Feminism and Anti-Feminism …

So, I posted comments on a post by P.Z. Myers asking anti-feminists why they’re anti-feminists. This is because, as I said there, I debated feminism for quite some time and was called “an anti-feminist who doesn’t seem to hate women”, which I think is accurate. The link to my comment is here. My main purpose was not to prove my position or convince them that anti-feminism was right, but was simply to express clearly what my issues were and why I hold what I hold so that they might understand even if they don’t agree with it. I even stated repeatedly that the views were debatable and might be wrong.

Well, Myers has posted the “results”, and claims that everyone in that comment thread failed miserably. His criticisms are these:

I didn’t realize how badly they would flop, however. 760+ comments, and not one could present a reasonable argument: no explanation for why they oppose feminism, no evidence that feminism is bad, but lots of non sequiturs and emotionalism.

Um, except that Myers, in fact, didn’t ask for an argument. If he had, I wouldn’t have replied because I wouldn’t have wanted to get into that sort of discussion. He asked for this in the original post:

But anyway, I started to realize something: I don’t understand how these people think at all — they’re completely alien. Regarding feminism with contempt is a bit like regarding science with contempt: it’s incomprehensible to me, and I’m wondering if they really understand what they are throwing away.

So let’s try an experiment. Let’s hear from some of these anti-feminists. I’d like them to comment here and explain themselves, and to do so a little more deeply than just reiterating dogmatic excuses. If you think feminism is a religion, explain why, and be specific. If you think feminism is unsupported by the evidence, explain what evidence opposes the principles of feminism. If you think it’s wrong for the skeptic movement to have a social agenda, explain what you think it should be doing that has no social implications.

Most importantly, if you think feminism, that is equality for men and women and opposition to cultural institutions that perpetuate inequities, is irrational, let’s see you explain your opposition rationally.

He starts from a position that he wants to understand how anti-feminists think, and only asks for evidence for one specific case. But here he — and, in fact, the entire comment thread — treated all responses as if they were supposed to be convincing arguments backed with cites to studies and the like. It was so bad that in some cases — Nerd of Redhead, specifically — commenters were demanding evidence for things that they agreed with and were generally conceded. So, we move from what might have been a legitimate attempt to understand the concerns of a group that Myers admits he simply doesn’t get to a demand that you prove your position to a degree that Myers et al agree with or else you failed … to, presumably, state and explain your actual position so that they could understand it and, in fact, point out what you were missing, if you were.

Well, doing this at a huge site like Pharyngula that has a fairly aggressive commentariat was probably not going to work anyway. But there is a rather interesting progression of comments before I left because I simply wouldn’t be able to keep up anymore over my views with Caine. My overall position is that feminism isn’t an equality movement because it focuses on women’s issues and perspective pretty much exclusively, and any consideration of men’s issues is only tangential, as a way to solve women’s issues. I dislike that approach in general, but am willing to live with it in groups that admit that explicitly, but feel that feminism doesn’t do that, which is more problematic. Anyway, many posters commented that feminism worked for men as well, and brought up the point that “Patriarchy hurts men, too” … which was the reason in my original comment I pointed out that that is all tangential. Anyway, Caine decided to give me a list:

Three things, right off the bat – workplace rights, parental leave and daycare.

My reply was that basically the two that were specific enough to be addressed were things that feminism did that benefited men because putting that in place would benefit women, and she ignored it to accuse my position of being a strawman:

Just because you don’t think so doesn’t make it so. You’ve been building straw structures with every damn overly long post.

What every ***ing thing you said boils down to this: “I’m anti-feminism because feminism does not focus on men as a primary concern and cause.”

Which is a bit misleading, but in some sense she gets it … and calls it a strawman, supposedly proven by her list. That she never defends. But Nepenthe tries:

Yeah Caine, it’s only okay if the action is intended explicitly to benefit men. If it is intended to benefit women, but also benefits men, that’s divisive.

Well, when my complaint is that feminism only does things that benefit men because it benefits women, and that’s being called a strawman up and down the thread, and when Caine’s counter-examples are in fact precisely that sort of case … well, yeah, I think my pointing that out and so it’s doing nothing to show that my argument is a strawman is valid, no?

Anyway, perhaps I should worry about it, because Myers goes on to say this:

I’m beginning to think that this anti-feminism stuff resembles a religious cult, and doesn’t belong in either skepticism or atheism.

Well, being neither a skeptic nor an atheist, I guess that doesn’t apply to me. Interestingly, I’m not those because of philosophical objections, too.

Anyway, I want to go over some of the references given, particularly one on privilege, as it seems to me to exemplify exactly what I dislike about the feminist movement and feminist philosophy. But I’ll do that in another post.


8 Responses to “Feminism and Anti-Feminism …”

  1. Privilege, Again … « The Verbose Stoic Says:

    […] Freelance Philosopher « Feminism and Anti-Feminism … […]

  2. Luther Flint Says:

    I posted there for a while to check out the quality of the argument. There wasn’t any quality and they barely mustered an argument.

    • verbosestoic Says:

      And the sad thing is that it really shouldn’t have been an argument, but instead simply a “Look, tell me how you’re looking at the world so that we can see where the clash is”. It makes me doubt that Myers actually did want to try to understand what anti-feminists say or how they think, which is fine, but isn’t what he asked for.

      • Luther Flint Says:

        When you say it’s a sad thing, I’m afraid I will need a citation before I can countenance the idea. Indeed I need a citation to ask for a citation for the citation. And this, no doubt, PZ thinks, is the height of intelligent debate.

  3. Héctor Muñoz Says:

    My position is that feminism winded up to be a marxist ideology not really concerned with equality but rather with privileging a class which is perceived as oppressed.

    The perpetuation of this perception now that even a set of crucial privileges have been to granted women requires a certain degree of dogmatism that obscures open dialogue.

    • verbosestoic Says:

      I don’t like associating it too much with Marxism because that can be seen as a way to discredit it by association, and ignores the contributions of those not particularly disposed to Marxism. However, it seems to me that it is a component of most liberal philosophy that there are winner and loser groups, and that equality consists in making all groups winners in some sense. Then again, I’m not really a political philosopher and so would be reaching far beyond my area of expertise in talking about that.

  4. Wacholder M. Says:

    Could you write briefly about your objections to scepticism or point me towards a post where you address it?

    • verbosestoic Says:

      You can look a bit at the Scientism 101 posts where I talk about ways of knowing, or search for “ways of knowing” in general, to see what my problem with scepticism as an overarching worldview is, but in a nutshell besides the fact that I’m really not sure what it would commit me to I think that everyday reasoning has to be based on a “believe until you have a reason not to” attitude, and it seems to me that any scepticism worthy of the name would have to reject that.

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