second-wave feminism with third-wave feminism, plus stuff they think they might have read on the internet somewhere. The site purports to be against “modern feminism,” which is not a term people actually use, but I think they mean third-wave feminism. That’s the feminism we’re used to today, the feminism that works toward stuff like gender equality, gay rights, trans rights, and so forth. These are the things that first- and second-wave feminism did not cover—earlier feminists laid the groundwork for us by securing us the right to vote, and standing up for women’s rights in the workplace.
This movement takes a lot of that early feminist work for granted, claiming that “there is no patriarchy because a real patriarchy would not allow women to vote, divorce, go to college, have a career, live single, get abortions, etc.” Right. We have all that because feminists worked for it. The right to vote was a hard-won battle. The right to “get abortions” (we’re all familiar with Roe v. Getting Abortions) was arduous, long-lasting, and continues to this day.
At its core, Women Against Feminism takes feminism as a given by claiming not to need it. Most of their arguments boil down to “every battle has already been won,” which is an easy thing to say when all those battles were fought before you ever had a chance to know what was being fought for.
I neither hate nor am especially discouraged by their blog. Like the men’s rights movement, it seems like a lot of these problems these women have with feminism would be solved with a five-minute conversation. I would, however, suggest changing their blog name to Women Who Would Really Benefit From Learning What Feminism Is. Some of them have also come out against dictionaries, but that's not an insurmountable obstacle either.
Now if you’ll excuse me, I haven’t eaten in weeks, as all my food is in jars and is thus inaccessible to me. Please send help.
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