The original article, “When Feminism Goes Too Far” by Davita Gurian, can be read here.
1) The “there are weekly events for women (so we don’t need feminism)” argument
There are weekly events for women because most climbing events are by default for men. We don’t blame men for it, that’s just a fact. Look at numbers.
2) The “media produces multiple accounts of women climbing (so we don’t need feminism) argument
Without being picky, the author writes from the perspective of a 23-year-old. Of course in the last three years that she was interested in climbing the media has produced multiple fair accounts of women in climbing. However, these few years stand in sharp contrast to decades of history, and precisely thanks to feminism.
3) The “the so-called feminist articles don’t fit my reality” argument
We should all be very happy for the author’s privileged life, but her experience unfortunately isn’t enough to produce valid generalisations.
4) The “I know what feminism is” argument
Including the phrase “French Revolution” in this paragraph still doesn’t make me think you know.
5) The “dismissing Shelma Jun’s experience” argument
Actually, this is fine. An opinion against an opinion. Yup, valid. Just don’t take it further to formulating sweeping statements.
6) The “complaint-feminism” argument
Bringing up the concept of complaint-feminism by Dr Christina Hoff Sommers from the American Enterprise institute is the centrepiece of this article. It’s always important to cite your sources and do your research. That’s how you add weight behind your words.
Unfortunately, “complaint-feminism” doesn’t exist. The term coined by Dr Sommers, known the wider audience as The Factual Feminist, is actually “grievance-feminism”.
Sommers’ critique of modern feminism hinges largely on the fact that privileged women of the developed world are too concerned with their relatively minor setbacks to engage themselves in a wider struggle for equality in those parts of the world affected by “gender apartheid”.
The last thing I would like to point out here is that Dr Sommers’ take on feminism is widely seen as not only conservative, but highly controversial. By no means am I trying to dismiss it on these grounds. I’m merely pointing to the fact that to understand it, let alone to use it for one’s own argument, takes more than a brief – and inaccurate – acquaintance with its lingo.
7) The “there’s no harm in calling somebody babe” argument
Apart from it being infantilising, patronising and objectifying, right?
Of course it can be a term of affection, and of course we all call each other “babe” regardless of our gender or age. (Maybe not dude to dude thought, which also is telling). Yet for an organised women’s event to be called “Beta Babes”, and by a man, is a clear example of systemic sexism. Why? Instead of explaining, let me just have you think a little about being white and calling a black person the n-word. No go zone, right?
8) The “Beta Babes is as offensive as Flash Foxy” argument
Ever heard a black person referring to another black person with the n-word? Again, same rules apply.
9) The “if you don’t like the way they grab your booty, just don’t let them spot you” argument
Right, and break a leg? No, thanks. And, by the way, I’ve never experienced any inappropriate behaviour from either of the sexes while being spotted, and somehow, it doesn’t lead me to dismissing the experience of others who have.
10) The “i give unwanted beta” argument
Just stop. Uncool. Don’t.
11) The “I called my friends and they don’t feel oppressed” argument
Again, I’m really happy for the privileged situation of the author and her friends, but if you want to draw conclusions, use research.
When I wrote my thesis on climbing media, I also called some people. Precisely, more than 10 of them. Then with each of them I spent multiple hours recording interviews that were then thoroughly analysed. To cross-check and challenge my findings, I used a survey that was completed by over 120 individuals.
Of course you can still dismiss my research, because as any research it wasn’t without its flaws, and I am after all only a “beginner” academic. That’s still a little more than “I called my friends” thought.
12) The “Melissa Mail said it’s women who bring her down” argument
Internalised sexism is what makes us all unwillingly perpetuate it. It doesn’t mean that, on that basis, we can shift the weight of the blame for unpleasant situations to one or the other sex.
Which takes me to:
13) The “let’s share the blame” argument
Feminism is not about apportioning blame.
14) The “it’s only a voice in your head” argument
So many of our insecurities and anxieties are only voices in our head. Despite not being directly caused by somebody’s immediate actions, they still are often rooted in our past experiences, or even only in the social system we are all a part of.
I admire the author’s spirit in recommending for all of us to just push back against outdated social norms and oppressive behaviours. Indeed, actions speak for themselves and are more powerful than words. But without both actions and words we wouldn’t be where we are today, and in failure to recognise that, the author demonstrates her lack of understanding for the matter at hand.
Is my response to Gurian a bit catty? Sure, and I don’t mind that. The roots of this response reach way further than her article, even past the latest political developments and past the #RenameMillionWomenMarch hashtag. But the latter is worth focusing on for a moment.
As a misogynist is sworn in as President of United States, women marching on DC are called “ugly lesbians” and asked if “daddy didn’t love you enough”. In a world where it’s ok to ridicule the fight for equal rights, I think it’s time we allow ourselves to ridicule those who still don’t get it yet.